The Italian entry in Eurovision song contest 1984, I treni di Tozeur by Alice and Franco Battiato has its 30th anniversary this year. For the occasion you can buy the good old vinyl 7" again!* Universal Italia will release a reproduction with original sleeve art on April 19, 2014. The B-side features the original Le biciletti di Forli, an instrumental written by Alice. You can buy yours here.
The song has become an evergreen even if it only came 5th in Luxembourg scoring 12 points from Finland and Spain, 10 from Luxembourg, 8 from Portugal, 7 from Austria, Turkey and Switzerland, 6 from Germany and 1 from Norway.
In Italy it was a Top-20 hit of the year 1984 - something very unusual for an Italian Eurovision entry!
The song refers to Tozeur, a town in Tunisia, one of the first oasis in the desert after Douz. The city is surrounded by a salty lake ("distese di sale") whose fumes in the summer bring the hikers to see mirages. At one time there was talk of black caravans in the horizon, today those mirages can be seen just as trains. This song is also part of the soundtrack of the film by Nanni Moretti's La messa è finita (1985).
The song was very succesful in Europe helping Battiato's career, especially in the Northern Europe and consolided Alice's on going career in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Benelux, Scandinavia and Finland, where she was enjoying success already since Per Elisa in 1981.
In 1985 Battiato re-recorded I treni di Tozeur alone for his Mondi lontanissimi album, and also an English version The trains of Tozeur for Echoes of Sufi dances, a compilation in English. A year later it was time for the Spanish version Los trenes de Tozeur, off Spanish version of the same album.
In 1987 it was Alice's turn to re-record I treni di Tozeur, but in a completely different arrangement for Elisir album. She did yet another version and arrangement in 2000 for Personal Jukebox album.
Finally, in 2013 Alice and Battiato were together again on stage for a series of concerts in Italy and performed I treni di Tozeur together once again. This version can be found on Battiato's live album Del suo veloce volo.
*For the younger generations, this was the real thing, something you had to listen to on a record player. That's also how the real charts were made. People had to get up, go out, buy it. Not like today that you just sit at home, click online and get a file. Boooring! Oh, the good old days!