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Gruppo Sportivo are a Dutch pop band, from The Hague, formed in 1976, who enjoyed some measure of international success in the late 1970s and 1980s. They had hit songs with "Hey Girl", "Beep Beep Love", "Tokyo (I'm On My Way)", "Disco Really Made It" and "Rock 'n' Roll". The frontman of the band, and writer of the material, is Hans Vandenburg. The band broke up in 2013. In 2018 a reunion was announced consisting of a tour and a new album called "Great", which was released to critical acclaim in April 2018.
- 1 Beginnings
- 2 Ten Mistakes & Back To 78
- 3 From Copy Copy to Sing Sing
- 4 Topless 16, Rock Now Roll Later & The Secret of Success
- 5 10 Mistakes re-release & farewell tour
- 6 Dig It Yourself and Back to '78 re-release
- 7 The Golden Years Of Dutch Pop Music and new studio album Great
- 8 Personnel
- 9 Discography
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The band formed in the 1970s, and rode to national popularity playing New wave music. The creative force was Hans Vandenburg (guitar and vocals), with Max Mollinger (drums), Peter Calicher (keyboards), Eric Wehrmeyer (bass), and the "Gruppettes" Josée van Iersel and Meike Touw (vocals). The band played pop songs whose lyrics contained humor, situational comedy, and inside musical jokes.
Ten Mistakes & Back To 78
Their first single was Out There In The Jungle (Polydor 1976), but the height of their career came with the two albums 10 Mistakes (1977) and Back to '78 (1978). They came to popularity just after the height of punk rock, but were regarded as more post-punk, veering more towards the mainstream pop. "Dreamin", a song from the album 10 Mistakes received some college radio airplay in the US. They were admired for their live performances, which had great humor and slapstick. Their best known song is Beep Beep Love (from the album Ten Mistakes), which enjoyed some success both in the UK and US. The UK's Radio & Records voted them "Top Newcomer '78".
Other classics originating from the milestone albums include Tokyo, Hey Girl, I Said No, Lasting Forever, Shave, Rock 'n' Roll and Mission à Paris. The albums were produced by Robert Jan Stips (Supersister, Golden Earring, The Nits). After releasing the single Sleeping Bag Hans Vandenburg disbanded Gruppo Sportivo at the height of their popularity. He got the band back together for Copy Copy in 1980, after the release of his solo debut album Buddy Odor Is a Gas (1979). Only Calicher and Mollinger remained from the original line-up.
From Copy Copy to Sing Sing
From 1980 to 1984 the band released the albums Copy Copy (1980, with Deaf School's Bette Bright on vocals and featuring songs such as Up To Date, Life in Tokyo and What Happened To Romance?), Pop! Goes the Brain (1981, featuring Holland Now, Rhythmisaconstantbeat and My Old Cortina) and Designe Moderne (1982, featuring Happily Unemployed, On Her Own and Go 'n' Get It), which brought a shift of success to mainly Germany, Italy and Spain.
Sombrero Times followed in 1984 and was the band's first album released by an independent label. It featured the singles Two Tickets To Rio and Radar. After splitting up for a couple of years, the band returned with compilation album Back to 19 Mistakes in 1988, which included their popular Wall of Voodoo cover Mexican Radio. It was followed by Sucker of the Century (1989), Young & Out (1992, featuring radiohit She Was Pretty, Repeatlemania and new jazzy version of Hey Girl) and the acoustic live album Sing Sing (1993).
Sing Sing included new versions of hits (a.o. Disco Really Made It, Mission à Paris and Beep Beep Love), album-tracks (a.o. Repeatlemania, Shave and Hollywood) and new songs (a.o. I Would Dance). The band toured Europe with the Bombita's (Lies Schilp and Inge Bonthond) on vocals.
After Sing Sing Hans Vandenburg released his solo albums Commercial Break (1994, including the rocker This Day Is Fine, which was accompanied by a video directed by Theo van Gogh) and Shake Hands with Vandenburg (1996). These albums were followed by Uit het Leven Gegrepen (1998), the debut album by his new band Dierenpark, the first album Vandenburg wrote in Dutch.
Topless 16, Rock Now Roll Later & The Secret of Success
After releasing Married with Singles in 2000, a compilation album with all the singles and b-sides from 1976 to 1988 (plus two new songs Click Here and I Don't Think So), the original band re-united for a handful of dates, including a high-profile show at 'Sail 2000', which was broadcast on TV.
In 2004 the band released the album Topless 16 featuring 16 new songs, including the single and video Superman Is Back, referencing both the iconic movie hero and their own classic 10 Mistakes song Superman. The album - their first with new songs only since Young & Out in 1991 - featured Gert Jan Konink on bass. Other songs and live favourites included Ray of Light, Your Words Are Free and Non Stop Girl.
It was followed in 2006 by Rock Now, Roll Later a compilation album featuring the band's singles from 1989 to 1996. It included two new songs: live favourite DoReMiFaSoLaTiDo and Green Utopia Bay, one of their best songs ever, according to Vandenburg.
In July 2006, the Japanese girl band, Puffy AmiYumi, recorded a new version of "Tokyo", originally recorded by Gruppo Sportivo in 1978.
To mark their 35th anniversary the band recorded the acoustic album The Secret of Success (2011), featuring new versions of songs from all over their career. From Henri to Hey Girl and from James Last Car to new song Pop Eyes. The album was accompanied by an extensive theatre tour. Looking back on the album on their official Facebook page in June 2015, the band stated that they considered My Uncle's Ben's Picture Book a highlight.
All three albums were released on Spotify between 2011 and 2013.
10 Mistakes re-release & farewell tour
In 2012 – 35 years after the original release – the band re-released their debut album 10 Mistakes, with five additional songs. A theatre and club tour followed in 2012-2013. During the shows the complete album was performed, combined with other Gruppo Sportivo classics and cover songs that inspired 10 Mistakes. On December 28, 2013, the band performed its last show at The Patronaat in Haarlem, Holland.
Dig It Yourself and Back to '78 re-release
Gruppo Sportivo is currently on a hiatus ('studio only band' according to Vandenburg). In June 2015 Vandenburg (aka Van DeFruits) released his solo album Dig It Yourself, which included Gimme Your Love, Grow Grow Grow, Nine Inch Nails re-make Various Methods of Escape and Groovin', a song he originally wrote with the late Dutch singer Herman Brood in the 80's. It was released on green vinyl (along with the bonus download album OK iPad featuring 9 songs for kids) and is also available digitally (iTunes, Spotify, Deezer a.o.). After very positive reviews in OOR Magazine, NRC and Parool (a.o.) and a short acoustic tour the album entered the Dutch Vinyl Top 50 at #8. Radio 2 DJ Hans Schiffers declared Dig It Yourself 'Album of the Week'.
In May 2016 Vandenburg released the cassette 'Zijn 20 Mooiste Demo's', containing 20 demo recordings including Mr. Smile, Find the Summer and Hooked. Dutch newspaper, Algemeen Dagblad, interviewed him about the project and his choice to release it on cassette. A limited number of cassettes is sold via Vandenburg's online shop.
September 2016 sees the re-release of Gruppo's classic and best-selling album Back to '78 on vinyl. The release includes downloadable live versions of never before released songs from 1978. A year later 1989 EP Sucker Of The Century - recorded with a.o. Robert Jan Stips - was released on digital platforms such as Spotify and iTunes.
The Golden Years Of Dutch Pop Music and new studio album Great
While the band post pictures from an apparent recording session for a new album a new compilation album is released: The Golden Years Of Dutch Pop Music - Gruppo Sportivo. The 2-CD album consists of A and B side singles covering 1976 (Out There In The Jungle) to 1991 (She Was Pretty). The album enters the Dutch Album Top 100 at #85.
Early 2018 a reunion tour was announced with a new album - titled Great - planned for late April 2018. On April 6 new single (This Is a) Normal Song - a re-make of the song that was added to the re-release of Ten Mistakes as a bonus track - was released. Spotify selected it for their New Alternative playlist.
On April 20 new album Great was released to very positive reviews in Algemeen Dagblad, OOR magazine, Musicmaker, Noordhollands Dagblad and Writteninmusic among others. Highlights mentioned were Cruisin', Normal Song, Oh Caroline, Cockroach and the band's most personal song to date called Over The Hill. Great entered the Dutch Album Top 100 at #46, the band's first chart entry with an album of new original songs since Copy Copy in 1980. It entered the Album Top 40 the week after on the back of more raving reviews in OOR Magazine ('Great is Gruppo's best album since Back To 78') and Telegraaf a.o.
To celebrate the release of Great classic albums Back To 78, Copy Copy, Pop! Goes The Brain, Design Moderne and the Hans Vandenburg/Gruppo Sportivo-project Buddy Odor is a Gas! (by The Buddy Odor Stop, featuring the still occasionally performed Cats Hiss) were finally released digitally on Spotify, Deezer and iTunes/Apple Music. Followed in June by Sombrero Times, Young & Out and live album Sing Sing.
The Great tour, during which the whole of the new album was performed plus a selection of favourites from both audience and band, was met with critical acclaim as well.
On Friday July 13 the band released the second single from the Great album: Cruisin'. It was released as a single mix plus two remixes by DJ Mark van Dale were released.
Early August, 2018, Spotify released its official This is Gruppo Sportivo playlist. Featuring 45 tracks. From Ten Mistakes (1977) all the way to Great (2018) and everything in between.
- Rare Tracks - Polydor (1976/77)
- 10 Mistakes - Ariola (1977)
- Back to 78 - Ariola (1978)
- Mistakes - Sire (1979)
- More Mistakes (7") - Sire (1979)
- Buddy Odor Is a Gas - Pye (1979)
- Copy Copy - Ariola (1980)
- Pop! Goes the Brain - Ariola (1981)
- Rhythm Is a Constant Beat (12") - Ariola (1981)
- Design Moderne - Ariola (1982)
- Sombrero Times - Ariola (1984)
- Back to 19 Mistakes - BMG/Ariola (1988)
- Sucker of the Century - JAWS Records (1989)
- Young and Out - Dutch VAN [2 CD Box] (1992)
- Sing Sing - Dutch VAN (1993)
- Second Life - Amsterdamned Records (1997)
- Married with Singles - Pseudonym Records (2000)
- Topless 16 - Pias (2004)
- DVD Career Movies (2006)
- Rock Now, Roll Later! - Pias [2CD](2007)
- The Secret of Success - T2 Entertainment (2011)
- The Golden Years Of Dutch Pop Music - Gruppo Sportivo - Sony/Universal (2017)
- Great - Redline Music (2018)
- Buddy Odor Is a Gas - Pye (1979)
- Hans Vandenburg's Commercial Break - VAN Records (1994)
- Shake Hands with Vandenburg - VAN Records (1996)
- Ouwe Hans Dierenpark - Uit het Leven Gegrepen - VAN Records (1998)
- Dierenpark - Sliptong - Suburban (2002)
- Dierenpark - Tot Ziens, Bedankt, Het Beste van Dierenpark Live! - My First Step Records (2006)
- Hans Vandenburg - Dig It Yourself - My First Step/Suburban Records (2015)
- Hans Vandenburg - Zijn 20 Mooiste Demo's - My First Step Records (Cassette, 2016)
- De Bloedverdunners - Ah Oh Wee- My First Step Records (USB stick, 2017)