(1965) Various Artists – Sicily in Music and Song

Argo issue numbers: released simultaneously in UK and USA as DA 30 (mono) Feb 1965; re-released as ZFB 71 (stereo) March 1972

Field recordings by James MacNeish

Named performers
Ciccio Busacca – vocals, guitar
Vitu Santangilu – vocals, guitar
Giuseppe Ganduscio – vocals


Side One
Easter Wailing – street procession
Tarantella Dance – instrumental group
Mazurka – ‘Sicilian folk orchestra’
Drum Sonata – village drummers
Ballad of Turiddu Carnivali (Ignazio Buttitta) – Ciccio Busacca, vocals, guitar
Nova Moda Di Li Fimmini – Vitu Santangilu – vocals, guitar
Dungeon Song – Giuseppe Ganduscio – vocals
Scialoma – Sicilian fishermen
Tarantella – instrumental group

Side Two
Ballad of Giuliano – Ciccio Busacca, vocals, guitar
Stornello – Topolino
Stornello – Male vocalists with accordion
Stornello – Male vocalists with Jew’s harp
Vo – Males vocalist with guitar
Nennia – unidentified singers
Sonnu Sonnuzzu – Female singer
Lullaby – Female singer
C’er ‘na Volta –


Never heard this, and only see the front cover. Information is from the British Library’s Sound Archive, who doesn’t say which tracks are on Side One and which on Side Two. So I’ve guessed.

These recordings were made in Sicily between 1960 and 1964 by New Zealander James MacNeish. For a potted biography of MacNeish see the post for his other album of field recordings issued in 1965 on Argo, Greece in Music and Song.

While he was living there, MacNeish worked with anti-Mafia and social activist Danilo Dolci, ‘Sicily’s Ghandi’, writing a biography of him, Fire Under the Ashes, which was published by Hodder and Staughton the year this album came out.

Ciccio Busacca, who sings three of the songs on the album, had already gained some fame nationwide as a ballad singer by the time MacNeish recorded him. ‘Ballad of Turiddu Carnivali’ (sung by Busacca on Side One) is a contemporary song inspired by the murder of trade union leader Salvatore Carnevale by the Mafia in 1955 in the village of Sciara, near Palermo.

According to one report I’ve seen, Busacca was prosecuted by the police in 1962 for singing another of the songs on this album, the Ballad of Giuliano – a song about ‘King of the Bandits’ and Sicilian independence activist Salvatore Giuliano, who was killed in a shoot-out with the Carabinieri in 1950.

Giuseppe Ganduscio, who sings ‘Dungeon Song’ on Side One, was a poet, social activist and fighter for peace, who died in 1963 at the age of 38. He appeared on at least three EPs of prison and labour songs issued in the early sixties on the Italian Dischi del Sole label.

(more as and when…if you’ve got the album, let me have a listen)

~ by folkcatalogue on March 28, 2010.

3 Responses to “(1965) Various Artists – Sicily in Music and Song”

  1. Hi
    i have a disc lp sicily in music and song, zfb71
    i’m italian and live in sicily, Enna , Assoro.

    If you’re interested send me e-mail.


  2. im interested, my father was born in campo bello, he came to america in 1955. he told me the story of Giuliano. Im looking for the musical story about his life.

  3. Ciao, io sarei interessato, sto cercando di trovare una copia in vinile o digitale dell’album

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