Greatest Hits

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Perhaps more than most other groups in their field -- due to both excellence and the length of their discography -- Kano exemplified Italo-disco, the strain of dance music that featured production work from Italians who were, for the most part, descendants of Giorgio Moroder and Claudio Simonetti. Italo-disco helped take dance music into completely synthesized territory and had a profound effect on early Chicago house and Detroit techno producers alike. Often funky, sweetly melodic, and exuberant to say the least (and, yes, occasionally tacky beyond belief), the style yielded dozens of singles by almost as many artists/aliases that continue to be hunted down by young DJs. In addition to having lasting value in underground clubs in the States, Kano's music, in particular, has been twisted and flat-out lifted since its release (see A Number of Names' 1981 single "Sharevari" and Felix da Housecat's 2001 track "Glitz Rock" for two examples). Kano was helmed by a trio of producers -- Luciano Ninzatti, Stefano Pulga, and Matteo Bonsanto -- and their work from 1980 and 1983 is anthologized here. "It's a War" (a Billboard dance chart hit), "Now Baby Now," and "I'm Ready" are the big three, full of prominent handclap tracks, blazing synth zaps, bouncing programmed rhythms, and vocals that are alternately left in the raw or processed to sound like robots. The remainder is pretty hit and miss, but nothing is boring. The worst overall track is "Super Extra Sexy Sign," which is still worthy of repeated listening for the rundown of astrological signs ("Scorpio, Cancer, Virgo...") and the drastic leaps in vocal registers that take place with each change of vocalist. Not everything here is gold, but a handful of these songs are necessary in any self-respecting dance fan's collection.

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