I suppose this had to happen. Mike Patton has released an album of Italian pop covers. And frankly, there are no singers of his ilk who would be better suited for the task. Even Patton’s haters have trouble arguing with his fantastic range and vocal style, and what are the odds the negative Nancys want to listen to Italian pop anyway?
Bookended by Gino Paoli pop masterpieces “Il Cielo In Una Stanza” and “Senza Fine,” Mondo Cane (“A Dog’s World,” ostensibly named after a series of Italian shockumentaries) traverses famed spaghetti western composer Ennio Morricone (“Deep Down”), cheeky jazz yeller Fred Buscaglione (“Che Notte!”), classic pop artists Nico Fidenco (“L’umo Che Non Sapeva Amare”) and Gianni Morandi (“Ti Offro Da Bere”), and Italian rockers The Blackmen (“Urlo Negro”).
Most stateside reviewers of this material (myself included) have a limited knowledge of the source material aside from perhaps recognizing one of the Paoli tracks from a film, but it wouldn’t be a Patton release if he didn’t take some liberties with the source material. “Urlo Negro” is more dynamic than its original, if only because Patton’s a better screamer. “Senza Fine” features a playful Patton rather than a straight crooner.
By comparison, the opening Paoli cover “Il Cielo In Una Stanza” is a straightforward, full throated interpretation worthy of a classic film. In listening, whole album has an extraordinary cinematic feel, aided by the 40-piece orchestra Patton uses on the recording. It’s a wonderful cross section of Italian pop that the many-talented vocal acrobat has curated on this release, and Mondo Cane is a warm love letter to Italian music that Patton has highlighted for his cultish audience.