Bursting onto the dance music scene in
the late 80s and 90s, the Italian group Black Box impacted the US &
UK pop charts with a series of house music dance singles. Black Box remains active in the club scene and are currently available for bookings through London-based booking
Black Box is comprised of three
talented Italian musicians; club DJ Daniele Davoli, classically
trained clarinet teacher Valerio Semplici, and keyboardist Mirko
Limoni. Before settling on the name Black Box in 1989, these three
musicians had released hit singles under two other band names. Using
the name Starlight, the group scored a Top 10 UK hit in August 1989
Uno” and then using the alias Mixmaster reached
number 9 in the UK with “Grand
Black Box recorded its first album in
1989 and recruited French fashion model Katrine
Quinol to appear on album cover art and also to
pose as the lead singer of the group in their music videos. The first
on Time” was a hugely successful hit, bursting
its way into the Top 10 in 11 different countries and holding the # 1
spot for six weeks in the UK. In fact, the single was so successful
that it went on to become the most popular UK hit of 1989. Although
it failed to chart as a pop single in the US, it reached #39 on the
dance chart becoming the first high-profile Italian house record.
The song samples Loleatta Hathaway’s
disco tune “Love Sensation” and the title “Ride on Time” was
derived from the lyrics in the original single, “cause you’re
right on time”. After losing a large share of the royalties to the
writer and producer of the Hathaway song, Dan Hartman, Black Box
released another version of the single using singer Heather Small to
perform the vocals.
“Ride on Time” was featured on
Black Box’s debut album Dreamland which was released in May
1990. The group enlisted Martha Walsh to perform vocals on a number
of tracks for club consumption while Katrine Quinol’s kept
responsibilities for promoting the band’s image. The album achieved
huge success reaching gold status in both the US and UK and double
platinum in Canada and Australia where it spent three weeks at No.1.
The album contained four more hit
singles, “Everybody Everybody”, “I Don’t Know About Anybody
Else”, “Fantasy”, and “Strike It Up” all which became
massive hits worldwide.
Released in early 1990, “I
Don’t Know Anybody Else” derives its title
from a misinterpreted lyric in “Love Sensation” by Loleatta
Hathaway, the original being “I don’t love nobody else”. The
single reached the Top 10 in eight countries and #1 on the US dance
chart, the first of three consecutive singles to do so.
Released in March 1990, “Everybody
Everybody” was another international hit which
included the US where it held the #1 spot on the dance chart for
three consecutive weeks. It was also the first single to become a pop
hit in the US, reaching #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B
Chart. The track was also featured in the movie Cool
as Ice, the feature film debut of rapper
Vanilla Ice and a
2008 episode of The
The next single released in 1990 from
Dreamland was a cover of the Earth Wind, & Fire “Fantasy”.
The single was an International hit, reaching the Top 5 in the UK,
Ireland, and Australia but failed to chart in the US. Despite four
successful singles from Dreamland, Black Box would release a
remix album titled Remixland which had very moderate success
on the charts.
In early 1991, Black Box went back to
Dreamland for its next single “Strike It Up” which again
heralded international success.
Black Box once again entered the Top 10
in several countries included peaking at #8 on the US Billboard Hot
100 pop chart. The track also reached #1 on the US and Canadian dance
charts. “Strike It Up” remains highly popular at US sports
stadiums and arenas to this day. After appearing on the compilation
album ESPN presents Jock Jams Vol 1 in 1995, the song has
sustained its tie to sports by being regularly played at the New
York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes hockey arenas
as well as the Green Bay Packers football stadium Lambeau Field.
Black Box would release two more
singles from Dreamland in 1991-92, but neither would capture
significant impact compared to the previous singles. Black Box would
release another remix album in 1991 titled Mixed Up! And their 2nd studio album Positive Vibration would be
produced in 1995. Unfortunately, neither would be able to match the
success of Dreamland.
But despite being able to match the
commercial achievements in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Black
Box continues to be remembered for their distinctive piano house
style, embodying the genre of Italo
house music. Their unique sound which infused
house music from the US and UK together with Italo-disco of the ‘70s
and ‘80s made a significant impact that dance music fans won’t
soon forget. Black Box’s legendary dance hits remain
extremely popular and they are still a live act to behold. They are currently available for booking through the MN2S
Music Booking Agency.