Between 1974 and today Paolo Conte has released a good sixteen albums and that’s not counting all the various compilations. Here are a few general recommendations, for a more detailed guide to the back-catalogue, refer to the discography and reviews on the next page.

As many of you have already discovered, the best thing about buying a Paolo Conte work is that, unlike the majority of records produced today, you won’t easily grow tired of listening to it. You might occasionally find some of the songs and mannerisms difficult to approach at first, but as you persevere you will be constantly surprised by what emerges; there will always be some new and unexpected aspect or subtlety you hadn’t noticed before.

Which recording you should next add to your collection depends very much on which elements of the lawyer’s style are most to your liking. Generally speaking-and I mean very generally-there are so far three distinguishable phases in the artist’s production. The first two records (see discography) are early Conte and are in some respects less sophisticated-in its good and bad senses-in terms of arrangement, but are melodically second to none and contain already some of the lawyer’s best loved songs though not always in great renditions.

Classic Conte I would say starts with Gelato Al Limon (1979) and extends all the way until Aguaplano (1987), though some aspects might place this in the later phase. These records, including the live albums from the time, Concerti (1985) and Live (1988), represent the embodiment and evolution of the Paolo Conte sound with all its eclectic and idiosyncratic mixtures though still within the framework of an absolute balance of melody, poetry and style. The unstated aim seems that of achieving songs that will, to succumb to the cliché, truly stand the test of time; regardless of whatever medium is called upon to express them.

The period which can be considered recent Conte begins with Parole D’Amore Scritte A Macchina (1990) and includes 900 (1993), Una Faccia In Prestito (1995) and the recent Razmataz (2000), as well as the two splendid live recordings Tournée (1993) and Tournée2 (1998). To some extent this phase is a natural continuation of the earlier but there are some perceptible changes mainly characterised by a shift of attention toward the art of arrangement. The artist’s penchant for orchestration here finds true fulfilment as the resources he is able to call upon produce exciting results with perhaps less conventional melodic balance and attention to detail in the lyrics, but certainly more outright jazz, more elegant dissonance, more clever harmonic interplay.

In my opinion there are two records in particular which you must have before you can consider buying anything else and these are Aguaplano (1987), the perfect bridge between classic and later Conte, and Concerti (1985) a live double album that sums up, the lawyer’s progress until then. If you don’t understand Italian, you’ll have to add a third, The Best Of Paolo Conte (1998) only because it contains indispensable, if cursory, translations to important songs. Afterwards those who want to take the earlier direction should probably acquire Paris Milonga (1981) or Appunti Di Viaggio (1982) then fill in the gaps, and those who want to take the later direction should get hold of 900 (1992) or Una Faccia In Prestito (1995).


Discography and Reviews

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