An Italo-house production team employing up to ten different studios, at least a trio of producers for every production and scores of session workers, Cappella is mostly the creation of producer Gianfranco Bortolotti. Undoubtedly influenced by Motown’s assembly-line aesthetic (as well as the ’80s British dance team of Stock, Aitken & Waterman), Bortolotti coordinated the work of longtime producers DJ ProfXor, RAF and DJ Pierre (not the Chicago producer) to create dozens of European club/chart hits under the aliases Cappella, 49ers, Fargetta, RAF, Clubhouse and East Side Beat. For good or ill, Bortolotti’s productions were mostly responsible for the Italian house phenomenon of the late ’80s and early ’90s, based on an often-maligned push-button production blueprint which includes only the cheesiest of melodies, samples, piano lines and diva vocals. Each single produced by Bortolotti’s Media Productions underwent rigorous testing and remixing for maximum airplay in each country it’s released, with only Bortolotti holding the final say on what appears. Throughout the 1990s, Cappella was one of the most thoroughly unartistic dance acts — and for the most part, proud of it.
Inspired by the productions
of Italo-disco producer and mixer DJ Pierre, Gianfranco Bortolotti began mixing around Italy while at school in the late ’70s. The Cappella Project had already debuted as a production team by the end of the decade, though Bortolotti did little more than mix in the music industry until the mid-’80s. In 1987, he produced Cappella’s “Bauhaus (Push the Beat),” a club hit throughout Europe and the UK. The following year brought the continent-wide Top 10 hit “Heylom Halib,” which presaged a wave of similar-sounding Italian house tracks during 1989-90. Bortolotti recorded a Cappella album (the cash-in heavy Heylom Halib), and scored again with the singles “Be Master in One’s Own House” and “House of Energy Revenge.” To his credit, he did recruit seminal diva Loleatta Holloway for the single “Take Me Away,” less successful than the chart-entries but much better.
After several additional
1992-93 hits (“U Got 2 Know”), Bortolotti decided to make an act of Cappella with the addition of two Brits — Rodney Bishop (formerly with Positive Gang) and Kelly Overett (a vocalist who had worked with SL2). The singles “U Got 2 Let the Music” and “Move on Baby” became Cappella’s biggest hits, hitting number one in several countries during 1994. The album U Got 2 Know did appreciably well, though Overett left by 1995 (to be replaced by Allison Jordan). Soon however, Cappella appeared to be running on steam. The 1995-96 singles like “Tell Me the Way” and “I Need Your Love” barely made the European charts, and their 1996 album War in Heaven fared poorly (though it was released in America).
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