Elio e le Storie Tese
(Elio and the Troubled Stories
), often shortened to EelST or "Elii", are (to make a long story short) Italy
's answer to Frank Zappa
, and also one of the most succesful and long-lived Italian bands, having existed since 1980.
Their history began in the second half of The Seventies
, when the founder Elio
(Stefano Belisari) created a small band with some of his High School
mates in Milan. After various changes, the early Eighties
saw the arrival of a couple members that still play with Elio to this day: Cesareo
(Davide Civaschi), Rocco Tanica
(Sergio Conforti) and Faso
(Nicola Fasani). EelST began touring Northern Italy since about 1985, and their songs began circulating among the youth in the form of bootleg tapes; the first commercially published songs came only a couple years later. They also started appearing on Italian television in the late 80s, and 1987 brought about another member, the multi-instrumentalist Feiez
(Paolo Panigada), who raised the already high technical level of EelST's musical proficiency.(work in progress)
Their lyrics are largely nonsense mixed with puns, references, allusions to popular sayings and to facets of their youth, with generous heapings of Toilet Humour
(especially in the early days), dark humour
and even social/political Satire
; the weirdness of their humour, however, belies their extreme technical proficiency (again, just like Frank Zappa, who can be considered one of their sources of inspiration). EelST have dabbled in almost every possible genre from hard rock to disco, from reggae to blues and even latin and opera, often mixing them to an extent
or spoofing their rules and conventions.
Please do not mix up EelST and Eels
Discography - studio albums
- Elio samaga hukapan kariyana turu (1989)
- The Los Sri Lanka Parakramabahu Brothers Featuring Elio e le Storie Tese (1990)
- Italyan, rum casusu šikti (1992)
- Esco dal mio corpo e ho molta paura: Gli inediti 1979-1986 (1993)
- Eat the phikis (1996)
- Peerla (1998)
- Craccracriccrecr (1999)
- Cicciput (2003)
- Studentessi (2008)
- L'album biango (2013)
The band and their discography provides examples of:
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: Elio's unibrow is legendary, and the man himself makes fun of it every now and then.
- Bilingual Bonus: the title of their first album means "Let's happily fart and cum with Elio" in Tamil (see also Getting Crap Past the Radar). The title of their 1992 album means "It turned out that the Italian was a Greek spy" in Turkish and was Ripped from the Headlines of a Cyprus newspaper.
- Broken Record: a few songs are little more than the title repeated over and over, such as "Tonza patonza". "Raccomando", from their sucky 1990 album (see Stylistic Suck below), just says "Buon Natale e... mi raccomando" ("Merry Christmas and... take care") over and over again.
- Confusing Multiple Negatives: parodied. A very rare cassette◊ from 1992 was called "Not Unpreviously Unreleased'nt".
- Copycat Cover: the cover of their first live album, Made in Japan◊ is almost identical to the much more famous Made in Japan◊ by Deep Purple. Although they mantain that their album is called Made in JUH-pan.
- The cover of L'album biango is a Shout-Out to The Beatles' "White Album". The title, indeed, can be translated more or less as "The Whyte Album".
- The proposed cover of the orchestral remix album "Gattini" was "inspired" by the releases of Deutsche Grammophon, it was changed probably in fear of a lawsuit. Here's the original version◊.
- The Danza: Mangoni's real name is Luca Mangoni. Also, a couple of early members used their real, funny-sounding surnames (Cortellino and Zuffellato) as nicknames.
- Fun with Acronyms: they released an English language live album comprised of the songs from their USA 1998 tour. It was called "E.L.I.O. - The Artists Formerly Known As Elio e le Storie Tese". In this case, E.L.I.O. stood for Enema Lovers Italian Orchestra.
- Genre Roulette: almost always, but "Craccraccricrecr" is perhaps the most blatant example, even with songs titled "Il rock and roll", "Discomusic" and so on.
- He Also Did: Elio and Faso dubbed the Italian version of Beavis And Butthead for a while. EelST also dubbed Terkel In Trouble and Elio voiced the titular alien in Paul. This is just the tip of the iceberg however.
- Hidden Depths: and not just musically speaking. Just two examples: Elio, besides having a conservatory degree in transverse flute, is an electronic engineer. Mangoni is a famed and respected (when he's not singing and acting buffoonishly, that is...) architect in Milan.
- I Have Many Names: Until recently, Elio didn't want to let his real name to be known, so he used a lot of pseudonyms such as Steve, Papalli, Bulci, Roberto Moroni and many others; the other members of the band have had lots of nicknames as well.
- Intentional Engrish for Funny: a couple songs like "First me, second me" are sung in a completely broken English, lampshaded by Elio when he says to have learned it in "medium school" (Middle School). The funniest thing is, they got James Taylor to sing a part of it! Here's an excerpt:
Not see the my love for yourself?
For force, not is visible.
Not hear the sound of the my guitar?
Is play from me;
is play for you, is play for we.
- Also, the very title "Eat the phikis", which doesn't really mean anything.
- Intercourse with You: "Piattaforma di trivellazione", a wacky, absurdist parody of Serge Gainsbourg's Je t'aime... moi non plus. Among all the allusions and weird sound effects, the singer duets with a lover with a suspiciously young-sounding voice... The ending reveals that it's his son.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: during their 1998 USA tour they recorded four short episodes of a miniseries called "Vite bruciacchiate", about their fictional discovery of the lost tapes of a 1940s band who "invented" many musical genres that were born only decades later. This miniseries was broadcasted only once on the Italian state television, two years later, late at night and without any advertising. Since it was never reprinted in any format, it can only be found on old VHS tapes or on some P2P servers.
- List Song: "Silos", which is about... well, a silo used to keep all of the excretions of the human body, lovingly listed in the lyrics. The song also ends with the voice of a stereotypical Prospector for no reason at all.
- "Li immortacci" lists (unnamed, but still easily recognizable) famous musicians who died before their time...and also Michael Jackson. In 1996. note
- Lyrical Dissonance: many times.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: Cicciput's cover is just a pair of cartoony eyes on a monochrome blue background. Here it is◊.
- Mistaken for Pedophile: the subject of the still comedic but very dark and satirical song "Gimmi I.". The eponymous Gimmi is a man who is beaten to death by a mob of angry parents, and whose only fault is to be named Gimmi Ilpedofilo ("Gimmi Thepedophile"). The song becomes funny again (or just more disturbing) when Gimmi himself speaks of his new life in Heaven, having met several people who suffered the same fate. Among them, Roberto Ammazzaneonatinote and Fabiana Inculamortinote .
- National Stereotypes: they often play along with them and mock them. One example: the entire band in wifebeaters at the 1999 MTV Music Awards in Dublin, speaking about pizza and pasta with a heavy Italian accent!
- Stylistic Suck: the Los Sri Lanka... album. It was a Christmas Album made only to fulfill certain contractual obligations, so EelST recorded a few terrible songs on purpose, sung with a pretend famous Sri Lankan band, the titular "Parakramabahu Brothers"... which were a couple of friends of the guy who cleaned up the studio and couldn't even speak Italian!
- Subliminal Seduction: spoofed in a "song" of their 1990 album, aptly named "Messaggio satanico" ("Satanic Message"): the backwards message is... just the lyrics for the Italian version of "Happy Birthday to You" in reverse.
- Surprisingly Sudden Death: sadly, this was Feiez's fate: he died of a brain aneurysm during a concert in December 1998. The following album "Craccraccricrecr" and also the miniseries "Vite bruciacchiate" (see "Keep Circulating the Tapes" above) were dedicated to him.
- Toilet Humour: there already are some examples... but what about "Shpalman" (a song from Cicciput), about a superhero who smears shit on the faces of bad guys with a trowel? Or the woman from "Cateto" who secreted shit instead of sweat from her pores?
- Word Puree Title: Craccraccricrecr (Word of God states that it is meant to be "the sound of your body changing"note ), Cicciput (the name of an angel according to some "medium" on the radio) and Studentessi (a mispronounced Italian word).
- Word Salad Title: One of their songs is named "Abate cruento" ("Cruel / Bloody Abbot") and repeats in the lyrics "Abate cruento esaminatore" ("examiner"). They stated those are just three words picked randomly from a dictionary.