mikefrancis

Now this, this right here, is the promised boogie wonderland. The late Michele Francesco Puccioni’s (aka Mike Francis) 1984 debut is that unheralded statement piece of funk and R&B music that once you have your chance to get your hands on you’ll never forget. Let’s Not Talk About It was the product of some hard-earned dedication by a young Fiorentino who took it upon himself to turn some glaring weaknesses (his vocals and place of birth) and turn them into truly undeniable strengths.

mikefrancis

Much like fellow Italian producers Mauro Malavasi and Jacques Fred Petrus of Changes fame, Mike was too aware of the beautiful elegant sophistication of American urban music to completely go all in on the rising electronically-produced R&B of the 80s. What you get here is some graceful R&B from that beautiful period in the early ‘80s when the next generation hooked on disco tried to modernize the R&B side by making it more personal and lived in. Add to that stew Mike’s penchant to experiment with boogie (one aided by the production chops of Paul and Peter Micioni) and you’ve got the recipe for an unlikely blue-eyed soul masterpiece.

Raised on American music and well-versed in the American language due to his studies in l’Istituto di Studi Americano in Rome, Mike was never far from an ear to whatever was current in the wider soul music scene. His first band, a disco group called Metropole, and their hit “Miss Manhattan” convinced Mike that he could just call his own shots and try his luck solo. “Survivor” was the first song (and hit) he wrote to propel himself as a new character in Italian music. One that could tap into that American urban dialog in music. His own twist was truly special. Central to his music was Mike Francis using that slightly muted, sorta aloof vocalizing to bring so many tinges of melancholia to what were truly well-thought out and unforgettable booty shakers.

Wistful as much as hip-shaking, it’s no wonder “Let’s Not Talk About It”, is also a product of tapping into some of the music of his own country. Shades of Italian electro, mediterranean balladry, and latin-tinged musical sophistication make this album his definitive statement. On cut after cut you can hear Mike and his whole crew simply go for it, making it a statement of Italian soul music. For me I hear shades of the music of Michael Jackson, the SOS Band, Shalamar, Ashford and Simpson, and Imagination coursing through Mike’s headspace. Put something like “Night Time Lady”, the title track, or “This Love” anywhere, at any time, and no matter your skin color, I guarantee the place is going to bump – because it’s of that same mindframe. Of course, during the summer time, most likely, that’s when the bump will be even more pronounced. A dazzling display of soul music, like Mike says: “Let’s not talk about it…tell me with your heart” – well, there’s tons of heart here too.

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