Album Review — Ma Quela Idea

By Lilyanna D’Amato

Every day, somewhere around four in the afternoon, I have the same conversation with my Mom. I wander into her office to tell her that I’m bored, she scolds me because she hates the word “bored” (it is “forbidden” in this house) and says that if I’m so unimaginative she will certainly dream up something for me to do. After five weeks of my nonsense, she finally did. 

Much to my dismay, I was sent to unpack the boxes in the basement, the contents of which haven’t seen the light of day since 1998. So, that’s how I spent my Saturday, up to my neck in junk. Or so I thought. On my sixth box, I uncovered my Dad’s collection of 80s CDs. At first I saw some familiar, albeit dusty, favorites — Prince’s Sign “O” The Times, Bowie’s Tonight, Marvin Gaye’s Midnight Love — but as I sifted through the piles, I found a few I had never seen before. Among them was a 1981 four-track EP from Italo disco artist Pino D’Angiò called Ma Quale Idea, the vivacious tech-pop album I never knew I needed.

The titular track, Ma Quale Idea, opens with a series of extraterrestrial electronic tremolos, ushering in D’Angiò’s sultry spoken vocal and a resonant bass line sampled from McFadden and Whitehead’s Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now. His native Neapolitan inflection rings throughout the song — seductively, and somewhat sardonically mocking Italian dandies who look down upon the poor and “uncultured” people of the region. In his performance of the song on a popular Italian television show, the debonair singer, clad in a very 80s all-white ensemble, strides across the stage, unfastening the first few buttons of his dress shirt. Flirtatiously taking a drag from a very large cigar, he begins whisking beautiful women away from posh-looking men, whispering an ultra-smooth “oh yeah” all the while. Translated, the the chorus reads:

I had a great thought, I brought her in my den
I poured an orange juice and she burst into a laughter
She clung to my whiskey, she gulped down five litres
She seemed to be out of her wits
She kissed me, I kissed her
I stopped her, I caressed her fairy face
But she looked like a potato

Undoubtedly, the sentiment is sexier in Italian. Nonetheless, the simple piano melody perfectly punctuates his wonderfully dizzying lyricism, his gruff timbre laid over multiple tiers of 70s jangly guitar riffs and an ever-present, propulsive bass line. 

On the funkier, more soulful Okay Okay, D’Angio picks up the tempo. His signature rasp is extraordinary, but the song’s subtle groove and wildly catchy techno-R&B melody seal the deal. His enunciation is impeccable as he flies through the first verse, rapidly and sleazily marveling at the fun of wooing:

Wow, what a woman! I don’t trust women
Courtship is a ritual
Too often all ends up with a woman betraying you
And I don’t care whether they’re blonde or brunette
I just need them to be curvy and willing to make love

His flirtations echo the bounce of the disco-dance keys line, almost begging the listener to get on their feet. 

And I gotta say, it’s hard not to. Ma Quale Idea is the quintessential disco album: boisterous, a little cheesy, and, unfortunately, lost in someone else’s long untouched 80s CDs box.

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