Zucchero – Chocabeck

Formaat : CD
Label : Universal
Release : November 2010

Zucchero brak in 1985 door in zijn thuisland Italië na deelname aan het Festival van Sanremo, maar de rest van Europa moest nog even wachten tot zijn duet met Paul Young Senza Una Donna om kennis met hem te maken.

Daarnaast heeft de maestro diverse hits als Diamante en Il Volo op zijn naam staan en nam hij prachtige duetten op met onder andere Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti en onze eigen Ilse de Lange. Zucchero wordt beïnvloed door klassieke muziek, gospel, blues en rock. In zijn geheel eigen stijl vullen de soms zoete en soms rauwe tonen elkaar perfect aan.

Op zijn nieuwe album Chocabeck werkte Zucchero samen met een keur aan internationale muzikanten. Het album is opgenomen in Los Angeles, Bolgheri (Italie) en Londen en klinkt fantastisch, mede dankzij het sterrenteam dat Zucchero ditmaal formeerde: Don Was produceerde 8 songs, Brendan O’Brien produceerde 3 tracks en op de titeltrack Chocabeck zingt niemand minder dan Brian Wilson de backing vocals. Bono tekende voor de tekst van het nummer Someone Else’s Tears, Roland Orzabal voor de tekst van God Bless The Child.

Zucchero - Chocabeck (cover)

In the Reggiano dialect “choka” means “make a noise” and “beck” means “beak”.

“It was an expression my father used when I was a child. Whenever I asked him if there was anything to eat, rather than tell me there was nothing, he would say “A ghe di chocabeck” – “There’s chocabeck”.
“For ages I thought these “chocabecks” were really good to eat. I’m still looking forward to having some !!!”
— Zucchero 2010

Adelmo Fornaciari, better known to the world as Zucchero a nickname given to him by one of his school teachers has achieved world wide acclaim since winning the Italian Castrocaro Festival in 1981.

Zucchero has performed in front of millions of people in many countries on different continents.  However the emotion in Zucchero’s words and the feeling in his music is something that we all share, it is international.  There are no boundaries.

His 1987 album ‘Blue’s’ with Corrado Rustici, David Sancious plus Clarence Clemons and the Memphis Horns sold in excess of 1.3 million copies and was the biggest commercial breakthrough ever achieved by a rock music album in Italy.  Since then Zucchero has gone on to sell over 15 million albums worldwide.

His duet’s are legendary from Eric Clapton’s unmistakable guitar on ‘Wonderful World’’ to the international hit ‘Senza Una Donna’ (Without a Woman) with Paul Young.   From the Italian version of ‘Mad about You ’, (Muoio per te) on Sting’s ‘The Soul Cages’ album to ‘Miserere’ with the Maestro, Luciano Pavarotti.

Zucchero is as generous with his time as with his talent.   With Luciano Pavarotti he devised the Pavarotti & Friends charity gala which is now an annual event and he continues to support Nelson Mandela’s 46664 campaign with concerts throughout the world.

November 2010 sees the release of ‘Chocabeck’, already hailed as one of the best, if not the best album ever written by Zucchero. Recorded across the Globe including stints in Los Angeles, Bolgheri, and London the album features production from some of music’s best known alumni including Don Was (The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Roy Orbison) and Brendan O’Brien (AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam). Additional production also comes from people who were at the helm of the incredibly successful last Coldplay record (Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends) messrs Jon Hopkins and Davide Rossi. Featuring some of Zucchero’s most poignant and touching lyrics he also managed to enlist the assistance of his good friends Bono (who the lyrics for the track ‘Someone Else’s Tears’ ((Il Suono Della Domenica)) and Brian Wilson (who recorded backing vocals for the title track). With this new record Zucchero opens up a new chapter in his illustrious and coveted career.

track by track

Zucchero has nothing against the new technology or the pick’n’mix culture of the download generation. But, he explains, his new album is made to be enjoyed in the traditional way. “When I make an album it’s like a painting. You can’t take one piece of the painting and say ‘Just give me this flower, and that horse,’ and then leave the rest. It makes more sense if you take the whole picture.”

The songs on Chocabeck loosely follow the cycle of life in an imaginary countryside location not dissimilar to Reggio Emilia, the tiny settlement in the north of Italy where Zucchero comes from. “This album is all about my roots,” he says. “Fragments of life and emotions on a typical Sunday from dawn to dusk in the village where I grew up.”

1.        Un Soffio Caldo

[A Warm Breath]

The album begins with a song about the sun rising over the mountains, spreading a glow over the land that is like a warm breath. As its rays reach the river and the bridge, the dreams of the night melt away and the day gradually comes alive. “During the day, there will be dogs that try to bite your leg and masters that try to tie you down,” Zucchero says. “But every day starts full of hope and enthusiasm as I wake up and feel this warm breath of freedom all around me. Although I have woken from my dreams, a part of them lives on, during the day and forever. The dream is there when you are in your house with your wife and children or when you play some music. It is a little piece of freedom that you find in these moments of peace, when nobody can tell you what to do.”

2.       Someone Else’s Tears

This delicate acoustic song with lyrics written by Bono, captures the rhythm of life in the Italian countryside: “The grapes are gathered, the wine is pressed/And despite the rain/It’s been a good year to walk these fields again,” Zucchero sings, his voice rising in a soulful refrain above a bed of shimmering keyboards including harpsichord and a church organ. “I’ve been a friend of Bono’s for a long time,” Zucchero says. “He wrote the lyrics for my song Blue and also for Miserere, the song I performed with Pavarotti. Bono doesn’t speak Italian at all, but he heard this song and then came out with these fantastic, beautiful lyrics which exactly matched my idea of what it was about; life in the country, making wine, enjoying the simple things. It’s true what they say – the music already has the lyric inside it. The best lyric writers only have to find the words that are right there in the music all along.”

3.       Soldati Nella Mia Citta [Soldiers in my Town]

Recalling scenes from his childhood, Zucchero sings of the hopes and fears that haunt the folk memories of his rural community in this powerful, optimistic ballad. “I was born ten years after the end of the Second World War, but there was still something lingering in the air from that terrible era,” Zucchero says. “I remember my grandmother Diamante taking me for a walk on a Sunday and we saw all these soldiers leaving the town. To me it seemed to be a sign that after all the rain and sadness, a new day full of hope and sunshine was coming. The fear that I felt as a small boy seeing the soldiers was disappearing. The negativity of war was being replaced with the joyful spirit of summer.”

4.       E’ Un Peccato Morir [It is a Shame to Die]

The first single from Chocabeck in Switzerland and Italy, this is one of three tracks produced by Brendan O’Brien, who also mixed the whole album. “He’s such a talented guy,” Zucchero says. “He is one of the best producers of the moment. He’s a great sound engineer. He’s a great musician – he can play everything – and he’s very fast. He’s got his own sound and he gets straight to the point.” The song’s soaring, uplifting melody is bolstered, like many other tracks on the album, by the string arrangements of Davide Rossi, the Italian violinist, long resident in Denmark, who is renowned for the string arrangements on the Coldplay album Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends and also for his longstanding work with Goldfrapp. “He’s a young genius,” Zucchero says. “He can arrange and play everything – violin, viola, cello, bass – but with a very modern sound. The way he arranges strings it doesn’t sound like an old, classical 60-piece orchestra, because he’s a rock guy. He’s very rhythmic. He makes it swing. He’s got the groove.”

5.       Vedo Nero [I See Black]

The orchestral arrangement is very much to the fore in Vedo Nero, a song driven by a powerful rhythm and an urgent Italianate passion. “This song is very ironic and full of double-meanings,” Zucchero explains. “‘I see black’ is an expression meaning ‘I am depressed’ or ‘pessimistic’. But it is also a way of saying the opposite: that the wolf has been set loose…You have to imagine a hot, summer night, beautiful girls dancing, the smell of incense and perfume. The night is like silk. Even the moon is dark and sexy. There’s a sensuality in the air. You are free, you feel good, you dance and you hope to hold someone in the night. Life is too short. I want to enjoy tonight. I want to see black.”

6.       Oltre Le Rive [Beyond the Shores]

One of the most romantic songs on the album, Oltre Le Rive moves with the leisurely grace of a river that flows for a lifetime and beyond. “If you are lucky, you fall in love with someone once in your life,” Zucchero reflects. “I have fallen in love twice, so I’m super-lucky! But the second love is not the same as the first love. The first love, when you are 20 years old and you stay together for 16 years, it never leaves you. There is a lot of conflict, because ultimately you weren’t able to make this person happy. But you will always be a part of them, even if the love is finished and you are leading separate lives. The song is saying that I will always be there if you need me. You can find me any time, over the banks of the river, because you still live inside me. I think when you love someone so intensely, it lasts your whole life, even if you have both got completely different lives.”

7.       Un Uovo Sodo [A Boiled Egg]

Crazy title. And a brighter, dancefloor song in which Zucchero comes up with a typically quirky metaphor to describe his flat, featureless mood after losing the affections of his lover. “Un uovo sodo senza te/Non c’è più un posto per me/Se non c’è un posto dentro al tuo cuore” [“A boiled egg without you/There is no place for me anymore/If there is no place inside your heart”], he sings against an infectious beat. He then refers to the Sardinian liquor mirto – singing “mirti” instead of “irti” – in a line which (mis)quotes the famous Italian poem San Martino by Giosuè Carducci. “It’s a problem because 90% of the time you can’t translate my lyrics to another language,” Zucchero says. “I use a lot of local phrases and slang, with double meanings, puns, irony, sarcasm – jokes which if you translate them, nobody will laugh at. It can be hard for people who don’t speak Italian to understand what I’m getting at.” Whatever losses there may be in translation, the boiled egg song finds Zucchero in a buoyant and lyrically playful mood.

8.       Chocabeck

“My parents were farmers, and when I was a child, there was never much money around,” Zucchero says. “But on Sunday there was usually a bit of cake for the children. Sometimes, though, I didn’t see the cake. When I asked my father if there was anything to eat, rather than tell me there was nothing left, he would say ‘A ghe di chocabeck’ [‘There’s chocabeck’]. It is an old expression which comes from ‘choca’ meaning ‘to make a noise’ and ‘beck’ which means ‘beak’. The beak makes a noise because there’s nothing in it. So ‘chocabeck’ is basically a sweet way of saying there’s nothing to eat.” The song features the vocal harmonies of Brian Wilson. “To me Brian is one of the great rock’n’roll musicians of all time,” Zucchero says. “I never thought I would get to meet him, let alone work with him on one of my songs. There’s a definite echo of the Beach Boys in this song and especially after he worked on it. It was amazing how fast he put together all the different harmonies, adding six, seven, eight vocal lines, one after another. The man is a legend.”

9.       Alla Fine [In the End]

This emotional ballad reaches a climax of sweeping orchestral grandeur before ending on a delicate piano passage, inspiring a vocal performance with an operatic level of emotion from Zucchero. “The song is dedicated to a friend of mine called Charlie who died of cancer,” Zucchero says. “I only knew him for three years, but he loved me and I loved him. He was a very genuine person. He fought to the end. I wrote this song one week before he died. I played it for him to hear, and he cried. Next thing, he was gone. I was angry, shocked, sad. When I wrote it I thought maybe it is too dramatic, too sad. But it is about something bigger than me and bigger than him. It is really a love song, a deep love song. It is a song for anyone who misses someone who is not there anymore.” [The lyrics on the English language version of Alla Fine were written by none other than Iggy Pop, a surprising choice of co-writer for Zucchero. “Iggy is a fantastic performer, an animal, but he’s also a poet,” Zucchero says. “If you saw him on stage you would think he was the devil. But when you meet him he’s such a nice, tender guy. I was very happy to work with him.”]

10.       Spicinfrin Boy

A gentle, acoustic lullabye that drifts from the speakers like a warm evening breeze, Spicinfrin Boy is another song inspired by Zucchero’s memories of his beloved grandmother Diamante. “The word means ‘a lovely boy but a bit of a wild child’,” Zucchero says. “My grandmother used it as a tender, affectionate term of endearment for me.”

11.       God Bless the Child

The second English-language track on Chocabeck is an evocative, orchestral song co-written by Zucchero with Roland Orzabel of Tears For Fears along with Chaz Jankel and Derek Hussey of the Blockheads. It is the end of the day, and there is a gathering sense of calm. “I feel joy will drown the sorrow/Like a child that can never grow old,” Zucchero sings, as the album ends on a note of quiet optimism.

“I’ve travelled around the world for many years,” Zucchero says, “And for me it is now more important than ever to reconnect with the sights and sounds and feelings of life in a village community. I live in a 7th century house that I restored in a small, medieval village. The houses are made of stone, the fields are full of flowers and maize, and you can hear the hypnotic sound of the river running close by. I like to live a simple life with my family, observing the old traditions. And this is what my music is truly all about.  It comes from inside my soul. It is all about emotions, deep emotions.”

Website : www.zucchero.it

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