Various La Musica Della Mafia (Il Canto Di Malavita)

Need a good soundtrack to The Sopranos? La Musica Della Mafia (the music of the mafia) is the real thing. This is a collection of songs by and for the Calabrian Mafia, otherwise called the Ndrangheta. No record label in Italy will release them (although bootlegs are widely available in Calabrian markets) and the only person to have ever sung them in public was shot dead. That sure beats the infamy of one of those parental warning stickers! The songs on this disc are slow Italian ballads with acoustic guitars, jaw harps and quick accordion-led tarantella dances. The narratives are "Il Canto Di Malavita” — songs of a life of crime, and as such often amount to gruesome murder ballads. The organisers of this collection apparently intended to help listeners "appreciate the meaning and traditions of a rich and often misunderstood culture.” Those traditions basically amount to the Mafia code of blood and honour — something almost every song here is preoccupied with. "Whoever is deaf and blind and mute will live in peace for a hundred years,” advises "Omerta” ("The Law of Silence”). By outlining a code that punishes transgression and disloyalty with bloodshed, calls jail a "time-honoured burden to bear,” protects innocents and espouses honour above all else, La Musica Della Mafia is much more than a collection of Italian murder ballads; it is rife with the history, behaviour and traditions of a well-organised society. (PIAS)