Mina ‘Renato + Il Cielo In Una Stanza’ (Jackpot) 4/5

Italian singer Mina Mazzini, better known by her first name, was a major pop singer in Italy from the early 1960’s all the way through to the mid-1970’s and, possessing a three-octave voice, she was highly versatile and regularly performed on television shows as well as in concert, and consequently has become immortalised in Italian popular folklore. Still alive and now in her mid-seventies, there has been something of a minor retrospective of Mina’s work in recent times and this second Jackpot re-issue of her work focuses attention on two albums from 1960 and 1962 respectively, when she was enjoying at once a creative and popular peak. So much so in fact that the song, ”Eclisse twist’, was selected by Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni for the soundtrack to his film starring Alain Delon, ‘Eclisse’. 
Mina could adapt to various genres, but the early 1960’s was a period of major musical shifts and this is reflected in the repertoire that includes early examples of R &B meets pop, with gentle Latin big band arrangements especially suiting her vocal delivery, and even the odd nod to the then nascent bossa nova beat. It is indeed the latter that stands out on the flute-led,

‘Stringimi forte i polsi’, which even manages to incorporate some calypso accompaniment into the bargain. The cha cha cha was a favourite dance craze of the era and a kind of watered down version of the mambo ensured for Italian audiences (as heard on Fellini film soundtracks), with the frothy lightenss of, ‘Un piccolo raggio di luna”, highly entertaining, and not only was the phrasing exquisite, but full of humour, and that most certainly endeared her to her native Italian audience. Mid-tempo Latin big band rhythms are a redeeming feature of both, ‘Bricole di baci’, and, ‘Coriandoli’. There is more of a rock and roll feel to, ‘Personalità’, and this is repeated on the aforementioned, ‘Eclisse twist’. However, emotional ballads were another area where Mina excelled, and one would fully expect Italian listeners to be weeping buckets to the dramatic strings plus harp opening to, ‘No paura (de ti)’, with orchestral arrangements creating a lush texture.  
In total, Mina recorded a staggering seventy-nine albums and released seventy-one singles that charted, testimony to her enduring appeal among Italian audiences. As with other Jackpot releases, excellent quality in the facsimile gatefold sleeve that opens up to reveal both original album covers. 

Tim Stenhouse