Italo House is a form of 'House music’ that originated in Italy. It was mainly popular in Italy, the U.K., and the United States in the late 80's to early 90’s and has since become more popular all over the world. This style of music originally blended House music with the Italo Disco sound, hence the name ‘Italo House’. The main characteristic of this musical genre originally was the use of samples, especially female vocal samples over a House groove that was predominantly ruled on some tracks by electronic piano chords. Taking influences from the early Chicago House hits of the late 80s.
Typically the vocals used in most Italo House tracks where sampled from early U.S. Freestyle and House tracks, such as ‘Listen Up – Listen Up’, ‘Darcy Alonso - Waited so long’, ‘Kristol - Passion of a woman’ & ‘India - Dancing on the fire’ etc. The music also featured male & female raps, or sections of raps which were lifted from Hip Hop or Hip House acapella’s from around the same time. They also sampled the big vocals from Disco Diva's such as Aretha Franklin, Jocelyn Brown, Loleatta Holloway, Patti La Belle and Seidah Garrett.
Samples came from various acapellas from tracks such as:- Aretha Franklin - Rokk-A-Lott / Jocelyn Brown - I’m Gonna Get You Boy / Loleatta Holloway - Love Sensation. These powerful vocals would usually be used for the chorus, sometimes even not making much sense, due to the Italian musicians and producers at the time not understanding English very well. A prime example is the use of Loleatta Holloways ‘Right on time’ vocal, used in the 1989 No.1 hit by Black Box called ‘Ride On Time’.
In most cases the Italo House sound makes use of a melodic repeated piano chord progression, diva vocals, a 4/4 beat with a tempo of around 120-122bpm. During this time, Italo House musicians, producers also featured acid sounds within their music and ventured as far as producing Techno, some producers also incorporated the exciting piano sound that had now become the basis of Italo House within some of their Techno releases.
The best known example of Italo House, as already mentioned is ‘Ride on Time’ by ‘Black Box’. Black Box, along with the ‘FPI Project’, Media Records ‘Cappella’ and the ‘49ers’ made the genre very popular in the late 80's and early 90's with their very uplifting songs.
The original name ‘Italo House’ slowly drifted away around 1991 / 1992 and it later became known as Italian-House, especially in the UK, but the sound stayed the same ‘happy and euphoric’ pioneered essentially by the production stable of Discomagics Severo Lombardoni and Media Records Gianfranco Bortolotti. The latter carrying on the Italo House sound well into the mid-90s, whose alter egos included Cappella, RAF, East Side Beat and the 49ers to name but a few. The music produced in Italy dominated the British dance charts and clubs of the very early 90s (1990/1991) with songs like:- Asha – JJ Tribute / DJ H feat Stefy – Think About / Pierre Feroldi – Movin Now / Last Rhythm – Last Rhythm and Jinny – Keep warm, all expressing a happy vibe & atmosphere.
Probably the most well known Label and Distributor of the Italo House genre would have to be Discomagic Records in Rome, which had many subsidiary labels that featured Italo House music. This was by far the largest italo Disco / House / Dance record label in Italy at the time and was run by Severo Lombardoni. This label along with Media Records set the standards for an entire genre of music.
In 1991, artists such as K-Klass, Bassheads, Love Decade etc. all created excellent House music that incorporated piano chords that was typical of the time when Italo House ruled the Northern UK House music scene. DJs such as Sasha championed the Italo House sound and featured the genre heavily within his sets. Clubs like Shelley’s, the Hacienda and Legends where also well known for playing Italo House in 1990 and 1991 with Legends being well known for playing more of the obscure Italo House.
To this day Italo House music is collected far and wide by keen, avid record collectors, all chasing that illusive Italo House / Italian-House track/tracks with some costing the buyer £100 +. These fanatics of Italo House have become known as ‘Italo House Aficionados’.