Artist

PING PONG

1971:
Mauro Falzoni (guitar, vocals)
Celso Valli (keyboards)
Paride Sforza (sax, clarinet)
Alan Taylor (bass, vocals)
Roberto Poli (drums)

1973:
enters
Giorgio Bertolani (vocals)

A group from Emilia, which released no less than two albums and a couple of singles with this name, and others in later years as Bulldog. Both albums don't contain any information on the band and is likely that the record companies wanted to promote them as a foreign band as it was common practice then, to give the groups a wider audience. The only foreign member was in fact English bassist Taylor, who had come to Italy with the beat band The Casuals during the 60's, the others were from Bologna and Modena.
At the beginning of their career, around 1970-71, the group went to play in Greece under the name The Eden Rocs, recording some tracks that were only issued in 1979 on two separate LP's, Reggae and hard rock (VIP 501) and Sing-sing-sing (VIP 503).

Their first album as Ping Pong, About time, contains 10 tracks, all sung in English and with good use of flute and guitar. The sound is not particularly original and owes much to English bands. There are some jazzy influences here and there, like in the last track, Funny wife, that's totally instrumental and contains a long drum solo. Sax player Alan King, who collaborated with many Italian artists including Banco del Mutuo Soccorso (in their ...di terra LP) makes a guest appearance in the album.

The second, Ping Pong, came a couple of years later on Spark label, and contained a mix of commercial songs and more original tracks, this time entirely sung in Italian and with the strong presence of new vocalist Giorgio Bertolani.
Tracks like Il miracolo, Caro Giuda (Italian version of Blue Mink's single Time for winning), both also released on singles, or Cresciuta in un paese with orchestral arrangement, fall in the typical mainstream pop Italian style of the era, while Il castello or the long jazzier Suite in 4 tempi are among the best moments, very well composed. Musically well played, the album contains nice keyboard and sax parts, demonstrating the very good quality of the musicians involved.

Like many other bands examined here (Exploit, Flashmen, Fili d'Erba) Ping Pong mixed together totally different styles, alternating between commercial songs and more original tunes, in this case jazz-oriented. The result is, unfortunately, rather disjointed and not particularly satisfying.

The band reappeared a few years later as Bulldog, with two albums and lots of singles all sung in English and mostly rock-oriented with the usual commercial songs put in.

The group's keyboardist, Celso Valli, had an important career as arranger and producer, which still lasts today.
Bass player Alan Taylor, released a solo pop single on Blue Jean (BJ 614), Song for Magdalena, in 1977, and produced, between 1978 and 1980 the first three album by the popular rockstar Vasco Rossi.
Taylor, still living in Italy, sadly passed away in 2011.

 

 

LP
About time Emiliana (LP 5022) 1971 single cover
Ping Pong Spark (SRLP 246) 1974 single cover


CD
Ping Pong Mellow (MMP 200) 1995 reissue of 1973 album


SINGLES (with picture sleeve)
Caro Giuda
Il castello
Spark (SR 814) 1973 both tracks from Ping Pong
Il miracolo
Plastica e petrolio
Spark (SR 819) 1974 both tracks from Ping Pong


PROMOTIONAL AND JUKEBOX SINGLES (with blank sleeve)
Funny wife Emiliana (EM 247) 1971 juke box single taken from About time - backed with Silvano Silvi/Flash back 

 

 

Both albums are very rare having been released on small labels. The second is a bit easier to find.
No counterfeits exist nor foreign issues.
About time was also issued on 8-track cartridge (and probably on cassette as well) with different cover design.

Second album Ping Pong, generally considered as from 1973, year of release of the first single taken from it, was in fact issued at the beginning of 1974. This is demonstrated by the year printed of the label and the date written on the run-off groove (7/1/74).

 

About time - LP

About time - LP label

About time - 8-track cartridge

Ping Pong - LP

Ping Pong - LP label

Caro Giuda - 7" single cover

Il miracolo - 7" single cover

 

Thanks to Gary Lapworth, Giacomo Beatrici, Mike Clark, Mauro Degrassi, for information about Ping Pong and Bulldog.

A big thank you to guitarist Mauro Falzoni, who supplied information on the group elusive line-up. His own website is www.chitauro.it