Grand Duchy Cultural Position #9: Paolo Conte

grandlogo150c2120bcGrand Duchy is the latest venture from Charles Thompson (a.k.a Frank Black, a.k.a. Black Francis). It’s a duo with his wife Violet Clark that explores relatively off-road terrain for Thompson: high-gloss new wave and vampish synth pop. Grand Duchy’s playful and slightly Euro-affected debut album, Petits Four, is out April 14 on Cooking Vinyl. Thompson and Clark are guest editing this week. Read our Q&A with them.

paolo-contev370Paolo Conte is Italy’s answer to Tony Bennett, but way cooler and edgier. Packed with aging sex appeal and wit, Conte is magnetic whether he’s taking a stab at the English language in a standard Broadway showtune or tugging at your heartstrings while taking a backward glance at life in Italian. He lets it all hang out, and it’s really entertaining and great. Conte was born in the Piedmont region of Italy in 1937. An outgoing fellow who followed his muse wherever she led, Conte enjoyed stints as a vibraphonist, a painter and a lawyer before achieving acclaim as a songwriter and performer in the ’70s. We regularly rely on Paolo Conte CDs to turn an ordinary Sunday drive into a Fellini film.

Trivia: Black Francis was switched on to Paolo Conte by the owner (who is also a fantastic chef) of the Bikini Club in Toulouse, France.

Paolo Conte’s “Vieni Via Con Me”: