Gruppo Sportivo may be the first band to appear on this blog for a second time… as I touched briefly on their 7″ More Mistakes a few weeks ago. It was so good (Holly and I both liked it, and so did our friend Matt – three thumbs up constitutes a winner in my world) that I decided to look these guys up on eBay, as they’re not on iTunes. Mistakes from 1979 looked promising, and we’re generally fans of earlier albums from bands, so I ordered it. And since it’s Friday night and we’re drinking margaritas, it seemed like the perfect night to put this on for a spin.
The first song on Side A (“Mission A Paris”) opens with a kazoo. So there’s that.
This is some real power pop. No punk here, and it’s not new wave either. I mean, this has saxophones and trumpets (and the previously mentioned kazoo). I might be having a flashback to the first concert I ever went to without my parents – Huey Lewis & the News circa 1983 in Columbia, South Carolina (Holly says that while there are horns, they are not Huey Lewis calibre horns… she says more early 80s Billy Joel. I hate it when she’s more or less right.). But this still has a raw feel to it, which I really like.
This isn’t as stylistically diverse as More Mistakes, which was actually released along with the promo versions of this album. The big difference is that the 7″ seemed to be comprised of six songs all done in completely different genres, which was extremely cool, while Mistakes is more homogenous.
Side A ends with “I Shot My Manager” – which out of nowhere goes into a reggae chorus of, “I shot my manager / Because he took all my royalties”. Welcome to the record biz.
There’s a lot of pop here, including some Japanese and surf rock, and reggae influences. Hell, a lot of this has a very late 50s/early 60s pop-love-song-doo-wap sound to it. You’ve got horns, kazoos, and even steel drums in addition to the standard pop guitar, bass, and keyboards, so there’s a lot going on here, and all of it is pretty good. I mean, there’s a goddamn triangle being played in “Bottom of the Class”, a song that also references the television show “Columbo” (seriously, were we exporting “Columbo” to Holland? Really? That was the cultural TV export to the world circa 1979?).
Go dig through the cheapo bins and find yourself some Gruppo Sportivo. It’s worth the listen.