|Chrisma in London|
Christina and Maurizio, now hot off their hit remake/remodeling single “U” (I Dig U), marked a new phase in their career by going into the studio to record their first full length album Chinese Restaurant. The studio they went to was the heralded sound lab of Vangelis’ Nemo Studios in London. In London, they were introducing themselves to all the influences they weren’t able to follow before: Bowie, Roxy Music, the Saints, NEU!, Iggy Pop, and most importantly the Velvet Underground. It was at this same time, that they had at their disposal a whole arsenal of electronics (played by Maurizio and Nikolas), and guitars (played by Christina) to use to inflict their own sexually charged dance music into all of this brew. The first song they recorded and also the single they released in this new phase was “Lola”.
This song can best be described as cabaret punk, it was quite a pioneering sound. At a time, when punk was increasingly running (or screaming) away from intimacy, Chrisma’s sound was enticing. The closest sound I can think of it matching would be Iggy Pop’s The Idiot period-era music, think “Nightclubbing”, even though they were both recorded at around the same time. It was gothic, seductive, and Motorik at the same time. You could see the change this style brought to their image as well. Gone were the flickering fashions of their “Amore” and “U” period, now they were replaced with a savage glamour style that was never quite punk. It had more in common with post-punk that had just started to exist. Anyway, regardless of that point, what matters is the whole package.
In the following Youtube video, check out their performance of it in Italy’s Discoring (which was their version of Top of the Pops). At a time, when Italy had no idea what punk was, much less heard it on the radio, here was this couple again tempting their audience to experience something new again. They did what they could to strike this chord for them. They’d engage with the announcers, they’d use striking S&M garbed dancers to titillate, they’d mime their song…but what they wouldn’t do was refuse the original sentiment of it all. This was a group that enjoyed putting on a performance on their own terms with nothing confusing what they were trying to put across.
At a time when they needed to exploit the song’s popularity the most, at a time when this song rocketed to the top ten of the Italian charts, they refused to play it at the San Remo festival (perhaps the most important star maker of the time) because they were asked to sing it in Italian, completely robbing it of the original sound they created. That was ok, though, they knew that through the TV airwaves they had a way to transfix their audience. Tomorrow, they’ll play with fire a bit…