London, Aug 11 : Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's song-writing partner, folk singer Mariano Apicella, has asked him to take time off from running the country, so that the former could focus on their new CD of love ballads.
The album, which is a fourth for Berlusconi with Apicella, is expected to be be completed for a Christmas launch.
However, work on it has been going very slowly. "The disc is still up in the air. The premier told me that he's having trouble finding the time to finish it with me," the Telegraph quoted Apicella as saying.
"The problem is that even when he's on holiday in Sardinia he's always working because he receives an average of 40-50 telephone calls a day," he said.
Apicella, a former car park attendant from the southern port city of Naples, is eager to get the album completed.
"If only he had time. We have to choose from around 40 songs, but they'll all be love songs linked to the Neapolitan tradition," he said.
"I was also thinking about throwing some jazz in to try to make the Naples soul a bit more modern," he added.
The two Neapolitan musicians had met when the controversial Italian politician, and former cruise ship crooner, dined out at a restaurant in Naples where he was performing.
The suggestion that they should work together on an album came from Berlusconi, who had sang for Tony and Cherie Blair when they visited him in Sardinia four years ago.
When their album 'Meglio Una Canzone' (Better a Song) was released within a month, Berlusconi became the first serving Prime Minister to release an album.
Sale of their CD reached 45,000 copies, just 5,000 short of a gold disc, and besides coming out with an album, the two regularly put on concerts for visitors to Berlusconi's villa in Porto Rotondo, Sardinia.
"The premier is an expert in Neapolitan music and a talented songwriter," Apicella said.