I Just Wanna Stop by Gino Vannelli (A&M, 1978)

Gino Vannelli is the funkiest Italian you will ever meet, hands down the funkiest Canadian Italian. He made his TV debut on Soul Train, so Don must have thought he was down. He was single-handedly carrying the prog jazz WestCoast sound throughout the 70s until his big Top 5 breakthrough ballad, I Just Wanna Stop. He even name checks Montreal. How many other American hits have mentioned that pleasant but boring Quebec city? [Sorry Montreal. I don’t mean to diss you. I have visited your fine city and find it very beautiful, but unmemorable. The only things I remember about Montreal are the Expos used to play there, this song and that you built an airport way too big for your city.] Hey, even Gino had strange thoughts when he thought about those Montreal nights as he basked away in the L.A. smog.

Gino was not successful on his own. He had his brothers Joe & Ross in tow, who produced & arranged the music with Gino as Joe played all the keyboards. Joe’s jazzy keyboard arrangements against Gino’s theatric vocals are one of the reasons that I love his music. But rather than call themselves the Vannelli 3 or Milli Vannelli, they let Gino take the spotlight. Most likely because he had the best voice or was the hairiest, one of the two.

Actually it was the former reason. Gino had a very serious soulful delivery, but showed his tender side on this song. I love the fact people were probably getting it on to this song. That makes me laugh every time I hear it, especially when he sings STOP and everything stops for a second before kicking back in. Did that drop out throw off anyone’s rhythm? Were those background singers warbling their Yardbird-ish For Your Loves more taunting than soothing? If your rhythm was sketchy to begin with, you probably got all flustered by the time the sax solo came in and tried to go faster to catch up.

Obviously this song is about a woman that Gino was with but can’t be with anymore, I guess, because of life and times and the way world must turn. Maybe she was just tired of pulling chest hairs out of her teeth….just a thought.

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1 Comment

  1. J.A. Bartlett

     /  February 12, 2012

    “Milli Vanelli”—well played, sir.

    I have always imagined that Vannelli is remembering a night in a high-rise hotel in Montreal, with the lights of the city strung out below and a beautiful woman for company. Nice picture. For further listening: “Wheels of Life,” which was the followup to “I Just Wanna Stop” from the “Brother to Brother” album. It’s very much the same thing, only different. Also great: “People Gotta Move,” from 1974, which somehow managed to get up to #22 in Billboard without many people remembering it.


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