Sunday, 1 April 2012

A singer Elvis would have told us to listen to!

If you go onto YouTube and search for Angelo Di Crescenzo, you will find over 60 videos of this exciting new artist covering some of the best known rock ‘n’ roll classics from Elvis to Gene Vincent! Angelo, who hails from Abruzzo in Italy, with an uncanny resemblance and sound to a young Shakin’ Stevens, has gone back to recording exactly the same way as Elvis recorded at Sun, with a back to basics style that created the definitive sound for 1950s rock ‘n’ roll. It’s an exciting energy that takes in a whole load of genres from country, blues and rockabilly to pop and do-wop, the very roots of rock ‘n’ roll. As Angelo told me when I talked with him about his influences, he simply adores the songs recorded at Sun Records. ‘I really consider Sam Phillips a genius, an innovator. He wasn’t seeking perfection, but to communicate emotions, and put soul into every track, so I learned a lot from him and how he was the first to use the delay effect in voices and instruments! It is something that was later used in all the 50s rock 'n' roll records, so in a way it became the standard, the way to do things, but only because Sam started it.’

In 2012, though, it is a most courageous step to launch oneself with such a back to basics approach, but how good it sounds. Listening to his version of Elvis’s She’s Not You played on acoustic guitar, with a new Jailhouse Rock influenced ending gives the song a completely new feeling. It is marvellous listening and can only be a timely reminder, after all these years, how Elvis could have sounded without all the strings and overdubs. ‘That’s not really a true recording,’ laughs Angelo. ‘It’s just a live video recording. The quality isn’t so good, I didn’t use microphones, only a video camera. But I’m very glad I did it because it seems to have become one of my most popular covers. And I had never planned to end the song like that. It was just improvised! You can do that when you are just fooling around.’

Beyond Elvis, of course, there is Angelo’s own compositions. And if you want to hear one that will have you playing it over and over, then check out his Today I Feel Like A Train video. How simply inspiring it is to hear someone play Gretsch guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, percussions, the lot. It’s pure rockabilly magic. And one has to wonder what influenced him to write such a song with such an offbeat title. ‘I was really inspired by the beauty of the weekend, you know, today I feel like a train, I feel like escaping. At the time, I did that, because I had a job that I hated. And it made me feel bad that I had no other opportunities. So every weekend I could finally pull the plug, and spend time doing something that made me feel good which was music. It really was something I did almost instinctively, without the slightest effort, just like the old blues singers from Memphis used to do. Then I shot a pretty insane video, but originally, it wasn't a funny song!’

His first album, a sixteen track demo is quite remarkable listening. Best described as some of the best songs to come out of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll, it is the sort of material that leaves you wondering how a young 20-something year old got so influenced by the likes of artists that were miles away from the Italian music scene and usually only appreciated by those of us over forty! Despite coming from the same hometown as Madonna, Dean Martin and Perry Como, and not being able to find a band passionate enough about rock ‘n’ roll, for Angelo, it all started with Happy Days. ‘As a child I loved it so much that I began to really get into the whole 50s thing. Fonzie was always mentioning Elvis Presley. And not having heard Elvis at that point in my life, I remember thinking "who is this Elvis?" So I found some of his songs, and from the moment I heard him, I was hooked on rock 'n' roll! Although there were many other artists who made an impact on my musical choices, Elvis was the first, but all the artists I have covered on the album have all played a huge part.’

Equally astonishing is the influence of the guitar. ‘Yeah, I love Duane Eddy’s guitar! Eddie Cochran, he had a very heavy and scratchy sound! Scotty Moore, Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, Chuck Berry, Link Wray, they are some of my favorite guitarists.’ Among those he has chosen to pay homage to on the album include most of the above, plus Shadows guitarist Hank Marvin.

What is most amazing is that Angelo’s two self-composed songs fit in so well with the rest of the set that it’s easy to forget they were not original hits from the period the rest of the album covers. If it’s possible to write, perform and record brand new songs and make them sound like they literally come from another era of music and feel as familiar as the rest of the other hits of the day, then surely he has just pulled off something quite unique and rare. The album which is now available for free download is the result of a young, fresh and exciting new artist whose passion for his music comes though, loud and clear on every track.

'A singer Elvis would have told us to listen to' - Andilon Lensen

The album and artist are being promoted by producer, Andilon Lensen, herself a life-long fan of Elvis, Timi Yuro, and the kind of music that Angelo is recording, performing and composing. She represented the Dutch Song Festival and the following year the International Song Festival in Bratislava in 1986, where her artist Michelle and Andilon’s song, Looking Through The Window won the most promising artist and song of all 21 Eastern and Western countries. Andilon also has her own publishing company, producing, recording, arranging and mostly finalizing the mixes for CD/DVD releases; both individually and in collaboration with other composers, lyricists, artists and producers. She currently runs one of the most successful Elvis website-shops in Europe, a website dedicated to the late Timi Yuro, is an exclusive partner in the distribution of Rare Rockin’ Records, and recently launched her own music label Stage Act Music for CD/DVD releases.

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