Friday, May 30, 2008

Rokes (1964-69)

The Rokes achieved much more success in Italy, than they did in their homeland, but their UK 45s are now quite collectable and When The Wind Arises was quite psychedelic. Norman Shapiro was born in London in 1943 and by the time he was seventeen was playing guitar and singing with Rob Storm & The Whispers (who later became Robb Storme Group). Norman then played for a while backing Gene Vincent's Blue Caps, followed by a stint in The Shel Carson Combo in 1961, touring Germany's clubs such as Top Ten Club in Hamburg, and supporting Tony "Colin" Hicks for a two month tour in Italy in 1963, where the band changed their name to "The Cabin Boys". Spotted on tour by their (soon to be) new manager, they were renamed The Rokes and backed the young girl vocalist Rita Pavone before recording a demo for RCA Italiana. This led to the release of "Shake Rattle and Roll" on RCA subsiduary ARC Records, but this failed to create any impact. A second 45 followed after they played at the "Festival Degli Sconosciuti" (Contest For Unknown) in Ariccia (Rome), performing "Un Anima Pura" sung in broken Italian. The song was received favourably, and although it was unsuccesful, it did point the way ahead for the remainder of the bands existence. In 1965 The Rokes began writing original songs and had some hit's: Grazie A Te (aka Clint Ballard Jr.'s I'm Alive) which reached No. 12 and C'e Una Strana Espressione Nei Tuoi Occhi (a version of Jackie DeShannon's When You Walk In The Room) which got to No. 11 in the Italian Charts. They also released their debut album The Rokes. The following year, the band had further success with Che Colpa Abbiamo Noi and E La Pioggia Che Va, both of which remained in the Top 20 for over 25 weeks, and they were also voted second best Beat Group in Italy at "Cantagiro 1966". Another track Piangi Con Me written by Shapiro/Mogul was released in the UK as Let's Live For Today and also covered by The Living Daylights. In the US, The Grassroots also covered the song, where it sold over two million records, although the band never received any money from the song. In 1967 their first entry in the "Festival Di San Remo" Bisogna Saper Perdere was poorly received by the critics, but went to No. 2 in the Italian Charts, and remained in the Top 20 for fourteen weeks. They returned to the festival the next year where they performed Le Opere Di Bartolemo with US group Cowsills, and again the following year where they backed a little girl vocalist Nada with the song "Ma Che Freddo Fa", coming 5th for the journalists and critics. 1970 saw a decline in the groups fortunes, as the public taste changed, and they played their last concert in front of 3,500 people at the "Festival De L'Unità" on the 8th August. The concert was organised by the Communist Party! The Rokes are still remembered fondly in Italy, although they never managed to recreate their success elsewhere. Shel Shapiro has remained active in the music business, as songwriter, producer and manager, and in 1977 founded "Spaghetti Records" in Milan, discovering new talent such as Luca Barbarossa. He now works in TV collaborating with music journalist. Gianni Minà. Mike Shepstone later played with Mick Brill (ex Thane Russal Band) in Pax, whilst Johnny Charlton became an Art expert, and now runs an Art Gallery in Rome. Bobby Posner returned to England and lives in Hastings. Shapiro and Shepstone also released a single in 1966 under the name Les and Kim La Mia Ispirazione/Unchained Melody (ARC 4096).
(taken from "Tapestry Of Delights")

This 2 CD-Set was released by BMG (BMG 74321963432(2) / 2002). This will be my last post for the next 2 weeks. I'm on vacation now.

[Disc 1]
- Che Colpa Abbiamo Noi
- Un'Anima Pura
- Grazie A Te
- Eravamo Amici
- C'è Una Strana Espressione Nei Tuoi Occhi
- Piangi Con Me
- Spegni Questa Luce
- Bambina
- Summertime
- Quando Eri Con Me
- La Mia Città
- Ma C'è Un Momento Del Giorno
- Bisogna Saper Perdere
- Shake, Rattle And Roll
- Ci Vedremo Domani
- She Asks Of You
- Eccola Di Nuovo
- Cercate Di Abbracciare Tutto Il Mondo Come Noi
- Ascolta Nel Vento

[Disc 2]
- È La Pioggia Che Va
- Ricordo Quando Ero Bambino
- Finchè C'è Musica Mi Tengo Su
- Che Mondo Strano
- Baby Blue
- Le Opere Di Bartolomeo
- Se Io Fossi Povero
- Lascia L'Ultimo Ballo Per Me
- Qui Non C'è Nessuno
- Somewhere
- Io Vivrò Senza Te
- Baby, Come Back (Non C'è Pace Per Me)
- Ma Che Freddo Fa
- 28 Giugno
- Roll Over Beethoven
- Per Te Per Me
- Ombre Blu
- When The Wind Arises (Il Vento)

Norman David [aka Shel Shapiro] (gtr, vcls)
Johnny Charlton (gtr, vcls)
Bobby Posner (bs, vcls)
Mike Roger Shepstone (drms, vcls)

Band origin:
London → Rome (Italy)

Albums [Italy only]:
1. The Rokes (ARC SA 4) 1965
2. The Rokes Vol. 2 (ARC SA 8) 1966
3. Che Mondo Strano (ARC SA 15) 1966
4. The Rokes (ARC ALP 11006) 1968

45's [Italy]:
 1. Shake Rattle and Roll/Quando Eri Con Me
    (ARC 4013) 1964
 2. Un'Anima Pura/She Asks For You (ARC 4021) 1964
 3. C'e Una Strana Espressione Nei Tuoi Occhi/
    Ci Vedremo Domani (ARC 4046) 1965
 4. Grazie A Te/La Mia Città (ARC 4067) 1965
 5. Ascolta Nel Vento/Il Primo Sintomo (ARC 4075) 1966
 6. Che Colpa Abbiamo Noi/Piangi Con Me (ARC 4081) 1966
 7. E La Pioggia Che Va/Finche c'e Musica Mi Tengo Su
    (ARC 4100) 1966
 8. Ride On/Che Mondo Strano (ARC - Juke Box Only) 1966
 9. Bisogna Saper Perdere/Non Far Finta Di No
    (ARC 4109) 1967
10. Eccola Di Nuovo/Ricordo Quando Ero Bambino
    (ARC 4122) 1967
11. Cercate Di Abbracciare Tutto Il Mondo Come Noi/
    Regency Sue (ARC 4137) 1967
12. Le Opere di Bartolomeo/Siamo Sotto Il Sole
    (ARC 4142) 1968
13. Lascia L'Ultimo Ballo Per Me/Io Vivrò Senza Te
    (ARC 4152) 1968
14. Qui non c'e Nessuno/La Luna Bianca La Notte Nera
    (ARC 4156) 1968
15. Baby Come Back/Hello Come Stai (ARC 4169) 1968
16. Ma Che Freddo Fa/Per Te Per Me (ARC 4172) 1969
17. 28 Giugno/Mary (ARC 4182) 1969
18. Ombre Blu/Sempre Giorno (ARC 4194) 1969

45's [UK]:
1. Let's Live For Today/Ride On (RCA RCA 1587) 1967
2. Hold My Hand/Regency Sue (RCA RCA 1646) 1967
3. When The Wind Arises/The Works Of Bartholemew
   (RCA RCA 1694) 1968

Get it here (Artwork included)

Listen to Grazie A Te

Listen to Finchè C'è Musica Mi Tengo Su


Anonymous said...

Very good compilation but, unfortunately, the sound is poorly mixed; it's much better the older (single CD anthology) one remastered by Shel Shapiro.


frumious bandersnatch said...

Thank you ! and have a nice vacation !

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I just want to thank you for your excellent texts/infos and uploads. I love this blog!

Anonymous said...

Where are you, my friend? I miss you. Return to us please.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Help, you and your genius posts are sadly being missed! Please come back soon!

Anonymous said...

Still looking for you to return. Hope all is well, but we need you when you are able to come back.