Acqua Fragile were one of the more song-oriented Italian progressive groups, singing in English and combining melodic influences from early 70's Genesis, Yes and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Lanzetti's nasal voice (comparable to Peter Gabriel, Roger Chapman or Pat Moran of the group Spring) dominates most tracks, sometimes accompanied by three-part vocal harmonies. The majestic guitar licks are also similar to those of Steve Hackett. Their two albums didn't contain anything uncommon, but are relaxing, harmonic and perhaps a little too light-hearted for those who enjoy the more complex sound favoured by other Italian bands. After Acqua Fragile disbanded, Lanzetti joined PFM as their vocalist, strongly influencing the album Chocolate Kings.
|1||ACQUA FRAGILE||1973||NUMERO UNO DZSLN 55656|
|2||MASS MEDIA STARS||1974||RICORDISMRL 6150|
Highly original in sound, this group was founded in Milano in 1973. Unlike most of their other Italian contemporaries, Aktuala were strongly inspired by the folk music of Arabian countries, Africa and India. Their music (written by Walter Maioli) was largely instrumental. Trance-like moods were created by the frequent use of tambura, arabic oboe, viola and ethnic percussion instruments. Their first two albums contained extended tracks and had a similar musical approach. In a way, their music radiates a kind of comradeship with Earth itself. It's easy to imagine some pagan ritual going on accompanied by this intricate weaving of sounds. Tappeto Volante contained 13 pieces recorded at various locations (including Morocco). In one sense, this was a precursor to the German group Embryo's far flung musical expeditions (literally and mentally) in the late 70's / early 80's.
It's difficult to put this group in any specific genre, but some moments are similar to Third Ear Band and the German group Between. Aktuala's albums are recommended to those of you who prefer adventurous listening.
|1||AKTUALA||1973||BLA BLA BBL 11054|
|2||LA TERRA||1974||BLA BLA BBXL 10004|
|3||TAPPETO VOLANTE||1976||BLA BLA BBXL 10009|
100 copies were originally pressed of this album of experimental music, which sounded similar to the early Battiato albums combined with Gilly Smith's weirdest types of 'space whisper'. Other vaguely comparable efforts were made by Pierrot Lunaire (the avant-garde parts on their second album) and Opus Avantra (the vocal excesses of Donella Del Monaco). "Tastiera Solo" and "Improvvisazione" were instrumental and vocal manipulations of the choral theme in the last movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony. This album has recently been offered for really high prices on the collector's market, even if few people will appreciate this monotonous 'sound poem'. Mino and Terra were married and had been members of Battiato's mid-70's tour outfit Telaio Magnetico. Mino also played with I Giganti.
|1||ALBERGO INTERGALLIATO SPAZIALE||1978||PRIVATE PRESS|
They were one of the archetypical Italian trios with thick layers of quasi-classical keyboards (mainly Hammond organ and piano), turgid falsetto vocals a la New Trolls, imaginative guitar textures (with a heavy use of fuzz and Leslie effects) and busy drum patterns (in a rather unusual style).
Prior to their classic album Scolopendra (1972) they also released four singles. The album contained impressive long tracks such as "La Natura E L'Universo" (7:58) and "Thrilling" (7:07). These were reminiscent of the first albums by The Trip (or even Vanilla Fudge), and were psychedelic classical rock concertos for organ, piano and guitar. The more song-oriented tracks (some of which had sympathetic string arrangements) were in the well-known melodramatic tradition of New Trolls (1968-72), Formula 3, Ricordi D'Infanzia, Flashmen, etc. This particular Italian hybrid was a strange brew of Jimi Hendrix, The Four Tops, Vanilla Fudge, Procol Harum and the Italian song tradition (both the popular and classical one).
The group reformed in the early nineties and released more albums.
|1||SCOLOPENDRA||1972||FONIT LPQ 09065|
Alphataurus' eponymous first album was one of the finest to emerge from Italy during the early 70's. Like many other Italians they use Emerson, Lake & Palmer's, Van der Graaf Generator's and King Crimson's 1969-71 albums as sources of inspiration. However, they really developed their characteristic "Mediterranean" style using the Italian language, the full instrumental dynamic range from classical chamber music to jazzy solos (most frequently by organ and moog synthesizer) through to powerful heavy progressive rock. Michele Bavaro's voice is comparable to David Byron's, but avoids the heavy-metal self-parody due to much better musical training and voice control. Overall their music had a majestic and sophisticated feel, although Alphataurus didn't fall into the trap of over-intellectualising their music. Of the 5 tracks, 3 were longer than 9 minutes and most impressive of all was the opening track "Peccato D'Orgoglio" (12:22). The sleeve design was in keeping with the music, an impressive triple fold-out cover with a painting of giant peace doves serving as bomber airplanes, dropping bombs over a dark and cloudy landscape.
Alphataurus were one of the many victims of under-exposure, as their small Magma label had limited resources for promotion. Regretably their second album was never completed and the group disbanded in 1974. The unfinished tapes were finally released on CD in 1993. In my opinion it would have been better to leave them in the vaults. No vocal tracks were ever committed to tape and the instrumental takes are no more than sketches to a work-in-progress.
|1||ALPHATAURUS||1973||MAGMA MAGL 18001|
|2||DIETRO L'URAGANO||1993||MELLOW MMP 132|
Although they only released one album, Alusa Fallax were formed in the mid-sixties and released several singles of minor interest. By contrast, their album is a masterpiece of complex progressive rock. All tracks make up a delightful, continuous suite of shifting dynamics, ranging from spoken parts with avant- garde noises to refined instrumental arrangements with flute, piano, string ensemble, electric and acoustic guitars and a lot of percussion, resembling the best of Gentle Giant. The interwoven vocal parts are the only ingredient that could possibly have been improved. Overall there is a strong classical music influence, giving the impression of serious musical competence. The album is highly recommended to fans of the uppermost Italian musical grandeur (a brand of music usually labelled 'megalomania' by ignorant rock reviewers).
|1||INTORNO ALU MIA CATTIVA EDUCAZIONE||1974||FONIT LPQ 09082|
This obscure group released one of the few Italian progressive rock albums with English lyrics. The tracks are largely song-based with a nice electric folk-rock feeling, often including a prominent guitar and flute interplay recalling contemporary British groups like Jethro Tull, Traffic and Skin Alley. In fact, you wouldn't have raised an eyebrow if this album had appeared on Harvest or Vertigo, purporting to be a British group! Some more musical distinction would be appreciated, but Red Tape Machine is quite a good album.
|1||RED TAPE MACHINE||1972||ARCOBALENO ARC000111|
Like Jacula, Antonius Rex was the brainchild of Anthony Bartoccetti, and a continuation of this "group". Their first album Zora reworked some material previously released on Jacula's Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus album. "Spiritualist Seance" is a rework of "Praesentia Domini", with electric guitar, synthesizer and percussion added to the basic church organ, and "Morte Al Potere" is a similar rework of "U.F.D.E.M.". Antonius Rex' lyrics dealt with occultism, the inquisition, witches and ways of gaining "magick" powers. The lyrics seemed to occupy their minds most of the time, as the music really is quite ordinary (and not very frightening) progressive chamber rock. Some inspiration is taken from 17th and 18th century classical music, particularly Bach's works for church organ.
Their second album Ralefun (an anagram of 'funeral') is a more interesting work and contains stronger musical material. "Agonia Per Un Amore" is a rework of Jacula's "Anno Demoni", but the remaining tracks are new. The frequent use of flute and guitar works really well, particularly on the 12-minute track "Enchanted Forest", which features added bird sounds and atmospheric synthesizer. A couple of fast rock tracks with electric guitar ensure this album has a greater musical span than its predecessor.
|1||ZORA||1977||TICKLE TLPS 5013|
|2||RALEFUN||1978||RADIO REC. ZPLRR34048|
Their album is a real rarity and has not yet been re-issued. It is reputed to contain song-oriented material with good guitar, flute and keyboard interventions.
|1||UN'ISOLA SENZA SOLE||1972||CASEDIL RGRLP003|
Apoteosi's very rare album contained relaxed symphonic rock with strong influences from early 18th century classical instruments. Their music ranges from very quiet moments with acoustic guitar, string synthesizer, piano and flute to more powerful statements with added bass, drums and electric guitar. The best track is a 14-minute work with pure female vocals by Silvana Idà. Overall, there's a feeling of sophisticated beauty, if sometimes a bit too sweet. If your taste is close to Renaissance, PFM and Genesis, this album should appeal to you.
|1||APOTEOSI||1975||SAID REC. MAP 145|
Certainly a distinctive group, Area formed in 1972. The Greek born Demetrio Stratos had previously played plain beat pop in the group I Ribelli. The versatile guitar player Paolo Tofani had been a member of I Califfi (before they recorded their album). Later he would record a psychedelic heavy folk album under his pseudonym Electric Frankenstein. That was certainly a long way from the eclectic Area-sound, influenced by Arabian, Greek, Turkish and Balkan folk music, classical avant-garde, free-jazz and Soft Machine. The architect behind their music was Patrizio Fariselli, Area's keyboard player and main composer. Area were also a bunch of left wing activists, often using their record sleeves for political agitation. They can perhaps be seen as an Italian counterpart of Henry Cow, with an equal degree of individuality.
Area's first album Arbeit Macht Frei (ironically entitled after a nazi death camp slogan) was a wonderful revelation of human expressionism and creativity. Large portions of the album were improvised and showcased great musical communication between all the group members. The opening track "Luglio, Agosto, Settembre" became Area's best known song. It started with an Arabian prayer, before bursting into energetic and complex jazz-rock structures. Demetrio Stratos deserves to counted among the most original vocalists in rock history, an honour shared with Tim Buckley. Both used their voice as a musical instrument of great expressive ability, much the same way as John Coltrane had used his saxophone. The album is usually considered to be Area's best.
Caution: Radiation Area (1974), a statement against nuclear power and nuclear weapons, was driven even more by the desire to explore new musical frontiers. It also included elements of atonal avant-garde electronic music, influenced by John Cage, Juan Hidalgo and Walter Warchetti. Arguably, they had now lost some of the spontaneity of their previous work and replaced it with strongly intellectual ambitions. Certainly their music was very demanding and the listener needs to concentrate carefully to obtain full benefit from it. Crac! (1974) came closer in style to their first album. Still it was by no means easy listening - adventurous "jazz-rock" of the highest order!
Are(a)zione (1975) was a collection of live recordings from different venues. It featured three more accessible versions of favourites from previous albums plus the new track "Are(a)zione" (14:37) and an outrageous version of "L'Internazionale" (previously only released as a single in 1974). Their performance is magnificent throughout, making this a good introduction to their music. Area's next studio album Maledetti (1976) was one of their most peculiar albums, branching out in a lot of different directions, from the taxing jazz-rock of "Di Forisma Urbano" (6:18) and "Scum" (6:30) to the self-explanatory "Caos" (9:00), which was maybe Area's most dadaistic experimental attempt to date.
In 1978, Area recorded the first album for their new label Ascolto. This was their best effort for quite a few years. Their avant-garde tendencies were channelled into tighter jazz-rock structures on shorter tracks. Their instrumental range was even broader, with mandolin, trumpet, trombone and ocarina, as well as their usual instruments. Demetrio Stratos' death in 1979 after a long illness was a serious blow to the group. The live album Event '76 was released prior to this, but became a fitting epitaph. Area's disappointing final album Tic Tac (1980) showed a remarkably purposeless group, particularly in comparison to their previous outstanding releases. Without Stratos, they attempted to play more mainstream jazz-rock, which didn't quite gel. The logical choice was to call it a day. Capiozzo formed the jazz-rock group Area 2 some years later. Area remain one of the most important groups of all time, and in style were unique.
|1||ARBEIT MACHT FREI||1973||CRAMPS CRSLP 5101|
|2||CAUTION: RADIATION AREA||1974||CRAMPS CRSLP 5102|
|3||CRAC!||1974||CRAMPS CRSLP 5103|
|4||ARE(A)ZIONE||1975||CRAMPS CRSLP 5104|
|5||MALEDETTI||1976||CRAMPS CRSLP 5105|
|6||1978 - GLI DEI SE NE VANNO, GLI ARRABBIATI RESTANO||1978||ASCOLTO ASC 20063|
|7||EVENT 76||1979||CRAMPS 5205 107|
|8||TIC TAC||1980||ASCOLTO ASC 20224|
|A1||METRODORA||1976||CRAMPS 5206 065|
|A2||CANTARE LA VOCE||1978||CRAMPS 5206 119|
|A3||RECITAR CANTANDO||1980||CRAMPS 5206 501|
|B1||ELECTRIC FRANKENSTEIN||1975||CRAMPS CRSLP 2001|
After disagreements over what future musical direction the group The Trip was to follow, Furio Chirico left in 1974 to form Arti + Mestieri - a large group including previous jazz musicians from Torino. Their first album was a good effort, dominated by Crovella's multiple keyboards, Vigliar's 'gypsy' violin and Chirico's very busy percussion playing. The very few vocals parts are comparable to PFM, while their instrumental fusion has similarities to Frank Zappa's 1973-band (including Jean-Luc Ponty and George Duke), Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson (their mellotron work 1973-74) and Soft Machine (highlighting Hugh Hopper). The tracks were interconnected to form a continous flow of really tasteful music, although a bit more energy would have been welcome.
Giro Di Valzer Per Domani (1975) was an even better effort, more dynamic and with more inspirational solo parts (which were probably pre-written rather than improvised). In Gianfranco Gaza, the band had also acquired an excellent vocalist, although their music was still largely instrumental.
Quinto Stato came out after some years of silence and had a more pronounced jazz feel. Various incarnations of the group recorded in the eighties. Crovella and Chirico have recently put out albums with their new group Romantic Warriors.
ALBUMS (UP TO 1980):
|1||TILT||1974||CRAMPS CRSLP 5501|
|2||GIRO Dl VALZER PER DOMANI||1975||CRAMPS 5205 502|
|3||QUINTO STATO||1979||CRAMPS 5205 505|
This band was based in Germany, where their only album was released as a limited edition in 1974. Their sound was very heavy, energetic and loud, dominated by tough fuzz guitar (sometimes multi-tracked), organ and a high-pitched vocalist comparable to Nico Di Palo in New Trolls. Being isolated from the Italian progressive rock scene, Atlantide were probably more influenced by British heavy rock groups like Black Sabbath and Atomic Rooster and their German counterparts. The best track is the 11-minute "Quando La Luna" where the music ranged from rather heavy to extremely heavy! As such, the album is recommended for fans of heavy-progressive music, but it is perhaps too limited instrumentally and lacking in variety for others. Still, the album is remarkable for its stunning fuzz guitar sound!
|1||FRANCESCO Tl RICORDI||1974||PRIVATE PRESS SP 1476|
This was one of the most talented Italian groups. Formed in Naples in the late sixties, their first single "Neve Calda" being released in 1969. The exact line-up behind Il Balletto Di Bronzo's first album is not known (as it wasn't mentioned on the record sleeve). Anyway, Sirio 2222 was one of the best albums released in Italy before 1971. This is raw-edged, intelligent heavy progressive rock at its very best - fronted by Lino Ajelio's powerful electric guitars (comparable to Jimmy Page, Adrian Gurvitz and Jeff Beck) and an enthusiastic vocalist (comparable to Steve Winwood). The slight blues influence wasn't common for Italian bands at the time. Only a couple of the nine tracks are longer than 4 minutes, but their overwhelming power and great melodies make them irresistible. On "Meditazione" a string quartet and harpichord add uncommon elements to their music.
With the new band members Gianni Leone and Vito Manzari, Il Balletto Di Bronzo's sound changed considerably on their masterpiece Ys (1972). Gianni Leone's rich array of keyboards blended with Lino Ajello's extremely heavy guitar style on an unforgettable concept album. The mood is very sombre and gloomy, with a spine-chilling female soprano voice introducing the main musical theme at the start of "Introduzione". This is restated with chords on electric guitar much later on "Primo Incontro". After a vocal part accompanied by organ, the rhythm section enters while the moog plays a variation of the main theme. Further on, jazzy instrumental variations with a baroque touch are played with anguish and despair by Ajello and Leone at full speed, gradually turning into the most frighteningly intense music you can imagine. The remaining tracks share these qualities and Ys is a really fantastic album, suitable to score a horror film about the death of Pompeii. An English version of it was never finished, although "Introduzione" and "Secondo Incontro" have recently been released on CD. After a disappointing single in 1973, Il Balletto split up. They never got the recognition they deserved, as is often the case. As Leo Nero, Gianni Leone released a solo album in 1977, inevitably featuring lots of keyboards. Still the music on it is quite ordinary and close to a mainstream singer and songwriter album with symphonic tendencies.
|1||SIRIO 2222||1970||RCA PSL 10459|
|2||YS||1972||POLYDOR 2448 003|
This was Bambi Fossatti and Maurizio Casinelli from Garibaldi working with a new percussion section. Not surprisingly, this turns out to be another feast for lovers of melodic electric guitar a la Santana or Jimi Hendrix, particularly the opening 15-minute track "Pian Delia Tortilla", which is brilliant. The whole album has a quite relaxed vibe with lots of hand-beaten percussion by both Cassinelli and Somusundaram (the latter was born in India). The album is very good without being a classic. Somusundaram also recorded a solo album that mixed Western jazz-rock and Arabian influences.
|1||LA BAMBIBANDA E MELODIE||1974||FONIT LPQ 09085|
Countless record buyers outside Italy had their first encounter with Italian progressive rock via Banco and PFM. The main reason for this was the worldwide distribution of the British and American editions by Manticore. The classic Banco line-up came together in 1971. Before that, the Nocenzi brothers had recorded an unreleased album for RCA with three other members.
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso was a remarkable debut album displaying expert musicianship, deeply rooted in composition techniques from classical music (18th & 19th century). The Nocenzi's dual keyboards dominated the album, but Marcello Todaro's almost psychedelic guitar parts were important counterparts to this. Notably, on this first album primarily piano and organ were used, often mixed in separate stereo channels. Two tracks "Metamorfosi" and "Traccia" particularly highlighted the keyboard playing. Francesco Di Giacomo's passionate and strong vocals were in line with the classic Italian song tradition ("canto") of the three last centuries. The combined result was a completely different approach to symphonic rock than that of British groups like Emerson, Lake & Palmer (EL&P). Emerson's playing arguably suffered from showy superstar ambitions at the expense of soul and passion. By contrast, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso's music had a natural warmth and romantic elegance. Most impressive of all was the 18-minute work "Il Giardino Del Mago".
Their second album Darwin! was an ambitious concept album, dealing with the development of mankind through the ages. Banco's musical arrangements were even more complex than before. Interestingly, short sections of the album highlighted synthesizers and even sequencers, sometimes with pulsating rhythms like Phillip Glass' electronic works. Darwin! is Banco's best album thanks to its musical fertility and vigour. It's a major 46-minute opus. The last album of their great trilogy was Io Sono Nato Libero (I am born free). "Canto Nomade Per Un Prigioniero Politico" (15:43) was the finest moment on this, with even more keyboards than before it veered towards Metamorfosi's segmented style.
Banco's first album for Manticore was relatively disappointing compared to their previous works. It was their first to be marketed in the rest of Europe and the United States and, for this reason, included rearranged and re-recorded versions of tracks from their first and third album, this time with English lyrics. A comparison with the original versions will reveal the new arrangements to be clearly inferior. It also seems peculiar that the first vocal track on the album, "L'Albero Del Pane", DID have Italian lyrics! Perhaps this was the reason why Banco failed to attain the same commercial success as PFM. Their next album Garofano Rosso was the soundtrack to a film with the same name. As often is the case, the instrumental music didn't stand well alone. Come In Un' Ultima Cena was a vocal album, more accessible than their previous efforts, which should appeal to those who fancy a cross between EL&P and Genesis with powerful Italian vocals. It was also released in English as In A Last Supper.
...Di Terra was a surprisingly successful instrumental album in a very different style to their earlier works. The music was highly orchestrated and easy flowing, like Phillip Glass but without his most annoying repetitive minimalism. Canto Di Primavera also had some orchestration but was an easily accessible vocal album with some decent songs. At the turn of the 80's, Banco decided to take a much more commercial approach and modernize their sound. Thus, Capolinea appeals mainly to fans of neo-progressive wanting to hear new and more streamlined versions of old Banco tracks. This brought them more commercial success on several albums and even hit singles throughout this decade.
ALBUMS (UP TO 1980):
|1||BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO||1972||RICORDI SMRL 6094|
|2||DARWIN!||1972||RICORDI SMRL 6107|
|3||IO SONO NATO LIBERO||1973||RICORDI SMRL 6123|
|4||BANCO (IV)||1975||MANTICORE MAL 2013|
|5||GAROFANO ROSSO||1976||MANTICORE MAL 2014|
|6||COME IN UN' ULTIMA CENA||1976||MANTICORE MAL 2015|
|7||...DI TERRA||1978||RICORDI SMRL 6226|
|8||CANTO DI PRIMAVERA||1979||RICORDI SMRL 6247|
|9||CAPOLINEA||1980||RICORDI SMRL 6260|
An instrumental jazz-rock group from Rome made up of remnants from the Festa Mobile quintet plus a new drummer Piero Mangini. Their high-flying fusion had symphonic touches, with the Boccuzzi brothers' massive keyboards (mainly electric piano and synthesizer) to the fore. They were probably influenced by Josef Zawinul (Weather Report), Chick Corea (Miles Davis group) and Tom Coster (from the second Santana-band). What Il Bariscentro lack is originality, as the music is quite predictable - the rhythm section plays repetitive and slightly funky, while the soloists lack full engagement as they run up and down their scales. Those still tempted should try their second album first.
His best known album is Voci from 1976. It contains romantic instrumental symphonic rock, influenced by chamber music from the 18th and 19th Centuries. Understandably, the keyboard parts dominate, sometimes in interesting dialogues with the violin and cello. The approach is serious and perhaps lacking any sort of spontaneity but you will enjoy the album if you are into groups heavily influenced by classical music, such as Trace. Luciano's later albums were similar in style.
|1||VOCI||1976||ARISTON ARLP 12288|
|2||COGLI IL GIORNO||1978||ARISTON ARLP 12333|
|3||FRAMMENTITONALI||1979||ARISTON ARLP 12354|
|4||LUCIONO BASSO||1980||ARISTON ARLP 12374|
You could name any musical direction at random and be almost sure that multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, sessionman and record producer Franco Battiato has tried it. His music ranges from avant-garde minimalism to contributions to the European Song Contest and has been praised by Frank Zappa and Italian pop fans (probably not the same records). His first albums are the most interesting, being unusual and charming musical experiments that combined musique concrete, avant-garde, electronic music and pop music with progressive rock - all performed with humour and eccentricity. As such, they are true anachronisms of Italian rock and are recommended for the adventurous listener (of which I am sure there are a few!). Try out Sulle Corde Di Aries if you're interested in electronic minimalism in the Terry Riley-vein! Fetus and Pollution are more jovial and friendly with short, twisted tracks. The flamboyant production on these albums was by Pino Massara and Alfredo Tisocco, making the distinctive 'Bla Bla-sound' that also imprinted Capsicum Red and (to a lesser degree) Ossage Tribe. Battiato has made countless other albums, ranging from extreme experimentalism in the late seventies to plain pop-rock a few years later.
MOST RELEVANT ALBUMS:
|1||FETUS||1972||BLA BLA BBXL 10001|
|2||POLLUTION||1972||BLA BLA BBXL 10002|
|3||SULLE CORDE DI ARIES||1973||BLA BLA BBXL 10003|
|4||CLIC||1974||BLA BLA BBXL 10006|
|5||MILE LE GLADIATOR||1975||BLA BLA BBXL 10008|
In spite of the Bennato & D'Angio moniker, this was a 7 piece folk-rock band with flutes, acoustic guitars and violin. Their album is supposed to be very good, although as I haven't heard it I cannot confirm this.
This guy made a little known but excellent symphonic rock album with strangely bubbling synths and unusual, high-pitched electric guitar lines. It sounds like the work of someone who really enjoys himself in a recording studio utilizing its assorted effects. The songwriting and arrangements are refreshingly inventive, poetic and easy on the ear. In short, this is a recommended album.
This group released their first album just after the Italian progressive rock scene had passed its creative zenith. It is a classic of fully matured progressive rock, reminiscent of late Summer just before the Autumn sets in. The group had a zealous affection for even the smallest musical detail, balancing their complex and dense sound between classically inspired and heavy forceful progressive rock, in powerful, slightly romantic songs with very dynamic arrangements. The keyboards usually win the frequent musical battles with the guitar. Useful musical reference points might be Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso (1972-74), Van Der Graaf Generator (1970-71), Jethro Tull (1972-73) and Corte Dei Miracoli. In my opinion, Biglietto Per L'Infemo are sometimes a bit over the top, but this is just a very minor reservation. Their second album was never released and it is open to question whether the group ever completed it. Recently it has been released on CD and LP. The technical quality is a bit sparse, but does not seriously undermine the musical content. Unfortunately it isn't quite up to the high standards of their first effort. Lighter in texture than that album the tracks that come closest are "Sole Ma Vivo" and "La Canzone Del Padre". Giuseppe Banfi's synthesizers were more prominent on this album. He later got seriously into electronic music, releasing solo albums comparable to Klaus Schulze, who produced and released two of them in Germany on his IC label.
|1||BIGLIETTO PER L'INFERNO||1974||TRIDENT TRD 1005|
|2||IL TEMPO DELLA SEMINA||1992||MELLOW MMP 106|
|A1||GALAXY MY DEAR||1978||RED RECORD VPA123|
|A2||MA DOLCE VITA||1979||IC KS 58.066|
|A3||HEARTH||1981||IC KS 80.008|
Their eponymous album was released in 1978 on the small Brutkasten label in Nuremberg, Germany. According to the cover, the five tracks were recorded from 1969 to 1978 (probably in Germany), but sound as if they were made in one go in the mid-seventies. No one can accuse Black Spirit of exaggerated sophistication, as their music was all plain hard rock in the Black Sabbath and Deep Purple vein, though recorded under much more primitive circumstances. Unsurprisingly, Black Spirit are comparable to German hard-rock bands like Florian Geyer, Grave, Arktis and Ainigma. Only really enjoyable for fans of intense guitar solos and well known blues riffs.
Their sole album is one of the really outstanding pearls of Italian rock. Being more introspective and relaxed in style than most, this very poetic and fragile album has sadly been overlooked by some collectors. The delightful melodies are performed by a very distinctive vocalist with a slightly nasal, high-pitched voice, comparable to Par Moran of the British group Spring or Colin Goldring of Gnidrolog. Instrumental reference points could include Procol Harum, Raw Material and Van Der Graaf Generator. In places, three-part vocal harmonies add hippie vibes resembling some of the US West Coast bands. The tracks form an interconnected 7-part suite with varied instrumental backing (piano, organ, flute, mellotron, guitar, sax, moog in this order). "La Nuova Forza" is the best example, blending complex prog, folk, jazz and harmony pop in a classic 8-minute track. By the way, 'Poa' is the greek word for the fertile element: earth.
|1||POA||1973||TITANIA BM 2301|
Their album consisted of jazz-rock with sax and flute to the fore. It was vaguely comparable to Soft Machine.
|1||BLUE MORNING||1973||TOMORROW 2000|
Their only album was posthumously released in 1973, containing short songs in the vintage style of Flashmen, Raminghi and Mucchio, in the period between late sixties beat-psych and the earliest progressive rock.
|1||I BOOM||1973||SMASH SM 905|
His album was a private release comprising instrumental tracks. It's quite an interesting and innovative com-bination of sequencer-driven electronic music influenced by the Berlin school (Schulze, Tangerine Dream and others) and symphonic space rock a la Eloy and Pink Floyd. This works best on the long "Journey" (20:50), structured as a suite of different musical themes. The shorter pieces on the other side aren't as effective, but nevertheless the album deserves some attention.
|1||JOURNEY||1979||ED. MUSICALI AL/79|
Their album is probably the best Italian posthumous release. Recorded in the Spring of 1971, it contains simply superb progressive rock with three prolonged pieces elegantly balanced between classical, jazz, folk and heavy progressive. Their adaption of Edvard Grieg's "In The Hall Of Mountain King" combined with their own melodic material is a 12-minute delight, far better than any adaptations The Nice ever made. The instruments featured in equal measures are organ, flute, electric & acoustic guitars and sax. Highly recommended!
|1||BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE||1992||MELOS 001|
Roberto Cacciapaglia was a keyboard player, who played with Franco Battiato prior to recording his own albums. Sonanze (1975) is well known by collectors of German "Kosmische Musik", as it was the only foreign release on the label bearing exactly that name (although it was only released in Italy). The Milan recordings were treated to a quadrophonic mix in a well-known studio near Cologne. Cacciapaglia's style was rather minimalistic and focused on atmospherics rather than melodies. Various keyboards (and even a distant guitar) are intermingled with timpani, mutilated strings, horns and even the human voice. The work is not separated into tracks, but floats along like quicksilver on the bottom of a dark sea. Good musical references might be Terry Riley, Franco Battiato (Sulle Corde Di Aries), Klaus Schulze (Cyborg) and William Sheller (Lux Aeterno). His second album was less mystical and closer to contemporary classic music (similar to Steve Reich and Phillip Glass but of less interest).
ALBUMS (UP TO 1980):
|1||SONANZE||1975||PDU PLD SQ 6025|
|2||SEI NOTE IN LOGICA||1979||PHILLIPS 6323 081|
First assembled as a beat group in the late sixties, I Califfi reformed in 1972, when their music veered towards heavy progressive rock. The result was a fairly good album with relatively short (3-5 minutes), melodious and traditionally constructed tunes. As such, the album differed somewhat from the more complex Italian progressive sound of many other bands. The two instrumental tracks on the album recalled movie themes (or a compact version of the more archetypical Italian progressive sound!). Some would argue that there is too wide a gap between its soft-rock songs and some fiery heavy rock (but didn't Led Zeppelin's style vary, although they are best remembered as a "heavy" group?). The band might have benefited from a less restricted formula with more extended instrumental parts, as the keyboards show much promise. As it stands, Fiore Di Metallo is a light-hearted, melodious and pleasant album, lacking a little in depth.
Palolo Tofani, a previous member of I Califfi, re-recorded many of the tracks included in Fiore Di Metallo for his solo album (credited to "Electric Frankenstein"), albeit now with English lyrics. It is unclear whether he had any involvement in the recording of "Fiore Di Metallo", but he isn't credited on the cover.
|1||FIORE DI METALLO||1973||CETRA LPX 23|
Helped by Bla Bla producers Pino Massara and Franco Battiato, this eccentric singer made an album evoking Roger Chapman, Emmanuel Booz, Peter Gabriel, Battiato (of course!) and even Wild Man Fischer. The arrangements are really imaginative, with a lot of variation from track to track (including acoustic guitar, electronics and cello). Though not exactly "rock", this is still a worthwhile and artistic album.
|1||LA FINESTRA DENTRO||1974||BLA BLA BBXL 10005|
Their eponymous album contained well-arranged progressive rock with heavy electric guitars, contrasting with the more lyrical flute and organ. Other musical ingredients are provided by the french horn (uncommon), classical acoustic guitar and massive percussion. Most parts are instrumental and clearly influenced by the composition techniques of 19th Century classical music. The album is a united work in 7 parts featuring strong melodies, dynamic musical contrasts and an omnipresent romantic spirit. It's one of the very best Italian records from 1973.
|1||CAMPO DI MARTE||1973||UNITED ARTISTS 29497|
An obscure album of experimental rock similar to label mates Area or even French groups like Magma and Red Noise.
One of many groups that have remained largely unknown outside of Italy. Fronted by a powerful vocalist and flute player, their nearest British equivalent would be Jethro Tull, although Italian bands such as Jumbo and Museo Rosenbach would be better comparisons. The music on Frutti Per Kagua is complex and restless progressive rock, with an outstanding 18-minute title track. This is a good example of how classical compostion techniques can be used in rock. Here is a rough analysis that illustrates this: "Frutti Per Kagua" has a quite clear three-part structure:
Part I (0:00 - 4:47) a powerful rock song
Part II (4:47 - 13:56) mid-section with musical developments
Part III (13:45 - end) concluding finale
Part I contains three sung verses, alternating with enthusiastic electric guitar and flute riffs. Between the 2nd and 3rd verses there is a short flute solo and a transitional vocal passage before the final verse. From 3:30 to 4:47 minutes into the cut there is a guitar and sax dialogue, which also included solo interludes from both instruments.
Part II takes the form of a two-part crescendo, each time starting from silence with one instrument added to the others at a time. After 4:47 minutes, the first crescendo starts with acoustic guitar introducing a new musical theme (but no relation to Part I), gradually joined by bass, wordless chanting, drums, flute and electric guitar of increasing intensity. After 9:09 minutes, the second crescendo starts with another musical theme (more celestial in character) introduced by organ and then joined by percussion, flute, bass, drums, sax and a second organ.
Part III mainly consists of a vocal rendition (with lyrics in verses) of the musical theme from the first crescendo. At last there is a 0:33 coda which is a harmonic variation (instrumental) on the theme from the rock song in Part I. In this way the work reaches its satisfying conclusion! I used this example because the structure is easy to identify and serves as an example of how incredibly formally countless Italian groups constructed their "rock music" at the time.
|1||FRUTTI PER KAGUA||1972||IT ZLST70014|
This outfit's two albums contain some interesting moments of song-oriented progressive rock, although they lacked the imagination to create works of lasting appeal. Generally rather dull. Not recommended.
|1||ORFEO 2000||1972||KANSAS LDM17004|
|2||LP DI PRIMAVERA||1974||KANSAS 5300 502|
One of the lesser-known Italian bands that combined progressive rock with classical music, inspired by the adaptations of bands like The Nice. Capsicum Red's 15-minute reading of Beethoven's piano sonata "Pathetique" is indeed the best track on the album. It's a better example of a more serious adaptation of classical music than, say, the Dutch band Ekseption ever produced. Unfortunately, Alfredo Tisocco and Pino Massara's experimental production (including some strangely displaced phasing effects) disturbes the classical and 'clean' character of the music. The track "Rabbia & Poesia" finished with a King Crimson pastiche. The album is short in length and Bruno Canzian's compositions lack significance.
|1||APPUNTI PER UN'IDEA FISSA||1972||BLA BLA BBL11051|
A trio that was the precursor to the group Janus.
|1||SCIENCE & VIOLENCE||1979||PRIVATE PRESS|
When the mythical group Il Sistema split up, some of the ex-members founded two excellent groups: Museo Rosenbach and Celeste. The latter was founded by Il Sistema's drummer Ciro Perrino and woodwind player Leonardo Lagorio in 1972. Although a lot of material was composed and recorded during 1973 and 1974, their first album wasn't released until 1976, appearing on Vittorio De Scalzi's Grog label. Nevertheless, it was brilliant - containing pastoral nocturnes for the generation that had grown up with King Crimson's first album. Just like PFM, Celeste had studied the contributions of Greg Lake and Ian McDonald on the softer tracks on that album. Still Celeste's music had its own personality - delightful semi-acoustic pieces fronted by acoustic guitar, flute and lots of mellotron. Bass and drums are reduced to a minimum, resembling the romantic spirit of the first Pierrot Lunaire-album.
Celeste split in 1976 and left a half-finished second album behind. This was closer to the Canterbury jazz-rock sound in direction - with proper drums and bass and a strong emphasis on Lagorio's saxophone. Only two of the four long tracks had a tolerable sound quality (possibly studio rehearsal tapes), the remainder were from home recordings. In 1992, Ciro Perrino also allowed some soundtrack recordings (from February 1974 - before their first album) to be released on CD. The 12 tracks were recorded in a low budget studio and include some tracks that appeared in re-arranged versions on Principe Di Un Giorno. Both these posthumous releases are for completists only (virtually hundreds of other Italian albums are more interesting than these).
|1||PRINCIPE DI UN GIORNO||1976||GROG GRL 02|
|A1||CELESTE II||1991||MELLOW MAC1001|
|A2||I SUONI IN UNA SFERA (1974)||1992||MELLOW MMP113|
If this album hadn't been banned due to its provocative lyrics it could have been one of the first progressive rock albums to be released in Italy. The material was recorded in 1969, but not issued until 1973 and even then was not sold in record shops or broadcasted on the radio. The album is an effective combination of twin keyboards and fuzz guitar. It's quite aggressive music with some psychedelic tendencies, possibly comparable to Van Der Graaf Generator's early albums with a little touch of The Nice.
|1||FOLLIA||1973||STUDIO 7 1101|
A rather short-lived group from Naples connected with the better known Osanna, which eventually Cervello's leader Corrado Rustici would join in 1974. Melos was a concept album based on ancient Greek mythology with some references to the old folk music of that country. The music on the album is technically well executed, but maybe a bit too conventional.
|1||MELOS||1973||RICORDI SMRL 6119|
This mysterious session group was in fact the nucleus of Goblin in disguise, collaborating with the duo Tartani and Bordini. The album was, according to the cover, recorded from April to June 1975, chronologically placing it in between the first two Goblin albums. This is contrary to the reports that this was a pre-Goblin group. The original LP is extremely rare!
The album is in fact excellent, with equal shares of guitar-ridden heavy progressive and keyboard-based classical rock. No track is shorter than 7 minutes! Some of the vocal arrangements (occasionally multi-voiced) are in fact close to contemporary Yes (listen to "The Picture Of Dorian Gray"). All songs are sung in English, making this a great album choice for those who enjoy 1972-75 English symphonic rock (or even the rediscovered American groups Yezda Urfa, Mirthrandir or Pentwater).
|1||CHERRY FIVE||1975||CINEVOX SC 33.027|
Their album contained typical Italian complex progressive rock with very long tracks, fronted by various keyboards (including mellotron).
|1||CINCINNATO||1974||PDU PLD A 5091|
The music of Circus 2000's first album is refreshingly simple compared to most other early 70's Italian groups. Their speciality was to write short songs with very appealing dreamy psych-folk melodies and haunting female vocals in English. Arguably, this is a European equivalent to the psychedelic folk-rock and hippie spirit of Jefferson Airplane and other US West Coast groups, but musically it's better compared with early Earth & Fire and even Julian's Treatment. Silvana Aliotta's delightful voice sounds similar to Cathy Pruden of the latter "group". The guitar parts are also "psychedelic" in feel with plenty of fuzz and wah-wah guitar. Few Italian groups (if any) surpassed Circus 2000's mastery of the small format composition. Their quasi-occult, naive lyrics only add further to their irresistible charm. Surely the magic works well on the wonderful "I Am The Witch", "Magic Bean", "The Lord Has No Hands" and "Must Walk Forever". The only problem is a total playing time of only 27 minutes. Some may find this record a bit banal, but I love it for the period charm that many seriously intellectual albums lack. An Escape From A Box (1972) was more progressive, with half as many tracks (five in all) as on the first album. Some extended instrumental passages were added to their songs, but this didn't change their approach noticeably. Most memorable were the two tracks filling up side two - "Need" and "When The Sun Refuses To Shine". Most people consider their second album their best, although I prefer the first! Franco Lo Previte later played jazz-rock with the group Duello Madre. Silvana Aliotta, after releasing a solo pop-music single, later guested on Procession's second album.
|1||CIRCUS 2000||1970||RIFI RLF 14049|
|2||AN ESCAPE FROM A BOX||1972||RIFI RLF 14215|
When Danilo Rustici and Elio D'Anna left Osanna, the remaining members Lino Vairetti and Massimo Guarino reverted to their old group name Citta' Frontale and formed a new sextet. Their album El Tor (1975) was pleasant enough, although not very 'progressive' in style. Instead, Citta' Frontale merged jazz, folk and soul (even funk) to a soft melodic rock, highlighting flute, sax, acoustic guitar and hand percussion. The vocals were good and easy on the ear. Electric guitar and keyboards are also used occasionally. Not really among the highlights of Italian rock. Osanna's reformation eventually put an end to Citta' Frontale.
|1||EL TOR||1975||CETRA LPX 45|
His album was comparable to early PFM and Banco with an emphasis on synthesizers and other keyboards. It also had an impressive triple fold-out die-cut cover.
|1||MU||1972||RCA DSPL 10549|
This interesting group failed to secure a recording contract at the right time in 1973-74, although demo tapes from this early period have recently been issued on CD. Their leader was the keyboard-player Alessio Feltri, who composed all five tracks on Dimensione Onirica (1976), released on Vittorio De Scalzi's Grog-label. Vaguely modelled on Banco's symphonic rock, Corte Dei Miracoli also had a twin keyboard line-up (synthesizers, electric piano and organ being used in that priority), but with the vocalist being far easier on the ear than Banco's operatic Francesco Di Giacomo. Graziano Zippo can be compared to a softer Peter Hammill. Their complex, jazzy, punctuated rhythms featured a lot of hand-beaten percussion instruments. Along with Celeste and Locanda Delle Fate, this is one of the best albums to be released in Italy after 1975.
ARCHIVE MATERIAL FROM 1973-1973 (CD):
|A1||DIMENSIONE ONIRICA||1992||MELLOW MMP 104|
|1||CORTE DEI MIRACOLI||1976||GROG GRL 04|
A short-lived super group who formed in 1973 to play powerful hard-rock. This isn't indicative of the previous groups several of these guys had played in, as Todaro came from Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, Piazza from PFM and Santandrea from Alphataurus. With Paolo Tofani (Area and Electric Frankenstein) producing and composing all tracks, their album was supposed to be released on the Cramps label in 1974. Somehow this never happened, which might have been the result of their slightly anonymous sound. The power riffs and high-pitched vocals (in English) were mostly picked up from Led Zeppelin's hard-rock style, evident on some tracks from their fourth and fifth album. Some of Tofani's compostions are quite catchy though, the best of them reappearing in new versions on his Electric Frankenstein-album.
ARCHIVE MATERIAL (CD-ONLY):
|1||CRYSTALS||1992||MELLOW MMP 120|
This group has been known to collectors for many years, due to the interest in their very rare first album. Although issued in 1973, it sounds more like 1970 due to the technical quality (not bad but more rudimentary than most 1973 releases). The album title is a combination of the two best tracks, showcasing powerful early progressive rock with plenty of flute and guitar riffing (comparable to Jethro Tull 1969-70 and the first Gravy Train album) and some psychedelic sound effects. Regretably, some other tracks were mediocre, like the ballad "Cara Emily". An interesting album.
|1||RIFLESSIONI: IDEA D'INFINITO||1973||MUSIC LPM 2011|
If one masterpiece should be singled out as the jewel of Italian rock, my vote would go to De De Lind's one-and-only album, which also wins the competition for the longest title. What is so special about it? I will try to explain this by the way of a short analysis:
The music of De De Lind has an otherworldly combination of poetic beauty, dynamic range, a considerable philosophical depth and, most of all, strong passion. The whole album forms a united work whose name translated to English is 'I don't know where I'm coming from and I don't know where I will go to. Man is the name I was given.' The album starts in heavy blues-rock style with psychedelic undertones and Jethro Tull-like flute lines. This gives no indication of which way the album will develop, but already reveals a vocalist with extraordinary intensity and commitment. This rather powerful introduction suddenly calms down followed by an unsuspected modulation of key (one semitone up) after 5:12 minutes, lifting the music to a higher dimension of pure beauty with flute and acoustic guitar playing meditative and dreamy tones. However, after 6:12 minutes the flute melody fails to reach its harmonic conclusion. Instead the mood becomes more dramatic with vocalist Vito Paradiso anxiously singing a section with increasing volume! Then the flute makes another attempt with the same melody, succeeding in reaching a harmonic conclusion this time. The reward is a quick crescendo into a full rock band sound, in which the majestic main melodic theme of the album (carried by the electric guitars) is revealed. It's regal and powerful with strong psychedelic overtones. This theme is repeated with some variations, including additional vocals.
The third section of the album ("Paura Del Niente") starts with melodic material contrasting the main theme. The sung melody is soft and mellow in nature. This provokes (after a moment of complete silence) a sharp instrumental reaction with furious flute playing and angry guitars. For the rest of the section there are various instrumental developments. Section four ("Smarrimento") starts with an angry solo flute melody in the best Ian Anderson 'locomotive breath' style. Some inspired flute variations gradually invite the whole band to play the powerful reaction from "Paura Del Niente"). A heavenly section of acoustic guitar and vocals follows. Then there are further dynamic variations, including a reprise of previously played melodies. Section five ("Cimitero Di Guerra") ends with the full band treatment of the first flute melody from "Smarrimento". Section six ("Voglia Di Rivivere") starts in a very thoughtful and dreamy mood with many melodic references to the main theme of the album. This returns at last in its full glory in a marvellous full blooded onslaught. Unexpectedly, this satisfactory conclusion is not completed and the last section follows.
Section seven ("E Poi") is a kind of epilogue, obscuring the previous feeling of fulfilment. The lyrics in this section are the long title of the album. In this way, the album ends by referring to the meaning of its title.
Luckily, the group made no further albums - they would only have been painful anticlimaxes to what they had already done.
|1||IO NON SO DA DOVE VENGO E NON SO DOVE MAI ANDRO'.|
UOMO E'IL NOME CHE MI HAN DATO
|1973||MERCURY 6323 901|
This group from Torino was rooted in the European jazz-rock tradition, often sounding similar to early seventies jazz-rock from France and early ECM recordings. There are also similarities with the "serious" Soft Machine (circa "Fourth") and Frank Zappa's "Jaka Jawaka" album. The first Dedalus album was entirely instrumental with solo parts equally shared between electric cello, sax, electric piano and guitar, usually with lots of notes played per second! Some parts were experimental in nature and their second album veered even more towards avant-garde and electronic music. Obviously they were highly accomplished musicians and should appeal to experienced jazz-rock listeners.
|1||DEDALUS||1973||TRIDENT TRI 1001|
|2||MATERIALE PER TRE ESECUTORI E NASTRO MAGNETICO||1974||TRIDENT TRI 1008|
They were among the relatively successful Italian groups, achieving enthusiastic recognition from an audience of 4,000 at the Palermo Pop Festival in 1971. Unlike most others, they also had domestic hit singles with "Canto Di Osanna" (1971) and "Jesahel" (a chart topper in 1972). More than 25 years later, it seems as if the majority of successful bands were musically inferior to many of the unknown ones. This is certainly the case with Delirium, who played a melodic jazz-rock based on short compositions (and not elaborate longer works). The liner notes of Dolce Acqua (1971) compare them to Blood, Sweat and Tears, Chicago and Colosseum, but Delirium replaced any slight trace of the blues (as in Colosseum's music) with the pleasant warmth of Mediterranean and South-American folk music. Ivano Fossati's vocals were up front and accompanied by an instrumental formula of sax, flute, acoustic guitar and mellotron (mainly using its string loops). An instrumental track on the album was closer to the archetypical jazz-rock of the time. As a result of the album's success, Ivano Fossati decided to go it alone. He developed his lyrical song style further on three solo albums.
The rest of the band acquired another woodwind player in Martin Frederick Grice and opted for a similar direction on Lo Scemo E Il Viaggio (1972). The lack of a good vocalist is evident on most vocal tracks, but their instrumental muscle remained intact with "Sogno" and "Villaggio". Arguably, the musical content became too dispersed with the jazz-rock material not fitting too well along side with the more easy-going, jazzy pop material (such as the included single "Jesahel"). This dualism had been discernable even on the first album. The public apparently felt the same way, as Delirium lost most of their pop audience and simultaneously failed to retain interest of the "more serious" listeners. Their keyboard player Ettore Vigo was in charge when Delirium returned after a year of silence with III - Viaggio Negli Arcipelaghi Del Tempo (1974). Their most ambitious effort, it featured siring arrangements and some notable excursions into King Crimson instrumental territory ("Fuga N. 1").
Although better than the previous effort, the album was marred by some rather ordinary pop songs. All Delirium albums are pleasant enough but sound too common and pedestrian to be really interesting.
|1||DOLCE ACQUA||1971||CETRA LPX 11|
|2||LO SCEMO E IL VILLAGGIO||1972||CETRA LPX 18|
|3||III||1974||CETRA LPX 29|
|A1||IL GRANDE MARE CHE AVREMMO TRAVERSATO||1973||CETRA LPX 21|
|A2||POCO PRIMA DELL'AURORA||1973||CETRA LPX 24|
|A3||GOODBYE INDIANA||1975||CETRA LPX 38|
This was a well-known Italian pop group with a career lasting more than 15 years. Most of their records were purely mainstream, but in 1972, inspired by the wave of Italian progressive rock, they made a good progressive album, consisting of a kind of thematically linked song cycle. Their sound was lush and soft, dominated by different keyboards. This might interest those of you who like early Procol Harum, Moody Blues or Fantasy.
|1||SUITE PER UNA DONNA ASSOLUTAMENTE RELATIVA||1972||RICORDI SMRL 6095|
A little known group, who released an album of soft jazzy progressive music vaguely similar to Citta' Frontale. Their album was released on the same label as the equally obscure Railroad.
After Zoccheddu's and Callero's excellent complex heavy progressive rock of their previous group Osage Tribe, they settled for a more jazzy direction reminiscent of the Canterbury-sound (with Callero and Trentin mirroring the roles of Hugh Hopper and Elton Dean). Lo Previte (previously of Circus 2000) had by now developed a dense and busy percussion style similar to Francesco Froggio Francica (of Raccomandata R. R.) Despite composing most of the material, Zoccheddu kept a surprisingly low musical profile on many tracks. The highlights on the album are the two long tracks on side two - "Madre" (10:30) and "Duello" (7:59) - which sometimes almost fused John McLaughlin with Soft Machine. Quite a good album, this is recommended if you like the artists mentioned. Callero later played in two less interesting groups - Il Volo and Nova.
|1||DUELLO MADRE||1973||PROD. ASSOCIATI PA47|
This mystical group made one really interesting album with all the usual Italian ingredients: vocals with a lot of passion, massive keyboards (borrowing from Bach's organ music and Keith Emerson's overall instrumental grandeur) and some tasteful guitars in sudden cameo roles. E. A. Poe made stand-alone songs, rather than 20-minute long opuses. Some tracks are very beautiful - "La Ballata Del Cane Infelice" almost reached the De De Lind level of highly aesthetic, suggestive and almost meditative melody lines. However, on the whole, "Generazioni" lacks a little of the enduring musical validity that only the really best albums have.
|1||GENERAZIONI (STORIA DI SEMPRE)||1974||KANSAS 5300 503|
The guitar player of Area used some of his spare time to record some completely different music in 1975. In fact, much of the material was composed several years earlier and some of it was recorded in Italian by I Califfi, a group of which Tofani had been a member (prior to their album sessions). Other tracks were recorded by The Crystals, who he produced some sessions for in 1973 (but Cramps, the record label, didn't release the album!). Later Tofani reworked the material completely on his own, resulting in this tongue-in-cheek, berserk fuzz guitar album! All the lyrics were sung in English and it was recorded in London. Some influences might have been drawn from Jimmy Page's strongly folk- and blues-flavoured Led Zeppelin tracks, but this detracts little from the musical value. This album is really fun with electric and acoustic guitars, vocals, tablas and tambourine.
|1||WHAT ME WORRY?||1975||CRAMPS CRSLP 2001|
Their album was supposed to be released on the Trident label (obviously filling the vacant place of TRI 1003) at the end of 1972, but for whatever reason this never happened. The two most likely reasons are: 1) the group split up before the album could be launched, or 2) their musical style was decided by the company as being too close to Van Der Graaf Generator circa 1970-71. Should this album have been released at the time? Hard to say - it is quite good but the song structures aren't very memorable. The instrumental passages are quite interesting, with notable use of cello and flute on some tracks. Guitars and keyboards are the dominating instruments, though. Thanks to its subsequent issue we can all hear it now. This could be a good album choice if you like Van Der Graaf Generator, Biglietto Per L'Inferno or Corte Dei Miracoli.
|1||UOMINI UMILI POPOLI LIBERI (1972)||1990||PRIV. PRESS LIG 101|
Joe Vescovi of The Trip was involved in this Palermo group for a short time. The album contained material recorded prior to 1974, including some singles from 1972. Rather lightweight material mid-way between pop music and folky progressive. It's only of minor interest, really.
|1||ANTOLOGIA||1974||RCA PSL 10565|
One of the mid-seventies minor league bands that failed to attract any attention in their time. Errata Corrige played romantic soft-progressive music, sometimes recalling the British bands Renaissance and Genesis, with lush atmospheres created by string synthesizer, flute, acoustic guitar, piano and high-pitched male vocals. Of the Italian bands, Pierrot Lunaire (1st album), Zauber and Locanda Delle Fate also made similar music. The "Siegfried" album was released in an edition of 500 copies.
|1||SIEGFRIED, IL DRAGO E ALTRE STORIE||1976 G7 01|
A little known group who rarely played live in their short lifetime. Their album is extremely obscure and almost never offered on the collector's market. It's really just a curiosity for the completists, as the musical content is quite ordinary. "Crisi", filling the whole of side one, is a three-part instrumental composition with classical overtones, probably inspired by The Nice. The other side contains six short pop songs with a slight psychedelic soul edge and strong sixties vibes, quite similar to I Flashmen, early New Trolls, etc.
Experimental music with keyboards, sax, flute, tablas, Moog synthesizer, trumpets and a great number of studio effects.
An obscure group who made a very rare album in 1970 with a Canterbury-influenced style comparable to early Soft Machine, Xhol and Ellufant.
Another obscure group from Rome who made an album (which translates into 'Diary Of The Movable Feast's Journey') that deserves more attention. It contains melodic, lyrical and jazzy symphonic rock dominated by a fast piano style with important contributions by electric guitar, electric piano and synthesizers. Accordingly, the keyboards dominate the instrumental side, alternating with a typical high-pitched Italian voice singing romantic melody lines (on the aptly entitled "Canto"). At times this sounds similar to Samadhi and the second Procession album. The guitar player has a style reminiscent of Steve Hackett (listen to "Ljalja"). Although the five tracks are quite long, the album has a rather short running time overall. The Boccuzzi brothers and Napoletano later formed the group Il Bariscentro, cultivating the jazz-rock tendency already apparent in Festa Mobile.
|1||DIARIO DI VIAGGIO DELLA FESTA MOBILE||1973||RCA DPSL 10605|
A studio group who made a mediocre album of soft progressive rock which is of limited interest.
This is reputed to be an album of quiet Italian folk-rock.
I Flashmen were one of those groups veering on the edge of progressive rock, who never quite plunged into it! Their music comprised melodic rock with some classical and psychedelic influences. Many Italian groups played similar music between 1969 and 1971 (Formula 3, New Trolls, Il Mucchio, Capricorn College). I Flashmen's first album was recorded in 1970 and actually released twice - firstly entitled Cercando La Vita and secondly as Hydra, which now included two extra tracks. Their music still had some 60's vibes and a vague psychedelic influence. Some pop ballads were dispensable, although their heavier material (probably inspired by Cream, Iron Butterfly and the likes) was very good, particularly the 9-minute "Cercando La Vita" with its nice guitar and organ jamming. Pensando, their second effort, is actually quite a good album with a dense production, loud guitars and organ, haunting melodies and emotional vocals. Imagine if you will a cross between Procol Harum and Deep Purple (Mark I) with Italian lyrics, this is what you would get! After this album, I Flashmen decided to follow a more commercial direction and released at least two more albums, which are not of relevance to this book.
|1A||CERCANDO LA VITA||1970||KANSAS SLP 8|
|1B||HYDRA||1971||KANSAS LDM 17001|
|2||PENSANDO||1972||KANSAS LDM 17003|
These four musicians recorded three very different records together under three different group names. Flea On The Honey was the first of these, recording an album for the RCA subsidary Delta Records in April 1971. All lyrics to the 10 tracks were sung in English and the group members even adapted English names on the sleeve! The material was very variable, indicative of a group that hadn't yet properly decided its musical direction. Most of it is strongly influenced by late sixties British rock highlighting guitar and organ (Spooky Tooth, Traffic, Raw Material, Deep Purple and many, many more) and it ranges from progressive gospel rock ("Mother Mary") and folk-rock ("Louise") to forceful guitar-based heavy-rock ("Moon Park Woman") and blues-rock ("Face To The Sun"). It's quite a good album, although not indispensable.
Changing their name to Flea, a more powerful direction was developed for Topi O Uomini (1972), a classic album for guitar lovers, which showcased some really excellent musicianship. The pinnacle of this was the 20-minute title track that went through several different phases, starting with jazzy percussion and a memorable guitar riff, then introducing chords for the great vocal passage that follows. After some great guitar variations there is a sudden shift to Black Sabbath-tempo heavy rock introducing another melody. This is developed and varied in shifting dynamics with further strong guitar work and vocals. The third and last melody part starts after a short drum solo after 14:56 minutes and is closer to the blues with the addition of harmonica. After a short time this leads into another drum solo, gradually resurrecting the first melodic theme of the song. The reasons why this composition works so well are a superb rhythm section and an almost violent enthusiasm from all those involved. The remaining three tracks are also quite powerful, with only "Sono Un Pesce" being indicative of the softer moments of the previous album.
In 1973 Flea split for a while, leaving Elio Volpini time to join L'Uovo Di Colombo for their great album. A couple of years elapsed before the quartet assembled again under the name Etna. This time they recorded a powerful instrumental fusion album fronted by guitar and electric piano, resembling Mahavishnu Orchestra or the Spanish group Iceberg. The spontaneous enthusiasm was exchanged for cold and studied intellectualism, although this is not a bad jazz-rock album.
ALBUM AS FLEA ON THE HONEY:
|A1||FLEA ON THE HONEY||1971||DELTA ZSLD 55026|
|B1||TOPI O UOMINI||1972||FONIT LPQ 09070|
|C1||ETNA||1975||CATOCA CTL 1002|
This trio was among the earliest on the Italian progressive scene. It was formed in 1969 by musicians that had played beat music (I Quelli and Camaleonti). Almost none of the material on their first two albums was written by the group. It was mostly written by singer, songwriter and producer Lucio Battisti (later a well-known pop singer in Italy) and lyrics writer Mogol (no forename ever mentioned). The title track of Dies Irae (1970) was in fact an adaptation of (one sequence from) a mediaeval mass for the dead by Thomas von Celano. This is indeed the standout track on an album that lies halfway between psychedelic beat music and early progressive rock, comparable to Vanilla Fudge or New Trolls' heavier sixties singles. Several tracks have a soul influence. The track "Questo Folle Sentimento" was previously released as Formula 3's first single in 1969. The album also included a very heavy version (in the Vanilla Fudge-vein) of Left Banke's "Walk Away Renee". Indeed, Alberto Radius revealed himself to be a very able guitarist on this album, totally dominating the instrumental parts.
The follow-up Formula 3 (1971) was clearly inferior to its predecessor, with some dubious pop material inbetween a few better tracks. Even the 11-minute track "Nessuno Nessuno" could easily pass for a European song contest entry if the instrumental parts were edited out! The falsetto vocals (à la New Trolls) are awful. Most tracks seem very dated today, sounding like a second rate 1968. pop band.
Their first album to include some original compositions, Sognando E Risognando (1972) veered in a different direction, as it was a concept album in four main sections. This didn't help much, as the pop songs of Mogol and Battisti were still bad. The only bright spot is Formula 3's own 13-minute instrumental part "L'Ultima Foglia".
Their final album La Grande Casa (1973) didn't feature Battisti, which made it marginally better, being dominated by a folkier approach. Still their music lacked conviction.
None of Formula 3's albums are fully satisfying and I regard the bulk of their music as a waste of time. They were good musicians who lacked original and inventive material.
|1||DIES IRAE||1970||NUMERO UNO ZSLN 55010|
|2||FORMULA 3||1971||NUMERO UNO ZSLN 55013|
|3||SOGNANDO E RISOGNANDO||1972||NUMERO UNO ZSLN 55152|
|4||LA GRANDE CASA||1973||NUMERO UNO ZSLN 55655|
|A1||AMORE E NON AMORE||1971||RICORDI SMRL 6074|
|B1||RADIUS||1972||NUMERO UNO ZSLN 55153|
|B2||CHE COSA SEI||1975||CBS 81476|
|B3||CARTA STRACCIA||1976||CGD 20.008|
|B4||AMERICA GOOD BYE||1979||CGD 20122|
A little known album of relatively short cuts influenced by British psychedelia, resulting in a sound similar to Blue Phantom.
An exploitation album featuring unknown musicians. It is now thought that the "group" were unconnected to the German group The Sub (who released an obscure album on the same label).
|1||PLAY ROCK AND BLUES||1970||HELP|
He was of English origin and recorded this very rare album (only a few hundred copies were eventually released in Italy only) in Rome and London. It's a cool period piece sounding like a 1967 cross between Donovan and Incredible String Band. Anyone who enjoys psych-folk will love this album!
|1||DREAMING WITH ALICE||1972||RCA IT|
This was the only 'singer-songwriter' album to be released on the highly collectable Trident label. Generally the music is quiet with tasty musical arrangements with mellotron, lead guitar, moog, organ and piano to the fore.
|1||CLAUDIO FUCCI||1974||TRIDENT TRI 1007|
A little known and very rare album of oriental ethnic music similar to Aktuala and even Ceyleib People.
|1||FUTURO ANTICO||1980||PRIVATE PRESS|
In 1971 the group I Gleemen changed their name into Garibaldi, although the line-up remained the same. The album Nuda is a great pleasure for lovers of electric guitar in full overdrive with lots of fuzz and wah-wah effects. While The Gleemen-album had several influences, this album is strongly modelled on one - the slightly funky Jimi Hendrix style (he had many). Despite the great technical ability of Fosatti, parts of the album suffer from lack of originality. However, side two was great, containing the more reflective, interconnected 20-minute work "Moretto Da Brescia".
Luckily Astrolabio elaborated the ideas of that track, making for a more interesting album. Containing only two long tracks, it was a superb showcase for talented and very long guitar solos. "Madre Di Cose Perdute" was a melancholic and slowly moving track with a spacious character. Here Garibaldi enter the territory of early Pink Floyd or Ash Ra Tempel (resembling their reasonably structured tracks) with Fosatti's cosmic blues and Marchi's eerie organ notes. The track builds up twice from a quiet opening with vocals to a frenzied double-tracked electric guitar blow-out! You get more of that on the live "Sette?", setting the audience on fire with some arse kicking rock'n'roll. Great fun! After Astrolabio, Garibaldi disbanded, or more precisely Fosatti changed his plans, sacked the bass player (Marchi only contributed to the last album as a session man) and brought in new reinforcements for his Bambibanda E Melodie, which returned to earth with an album of latin and oriental influences. Fosatti re-formed Garibaldi (with a new line-up) 15 years later for some more hard blues-rock.
|1||NUDA||1972||CGD FGL 5513|
|2||ASTROLABIO||1973||FONIT LPQ 09075|
|3||BAMBI FOSSATI & GARIBALDI||1990||ARTIS ARCD 014|
An obscure album on the Bla Bla label with Franco Battiato helping the proceedings.
|1||AREA Dl SERVIZIO||1972||BLA BLA BBL 11053|
This group made an album of soft and poetic symphonic rock at a time when almost nothing of interest was recorded in Italy. The instrumentation is very subdued with acoustic and electric guitars, flute, organ and string synthesizers to the fore. Certain tracks are close to folk-rock, other are closer to mellow jazz, but overall the material is quite song-oriented featuring a tender vocalist. I think Genfuoco sometimes suffer from a lack of energy and invention, but check them out if you're into adult-oriented progressive rock, such as mid-70's Camel or Happy The Man.
|1||DENTRO L'INVISIBLE||1979||CITTA NUOVA|
A mediocre jazz-rock group who played keyboard-led instrumentais with the help of strings and woodwind. The recording quality of L'Isola Del Tonal is quite poor, seriously limiting its interest. Only for those who regularly travel to jazz festivals.
ALBUMS (UP TO 1980):
|1||RAIN'S DREAM||1976||DRUMS ED 2010|
|2||L'ISOLA DEL TONAL||1979||DRUMS EDL 2043|
(not credited: flute and keyboards)
A singer who made one album ranked among the rarest of the Italian rock scene. This is surprising, as Affresco really should have commercial potential with its' strong melodies and dynamic arrangements. In fact, some parts are similar to the Procession albums, also released in 1974. The playing is enthusiastic and convincing with a lot of variety. Claudio Filice and Nicola Di Staso from Quella Vecchia Locando contribute with some romantic violin and mean guitar parts respectively. In between there are Jethro Tull-like flutes, mandolins and acoustic guitar, placing this album between folk, classical, jazz and heavy rock with characteristic Italian "canto" influences.
|1||AFFRESCO||1974||ARIS ANL 4000|
Their only album was a conceptual work dealing with criminality and the mafia. The main focus here was to tell a story and the album must be considered as a continuous work with spoken and sung lyrics. As such, a knowledge of the Italian language is important if the listener is to understand the plot. The music doesn't quite stand on its own, despite fine contributions from, among others, Ares Tavolazzi (pre-Area), Marcello Dellacasa (pre-Latte E Miele) and composer Vince Tempera (pre-Il Volo). Some sections are close to Italian pop and could be likened to the New Trolls.
|1||TERRA IN BOCCA||1971||RIFI RDZ 14207|
This group that included Alessio Feltri before he went on to form the more famous Corte Dei Miracoli is of historical interest. Il Giro Strano was the result of a combination of the groups Tramps and Voodoo in 1972. Despite the relative success of their live performances (at the Pop Festival at Villa Pamphili, Rome and the first Pop Meeting In Genova) they were not able to release an album. The posthumous release La Divina Commedia contained 5 long tracks recorded in 1972 and 1973, of which only 2 (amounting to 24 minutes) were finished studio recordings, the rest being rehearsal tapes. They left behind them a lot of musical promise, as this is excellent complex progressive rock in the Van Der Graaf Generator vein with a great vocalist to match Peter Hammill. The interplay between organ and sax is very notable.
ARCHIVE MATERIAL (CD-ONLY):
|1||LA DIVINA COMMEDIA||1992||MELLOW MMP 107|
This group from Genova made one of the more noteworthy Italian albums of 1970. Along with early Formula 3 and Balletto Di Bronzo, Gleemen played a heavy brand of progressive rock, with electric guitar in the spotlight. Their music still contained remnants from the late 60's psychedelic blues-rock boom, with similarities to Jimi Hendrix Experience, Deep Purple and Cream. Lio Marchi's classically influenced organ counterpoints Bambi Fosatti's heavy rock guitar in the relatively short songs (2-6 minutes). The material shows distinct promise, and indeed greater things were soon to follow when Gleemen changed their name to Garibaldi.
|1||GLEEMEN||1970||CGD FGS 5073|
Goblin are the most well-known makers of movie soundtracks in Italy, who gained instant success with Profondo Rosso, the soundtrack to a movie by Dario Argento (with the English title 'Deep Red'). Their strength lay in the pulsating keyboards of Claudio Simonetti and instantly recognisable melodic themes, such as the title track. Actually the album sold millions of copies, which was partly due to the success of the movie. Goblin recorded their part of the soundtrack in February 1975 (the 30 minutes long album also contained some orchestrations by Giorgio Gaslini) as session musicians and then Simonetti, Morante and Pignatelli went on to further session work with Tony Tartan: and Carlo Bordini in Cherry Five, recording a legendary album between April to June 1975. Then, when Profondo Rosso was released and proved successful, Goblin reformed with a new drummer Agostino Marangolo.
Their next work Roller (1976) was definitively their strongest effort with excellent jazzy instrumental tracks, dominated by multiple keyboards, strong bass lines and some pretty guitar licks, sometimes vaguely comparable instrumentally to Genesis and Brand X. Suspiria (1977) was a more experimental soundtrack album and contained their most striking sound illustrations. However, later soundtrack albums (to movies by Dario Argento), Zombi (1978), Patrick (1979) and Squadra Antigangstern (1980), revealed the group in a state of increasing decline. Their only proper studio album with vocals, Il Fantastic Viaggio Del Bagarozzo Mark, is generally regarded as a failure in which Morante should just have stuck to his guitar playing. The group disbanded in 1980, reforming some years later with a revised line-up.
|1||PROFONDO ROSSO||1975||CINEVOX MDF 33/85|
|2||ROLLER||1976||CINEVOX MDF 33/101|
|3||SUSPIRIA||1977||CINEVOX MDF 33/108|
|4||IL FANTASTICO VIAGGIO DEL BAGAROZZO MARK||1978||CINEVOX SC 33.037|
|5||ZOMBI||1978||CINEVOX MDF 33/121|
|6||AMO NON AMO||1979||CINEVOX MDF 33/133|
|7||PATRICK||1979||CINEVOX MDF 33/134|
|8||SQUADRA ANTIGANGSTERN||1980||CINEVOX MDF 33/131|
|A1||CHERRY FIVE||1975||CINEVOX SC 33.027|
|A2||IL REALE IMPERO BRITANNICO||1976||CINEVOX MDF 33/96|
A marginal case for inclusion, as I Gregor is quite close to pop music (the old tradition, not like The Spice Girls or something!). Their song-based style had slightly symphonic overtones, but personally I think it's throwaway material. In the same class as I Dik Dik and I Nomadi.
|1||I GREGOR||1975||KANSAS 5300 504|
A short-lived quintet who released one album and several singles. Their style was melodious and progressive with some folky elements thrown in.
|1||L'ALBA DI DOMANI||1972||KING NLU 62019|
Their album had one long suite of songs on each side, with some similarities to I Dik Dik's Suite Per Una Donna Assolutamente Relativa. This music is satisfactory, but overshadowed by several other Italian groups.
|1||IPOTESI||1972||HARVEST 064 17837|
An album of tough hard-rock that was only released in Germany.
|1||HERO||1974||PAN 87 304 (D)|
They recorded a rather ordinary album for Ricordi in 1972 containing 11 short songs. On the instrumental side the organ is dominant, with some J. S. Bach influence, but quite light-weight. Carlotto's high-pitched, quivering singing is wimpish and best compared to Demis Roussos.
|1||DEDICATO A GIOVANNA G||1972||RICORDI SMRL 6096|
When serious disagreements began to fragment The New Trolls in 1973, legal proceedings were necessary to sort out the rights to the name. Therefore, Nico Di Palo, Frank Laugelli, Maurizio Salvi and Gianni Belleno (4/5 of the group) released an anonymous album with a question mark on the sleeve. This should be considered as a New Trolls album (see this entry). Gianni Belleno then left for his pop rock project The Tritons and was replaced by Ric Parnell (ex-Atomic Rooster). Re-named Ibis, the idea was to continue the more heavy elements of the New Trolls sound. Sun Supreme (1974) was a disappointment, as it demonstrates a serious lack of inventiveness, falling instead into commercial heavy rock. Ibis struggled on with two new members for their second and last album. This was a slight improvement, but the combination of Italian and English lyrics was a bad idea. A couple of tracks are decent overall this is a waste of time (the track dedicated to Janis Joplin is downright awful!). Ibis then disbanded and New Trolls reformed, but their best years were now far behind them.
|1||SUN SUPREME||1974||POLYDOR 2448 022|
|2||IBIS||1975||POLYDOR 2448 036|
Released in a great gimmick cut-out cover, this album is eagerly hunted by collectors. The music is as impressive as the sleeve. Side one has two long tracks of intelligent heavy progressive rock but with the scope to transgress into more reflective moods. This is similar to early seventies New Trolls (both groups came from Genova) with the same falsetto backing vocals. Side two has more variety with excursions into folk, jazz and classical territory. Still this is an integrated work where "Sinfonia Per Un Re" restates the opening theme of the album in the title track. A very good album just short of being a classic. A second album was never completed, but J.E.T. recorded 5 singles from 1971 to 1973.
|1||FEDE, SPERANZA, CARITA||1972||DURIUM MSA 77307|
These merchants of witchcraft and the occult powers were formed on the initiative of Antonio Bartoccetti in 1972. He had previously released some very obscure singles with Dietro Noi Deserto and Invisible Force. Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus ('Slow Steps Towards Magick') was a peculiar album full of church organ and spoken latin lyrics on side one and trivial muzak for the witch guild on side two.
Doris Norton plays the role of the witch Fiamma Dello Spirito with her spine chilling voice (also playing some flute and violin). The more superstitious souls among us might find the album frightening, tampering with J. S. Bach's organ works (intended for the appraisal of God) in an attempt to gain magic(k) forces. Us regular pagans better leave them perplexed and take it as another example of the curious nature of human psychology. In this respect, this is an interesting album. Musically nothing here is extraordinary, but perhaps there is more here than what meets the ears? After this album, Anthony Barticcetti continued under his moniker Antonius Rex.
In 1992 a collection of more Jacula appeared. Recommended for those who like other cock-and-bull stories from the wrinkled men in Devil Doll and Phantom's Divine Comedy.
|1||TARDO PEDE IN MAGIAM VERSUS||1972||ROGERS TRS010001|
|2||ANNO DEMONI (1974-1978)||1992||MELLOW MMP 118|
One of the most instantly recognisable vocalists ever is Alvaro Fella. His aggressive, nagging and growling vocals (imagine a cross between Roger Chapman and Captain Beefheart) was the most notable element on Jumbo's first album. Fella also composed the majority of the nine half-acoustic songs, featuring flute, harmonica, piano, organ, guitars and lots of percussion. Jumbo's music was basically blues-influenced, hinting at an Italian blues-boom that actually never happened. The music lacks invention but is well produced with some effective use of Leslie-effects on piano and electric guitar.
DNA (1972) revealed that their sound had matured surprisingly quickly, moving in a totally idiosyncratic direction. Actually, it's difficult to pigeonhole this music. The three-part "Suite Per El Sig. K." (20:45) is the most impressive track. It combines heavy progressive and blues-rock with classical references, shifting from acoustic instrumental trios for piano, acoustic guitar and flute to sudden outbursts of furious fuzz guitar riffs alternating with Fella's unique vocals. The rhythms are complex and continuously shifting. There are several moody flute solos, one of them a pastiche of Jethro Tull's "My God". The three remaining tracks were almost of the same level. Without doubt, Vietato Ai Minori Di 18 Anni? (1973) was Jumbo's masterpiece. With guests such as Franco Battiato and Lino Vaccina (from Aktuala), they succeeded in a bold merging of heavy blues-rock, progressive rock and even some electronic music. The album kicks off in a violent way with Alvarro's brawling voice on "Specchio". Minutes later the listener will discover that their music is much more diverse with some quiet sections of classically-influenced keyboards and strings. The next track "Come Vorrei Essere Uguale A Te" is probably their finest achievement. It begins with mock opera singing and a quiet intro, before bursting into some triumphant heavy progressive rock with a razorsharp rhythm section offering up an incredibly complex pattern, culminating finally in a typewriter's "ping". This combination of serious music and mockery may have its origins in the music of Frank Zappa. The remaining tracks aren't that effective but always interesting and also quite experimental (sometimes improvised). In the late seventies Jumbo recorded a fourth album, but it wasn't released until 15 years later (on CD only). It would have been better to have kept it in the vaults. However, the live album (recorded at a one-off reunion in France) isn't bad.
|1||JUMBO||1972||PHILLIPS 6323 012|
|2||DNA||1972||PHILLIPS 6323 017|
|3||VIETATO AI MINORI Dl 18 ANNI?||1973||PHILLIPS 6323 025|
|4||VIOLINI D'AUTUNNO||1992||MELLOW MMP 119|
|5||LIVE||1992||MELLOW MMP 108|
Instrumental jazz-rock was what Kaleidon offered on the album Free Love, named after Stefano Sabatini's previous group. There is some interesting interplay between electric piano and saxophone, but bear in mind that this material is closer to jazz than rock. It will surely appeal to the right ears.
|1||FREE LOVE||1973||FONIT LPQ 09074|
Their album Vita Sul Pianeta is one of the top rarities of Italian rock. Possibly it was recorded years before its release in 1973, as this is a transitional record between psych beat music and early progressive rock (more typical of 1969-70). All tracks are quite short and trivial, using the structured song formats. The main attractions here are some superb psychedelic fuzz guitar parts, recalling American underground heavy psychedelia of the late sixties. The powerful vocals place this firmly in Italy though, some may even find the singer a bit irritating. No doubt the album is worth the price of the CD re-issue but by no means the megabucks demanded for an original.
|1||VITA SUL PIANETA||1973||JUKE BOX CRJLP 00032|
In English their name means 'milk and honey', indicating their religious backgrounds. The band formed in Genova in 1970 at a very young age, inspired by the first album of Emerson, Lake And Palmer. At their first public appearance in 1972, their drummer was only 16 years old!
Their first album Passio Secundum Mattheum was a surprisingly mature work, being a rock opera based on the Gospel of St. Matthew. This work included choral voices and musical references to J. S. Bach's "Messa Requiem". This is classical rock stripped of the conceited keyboards solos that Keith Emerson pioneered. The massive keyboards of Oliver Lacagnina don't emphasize his technical abilities, but are aimed at bringing keyboards to the fore. Some of the 'orchestral' parts are performed on the mellotron. Marcello Dellacasa's acoustic and electric guitars also have an important supplemental role. The overall result is a very good fusion of progressive rock and classical music with excellent production values!
Papillon was a more light-hearted and lively work, dominated by the 20-minute title track in seven acts plus the overture, probably Latte E Miele's finest single work. Marcello Dellacasa's fine vocals were occasionally given more space on this comic fable of a puppet, with superb instrumental interludes. This doesn't mean that Latte E Miele let their classical roots wither on the vine. "Patetica" was an adaption of Beethoven's piano sonata with added mock references to Mozart and Vivaldi. The last track on the album, "Strutture" veered more towards jazz-rock comparable to the Canterbury sound.
Aquile E Scoiattoli (1976) was recorded by a radically changed line-up, only drummer Alfio Vitanza remained from the past. They had a more rock attitude, sometimes reaching towards instrumental Genesis, but still incorporating motifs from classical music. The icing on the cake was the 24-minute track "Pavana". This alternated between symphonic and jazz-rock, almost equalling the high standard of their previous albums. All three albums have (with good reason) been widely praised by Japanese sympho-rock fans. In the years that followed, Latte E Miele tried to keep up with the changing times and recorded some dreadful "symphonic pop" material (could have been parodies!), available on the CD Vampyrs.
|1||PASSIO SECUNDUM MATTHEUM||1972||POLYDOR 2448 011|
|2||PAPILLON||1973||POLYDOR 2448 015|
|3||AQUILE E SCOIATTOLI||1976||MAGMA MAL 01|
Their album contained passionate folk-rock with elaborate orchestrations. They came from Sicily.
After the demise of Balletto Di Bronzo, their keyboard player Gianni Leone went to the USA. Here he made a song-based solo album with an uncanny similarity to Peter Gabriel and Genesis (stripped of guitar, but replaced by twice the amount of piano and synthesizers). Hearing the album, you'll find it hard to believe he contributed to Vs.
|1||VERO||1977||HARVEST 3C064 18272|
A little known group from Tortona who played song-based progressive rock.
|1||LA FORESTA||1971||RICORDI SMRL 6081|
Another one-off attempt to make a kind of Italian cosmic music with synthesizers, acoustic guitar, piano and strange musique concrete sound effects. It's interesting music for those into German electronic music with some uncommon echo guitar. Other parts of the side-long compositions are closer to classical music with piano and woodwind. A few other Italian artists had some vaguely similar ideas, including Roberto Cacciapaglia, Francesco Buccheri, Franco Battiato and Ciro Perrino.
|1||INTEGRATI... DISINTEGRATI||1977||ELEVEN ELC 25133|
A Milano group who performed as support band to Banco on their 1975 Italian tour. Their first album contained decent, song-based progressive rock similar to PFM. Motown obviously saw a similar potential in Libra and signed the group on a contract for nine albums. The only result was an English, revised version of their first album. After starving in the USA for some years, Libra returned to Italy and later made the movie soundtrack to "Schok", which also became their final album.
|1A||MUSICA E PAROLE||1975||RICORDI SMRL 6156|
|1B||WINTER DAY'S NIGHTMARE||1976||MOTOWN M6 864 (USA)|
|2||SCHOK||1979||CINEVOX MDF 33.113|
A little known jazz-rock band from Torino. Their first album, Let - From Experience To Experience, contained pleasant music close to the Canterbury sound of Hatfield & The North and jazzy Caravan. Living Life used woodwind instruments (flute and oboe) to great effect, and the soprano sax parts are even close to several Jan Garbarek recordings for ECM. While better than several other Italian groups of this genre, they still remained unnoticed, probably as their minor record label lacked good distribution. Surprisingly enough, the band returned to the limelight six years later with an even better second album. Whereas the first album favoured long, jazzy improvisations, Mysterious Dream had a stronger melodic content and more inventive production. Still the dominant instruments were woodwind, organ and piano with some rather violent guitar outbursts. All five tracks were longer than 5 minutes. Probably this is the best Italian album of the early eighties. All lyrics on both albums were sung in English.
|1||LET - FROM EXPERIENCE TO EXPERIENCE||1975||SHIRAK LL 001|
|2||MYSTERIOUS DREAM||1981||SHIRAK SLL 3308|
A folk group who recorded a little known album based on poems by Allen Ginsberg and other poets. Musically it contained little of interest.
|1||TO ALLEN GINSBERG||1972||RCA DSPL 10574|
This bulky group made one of the finest Italian albums of the late seventies in the classic symphonic rock style. They might have been influenced by Genesis and Gentle Giant, but as usual for Italian groups, their approach revealed a large degree of independence from the English progressive rock scene. Locanda Delle Fate's sound was dominated by multiple keyboards. The rhythmic interplay between piano and drums is sometimes interesting. Unfortunately this was a time of decline for progressive rock and, apart from this album, the group only released a couple of singles.
|1||FORSE LE LUCCIOLE MON SI AMANO PIU||1977||POLYDOR 2448 055|
I haven't heard their album, but it is rumoured to be an ambitious mix of rock, jazz and classical music.
|1||LOGAN DWIGHT||1972||PDU A 5054|
MAAD played their very own kind of ironic and absurd experimental music. The group had an uncommon sound, highlighting piano and vibraphone. Their album merged fragments of easy listening, jazz, ethnic music and even progressive rock. MAAD were associated with L'Orchestra, a label started by Stormy Six.
Madrugada produced easy-going soft rock with a strong affection for pretty vocal harmonies.
|1||MADRUGADA||1974||PHILLIPS 6323 033|
|2||INCASTRO||1977||PHILLIPS 6323 046|
A musician who definitely walks his own paths. His first album Il Canto Dell 'Arpa E Del Flauto is a beautiful, introverted dream voyage through distant landscapes. The instruments used are ethnic flutes, harps and percussion instruments, acoustic (occasionally electric) guitar, synthesizer and natural sounds. The whole atmosphere is relaxing, but still exotic and exciting, maybe somewhere between Jade Warrior and Jorge Reyes. This music reflects a closeness to nature and is a highly recommended and refreshing listening experience. Pepe Maina's second album is very difficult to find.
|1||IL CANTO DELL'ARPA E DEL FLAUTO||1977||ASCOLTO ASC 20004|
|2||SCERIZZA||1979||IMBROGLIO MP 007|
An album of fragile folk-rock.
A group from Genova. Their album is rumoured to contain rather lacklustre pastisches on popular music.
|1||MANDILLO||1976||GROG GRL 01|
Their eponymous album was a full-bodied attempt at richly arranged symphonic rock. Maxophone took up a thread of Genesis' Threspass (the symphonic dynamics, serene feel and high-pitched vocals) and improved it vastly with their strong Italian classicism. The instrumental breadth of Maxophone is uncommonly wide on all six tracks. The English version of the album is inferior to the Italian one.
|1A||MAXOPHONE||1975||PROD. ASSOCIATI PALP57|
|1B||MAXOPHONE (ENG. VERSION)||1975||PROD. ASSOCIATI PR7002|
Along with Flea, this was one of the few bands to come from Sicily. In Davide Spitaleri the group had one of the finest vocalists on the whole scene, he was operatic in style and had a very intense and heartfelt attitude. Spitaleri was the focal point of E Fu Il Sesto Giorno, a collection of seven memorable songs, not even marred by a slight gospel touch. Their music was also classically influenced with organ and subordinate electric guitar playing lines similar to J. S. Bach's fugues. The album has a majestic feel to it and is well worth investigating.
However, their other effort Inferno was their masterpiece - a grandoise interconnected concept album based on Dante's "Divine Comedy". Certainly this album features an inferno of multiple keyboards, immaculately played by Oliveri. But the whole group deserves a mention, as the rhythm section of Turbitosi and Herygers is among the finest I have heard. Nothing short of superb, this album is among the very, very best from Italy. You haven't heard keyboard-fronted progressive rock yet, if you haven't heard this album! Sadly, the group didn't achieve recognition, proving that the public were as indifferent to a class act then as now.
|?||INFERNO||1972||VEDETTE VPA 8162|
|?||... E FU IL SESTO GIORNO||1972||VEDETTE VPA 8168|
This curiously named group made one of the few really worthwhile albums during the darkest period of Italian progressive rock around 1979-80. They played disciplined symphonic rock almost like a direct cross between Gentle Giant and PFM. The atmosphere is relaxing with typical late 70's lush string synthesizers, acoustic and electric guitars and occasional flute. Even so, their instrumental arrangements were quite complex.
|1||LA SCIMMIA SULLA SCHIENA DEL RE||1980||IAF LPA 90001|
This little known quintet from Venice released their eponymous album in 1970. Il Mucchio's musical style was rather song-oriented, although their clear classical influence ensures some interest. Instrumentally, a peculiar organ sound, almost like a harpsichord or celeste, is omnipresent on most tracks. They were clearly influenced by New Trolls in several ways - their heavy style on early singles, their multi-layered vocal arrangements and they also had a vocalist with a high-pitched voice similar to Nico Di Palo. The main difference is the lack of lead guitars in Il Mucchio's music, although the fine keyboard-arrangements (slightly similar to early Procol Harum) more than compensate. I suppose they had two keyboards players, but the sleeve contains no exact information. The album is recommended to those who enjoy music stylistically set between late beat and early progressive rock.
|1||IL MUCCHIO||1970||CAROSELLO SCLN 25001|
Their album "Io Sono Murple" was really outstanding. It upholds the tradition of great integrated concept albums. There are many such works in Italian progressive rock, and along with De De Lind's Io Non So Da Dove Vengo... and Procession's Frontiera, this is one of the best, balancing powerful heavy rock with classical influences. Murple's approach is (usually) to set the powerful "rock" themes on electric guitar and the refined "classical" themes on keyboards (organ, piano and synthesizer) in a striking musical duel. This is music full of pathos and inspiration! Sadly the group was overlooked at the time, arriving a year or two too late on a label not used to promoting this kind of music (in Italy, that is).
|1||IO SONO MURPLE||1974||BASF 21-23137 F|
The origins of this legendary group (initially called Inaugurazione Museo Rosenbach) lay in the beat group Quinta Strada formed in 1969. Early in 1970 Merogno left Quinta Strada to join Il Sistema while Moreno, Franco, Corradi and Golzi changed their name into I.M.R. Later that year Merogno returned and brought with him from Il Sistema the woodwind player Leonardo Lagorio. A rehearsal tape exists of this line-up (the track "Dopo" on A2). They began work on Zarathustra in 1971. However, not long after Walter Franco quit the music business, followed quickly by Leonardo Lagorio. This turned out to be to the band's own benefit, as their new vocalist Stefano 'Lupo' Galifi was much better. Also, Lagorio's woodwind was replaced by mellotron loops, making their sound far more unique. This graced Alberto Moreno's magnificent compositions for Zarathustra, a truly classic album which was finally released in March 1973 (the same month as Pink Floyd released their monumental concept album). The title track covers one whole album side and is very classical in its construction (as a musical analysis will demonstrate), with bold dynamics, superb playing and memorable melodies. They sound like a cross between a vastly improved early Uriah Heep and Deep Purple on smart pills, blending heavy rock and classical music. The quiet segments were possibly influenced by PFM. The three tracks on the second side weren't far behind, but were separate, unrelated works. Overall, the album was closer to English progressive rock than many other Italian groups. This makes it more accessible to many and detracts little from its musical value. Unfortunately, the group soon disbanded. Their legacy is much like that of De De Lind - one monumental album!
|1||ZARATHUSTRA||1973||RICORDI SMRL 6113|
|A1||LIVE 72||1992||MELLOW MMP 102|
|A2||RARE & UNRELEASEO||1992||MELLOW MMP 103|
A group from Milano that mixed European acoustic jazz with Arabian music.
|1||UNO ZINGARO Dl ATLANTE CON UN FIORE A NEW YORK||1973||RCA DSPL 10579|
A jazz-rock group formed in Milano, although initially with two foreign members. Napoli Centrale played jazz-rock similar to Chicago, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Brand X and Nova.
|1||NAPOLI CENTRALE||1975||RICORDI SMRL 6159|
|2||MATTANZA||1976||RICORDI SMRL 6187|
|3||QUALCOSA CA NUN MORE||1977||RICORDI SMRL 6224|
This outfit made a rather self-indulgent experimental effort, just a couple of hundred copies were released.
|1||PER UNA SCULTURA DI CESCHIA||1978||PRIVATE PRESSING 38220|
The New Trolls were amongst the first groups to appear on the Italian rock scene. In 1967, their first single "Sensazioni" became an instant success and sold more than 100, 000 copies. The group was certainly very up-to-date musically, as their heavy psychedelic rock recalled recent works by Jimi Hendrix, Cream and Vanilla Fudge. Between 1968 and 1969, New Trolls released 7 more singles, of which their second, "Visioni", was the best.
Their debut album Senza Oratio, Senza Bandiera (1968) became a milestone in Italian rock, as its first concept album. Musically the album sounds very dated now, but it still has a certain 1960's pop charm. Influences from Motown soul, particularly The Four Tops, were clearly evident in the multi-layered falsetto vocals and funky brass arrangements. Of more interest is New Trolls (1970), which was a collection of early singles (including "Sensazioni"). It has a couple of scrappy tracks, but the heavier numbers are really excellent.
The New Trolls' next project was an ambitious attempt to merge heavy progressive rock with 18th century-inspired classical music, in co-operation with Luis Enriquez Bacalov. Concerto Grosso No. 1 (1971) works really well, sounding like an unlikely combination of Jimi Hendrix, Ian Anderson and Antonio Vivaldi. On the second side of the album there was a great 20 minute live-in-the-studio improvisation. After a short organ intro, powerful rifling between electric guitar and flute are let loose, before the obligatory drum solo towards the end.
Searching For A Land (1972) was a double album with half of the material recorded live. As reflected in the album title, the New Trolls now used English lyrics. By this time, it became evident that the two guitarists pushed the band in separate musical directions. De Scalzi's compositions were usually more relaxed, with elements from lyrical folk-rock ("In St. Peter's Day" and "Giga"), while Di Palo went for aggressive hard-rock (on the live tracks). Highlights were "A Land To Live And A Land To Die" (8:25), with an impressive organ solo from Maurizio Salvi, and the dynamic "To Edith" (8:40), showcasing Di Palo's ultra-high-pitched vocals. The live tracks are really annoying, because, as so often is the case, the audience was mixed just as loud as the music! All in all a very variable album.
Nico Di Palo's more powerful direction dominated the 1972-release U T, including some of New Troll's finest moments ("C'e Troppa Guerra" and "Nato Adesso"). Maurizio Salvi's keyboards were more notable than before. Vittorio De Scalzi kept a low profile on the album and soon left the group. This led to a disagreement regarding the legal rights to use the name New Trolls. For this reason, Nico, Gianni, Frank & Maurizio released an "anonymous" album with a big question mark on the sleeve. Musically this was certainly their most aggressive hard-rock album and also one of their best, sounding almost like a Mediterranean version of Led Zeppelin! Vittorio De Scalzi, meanwhile, formed the record label Magma. Along with the previous New Trolls member Giorgio D'Adamo he formed a new group, cleverly adopting the name New Trolls Atomic System. The other members of this 6-piece were experienced jazz-rock musicians. Not surprisingly, "New Trolls Atomic System" contained well-performed symphonic jazz-rock. The problem is that some of their material was a little light-hearted and still rooted in conventional pop-rock structures. Tracks like "Tornare A Credere" were merely pop ballads in (admittedly good) progressive arrangements. The excellent single "Una Notte Sul Monte Carlo" (based on Mussorgsky's composition) was unfortunately not included on the album. "Tempo Dispari" was as close as Italian progressive rock ever got to the so-called Canterbury-sound, particularly Soft Machine's albums "Third" and "Fourth". They shared the same fascination for playing in odd time signatures, as reflected in the two sidelong tides ("7/4" and "13/8", both recorded live). Unfortunately, this radical change of direction alienated the old fans and the album didn't sell well. The commercial failure caused De Scalzi to disband the group.
In 1975, Nico De Palo disbanded his group Ibis when it was agreed to reform the original New Trolls. De Scalzi, D'Adamo, Di Palo and Belleno were also joined by Ricky Belloni, previously a member of Nuova Idea. They recorded a follow-up to their successful Concerto Grosso, but this new work paled in comparison. The "concerto" itself was fair enough, but some of the other tracks were close to commercial pop-rock. Regretably, New Trolls followed this bland direction and almost became the Italian equivalent of The Bee Gees! Needless to say, there's nothing of interest on their albums from this period. The New Trolls from Genova were one of the most important Italian groups, although they ultimately failed to make a completely satisfactory album.
ALBUMS AS NEW TROLLS:
|1||SENZA ORARIO, SENZA BANDIERA||1968||CETRA LPX 3|
|2||NEW TROLLS||1970||CETRA LPX 7|
|3||CONCERTO GROSSO NO. 1||1971||CETRA LPX 8|
|4||SEARCHING FOR A LAND||1972||CETRA LPX 12/13|
|5||U T||1972||CETRA LPX 20|
|6||CONCERTO GROSSO NO. 2||1976||MAGMA MAL 02|
|7||LIVE||1977||MAGMA MAL 04|
|9||NEW TROLLS||1979||WARNER 56761|
|10||F.S.||1981||CETRA LPX 93|
|S1||SINGLES A'S & B'S (1967-1972)||1994||MELLOW MMP 230|
Album by Nico, Gianni, Frank & Maurizio:
|A1||CANTI D'INNOCENSA, CANTI D'ESPERIENZA||1973||CETRA LPX 22|
Albums by New Trolls Atomic System:
|B1||NEW TROLLS ATOMIC SYSTEM||1973||MAGMA MAGL 18003|
|B2||TEMPI DISPARI||1974||MAGMA MAGL 18005|
Album by The Tritons:
|C1||SATISFACTION||1973||POLYDOR 2448 020|
|D1||TWIST AND SHOUT WITH SATISFACTION||1974||MAGMA MGL 18004|
Something of a supergroup, Nova united Danilo Rustici and Elio D'Anna of Osanna and Uno with Corrado Rustici from Cervello and Franco Lo Previte from Circus 2000. The group formed in London in 1975, where the band received the patronage of Pete Townshend. The first album (recorded in Townshend's Eel Pie Studio) contained highly energetic, heavy jazz-rock with really loud sax and guitars. Nick Sedgwick provided English lyrics on four tracks (the remaining two were instrumental). The album can be counted among the best Italian jazz-rock albums of the seventies.
The first line-up was short-lived, but Rustici and D'Anna kept on with Renato Rosset (ex-New Trolls Atomic System), Barry Johnson and Ric Parnell (ex-Atomic Rooser and Ibis). The approach on the following three albums was more relaxed and soft but still with virtuoso performances from D'Anna and Rustici. Vimana (1976) and Wings Of Love (1977) are worthwhile albums that should please many jazz-rock fans. However, Sun City (1978) was a disappointment veering in a shallow pop-rock direction.
|1||BLINK||1975||ARISTA ARTY 118 (UK)|
|2||VIMANA||1976||ARISTA ARTY 138 (UK)|
|3||WINGS OF LOVE||1977||ARISTA SPARTY 1021 (UK)|
|4||SUN CITY||1978||ARISTA AB 4203 (USA)|
One of the short-lived and obscure groups, whose only testimony is the album Alpha Ralpha Boulevard. All tracks were composed by the singer and songwriter Guido Bolzoni. Not surprisingly, the result is close to popular melodic rock of the late sixties. Some of the tracks are very beautiful, in an understated style full of emotion. The good vocalist enjoys a dynamic and versatile backing of guitars and keyboards. The guitar player obviously loves the wah-wah effect Jimi Hendrix used on "Up From The Skies", as this is present on several tracks. The keyboards vary between organ to piano and harpsichord and overall there is a slight psychedelic influence combined with jazz chords. Actually this is a very good album, recalling the aesthetic impressions of The Zombies' Odyssey And Oracle or Procol Harum's A Salty Dog. The sound of the sea is also used on several places on the I Numi-album.
|1||ALPHA RALPHA BOULEVARD||1971||POLARIS POL BP708|
Among the bands on the Genova music scene were Nuova Idea. Their first album In The Beginning is comparable to their colleagues New Trolls (particularly their vocal arrangements), but Nuova Era were arguably more influenced by British heavy rock (particularly Deep Purple Mark I). The massive 20-minute "Come, Come, Come" was an attempt to create grander structures in heavy rock, combining separate vocal and instrumental sections. (The group Flea surpassed this on their similarly constructed "Topi O Uomini".) Side two of the album was weaker, comprising pale imitations of the New Trolls style - which sound very dated nowadays. Before the concept album Mr. E. Jones (1972), Zoccheddu left to form Osage Tribe, and was replaced by Antonello Gabelli. Unfortunately, the album developed the wrong side of In The Beginning and the individual tracks are quite characterless and banal. The instrumental passages don't gel either, making this one of the most boring albums of Italian "progressive" rock. With another new guitar player, Ricky Belloni, Nuova Idea made their final and best album Clowns. The 10-minute track "Clown" was typical electric guitar and organ-based progressive rock in the Quatermass-vein. In my opinion this group was never much more than a poor man's New Trolls (which Ricky Belloni would join in 1976) and of only minor importance.
|1||IN THE BEGINNING||1971||ARISTON ARLP 12061|
|2||MR. E. JONES||1972||ARISTON ARLP 12075|
|3||CLOWNS||1973||ARISTON ARLP 12100|
This mediocre album contained typical Italian progressive rock with a dynamic, soft and poetic character. It's largely song-based with eight relatively short tracks containing nothing very special. The creaky vocals of Roberto Zola will not appeal to everybody either.
|1||ODISSEA||1973||RI FI RDZ 14228|
The album is a real rarity filled with instrumental progressive rock full of guitars and keyboards.
|1||THE PRINCE||197?||POLARIS 710|
Judging from the cover of their first album, Opus Avantra attempted to produce a musical mosaïque containing elements from folk, jazz, rock, pop, classical, electronic, contemporary music, music hall and canzone (the Italian song-tradition). Certainly their music could change from the beautiful to atonally disjointed avant-garde in a few seconds. Personally I would rather listen to 10 albums of different styles than one album of 10 contrasting styles, but if you like the post-modern musical prospect of music academy students leaping freely from branch to branch of the musical tree without a clear purpose, then Opus Avantra is surely for you. I would prefer to listen to Arnold Schoenberg's "Pierrot Lunaire" (one of the musical references for Donella Del Monaco's 'sprechgesang') although both Opus Avantra-albums contain some good ideas. The musical director and composer of all this was Alfredo Tisocco. His 'solo' album Katharsis included most of Opus Avantra, apart from Donella Del Monaco. This comprised ballet music, some of it being re-recordings of material from the Lord Cromwell album. Only recommended for the most adventurous listeners with tolerant neighbours! Opus Avantra released a re-union album named Strata on Artis in 1989.
|1||OPUS AVANTRA (INTROSPEZZIONE)||1974||TRIDENT TRI 1006|
|2||LORD CROMWELL PLAYS SUITE FOR SEVEN VICES||1975||SUONO SRLP 1002|
|A1||KÁTHARSIS||1975||SUONO SRLP 1001|
|B1||12 CANZONI DA BATTELLO||1977||ITALIA ITL 70030|
|B2||SCHOENBERG KABARETT||1978||CRAMPS 5207 305|
The long-lasting group Le Orme from Milano was formed in 1967 as a melodic beat-pop group. Their first single "Fiore E Colori" is a good example of that early pop sound. Ad Gloriam (1968) contained some excellent flower-pop which flirted with psychedelics. Among the highlights on this album were the title track and "Fumo", both with backward tapes, wah-wah guitars and technically manipulated, feeble voices. The original LP is a very rare collector's item these days, released in a nice pop-art cover. This might be the best Italian album released before 1970.
In the period 1967 to 1970, Le Orme also released 5 singles on the Car Juke Box label. Those not included on the Ad Gloriam-album were included on L'Aurora - a promotional-only album released in a limited edition of just 50 copies, but these days more easily available on CD. Collage (1971) marked a complete change of direction towards melodic progressive rock with a strong emphasis on the Hammond organ. Tony Pagliuca was strongly influenced by eminent British musicians such as Keith Emerson (The Nice and EL&P), Jon Lord (Deep Purple), Pete Robinson (Quatermass) and Vincent Crane (Atomic Rooster). In addition to his beloved Hammond, Antonio also played electric piano and audio generator, giving some sections a faint psychedelic touch. The album was made without using electric guitars, with Aldo just playing bass and acoustic guitar in a few places. Uomo Di Pezza (1972) continued in the same keyboard-dominated style (now also featuring acoustic piano, mellotron and synthesizers), but was more relaxed and lyrical (some would even say romantic) as exemplified by "Gioco Di Bimba". This particular track was released as a single in Italy, which in fact entered the national top ten! An English version (Child's Play) released on Charisma went nowhere.
Le Orme's next step was to record an archetypical Italian concept album with no separate tracks. The album was also released in the United Kingdom with English lyrics by Peter Hammill. The ambitious Felona E Sorona (1973) didn't quite gel as a united work, when compared to similar attempts by other Italian groups. Perhaps their lyrical style was more suited to smaller musical structures. Still the album is an enjoyable affair, with more room for Michi Dei Rossi's complex percussion patterns added to Pagliuca's multi-tracked keyboards and Tagliapietra's bright vocals and acoustic guitar. The live album In Concerto (1974) had a sound quality comparable to better home recordings and included some horribly overblown keyboards and drum solo excesses. It's best avoided, unless you need to hear a live version of "Truck Of Fire", the rare B-side to "Child's Play". Contrappunti (1974) marked a return to separate tracks and their peak as a keyboards-oriented outfit. Tony Pagliuca's excessive moog, piano and organ is multi-tracked to produce a really "contrapunctual" sound, particularly on the instrumental title track. Le Orme's producer Gian Piero Reverberi also contributed piano at this stage. The vocal songs soften what otherwise could have been an overload of instruments. Still it is open to question whether Le Orme fulfilled their high ambitions with the album.
Certainly their style changed considerably on their next album Smogmagica (1975), featuring the guitar player Tolo Marton. He brought more commonly used rock chords to this easy accessible collection of short songs. Verita Nascoste (1976) and Storia O Leggenda (1977) had him replaced by another guitarist, Germano Serafin, but they were similar efforts. At times Le Orme now veered towards mainstream soft rock but retained their songwriting abilities.
Florian (1979) brought an unexpected change, as it was an acoustic album with Le Orme playing classical and folk instruments! The result is a romantic and relaxed chamber rock album with violin, cello, vibraphone, piano, harpsichord, acoustic guitar, mandolin and bouzouki. It would have been better to leave the violins to professional players (some doubtful intonation here) but the album is still very charming. Piccola Rapsodia Dell' Ape (1980) kept this new orientation. Throughout the years the songwriting of Le Orme has in essence remained the same, although the musical wallpaper around it has changed many times. After a pause in the early eighties, they have reformed from time to time, releasing several more records.
ALBUMS (UP TO 1980):
|1||AD GLORIAM||1968||JUKE BOX CRJ 00015|
|2||L'AURORA||1969||JUKE BOX CRJ 00023|
|3||COLLAGE||1971||PHILLIPS 6323 007|
|4||UOMO Dl PEZZA||1972||PHILLIPS 6323 013|
|5||FELONA E SORONA||1973||PHILLIPS 6323 023|
|6||IN CONCERTO||1974||PHILLIPS 6323 028|
|7||CONTRAPPUNTI||1974||PHILLIPS 6323 035|
|8||SMOGMAGICA||1975||PHILLIPS 6323 041|
|9||STORIA O LEGGENDA||1977||PHILLIPS 6323 052|
|10||FLORIAN||1979||PHILLIPS 6323 086|
|11||PICCOLA RAPSODIA DELL'APE||1980||PHILLIPS 6323 102|
|4||FELONA AND SORONA||1973||CHARISMA CAS 1072|
Here we are talking about real underground heroes again! Osage Tribe can be seen as the Italian equivalent to the German group Jeronimo, as they both incorporated melodies from the North-American Indians into their own music (Osage Tribe on their tracks "Un Falco Nel Cielo" and "Hajenhanhowa"). They only left us one album, but this is a superb example of powerful and versatile musicanship. The first minutes of Arrow Head sounded more like Battiato's album, with spacious gongs, cembalo, bass and vocals. Indeed Battiato co-wrote this track with Zoccheddu. After 5 minutes this gives way to a powerful rock song with an instantly memorable chorus.
The tracks "Arrow Head" and "Soffici Bianchi Veli" were bona fide complex hard rock in the Cream-vein with three berserk musicians, each fighting their own way through some furiously punctuated rhythms. "Cerchio Di Luce"'s instrumental part also shows some jazz influence, comparable to the early Ten Years After's merging of blues, hard-rock and jazz. The album is a classic among the heavier progressive rock albums from Italy!
|1||ARROW HEAD||1972||BLA BLA BBL 11052|
Osanna were among the better known Italian groups of their time, first formed with the name Citta Frontale in a line-up including Gianni Leone (pre-Balletto Di Bronzo).
Their first album L'Uomo was a useful effort. D'Anna's predominant use of sax and flute sounds partly influenced by King Crimson's Mel Collins and Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson. On "In Un Vecchio Cieco", Danilo Rustici also attempts to copy Robert Fripp's backwards guitar on "Ladies Of The Road". The characteristic vocal arrangements were more in line with New Trolls, though. Three of the nine tracks had English lyrics, and this shift between Italian and English lyrics disturbs the natural flow of the album, which also suffers from being too song-based.
The Preludio... album was a collaboration with Louis Bacalov, also known for his work with New Trolls and RDM. Their best album Palepoli (1973) featured only three tracks. "Oro Caldo" (18:30) was a kind of suite consisting of contrasting sections. The unusual opening segment is related to Arabian music, but is soon followed by Osanna's typical powerful rock. On the other long track "Animale Senza Respiro" (21:45) Osanna really sounds like a Mediterranean King Crimson, complete with "Schizoid Man" saxophones! Their technical ability surpassed their originality. This became increasingly evident on Landscape Of Life (1974). Overall this was more commercial with throwaway rock ballads such as the title track, and even soul on "Fog In My Mind"! Possibly the band was disappointed over their development as well - when they broke up Lino Vairetti and Massimo Guarino formed a new group named Citta Frontale, while Danilo Rustici and Elio D'Anna formed Uno. Osanna's 1978 album was understandably a major disappointment which should be avoided. Their fair degree of commercial success exceeded their musical value.
|1||L'UOMO||1971||CETRA LPX 10|
|2||PRELUDIO, TEMA, VARIAZIONI, CANZONA||1972||CETRA LPX 14|
|3||PALEPOLI||1973||CETRA LPX 19|
|4||LANDSCAPE OF LIFE||1974||CETRA LPX 32|
They recorded a super-rare underground album of which only 200 copies were released. It reportedly contained solid amounts of organ and fuzz guitar.
Melodious progressive rock with English lyrics and a mellow and sometimes even melancholic sound. This very obscure album was released on Tickle, the same label as Antonius Rex and Jacula!
|1||OZ MASTER MAGNUS LTD.||1972||TICKLE 5003|
Their eponymous album was a successful attempt to combine progressive rock with classical music in a continuous work. Some sections were performed by just a string section, others were very dynamic and (sometimes) powerful rock, highlighting organ and guitar. This is in the sorrowful serious tradition of Capsicum Red, De De Lind and Metamorfosi. Works of this depth were quite common in Italian rock during its zenith of 1971 1973, but I can hardly think anyone would remain untouched by the music of Il Paese Dei Balocchi. Particularly the section "Evasione" which has an otherwordly beauty, building up a meditative theme to a powerful climax.
|1||IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI||1972||CGD FGL 5115|
Those who expect that Mauro Pagani's solo album would be in a similar style to his previous group PFM have to think again! His first solo album is an excellent album heavily influenced by folk music (particularly gipsy violin music) from Eastern Europe. That said, some sections are also close to jazz-rock. Pagani's energetic violin playing is breathtaking and the vocal performances of Teresa Di Sio and Demetrio Stratos (from the group Area) are magnificent. One of the best Italian albums of the late seventies.
ALBUM (UP TO 1980):
|1||MAURO PAGANI||1978||ASCOLTO ASC 20093|
Here we have another of those promising bands that died a premature death, due to lack of recognition. Concealed within a sleeve picturing a clothesline is one of the finest of Italian albums. After an uncommon introduction featuring some oscillator noises (sounding more like the start of a Battiato album), the album moves into a dark and forbidding heavy progressive rock with organ and electric guitars dominating "La Paura" (means "fear"). This mood permeates all six tracks, recalling albums by the British group Black Widow (Panna Freda are more versatile musicians, though) and the first album by Gracious. Some tracks also have a more classical and baroque feeling, due to the extensive use of cembalo, particularly on the masterful "Il Vento, La Luna E Pulcini Blu" (10:25). A synthesizer is also used to imitate the sound of the sea. The track ends with a mock reference to a piano sonata by W. A. Mozart. Francisca's very busy percussion style is also evident on this and other tracks. The secrets behind the great success of this album are magnificent songwriting and musicianship, inventive instrumental ideas (often with references to classical music) and the consistent atmosphere throughout the album. Apparently Uno was recorded in 1970, making it one of the first classics of Italian progressive rock.
|1||UNO||1971||VEDETTE VPA 8134|
A minor league progressive band who attracted little attention in the late seventies. Their album didn't contain many ideas beyond the average, and was dominated by string synthesizers, piano and a remarkably strange, almost psychedelic, distorted guitar sound. Apart from that, the album is comparable to Corte Dei Miracoli and the keyboard work of Hugh Banton in Van Der Graaf Generator. The track "Introduzione" (9:43) contains some fine instrumental work, but the rest of the album was largely song-based.
|1||ZERO 7||1977||DISCO PIU DP 39010|
They were one of Italy's best known fusion groups and played streamlined instrumental jazz-rock. On their earliest albums Perigeo were probably influenced by Miles Davis' In A Silent Way, Santana's Borboletta and early albums by John McLaughlin. Perigeo weren't as inventive as these, playing a slightly funky sound with some pleasant solos by D'Andrea and Sidney. This may appeal to those who like the jazzy branch of the British Canterbury sound. Their later albums sound quite anonymous.
|1||AZIMUT||1972||RCA PSL 10555|
|2||ABBIAMO TUTTI UN BLUES DA PIANGERE||1973||RCA PSL 10609|
|3||GENEALOGIA||1974||RCA TPL1 1080|
|4||LA VALLE DEI TEMPLI||1975||RCA TPL1 1175|
|5||NON E' POI COSI' LONTANO||1976||RCA TPL1 1228|
|6||ALICE||1980||RCA PL 31470|
|7||EFFETTO D'AMORE||1981||RCA PL 31608|
After the dissolution of Celeste during the recording of their second album in 1976, their leader Ciro Perrino tried out several short-lived group concepts in the following years. None of them released anything at the time and no proper studio recordings exist. Due to Perrino's involvement in the CD re-issue label Mellow Records, several rehearsal tapes and live recordings on cassette have been released on CD in recent years. This really is archive material for the completists only, documenting something that could have been (but wasn't) realized.
SNC included two musicians that would also appear in Perrino's next two groups. Quite different from the Celeste-sound, they opted instead for a spacier direction influenced by Gong (particularly Steve Hillage and Tim Blake), Tangerine Dream and Amon Düül II. Regretably, the technical quality of these live recordings is poor, obscuring the interesting musical ideas based on synthesizers, a spaced out guitar sound and female vocals (no bass and drums were used). Very few other Italian artists were into electronic music or space rock.
The St. Tropez tapes are technically better and benefitted from the help of Celeste's rhythm section, ensuring greater musical diversity. In addition to the previously mentioned influences, some tracks ("Noccioline, Caramelle, Gelati") were strongly influenced by J. M. Jarre's recent contemporary success Oxygene and others had even psychedelic influences from the powerful space rock characteristics of Hawkwind, Hillage and Ashra. Even traces of the old Celeste-sound were recognisable ("Icarus" and "Verdure Saltate"). The diversity of sound and long running time make this the best choice of the three 'group' recordings. La Compagnia Digitale followed quite a similar direction with a jazzy rhythm section beefing up three tracks of solid space rock, complete with Tim Blake-like synth bubbles! This was another live recording - of tolerable quality this time. On his first proper solo album, Perrino settled for elegant, melodic synthesizer and sequencer-based music quite similar to early J. M. Jarre.
SNC ARCHIVE MATERIAL RECORDED 1977 (CD):
|A1||ASSALTO ALLE NUVOLE||1994||MELLOW MMP 152|
|B1||ICARUS||1992||MELLOW MMP 105|
|C1||LA COMPAGNIA DIGITALE||1992||MELLOW MMP 109|
|1||SOLARE||1980||CIAO CIA 1003|
This group made a highly ambitous concept album with spoken lyrics and difficult-to-access instrumental inter-ventions. If you do not understand Italian most of the impact and theme of this recording will be lost.
|1||CONCERTO DELLE MENTI||1973||MAGMA MAGL 18002|
This little known group made a theatrical concept album based upon a story by Edgar Allan Poe.
|1||SALTARANOCCHIO||1977||INTINGO ITLM 14502|
The group was very inspired by Robert Wyatt's dadaistic vision of Soft Machine (and also his later projects). The first album could be deemed an interesting example of Italian Canterbury rock (although it doesn't exist). The eight tracks are quite experimental, jazzy and inventive, also with a humourous undercurrent. The highlight is a superb 10 minute piece of experimental psychedelia named "Seppia". Other parts are more cool with flute, sax, glockenspiel and electric piano. This album deserves more attention!
|1||PlCCHIO DAL POZZO||1976||GROG GRL 03|
|2||ABBIAMO TUTTI I SUOI PROBLEMI||1980||L'ORCHESTRA 55013|
Adapting their name from the famous song cycle by Arnold Schoenberg, one would have expected their first album to have been influenced by early 20th century classical music. In fact most of it is pleasant folk-rock, with a medieval classical touch in the instrumental arrangements. Their music was fluent with frequent use of acoustic guitars, mandolin, piano and organ. Their mellow tenderness sometimes reminds me of the British folk group Dulcimer. Gudrun (1977) only occasionally had the soft mood of their debut, as this was a more experimental effort, with Jacqueline Darby providing sprechgesang, as in the original "Pierriot Lunaire". With Stalteri in charge, they were inclined to fuse electronic music, avant-garde and folk music, but the results were a little erratic. The combination of fuzz guitar, synthesizers and female soprano was at least innovative and is recommended for the adventurous listener.
|1||PIERROT LUNAIRE||1974||IT ZSLT 70025|
|2||GUDRUN||1977||IT ZPLT 34000|
A very obscure group of studio musicians that released two albums, both of which are super rare these days. The first had a lot of flute in the early Jethro Tull vein. The second album is an uncomfortably schizophrenic mixture of bad pop songs and really great, Canterbury-influenced vocal jazz-rock. For this reason it's hard to make a final judgement.
|1||ABOUT TIME||1969||EMILIANA REC. 5022|
|2||PING PONG||1973||SPARK SRLP 246|
For years this very rare instrumental album (with the exception of some wordless chanting) has been hunted by collectors. The focus is on soft musical themes and dreamy images with some use of sound effects (thunder, etc.). Commonly used instruments here are mellotron, piano, acoustic guitar and organ. In parts, this is close to the group Celeste or the more mellow elements of the British Canterbury sound. All of it is really gentie and pleasant, perhaps lacking in variety of mood (it sounds as if the same musical theme is repeated on several tracks). This is not an album to everybody's taste - I remember someone comparing it to 'the soundtrack to some kind of imaginary porno film' - but it is recommended to those who enjoy music with a cinematic character (not necessarily of the kind stated above!).
|1||INFINITY||1971||VICTORY VY 10051|
An almost completely unknown album, which only reached the demo stage. Some say that only about 10 copies exist, but I cannot confirm this. The musical content is rumoured to be dynamic progressive rock with guitars, sitar and flute.
|1||PEACE ON YOU||1972||RIFI|
This little known group was responsible for side one of the rarest Italian rock album - apparently issued only for demonstration purposes in hope of landing a record deal. Preghiera Di Sasso shared the album with Diapason, although Paolo Previtale and Leonardo Epifani from that group also appears as guests .
Preghiera Di Sasso came to life in 1971 as an energetic instrumental guitar-bass-drums power trio comparable to a cross between Cream and early King Crimson, with considerable jazz influences. Some early material was included on a recent CD re-issue, but this is only of minor historical interest, due to poor sound quality. Their 1975 material was better in this respect, but still rudimentary, as the recordings were done in a tiny studio. By this stage Carlo Barliari had left the group, which by now had traded their intensity for a pedestrian jazz-rock sound, comparable to Soft Machine (circa 1970) or Italian groups such as Perigeo or New Trolls (at the time of Tempi Dispart). Although not bad, their material lacked originality and, understandably, Preghiera Di Sasso's musical career went nowhere. Only recommended for die-hard fans of Italian jazz-rock.
|1||PREGHIERA DI SASSO||1975||DELTA LP 2121|
This most successful of Italian groups internationally was formed in 1970 when a beat band named I Quelli met ex-Dalton member Mauro Pagani. The new group opted for progressive rock and, from 1971 onwards, gradually built up a solid reputation as a live band. In the beginning they mainly performed cover versions of recent material by British groups such as Jethro Tull and King Crimson. Their first album Storia Di Un Minuto (1972) proved to be very popular in Italy. Their music was easy on the ear and had a wide appeal. Before King Crimson's first album, a wide dynamic range (commonly used in classical music) was rarely (if ever) used in rock. PFM surely learnt much from that album. Whispering parts with acoustic guitar, violin or flute burst into powerful rock with mellotrons and electric guitars on their album. If Greg Lake and Ian McDonald had continued in King Crimson and developed on the tracks "Epitaph", "In The Court Of..." and "I Talk To The Wind", they would probably have sounded close to this. In PFM's early compositions there are also notable influences from the late sixties albums by The Moody Blues and Jethro Tull. Their second album Fer Un Amico, released later the same year, was very similar. Arguably, their arrangements were marginally more complex and the melodies more memorable this time. The Italian home market reacted positively and suddenly PFM had a number one album!
EL&P's Manticore label subsequently signed the band. The result was Photos Of Ghosts, an album with English lyrics by ex-Crimson Pete Sinfield and remixes of all tracks from Per Un Amico, plus "E Festa" ("Celebration") from Storia Di Un Minuto and a new instrumental track ("Old Rain"). This album sold well both in the rest of Europe and in the USA. PFM spent a long time working on their next album, L'Isola Di Mente. (The English version The World Became The World also included a remake of "Impressioni Di Settembre" from their first album.) Many people regard this as the best PFM album. It reveals a much more distinctive group sound, although still with bonds to British progressive rock. The Crimson influence had decreased, but the complex arrangements were influenced by Gentle Giant and the triumphant guitar lines are close to Steve Hackett in Genesis. Still it is a pleasure listening to this album. Live In The USA (recorded during their first US tour), retitled Cook for the international release, is a typical live album - mostly of interest for the converted fans. As expected, the live versions are less polished and heavier than the studio tracks. What PFM lacked on their five first albums was a great vocalist.
For the album Chocolate Kings (1975) they acquired Bernardo Lanzetti from the recently disbanded Acqua Fragile. His voice was a dead ringer for Peter Gabriel and added new dimensions to the PFM sound. The album was their first to be conceived with English lyrics. Unfortunately the sales in the USA dropped due to poor marketing (Asylum Records didn't want to support a group that supported the PLO). Nevertheless, their popularity in Japan exploded soon after PFM's first tour there in 1975. However, tired of the life on the road, Mauro Pagani, arguably their premier instrumentalist, decided to quit the group. He soon made an excellent solo album, although it strongly contrasted the PFM sound.
Jet Lag (1977) was less commercial in sound than its predecessor. With their new violin player Gregory Bloch, PFM now aimed for a more advanced jazz-rock fusion sound, not far away from certain French artists. This didn't please most record buyers and on Passpartu PFM reverted to their patented symphonic rock style and even to Italian lyrics. Suonare, Suonare (1980) and Come Ti Va' In Cima Alla Citta (1981) were both musically competent, but paled in comparison with earlier efforts.
ALBUMS (UP TO 1981):
|1||PER UN AMICO||1972||NUMERO UNO ZSLN 55055|
|2||STORIA DI UN MINUTO||1972||NUMERO UNO DZSLN 55155|
|3||PHOTOS OF GHOSTS||1973||MANTICORE ANTI2003|
|4A||L'ISOLA DI NIENTE||1974||NUMERO UNO DZSLN 55566|
|4B||THE WORLD BECAME THE WORLD||1974||NUMERO UNO DZSLN 55669|
|5||LIVE IN THE USA||1974||NUMERO UNO DZSLN 55676|
|6||CHOCOLADE KINGS||1975||NUMERO UNO ZSLN 55684|
|7||JET LAG||1977||ZOO ZPLZ 34008|
|8||PASSPARTU||1978||ZOO ZPLZ 34032|
|9||SUONARE SUONARE||1980||NUMERO UNO ZPLN 34092|
|10||COME TI VA' IN CIMA ALLA CITTA||1981||NUMERO UNO ZPLN 34140|
Too few people know about Procession, a group from Torino that were among the best from Italy. They gave us two contrasting albums that really shine. Frontiera (1972) was recorded by a Procession line-up including two excellent guitar players, Marcello Capra and Roby Munciguerra. They are mixed on separate sides of the stereo field so the listener might enjoy a spectacular guitar battle. Procession's powerful and versatile heavy progressive rock at this stage is similar to British groups such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. Don't be misled into thinking that Procession were copyists though, they had their own personality and equally original musical ideas, ranging from subtle duets between 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars to the most furious fuzz and wah-wah rantings imaginable (mostly Capra's work). Electric mandolins and mellotrons add some different timbres, particularly notable on the best track "Un Mondo Di Liberta" (8:41). Frontiera was a concept album about immigration with musical themes interlinked between the 'songs'. Gianfranco Gaza utilized his high-pitched voice to great effect. All in all this is a fantastic work among Europe's best. Only Gaza and Munciguerra remained for the quite different second album Fiaba (1974). This effort is more relaxed, Mediterranean, jazzy and romantic and featured a wider musical spectrum - with more keyboards and the addition of sax and flute, as well as the appearance of several guests. Their drums and percussion player Francesco Froggio Francica had a very busy and intense style, often adding gongs and vibraphone. Silvana Aliotta, vocalist in the disbanded Circus 2000, pastiched Clare Tony's spine chilling "Great Gig In The Sky" on "C'Era Una Volta". Indeed, the more calm and romantic sides of the album functioned very well - like on the beautiful "Un Mondo Sprecato". The album sounds a bit less integrated than their previous work, but when seen separately the six songs are really good. Some people will certainly judge this second album to be Procession's best. It's a shame they broke up! Gaza soon after joined Arti + Mestieri while Capra recorded a solo album of instrumental 'chamber music' featuring Angelo Girardi (from the first Procession line-up) and Giovanni Vigliar (the violin player in Arti E Mestieri).
|1||FRONTIERA||1972||HELP DZSLH 55131|
|2||FIABA||1974||FONIT LPQ 09081|
|A1||ARIA MEDITERRANEA||1978||MU UM 103|
A veiy obscure album with long, guitar-oriented tracks. Supposedly only 50 copies were made.
An Italian group living in New York who released an album of heavy progressive rock over there.
A group not known to me. They recorded one side of a soundtrack album.
|1||ETTORE LO FUSTO||1972||MUSIC PARADE LEL199|
An extremely obscure group who played soft keyboard-based symphonic rock comparable to Latte E Miele.
|1||QUEL GIORNI DI UVE ROSSE||1975?||PCI|
This group from Rome made two superb albums, of which their first one is among the finest from the period 1972-73. This was a bold attempt to combine classical music and progressive rock unlikely to be bettered by any Anglo-American band. Their compositions formed a dense and complex musical mosaic, vaguely reminiscent of the contemporary Gentle Giant-sound. The contrasting styles vary from the romantic Vivaldian violin lines on "Un Villaggio, Un' Illusione" and "Verso La Locanda" to the beautiful folk-rock on "Realta". The separate tracks often change mood and timing - "Dialogo" starts with strong synthesizer lines (with the same distinctive bent notes as Semiramis) before entering a question-and-response vocal section. However, the best example of this is a two-part composition named "Immagine Sfocate" and "Il Cieco". Here is a rough analysis of this to illustrate correct use of the term "complex progressive rock":
"Immagini Sfocate" starts with some introductory atonal synthesizer sounds (0:00 - 0:33 minutes). An unexpected prolonged chord follows from 0:33 to 1:14, more like the final chord in Beethoven's symphonies or Beatles' final chord of "A Day In The Life". An eight-note motif is repeated from 1:14 to 1:30 in a dramatic crescendo, followed by a chord sequence introducing the main part of the track. This starts at 1:42 with a powerful riff on electric guitar, introducing a wild and psychedelic guitar solo from 1:49 to 2:15. Now we are served a vocal treatment of the guitar riff, followed by a short repeat of the guitar solo at 2:35. The concluding chords of this track are immediately followed by some furious drumming, purposefully faded out into nothing (on the original LP this is the last track of side one). "Il Cieco" fades in the drums again, soon joined by a very rhythmic bass. A strong musical theme is introduced by the synthesizer, then repeated in unison with another synthesizer, playing the theme an octave higher. A short vocal treatment of the same theme closes the first segment. At 1:06 more romantic melody lines in the spirit of J. S. Bach are played in canon by flute and violin, backed by organ. A Jethro Tull-ish flute solo brings us closer to rock again. At 2:32 the piano restates the guitar riff from the previous track "Immagini..." again. After a full stop, guitar and piano play the riff at full strength with a strong rhythm backing (2:45 - 2:59). Again we have a vocal treatment of this (2:59 - 3:19), but this time ending with a short flute solo. The repeated eight-note motif from an earlier part of "Immagini..." is played by piano, flute, violin and guitar in a slow descendo (3:39), ending with some closing violin and piano notes.
Sometimes QVL are compared to PFM. This may be indicative of a relationship between these groups, but QVL's style is distinguished by an incredibly compact and distilled musical content, featuring a lot of changes in a relative short time (as illustrated by the analysis). In my opinion, the first QVL album easily surpasses anything PFM have ever done musically, although PFM might make for easier listening.
Il Tempo Delia Gioia was recorded by another line-up and is quite different in style. The heavy guitars are now traded for a notable jazz influence, although still rooted in classical music. The music here is more dynamic and less intense, giving a sense of space to catch your breath. It works best on the opening "Villa Doria Pamphili".
|1||QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA||1972||HELP ZSLH 55091|
|2||IL TEMPO DELLA GIOIA||1974||RCA TPL1 1015|
This is another of those excellent groups that showed so much promise but were far too short-lived. Per... Un Mondo Di Cristallo has a slightly anguished atmosphere somewhere near the mood of the Semiramis album. It's an album of limited commercial appeal, as inexperienced listeners will find this material too complex and inaccessible. The variation between dense jazz-rock, breezy folk and aggressive guitar might recall King Crimson's Lizard, but with additional characteristic romantic melody lines of Italian rock. The complex rhythms have an exotic, ethnic touch. If you get to know this album through repeated listenings, it will reward you well. The lack of recognition caused Civitenga and Regoli to leave RRR to form Samadhi. Attempts to keep a revamped group of seven members together failed and we are unfortunately left with only one album - highly recommended for fans of complex progressive rock.
|1||PER...UN MONDO DI CRISTALLO||1972||CETRA LPX 15|
A little known blues group inspired by the British blues-boom of the late sixties.
This is one of the rarest of Italian progressive rock albums. Stylistically, it is related to the vintage sound of the heavy New Trolls singles (1968-1970), I Mucchio, Ricordi D'Infanzia, Laser and the like.
|1||IL LUNGO CAMMINO DEI RAMINGHI||1971||BENTLER BELP 1016|
One of the also-rans of the era, Reale Accademia di Musica on their first album played a romantic and melodic progressive rock that combined elements of late sixties Beatles, Procol Harum and Moody Blues with Italian lyricism. Their second album had more folk-rock tendencies with extensive use of acoustic guitar, similar to the style of the first Pierrot Lunaire album. It's relaxing and melodic music, but it lacks originality.
|1||REALE ACADEMIA DI MUSICA||1972||RICORDI SMRL 6105|
|2||ADRIANO MONTEDURO||1974||RCA TPL1 1038|
This is one of the most obscure groups in this section, possibly consisting of foreigners resident in Italy at the time. Their album is strongly influenced by the early progressive rock sound of groups such as Jethro Tull and Traffic (verified by the inclusion of cover versions of "Dharma For One" and Dave Mason's "Sad And Deep As You"), adding touches of soul, jazz and folk-rock. The album contained 12 tracks (only a few of them were original compositions) dominated by the usual instrumental conglomerate of flute, electric guitar and organ. A rarity I can only recommend for the completists among you.
|1||GET READY||1972||CAR JUKE BOX CRJ LP0025|
This was one of those "phantom groups" made up of unknown sessionmen. Io Uomo (1973) was characterized by powerful guitars, organ (sometimes replaced by piano) and vocals, and was more typical of 1970 than 1973 (indicating that the material may have been recorded at an earlier date). The excellent first track "Caos" will lead you to believe this is a really great album, but unfortunately such high hopes prove unfounded on the subsequent tracks, which veered towards a more ordinary song-based style closer to the late sixties New Trolls singles. The 8 tracks vary in length from just under 3 minutes to 6 minutes, apparently forming a concept album about creation and the destiny of mankind.
|1||IO UOMO||1973||CETRA LPP 227|
He was a member of Stormy Six in their earliest incarnation and contributed to their first album.
Those of his solo albums I've heard belong to the pleasant "singer-songwriter" branch of folk-rock, centered around vocals and guitar.
|1||IL VIAGGIO||1970||ARISTON AR/LP 11020|
|2||VOLO MAGICO NO. 1||1971||ARISTON AR/LP 12067|
|3||LA NORMA DEL CIELO||1972||ARISTON AR/LP 12088|
|4||ESSENZA||1973||ARISTON AR/LP 12112|
|5||IL MIELE DEI PIANETI, LE ISOLE, LE API||1973||ARISTON AR/LP 12135|
|6||ROCCHI||1975||ARISTON AR/LP 12279|
|7||SUONI DI FRONTIERA||1976||ARISTON AR/LP 12293|
|8||A FUOCO||1977||CRAMPS CRSLP 5451|
|9||NON C'E NE' PER NESSUNO||1978||CRAMPS 5202 452|
They played progressive jazz-rock in a similar vein to Duello Madre.
|1||STORIA Dl UOMINI E NON||1973||RICORDI SMRL 6115|
A super rare vintage album.
|1||I ROLLS 33||1967||CBS|
The masters of Italian progressive hard-rock formed in Rome in 1971. La Bibbia (1971) was a furiously violent but still astonishingly intelligent work. With simple but clever effects on percussion, bass and electric guitar, "Il Nulla" rose from silence to X-rated brute instrumental force, announcing the coming of "La Creazione". "Sodoma E Gomorra" contains the most perverted heavy guitar riffs you are likely to hear. On the longest track "Il Giudizio" there is even one section where the electric guitar and bass perform a fugue-like section. This is a very entertaining album Io Come Io (1972) was an ever better work with crisper production. The interplay between wah-wah guitar and fuzz bass all over the place is simply incredible. The slightly baroque melody lines (like those of J. S. Bach) are played with such force you hardly recognise these classical sources. This may be the best hard rock or heavy progressive album to come out of Italy, but perhaps it should be disqualified due to the criminally short running time of just 29 minutes. The classical influence behind RDM became evident even to the most dilettante listeners on Contiminazione (1973). Compared to the previous albums this is a soft-rock album, vaguely based on parts of J. S. Bach's harpsichord pieces. RDM had also expanded with the addition of keyboard player Franco Di Sabbatino. Their collaborator Luis Enriquez Bacalov, having used New Trolls as guinea pigs on Concerto Grosso No. 1, came up here with one of the world's best orchestral arrangements to grace a rock group's performance. This is indeed a incredibly difficult musical combination - no British rock group managed a consistently convincing album of this type, during the classic progressive rock era there from 1969 to 1973. All three albums by RDM are strongly recommended and deserve much greater international recognition.
|1||LA BIBBIA||1971||RCA PSL 10521|
|2||IO COME IO||1972||RCA PSL 10545|
|3A||CONTAMINAZIONE||1973||RCA DPSL 10593|
|3B||CONTAMINATION||1975||RCA TPL1 1049|
One of the elements that can make music magical is the effective use of sparse arrangements. The smallest details in a recording may appeal to the attentive listener. This 'group' from Naples played a distinctive chamber folk-rock highlighting Jenni Sorrenti's beautiful voice (comparable to Annie Haslam in the British group Renaissance) set in relatively simple arrangements (as opposed to the complex, weaving sound of many Italian progressive rock bands), much influenced by classical and folk music from the 18th Century. Some minor jazz influences can also be found in their music.
On Saint Just's first album the backing consists mainly of acoustic guitar and piano, with sporadic electric guitars, sax, glockenspiel and bass/drums. The production is tasteful with the occasional use of studio effects (like echo or a Leslie unit). The texture is thickest on the 10-minute opening track "Il Fiume Inondo'", which weaves between solo piano and powerful sections with electric guitar, bass, drums, sax and organ. Later tracks are generally more relaxed, like the beautiful "Dolci Momenti", where Sorrenti's voice is accompanied by glockenspiel, organ and bells. For their masterpiece La Casa Del Lago the group was considerably expanded, and electric guitars and bass/drums backing became more prominent, along with new instruments like violin and mellotron. Best of all was "Nella Vita, Un Pianto" (11:04) with its great emotional intensity.
Their albums were among the most aesthetic and romantic in Italian rock and are highly recommended.
|1||SAINT JUST||1973||HARVEST 3C064-17870|
|2||LA CASA DEL LAGO||1974||HARVEST 3C064-18033|
This is one of the Italian 'super groups', being a combination of previous members from Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno (Regoli and Civitenga), I Teoremi (Bellavova) and L'Uovo Di Colombo (Stefani). Their combined efforts were lighter in spirit than one would have expected. This is in fact an album of marvellous songwriting, veering between the classic old pop music tradition and jazzy progressive rock. "Un Uomo Stanco" and "Fantasia" were happy songs with a sunny Mediterranean feel, high-pitched lead vocals, fine vocal harmonies, lots of keyboards, laced with guitars and phased drums. These and most other tracks had great arrangements for strings and brass. "Un Milione D'Anni Fa" even had the bassoon playing an important role.
"Passagio Di Via Arpino", the only instrumental track, is top class European jazzy progressive where funky electric piano alternates with heavy brass, rounded off with a solid electric guitar solo. The whole album radiates friendly, human warmth and is recommended particularly to those who like the second Procession album.
|1||SAMADHI||1974||FONIT LPQ 09080|
He made a keyboard-based album of spacey music in the Klaus Schulze-vein with lots of moogs and mellotrons.
|1||TAKE OFF||1978||RCA PL 31361|
This group had one extremely rare album released in 1972, containing melodic Mediterranean rock with some progressive influences. Instrumentally, organ, piano and flute dominated. Some tracks featured saxophones arranged in the 60's jazzy beat soul hybrid style. Nothing here goes beyond the usual song format of 3-4 minutes. Although the songwriting is quite good, this can only be for your next easy listening nostalgia party!
|1||NOI: I SANTONI||1972||JUKE BOX CRJ 00024|
Like I Giganti's Terra In Bocca, Tito Schipa Jr.'s first album Orfeo 9 was an early Italian pop-rock opera effort. The album contained contrasting musical styles (pop, music hall, folk, ) and broad orchestral arrangements. A lot of time was spent making this, but you must understand Italian well in order to enjoy it.
ALBUMS (UP TO 1980):
|1||ORFEO 9 (2LP)||1972||CETRA LPX 16/17|
|2||IO ED IO SOLO||1974||CETRA LPX 31|
Their album is another of the super-rarities and was almost impossible to locate, prior to its re-issue on CD. It's not a masterwork but certainly contains interesting music, alternating between instrumental jazz-rock improvisations ala Soft Machine (fourth album), clasically-inclined heavy progressive in the Vanilla Fudge-school (introduced in Italy by The Trip and The New Trolls) and vocal songs similar to early Van Der Graaf Generator and the second Raw Material album. The three soloists Rochetti, De Carli and Bonavera work well together, meaning that none really dominates. The problem with the album is its retrospective glance on the previous four year's musical development, instead of creating a new musical style. The group master many different genres and the album is still enjoyable, although its musical importance is limited.
|.||TUTTO DEVE FINIRE||1972||PICCIGLA 2002|
This short-lived group released an excellent album in 1973 containing prototype Italian progressive rock. The vocals are powerful, sometimes even aggressive and slightly similar to Peter Hammill. Stylistically, this really is an eclectic jigsaw of contrasting styles, almost an equal combination of rock, classical, jazz and folk, and it's not afraid of "complex" musical arrangements. Early synthesizers share the spotlight with electric guitar and a distinctive use of vibraphone on several tracks. The album radiates a fascinating intellectual coldness, much like King Crimson's Starless... album and, arguably, Semiramis' technical abilities overshadow their emotional intensity. This is only a faint criticism, though, as their album is great (some people even place it among the top 10 from Italy). As with Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno, repeated play will reward the listener. It is also dressed in one of the finest fold-out sleeve designs of the period.
|1||DEDICATO A FRAZZ||1973||TRIDENT TRI 1004|
Something for collectors of curiosities only, as their album (released circa 1968) contained instrumental versions of songs by The Beatles and Rolling Stones.
Certainly this international group (based in Italy) differed from the typical Italian progressive band, being closer in spirit to German groups like Ashra and Amon Düül II with their characteristic guitar-and-electronics sound. The Italian Franco Falsini was their mainman and composed all their songs. Some tracks are pure electronic works with a wealth of floating moog synthesizers focusing on melodies rather than atonal sound clusters. Falsini's guitar work is even more delightful. His electronically treated electric guitar style is close to Manuel Göttsching of Ashra, but also seems influenced by Robert Fripp's more experimental attempts (with Brian Eno). Falsini's instrumental solo album (a movie soundtrack) is the definitive attempt at this kind of music in Italy, purely instrumental and containing very long tracks. The early albums of Sensations' Fix are the most experimental. The addition of a keyboard-player in 1976 gave Falsini more flexibility in his attempt to bring Sensations' Fix closer to conventional rock. Fans of progressive rock in general might find Finest Finger and Boxes Paradise to their taste. In truth, all Sensations' Fix albums are good, though some lack the definitive touch of genius.
|1||FRAGMENTS OF LIGHT||1974||POLYDOR 2448 023|
|2||PORTABLE MADNESS||1974||POLYDOR 2448 034|
|3||FINEST FINGER||1976||POLYDOR 2448 048|
|4||BOXES PARADISE||1977||POLYDOR 2448 064|
|5||VISION FUGITIVES||1977||ALL EARS SF11478|
|6||FLYING TAPES||1978||POLYDOR 2448 074|
|.||SENSATIONS' FIX||1974||POLYDOR AS 273|
|A1||COLD NOSE||1975||POLYDOR 2449 012|
A jazz-rock group from Naples who played in an easy approachable melodic style comparable to the early Chicago albums. Maybe this American group also inspired Senese and Del Prete's change of name to Napoli Centrale in 1975. They became one of the most famous Italian jazz-rock groups.
|1||SHOWMEN 2||1972||BLACK BUTTERFLY 02|
An unsuccessful pop group included here only because their album was released on the otherwise interesting Grog label.
|1||RENDEZVOUS||1977||GROG GRL 05|
This mythical group from Liguria prepared to release an album for Fonit in 1970, but this never happened. All that remains are several rehearsal tapes which have been released on a double album and a single CD in 1992 (some tracks only being available in one of the two formats). The material shows a lot of musical promise and demonstrates that they were capable of making a classic album. However, this is only a pale imitation of something that could have been. Il Sistema split in 1971 with Enzo Merogno soon forming Museo Rosenbach. Ciro Perrino and Leonardo Lagorio went on to form Celeste.
ARCHIVE MATERIAL (2LP AND CD):
|1||IL VIAGGIO SENZA ANDATA||1992||MELLOW MMP 100|
An obscure and very rare early 80's progressive rock album with a relaxing atmosphere similar to Celeste.
Alan is the brother of Jenny and he eventually became a well-known pop artist in Italy. Readers of this book should investigate his first album Aria (1972), a beautiful progressive folk album. Alan Sorrenti has a wide vocal range, almost like an Italian Tim Buckley. The title track, covering one whole side, is particularly impressive with good use of acoustic guitars, electric violin, percussion and psychedelic echo effects. If one dares to draw comparisons, they will be quite divergent: Camisasca, Saint Just, Wapassou and even Amon Düül II.
The female vocalist of Saint Just made two solo albums after their demise, of which the first is particularly worthy of your attention. Although her music is closer to conventional folk-rock and slightly less intense than Saint Just, Jenny's clear voice really shines throughout. Her albums feature nice melodies with solid electric backing, highlighting violin and guitars. The track "Canta" is just as good as anything the Fairports, Trees or Spriguns have done! The involvement of Peter Kaukonen is a curiosity and it is likely that the track "Jorma" is about his more famous brother. A great album for those who fall in love with beautiful female voices. Her second album is similar in style.
|2||JENNY SORRENTI||1979||RCA PL 31425|
These two groups are forever linked, due to a split demo album of which only a few hundred copies were pressed. Achieving a record contract at this time (1979) proved impossible, but their album has been hunted by big collectors in recent years, due to its formidable rarity. La Statale 17 played pleasant instrumental symphonic rock similar to Camel and Genesis. The principal instruments were string synthesizer and electric guitar. The studio productions are low-budget but still crisp. An album for completists only, but it will be more interesting than most Genesis bootlegs.
Is Italian psychedelia an enigma to you? If you're curious about such stuff, then this weird album might be of interest. One side of the album is made up of a long, disjointed freak-out comparable to the London underground (particularly some performances at the UFO club). The uninitiated might mistake the rambling percussion and screams for some kind of new age ritual to purify the mind and body, but 10 minutes into it, some structure begins to materialise, as in a seriously zonked early Pink Floyd. The shorter songs on side two are demented heavy psychedelia, closer to the anarchic spirit of The Deviants. Mario Stefano is an artist and graphic designer. He designed the cover but apparently didn't make any musical contributions.
|1||LE STELLE DI MARIO SCHIFANO||1967||PRIVATE PRESS|
This group from Milano became known for their inventive combination of pop, jazz, folk and experimental music coupled with political lyrics.
Their first album was recorded prior to this orientation with the well-known singer and songwriter Claudio Rocchi in their ranks. The slightly psychedelic music combined The Band with The Beatles (at the time of Sgt. Pepper) and Italian folk music. An interesting effort in sharp musical contrast to most other Italian groups.
L'Unita partly dealt with Garibaldi and historical events between 1860 to 1863. Musically, mellow folk-rock moods were prevailing. The track "Suite Per F & F" (11:24) was a hilarious pastiche on Crosby, Stills & Nash with three-part vocals and acoustic/electric guitars to the fore.
The group folded for some years, but was re-activated when Fabbri met the song writing Marxist Umberto Fiori. Un Buglietto Del Tram (1975) and Cliche (1976) contained non-ambitious, short folk-rock songs featuring mandolins, violins and acoustic guitars.
L'Apprendista (1977) re-introduced electric guitar and is often considered to be their best effort. Their vocal and instrumental arrangements were way more complex (combining Beach Boys and Gentie Giant).
Not surprisingly, the group became a part of the international Rock-In-Opposition movement in the late seventies, along with Zamla Mammas Manna, Etron Fou and Chris Cutler, to name a few. Macchina Maccheronica (1979) reflected these acquaintances, but also the cabaret art of Brecht and Weill. Stormy Six were an unique group that always kept a distance from the usual Italian progressive rock sound.
|1||LE IDEE Dl OGGI PER LA MUSICA Dl DOMANI||1969||ARISTON 50001|
|3||UN BIGLIETTO DEL TRAM||1975||L'ORCHESTRA 10001|
This group from Rome was among the most powerful and aggressive Italian bands, along with RDM. This is the showcase for a very talented guitarist playing to ragged rhythms on relatively long tracks. His inventive style is reminiscent of Jeff Beck and Robin Trower. There is a slight blues influence, but I Teoremi take the music in their own violent direction. A really good hard-rock album equalling the efforts of many better known artists!
|1||I TEOREMI||1972||POLARIS POL BP711|
He made a very little known album of orchestrated soft-progressive rock full of Mediterranean warmth and romance, which is sometimes similar to Genfuoco.
The focal point is the long "Una Vita" (16:21) with its pleasant vocals and lots of acoustic guitars and strings. The shorter songs are closer to singer-songwriter material. Not an important album but not a bad one either.
|1||UNA VITA, UNA BALENA BIANCA E ALTRE COSE||1977||DISCO PIU DP 39007|
A short-lived and obscure group. In fact, no one knows even the names of its members. A large part of their album is instrumental, such as the 4-part suite "Sabazo". This is typical keyboard-based classically-inclined progressive rock in the Emerson, Lake & Palmer style. Triade's playing is refined and slightly academic. The album has a short running time and no "special features". Still it is quite good. Check it out if you consider yourself a keyboard fanatic!
|1||1998: LA STORIA DI SABAZIO||1973||DERBY DBR 65801|
This was one of the first groups to emerge from the new Italian rock scene. They formed in London in 1967 on the initiative of pop-singer Ricky Maiocchi (ex-Camaleonti) who needed a new backing group. Many British beat bands moved to Italy in the late sixties in search of gigs, among them The Sorrows, The Primitives and The Talismen. Most of the original Trip members were also English, including Ritchie Blackmore, who eventually became homesick and returned to England. When Joe Vescovi was recruited in 1969 he quickly became the leader of the group, updating their sound with the current (pioneering) Anglo-American attempts to expand the rock format, blending that with the inspiration and composing techniques of 17th-19th century classical music. On their eponymous first album, The Trip almost sounded like a cross between Vanilla Fudge, The Nice and Quatermass (another highly influential group on the early Italian rock scene, who released their only album in 1970). "Prologo" almost pastiched the organ work of Mark Stein on Vanilla Fudge's first album. Other enlightening features were Billy Gray's Blackmore-esque guitar parts and Joe Vescovi's distinctive, high-pitched voice. The album showed great promise, but didn't quite succeed in creating an integrated group sound. Organ parts of great emotional intensity were sometimes followed by almost banal vocal arrangements in a more pop tradition.
However, better things were soon to come when The Trip released their masterpiece Caronte in 1971. The powerful interplay between Gray and Vescovi is excellent throughout the album. If the "dream collaboration" between Jimi Hendrix and Keith Emerson had ever happened, then I imagine it would have sounded close to this! The finest example of this is on "Two Brothers", which merged psychedelic, heavy and classical rock. By now, Vescovi could afford a mellotron, offering mellow string textures on the track "Little Janie". The excellent rhythm section throughout the album of Andersen and Sinnone was also notable. Speaking of Jimi Hendrix, the album also included the mournful requiem "Ode A J. Hendrix". The fruitful Gray-Vescovi collaboration sadly came to an end when Bill Gray left, along with drummer Pino Sinnone, in 1972. The latter was replaced by Furio Chirico and for their last two albums The Trip remained a keyboard trio focusing on Vescovi's great talent.
Atlantide (1972) was a fine album, absorbing more jazz-rock influences, particularly with the increased use of changing time signatures. The Trip took great care in production details, often using Leslie cabinets and flanging effects on organ, bass and piano. Their final album Time Of Change (1974) was their crown achievement in terms of musical dexterity, displaying neck-breaking keyboard pyrotechnics. Here The Trip used a very broad range of influences, from convential music to avant-garde. Opus Avantra had a similar basic idea, but with completely different results musically. Their complex jigsaw never hung well together, whereas The Trip's work was more convincing. Most impressive was "Rhapsodia" (20:00), in the top Italian class of keyboard-driven progressive rock (along with Metamorfosi's "Inferno", Latte E Miele's "Passio Secundum Mattheum" and Le Orme's "Collage").
The Trip were one of the most influencial Italian groups, even if they were heavily influenced by Anglo-American artists in their early stages. Almost all their lyrics were sung in English, but well executed.
|1||THE TRIP||1970||RCA PSL 10460|
|2||CARONTE||1971||RCA PSL 10508|
|3||ATLANTIDE||1972||RCA PSL 10540|
|4||TIME OF CHANGE||1973||TRIDENT TRI 1002|
|A1||FEELING GRAY?||1972||POLYDOR 2448 009|
Both albums contain material of a psychedelic nature, transporting you back to the 'swinging London' days of 1967, albeit more instrumental (good guitar and organ parts). The Blue Phantom album might be a good comparison. Both albums are now being traded for excessive amounts of lira.
|1||THE UNDERGROUND SET||1970||RADIO REC. RRS 134|
|2||WAR IN THE NIGHT BEFORE||1972||TICKLE|
In 1974 Danilo Rustici and Elio D'Anna left Osanna to form the trio Uno. Not surprisingly, the resulting album was close in sound to the last Osanna album Landscape Of Life and shares the same limpness. The tracks are largely song-oriented, sometimes dangerously close to sticky pop ballads, due to Rustici's way-too-sweet, soul-influenced voice. D'Anna's reeds are comparable to Andy Mackay (Roxy Music) and Mel Collins. Several tracks used a very similar construction, starting with acoustic guitar, vocals and flute, later joined by drums, bass, electric guitar and lazy PFM clichés on the keyboards. Some instrumental passages are technically good (particularly a section of "Uno Nel Tutto"), but overall the album lacks musical depth, enthusiasm and subsequently interest. It was recorded in London and four tracks had English lyrics. It wasn't a success, even among the old Osanna fans. Rustici and D'Anna soon disbanded Uno and changed their musical direction considerably with their next group Nova.
|1||UNO||1974||CETRA LPX 26|
A short-lived group that failed to get any recognition, due to a total lack of promotion by their record company. Their album is basically in the heavy progressive genre, but fronted by a rich array of keyboards (organ, piano and synthesizer in that order) in place of the guitar and influenced by several British keyboard players of the early seventies: Pete Robinson in Quatermass, Vincent Crane in Atomic Rooster, Ken Hensley in Uriah Heep and, to a lesser degree, Keith Emerson. L'Uovo Di Colombo's music is greater in melodic content than complex instrumental development, very much in the tradition of British progressive rock. The result is an excellent, melodic and easily accessible album with strong single tracks, particularly "Io" and "Anja". The latter was performed in a vocal style very close to David Byron. Side two of the album had a couple of tracks with more electric guitar.
The bass player Elio Volpine had previously played in Flea (On The Honey). When L'Uovo Di Colombo disbanded he rejoined his former collegues in Etna. The drum player Ruggero Stefani found his way to Samadhi.
|1||L'UOVO DI COLOMBO||1973||ODEON 3C064-17889|
Their very rare album has not yet been re-issued. Half of the lyrics were sung in English.
|1||THE ARID LAND||1971||CBS 64796|
This was one of the Italian "super groups", with several well-known musicians in their line-up. Il Volo may well be seen as a continuation of Formula 3, with Alberto Radius and Gabriele Lorenzi joined by Bob Callero (Osage Tribe, Duello Madre) and the remaining from lesser known groups (I Ribelli, Flora Fauna Cemento and Pleasure Machine). Surprisingly enough, Il Volo played easy flowing and dynamic progressive rock on their first album, not unlike the early PFM-sound with breezy string synthesizers and acoustic guitars. They sometimes veered more towards soft jazz-rock, and some listeners will find this music pedestrian and even slightiy boring. The only novelty feature here is Alberto Radius' electric sitar on some tracks.
Essere O Non Essere? (1975) was an almost completely instrumental album in a more firm jazz-rock vein than the previous effort. It is quite a good album, with some inventive arrangements and musical timbres, particularly "Alcune Scene" and "Medio Oriente... / Canto Di Lavoro".
Both albums are irritatingly short on playing time, clocking in at about 30 minutes each. Il Volo didn't live up to the expectations of record buyers at the time and disbanded soon after their second album was released.
|1||IL VOLO||1974||NUMERO UNO DZSLN 55667|
|2||ESSERE O NON ESSERE?||1975||NUMERO UNO DZSLN 55679|
This group (which uncommonly consisted of two females and three males) had 500 copies of their album released at a time when progressive rock was strongly out of fashion. Their sound was very soft, romantic and acoustic (comparable to Errata Corrige), almost veering towards chamber music with flute, acoustic guitar, string synthesizer, piano and cello. The baroque influence of J. S. Bach is evident on many tracks. The low-budget production added to the album's imperfect charm.
Zauber re-formed in the early 90's releasing (at least) three more albums and also backed Clari's solo project Clarion.
ALBUM (UP TO 1980):