Years of lead
Finardi's sound and style became a success in 1976, with his second album Sugo
, and his third Diesel
in 1977. The first included the counter-cultural youth anthem Musica Ribelle, and the hymn to pirate radio-stations La Radio; the second the love ballad Non e' Nel Cuore, which were all released as singles.
Finardi, who had started performing live often on his own with an acoustic guitar and sitting down, was now touring with a four or five-piece Rock band. His introduction of Rock'n'Roll in the genre of socially and politically aware Italian singer-songwriters was what made Finardi stand out and endeared him to the counter-cultural youth of late 1970s Italy, which in 1976-78 was in the midst of political upheaval and almost civil war, with the occupations of factories, universities and high-schools, demonstrations which ended in pitched battles with the police - often with fatal casualties - and the rise of political movements like Autonomia, the Indiani Metropolitani and terrorist groups like the Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse).
This eventful period of Italian contemporary history is known as the Anni di piombo (Years Of Lead) and also as the era of the Movimento '77, the youth movement for which 1977 was a pivotal year, somewhat an Italian equivalent of the Punk Rock upheaval in the US and Great Britain. The dramatic and eventful climate of the period was the result of the so-called Strategy of tension (Strategia della tensione): the confrontation between youth counter-culture and left-wing activists against an Italian government perceived as reactionary, repressive, corrupt, unstable, manoeuvred by the US, which disseminated disinformation and engaged in false-flag terror attacks blamed on the left in order to establish a more authoritarian regime.
Finardi was a notable counter-cultural and musical protagonist of these years, with songs like La C.I.A. about the American Secret Services' involvement in Italian politics, Soldi about consumerism, Giai Phong, about the Vietnam War, Scuola about the education system, Tutto Subito about the confrontational street demos of Autonomia, and Scimmia which chronicled Finardi's past heroin addiction and subsequent self-detoxification through 'cold turkey', a particularly relevant song for touching upon a subject that would become a growing social problem in Italy starting in the following decade, the 1980s. Songs like Voglio and Oggi Ho Imparato A Volare were optimistic hymns for the revolutionary youth of the Italian left, and Diesel celebrated both Finardi's life on the road as a musician and the life of everyday working-class Italians.
Finardi started to make his transition from this turbulent period of Italian history and its cultural landscape with the album Blitz and single Extraterrestre in 1978, and Roccando Rollando (Rocking and Rolling) in 1979, which contained Legalizzatela, his song-manifesto for the legalization of cannabis. Other significant hits were Patrizia, and the bitter-sweet ballad Le Ragazze Di Osaka in 1981.
From the 1980s to the present
Since then Finardi has lived periodically abroad, in London, UK, and in the United States. He has appeared at the Mecca of Italian commercial Pop music, the annual musical contest of the Sanremo Festival, which would have been unthinkable in the counter-cultural climate of the 1970s. Through many different collaborations, he has released regular albums: among them one made entirely of songs with English lyrics, Secret Streets in 1982; the live album Strade (1984), Dolce Italia (1987), the entirely acoustic Acustica in 1993, for which he toured in the same 'unplugged' mode, the re-reading of songs from his back catalogue Cinquantanni in 2002, his exploration of spirituality Il Silenzio e Lo Spirito in 2003, and a return to his youthful love for the Blues with the album Anima Blues in 2005.
Eugenio Finardi's most recent works have a large audience, as proven by the success of the album Un Uomo (2007), a compilation of a 30 years long career, celebrated also in the show Suono in Italian theatres - and released also on DVD - in which Finardi tells his story through a series of monologues. His last work Il Cantante Al Microfono saw him accompanied by a classical music sextet. Eugenio Finardi's albums from the 1970s are considered classics of Italian Rock, and he remains one of Italy's most successful and influential Rock singers and musicians. In 2012 he again entered the music competition of the Sanremo Music Festival with the song E tu lo chiami Dio