Holly and the Italians

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1979-81)

- Mark Sidgwick - bass, backing vocals

- Holly Beth Vincent -- vocals, lead  guitar

- Steve Young (aka Steve Dalton) -- drums, percussion, 

  backing vocals


  line up 2  (1981)

NEW - Mike Osborne -- drums, percussion (replaced Steve Young)

- Mark Sidgwick - bass, backing vocals

- Holly Beth Vincent -- vocals, lead  guitar


  supporting musicians (1981)

- Angela Brand -- recorder

- Anton Fig -- drums, percussion

- Jerry Harrison - synthesizers

- Paul Schafffer -- keyboards




- Holly Beth Vincent (solo effort)

- The Oblivious (Holly Beth Vincent)

- Vowel Movement (Holly Beth Vincent)

- The Waitresses (Holly Beth Vincent)

- The Wild Things (Holly Beth Vincent)

- Vliohas  (Holly Beth Vincent)




Genre: rock

Rating: **** 4 stars

Title:  The Right To Be Italian

Company: Virgin / Epic

Catalog:  AL 37339

Country/State: Los Angeles, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: includes original custom inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 3355

Price: $15.00

I've always thought there was a good movie-of-the-week in the Holly and the Italians story.


Singer/guitarist Holly Beth Vincent started her career playing guitar and drums in a series of long forgotten Los Angeles punk bands, including Backstage Pass and Brothel Creepers.  She also met drummer Steve Young.  After forming Holly and the Italians, in 1979 the pair headed off to London where they met and recruited bassist Mark Sidgwick.  A series of London club dates caught the attention of BBC DJ Charlie Gillett who signed them to his Oval Records label, making their debut with:

- 1979's 'Tell that Girl To Shut' b/w 'Chapel of Love' (Oval catalog number 1016)


The single hit the UK charts and brought major labels knocking; the band signing with Richard Brnason's Virgin (Epic acquiring US distribution rights).  The band went into New York's Record Plant Studio with producer Shadow Morton, but after he abruptly dropped out of the project, Richard Gottehrer stepped into the gap.  Featuring a  collection largely penned by Vincent, 1981's "The Right To Be Italian" was apparently a difficult debut.  In addition to having to switch producers, original drummer Young parted ways with the group in the middle of the recording sessions.  Mike Osborn was eventually brought in to complete the album, but the personnel shake-up stretched the recording sessions on and on.  With the spotlight on Vincent's sexy, tough girl image, the album offered up a near perfect mash-up of '60s Brill Building moves (Ellie Greenwich even got a thank you), power pop, and three chord punk influences.  Virtually every one of the ten songs had something going for it.  Highlights abounded.  Written during a bout of homesickness, 'I Wanna Go Home' was a wonderful single.  'Rock Against Romance', 'Youth Coup', 'Do You Say Love' and the garage-ish 'Means To a Din' were all insidiously catchy.   An overlooked gem that's four decades later is starting to get a little of the attention it deserved.


Following the album's release the band toured extensively, including opening dates for The Clash, The Ramones, and The Selector.  In spite of those effortsm the album wasn't massive hit, peaking at # 177 on the US album charts. The band subsequently called it quits with Vincent striking out with a solo career - ironically her 1982  debut album was entitled "Holly and the Italians".


"The Right To Be Italian" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Wanna Go Home   (Holly Vincent) - 3:57   rating: **** stars

Exemplified by the blazing 'I Wanna Go Home', of all the late-'70s and early-'80s female rockers out there,  I'd argue Vincent came the closest to capture the sheer joy and energy of punk and new wave.  Reportedly written during a UK tour when suffering from a bout of homesickness, the brief opening monologue makes me laugh every time I hear it   In the UK the song was tapped as the album's sophomore single:

- 1981's 'I Wanna Go Home' b/w 'Fanzine' (Virgin catalog number VS 411)

2.) Rock Against Romance   (Holly Vincent) - 5:57   rating: **** stars

Besides having one of the best melodies of the entire '80 decade, the thing that's always amazed me about 'Rock the Romance' was the fact a trio could generate such a big, full sound.  It was the perfect song for folks who thought Holly and the Italians were just a raw punk outfit.  How was it that Epic / Virgin didn't release it as a single?   Pat Benetar, Chrissie Hynde ...  eat your hearts out.   Complete with Vincent in a leg cast, YoutTube has a stunning December 1981 performance of the song on the English Old Grey Whistle Test television show. It starts at the 3:20 mark: : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiVk7XAVIJI 

3.) Youth Coup   (Holly Vincent) - 2:21   rating: **** stars

Okay, in spite of the title and anti-establishment lyrics, 'Youth Coup' this was way too power-pop sounding to be a punk tune. But when you couldn't stop humming the damn thing, who cared ???   Awesome track with a melody that you simply couldn't shake loose.  I can remember this one from my teens ...    Easy to understand why it was tapped as the album's leadoff single in the UK (and Holland)

- 1980's 'Youth Coup' b/w 'Poster Boy' (Virgin catalog number VS 391)  YouTube has another Old Grey Whistle Test clip for this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lZ7MWJhmPw 

4.) Just Young   (Holly Vincent) -5:23   rating: *** stars

Geez, 'Just Young' may have been the album's biggest surprise ...  I remember be amazed that they could pull off a number that was actually funky.  And again, how did a trio managed such a full sound ?.

5.) Miles Away   (Mark Sdgwick) - 3:39   rating: *** stars

Bassist Mark Sedgwick's lone contribution to the album, 'Miles Away' was also the album's most conventional and commercial pop tune.  It was actually mainstream enough to put Vincent and company in direct contention with Pat Benetar and other AOR female rockers.   That probably explains why it was tapped as the US single and why it isn't one of my favorite performances:

- 1981's 'Miles Way' b/w 'Means To a Den' (Epic//Virgin catalog number 14-02482


(side 2)

1.) Tell That Girl To Shut    (Holly Vincent) -2:59   rating: **** stars

Somewhere I read this was a remake of their debut 45 and it does sound slightly different to my ears, though ore along the lines of being cleaner (the original was recorded on an eight track board).  Regardless, it was a wonderful slice of power-pop with a lyric that was snarky, but ultimately more funny than threatening.

2.) Just For Tonight   (Adams - Kusik - Farrell) - 2:40  rating: *** stars


A remake of The Chiffons 'Just for Tonight' served as the album's lone non-original.  With the late Ellie Greenwich on backing vocals, the remake was affectionate enough, but a bit sappy.  It was released as a UK single:


- 1981's 'Just For Tonight' b/w 'Baby Gets It All' (Vinyl catalog number VS 429)





3.) Do You Say Love   (Holly Vincent) - 3:15   rating: **** stars

'Do You Say Love' was another nice example of Vincent's ability to blend '60s girls group, power-pop and punk influences.  Another track where you had to wonder how the recording company managed to miss releasing it as a single.

4.) Baby Gets It All   (Holly Vincent) - 3:14   rating: **** stars

Powered by raucous guitar, a killer melody, and stunning harmonies, 'Baby Gets It All' would have been a great tune for The Ramones to take on.  

5.) Means To a Den   (Holly Vincent) - 3:13

Geez, where did they discovered this '60s garage classic ???  You had to wonder how they came up with the inspiration for this one ...   The lysergic studio effects made this one a bit atypical, but my pick for the album's standout performance.


SRB 01//2018