Mario Musella (vocals, bass)
James Senese (sax, flute, percussion, vocals)
Elio D'Anna (sax, flute)
Giuseppe "Pepè" Botta (guitar)
Luciano Maglioccola (keyboards)
Franco Del Prete (drums, percussion)
James Senese (sax, flute, percussion, vocals)
Gianmichele Mattiuzzo (keyboards, vocals)
Mario Archittu (trombone, piano)
Piero Alonso (guitar)
Giuseppe "Pepè" Botta (bass, vocals)
Franco Del Prete (drums, percussion)
Another band coming from a 60's long career, The
Showmen from Naples had some hits in 1968 and 1969 with their original blend of
soul, rhythm & blues and Italian pop, releasing only an LP and a bunch of singles on RCA.
The band had been formed by bassist/singer Mario Musella and sax player James Senese in 1966, and their first single came in 1968. They had a great hit with Un'ora sola ti vorrei, that won the 1968 Cantagiro.
The original group split at the turn of the 70's, with Musella embarking in an unsuccessful solo career (he sadly died in 1979), and Elio D'Anna going to form Osanna.
After a short time Senese and Del Prete, aided by the guitarist Botta (now on bass), reformed the group with a new line-up, more influenced by the current Italian rock tendencies. They first released some singles, halfway between the 60's soul of the original line-up and a new sound, then an album simply called Showmen 2 (the group was touring as Showmen 2, but the liner notes refer to them as simply Showmen), from which another single was taken, on the small local label B.B.B., with little promotion.
The album is housed in a stunning heavy gatefold cover and
contains a peculiar mix of rock, rhythm & blues, prog, not far from the
sound of Chicago or the English band If. The vocal parts, shared between Mattiuzzo, Senese and Botta, have melodic pop influences, but the music is
powerful and well played, with strong horn arrangements that make this album
unique in the Italian prog scene of the time.
Tracks like Abbasso lo zio Tom (also released as a single and with lyrics about racism) or Epitaffio have strong texts and nice arrangements, but it was just for their lyrics which were considered inappropriate that three of the LP tracks were censored by RAI (Abbasso lo zio Tom, Epitaffio, E la vita continua) that banned them from airplay, and this strongly affected the record sales.
The band broke up after the album, founders Senese and Del Prete creating Napoli Centrale with a production of three jazz-rock albums in 1975-77.
Much confusion has been made about Showmen's name, with their album being reissued by B.B.B. label as Showmen 2 / Napoli Centrale; a later compilation on the same label (and still simply called with the group's name) mixed tracks from their 60's beat repertoire, the Showmen 2 album and even a Chicago track cover, Introduction, originally included in Mario Musella's solo album from 1973.
In 1997 budget label Replay Music has issued a CD called Napoli Centrale (featuring James Senese), with a colour cover picture of the very first Showmen and containing the whole Showmen 2 album in a totally different form (and better in some tracks), probably from demo or alternate recordings. The same recordings have been released on vinyl in 2004 by the Dr.Prog label, on an album called Epitaffio. A very nice record, this can be worth buying!
|The Showmen||RCA (PSL-10436)||1969||glossy single cover|
|The Showmen||RCA (PSL-10466)||1970||glossy single cover - singles compilation|
|Showmen 2||B.B.B. (NL SH 0001)||1972||gatefold textured cover with booklet housed in a small pouch - black label|
|AMS/BTF/Suoni del Sud (AMS 03 LP)||2007||reissue of the 1972 album with glossy gatefold cover and 16-page booklet|
|Showmen 2 (Napoli Centrale)||B.B.B. (NL SH 0001)||1976||reissue of the 1972 album in a different single cover - yellow label|
|The Showmen||RCA International (TCL1-1006)||1974||single cover - singles compilation|
|The Showmen||B.B.B. (ZNLBB 34112)||1980||compilation with 60's and 70's lineups tracks|
|Showmen 2||Dvmore (CDDV 6022)||1996||reissue of 1972 album - now deleted|
|AMS/BTF/Suoni del Sud (AMS 126/SS005CD)||2007||as above with mini-LP gatefold cover|
|Napoli Centrale||Replay (RMCD 4155)||1997||this is in fact a different recording of the Showmen 2 LP - also released on vinyl in 2004 as Epitaffio (see below)|
SINGLES (with picture sleeve)
|Credi, credi, credi in me
Basta che mi vuoi
|RCA (PM 3418)||1968|
|Un'ora sola ti vorrei
Ma perché ami il gatto?
|RCA (PM 3428)||1968|
|Non si può leggere nel
Di questo amore non parlo mai
|RCA (PM 3454)||1968|
|Gloria, ricchezza e te
Voglio restare solo
|RCA (PM 3468)||1968|
|Tu sei bella come sei
Dedicato a te
|RCA (PM 3483)||1969|
|RCA (PM 3489)||1969|
|Mi sei entrata nel cuore
Ci crederesti se
|RCA (PM 3530)||1970|
|Che m'hé fatto
|Che succede dentro me
|Storm (AR-4045)||1971||triple fold cover|
|Abbasso lo zio Tom
Amore che fu
|B.B.B. (BSB 0005)||1972||both tracks from Showmen 2|
PROMOTIONAL AND JUKEBOX SINGLES (with blank cover)
|Che succede dentro me
|Storm (AR-4045)||1971||white label jukebox single|
The album is housed in a very attractive textured olive
green gatefold cover, so heavy that usually most covers have a broken or at
least worn spine.
In the inner a small pouch, glued to the right side of the cover, contains a foldout booklet with the lyrics and pictures of band members; the record is inserted in the left side of the gatefold.
According to a review issued at the time (on the popular Ciao 2001 magazine) the record contained "notes, lyrics, sticker and poster...", but keyboardist Mattiuzzo (see interview below) confirms that the original issue only included the pictures and lyrics booklet.
The second issue of the album has a poor black &
white picture of the band on the single cover, and was released after
Napoli Centrale success in 1975.
A first CD reissue of the album has been made in 1996, but in 2007 the AMS label, with help from Suoni del Sud has reissued the album with a mini-LP cover that faithfully reproduces the original, including the foldout insert. The same reissue has been released on vinyl, with glossy gatefold cover and 16-page booklet.
A vinyl-only LP has been released in Germany in 2004, on
the Dr.Prog label (cat.no. 7105 DRPR), called Epitaffio from the title of
one of the songs on the album, that includes the pre-LP recordings that had
already appeared on the 1997 Replay label CD. This LP has a nice cover (based on
the design of the official album) and comes in a 350 copies limited issue on heavy vinyl.
Another German label, Mason, has produced in 2006 a new CD reissue of the Showmen 2 album (cat. MR 56454).
No counterfeits exist, nor other foreign issues.
The two 1971 singles issued on the Storm label contain four songs which were also included in the solo album by Mario Musella, released in 1973 and credited to "Mario e gli Showmen", entitled Come pioveva (B.B.B. BSBL 0006). The group played at the "XVIII Festival della Canzone Napoletana" held in Capri in July 1970 with a remake of a classic of Neapolitan popular music and this was one of the causes of the breakup of the first line-up.
Showmen 2 - LP
Showmen 2 - inner gatefold and booklet
Showmen 2 - 1976 reissue LP
The Showmen - 1980 compilation LP
Epitaffio - LP (Germany) and corresponding 1997 CD
Che m'hé fatto - 7" single
Che succede dentro me - 7" single
Abbasso lo zio Tom - 7" single
A conversation with keyboardist Gianmichele Mattiuzzo, by Augusto Croce, May 2007
1 - How come you joined the Showmen?
I used to play in Taranto with my group, and we supported Showmen. It seems that James Senese noticed me, so he contacted me, arranged a quick audition, and all of a sudden I left my town and joined the group.
2 - Did you play much live?
Especially in the pop festivals, in Palermo and Naples, and many
"feste dell'Unità" [open-air shows organised by the Communist Party],
often playing with other big names.
We had very few concerts in clubs and discotheques, our repertoire didn't fit, people used to come for Un'ora sola ti vorrei but James wanted to avoid early Showmen's hits, for this reason our group was renamed Showmen 2.
3 - What do you remember of the album recordings?
The songs had very careful arrangements, we discussed every
single note and we even went to Rome to have the help of Giovanni Tommaso
[bassist of Perigeo]. The lyrics were written by
our drummer Franco Del Prete, who also composed for other artists, among which
Eduardo De Crescenzo.
We approached many record companies with the tapes, but with no success. I remember that RCA was well impressed by Amore che fu, but they wanted an album in the same style, and we didn't like the idea. So, coming back to Naples, we accepted to release it by ourselves with help from Antonio Taccogna and his B.B.B. label, he found many live dates for us.
4 - Do you know about some alternative recordings of the album that have been issued?
Just think that I bought that cassette in a petrol station on a
motorway! What a shame that it was credited to Napoli Centrale and without our
Anyway these were demos for the LP recorded at Zeus studio, which were discovered and put on sale with no one of us even knowing it. I must admit that I like them more than the LP, they're rawer.
5 - How were the album sales?
Poor, I think it only sold four or five thousand copies, and we also had some negative reviews.
6 - Did you also sing on the album?
Yes, a 50% of the vocal parts is me, I'm the one of "Negro..." in Abbasso lo zio Tom.
7 - How did you come to break up?
Perhaps it was my fault, after the festival and concerts era, and being not able to play the clubs, the musician's life was hard, I had to make many sacrifices to buy my instruments and couldn't go on. After I left, the group broke up, James and Franco kept playing with Napoli Centrale.
8 - Did you keep playing after the Showmen?
It was a reason of earning a living, I started playing in piano bars, returning to Taranto, and I'm still dong it. I never played in a group, which is a wonderful thing until it lasts, but when it ends it's terrible.
9 - Do you thin it is possible to reunite Showmen 2?
I don't think so, James is always very strict on this, even if we are still on good terms.
10 - What are you recollections of your life with this group?
It was a great experience, two years which are the same as 25 of a normal life, I'd do it again soon!
Information on the Showmen can be found at http://www.assmav.com/showmen/homemusella.htm
A big thank you to Gianmichele Mattiuzzo for his kindness and information