Affectionate parodies of pop music and occasional humorous cultural commentary gave the Dutch new wave band Gruppo Sportivo a cult following in the early 1980s, although much of their material was available only through import sources. Signed to the British division of Epic, the group debuted in 1978 with 10 Mistakes, an album that featured a lineup of vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Hans Vandenburg, keyboardist Peter Calicher, bassist Eric Wehrmeyer, drummer Max "Climax" Mollinger, and additional vocalists the Grupettes: Josee Van Iersel and Meike Touw. 10 Mistakes and its follow-up, Back to '78, were produced by R.J. Stips, soon to join venerable fellow Dutch popsters the Nits. Gruppo Sportivo were introduced to American listeners through the 1979 Mistakes compilation, which gathered highlights from those first two albums. 1980's lyric-oriented Copy Copy introduced new bassist Martin Bakker and added a three-piece horn section called the Skamasters, which included tenor saxophonist Laurens de Jonge, baritone saxophonist Jan de Ligt, and trumpeter Edwin Theuerzeit. 1981's Pop! Goes the Brain found Vandenburg adopting an English accent in place of the familiar Dutch; by 1982's Design Moderne, Dick Schulte Nordholt had taken over the bass spot, and the Grupettes had become more of a free-floating addition, with Van Iersel joined by Lies Schilp on this particular outing. Another bassist, Michiel Eilbracht, was employed for 1984's Sombrero Times, and the original Grupettes duo had been restored.
However, it would be the last Gruppo Sportivo album widely available overseas; subsequent releases found the nucleus of the band gradually dwindling down to Vandenburg plus an aggregation of studio musicians and whatever past members were available to record. A steady stream of albums like Sucker of the Century, Young and Out (1992), Commercial Break (1994), the live Sing Sing (1995, released two years later in America as Second Life), and Shake Hands With Vandenburg (1996) followed, mostly recorded for Dutch labels, where Gruppo Sportivo's main audience now resides. ~ Steve Huey