Audio Remasterer: Maria Triana.
Liner Note Author: Bill Dahl.
Recording information: RCA Studio A, New York, NY (05/05/1964-05/06/1964).
It was 1963, and executives at RCA in New York came up with what they thought was the perfect idea. With Soeur Sourire, the Singing Nun from Belgium, hitting the number one pop spot with "Dominique" that year, RCA decided it was the perfect time to break the diminutive young Italian singer Rita Pavone in America. The fact that she didn't know a word of English didn't deter anybody. She had released a German-language hit in Germany, after all, and had dented the charts in France singing in French, and she hadn't been fluent in those languages either, not to mention that she was a teen superstar in Italy, had a distinct look, and she could actually really sing. RCA brought her to New York for sessions, hired a coach for English lessons, booked her on various American television shows, and released the single "Remember Me" to American radio in 1964. It was all well and good, except for one thing-- the Beatles, the British Invasion, folk-rock, and Bob Dylan had all hit that year, and Pavone, for all her charm, was immediately out of date. Aside from some critics proclaiming years later that "Remember Me" was a proto-punk-pop classic, definitely a debatable point, Pavone never really dented the public consciousness in the U.S., and left the States to resume her career in Italy after a short tour of South America -- where she was a big star. The International Teen-age Sensation was her debut album in English, and was produced and assembled by Joe Rene from those New York sessions. It's a pleasant, sunny-sounding set of early-'60s pop, but what makes it interesting as an album is the way Rene doled out the arrangements and orchestrations for the songs, dividing it evenly -- four selections apiece -- between Teacho Wiltshire, Stanley Applebaum, and Garry Sherman. Each of these arrangers, the best RCA had in its stable, came up with cool stuff, and for that, this album is well worth hearing, even without Pavone's vocals -- which hardly sink the ship, by the way, and probably work way better than they have a right to, given the circumstances. The Beatles et al. had taken over the world, though, and this ship wasn't going anywhere, at least not in America. The International Teen-age Sensation isn't exactly a lost classic, but it's unique enough, particularly because of the orchestrations and choral arrangements, to deserve a re-listen. ~ Steve Leggett