2010Alphen aan den Rijn, NederlandHet Kasteel pop- en cultuurpodium
Op 13 juni 2010 was er in het Serious Music Café Alphen een themamiddag over Italiaanse progrock uit de jaren ’70. Uiteraard werd het thema aan de hand van een playlist belicht.
1 Museo Rosenbach (Zarathustra, 1973): Degli Uomini
Museo Rosenbach was formed 1972 in Liguria (Bordighera). Their career began as a backing band for Ricchi e Povori, and Delirium. Museo’s first lead singer Walter Franco left the band after a very short time, and he was replaced by Stefano ‘Lupo’ Galifi. They released their only epic masterpiece album Zarathustra in the beginning of 1973. Sadly they disbanded later the same year, after some live performances. Many people rate this as the ‘NUMERO UNO’ (number one) Rock Progressivo Italiano (RPI)-album of all time. Absolutely one of the ten best prog-records. Except on the weak production, this album is remarkable.
2 Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso (Darwin!, 1973): L’Evoluzione
One of the big three together with PFM and Le Orme. Formed in Rome 1971. Their name in English means ‘The Bank of Mutual Trust’. The music is dominated by the two brothers Vittorio and Gianni Nocenzi who play the keyboards. The singer Francesco Di Giacomo has a very beautiful and original voice. In only two years, between 1972-1973 they released three fantastic albums. Darwin! is a concept album based on the mankind evolution (a recurring theme in many prog-albums of the time). The perfect mixture between complex and beauty. It’s the best of Banco, a superb album. Incredible instrumental richness, lots of variations, very expressive voice, long epic tracks and beautiful short songs, all in the same bag. Everything that is wonderful about Italian Symphonic Prog is encapsulated in the first track, L’Evoluzione: almost fourteen minutes of majestic keyboards, sonically charged guitars, Francesco’s incredible voice and just enough Italian weirdness.
3 Le Orme (Uomo Di Pezza; 1972): Una Dolcezza Nuova
One of the big three together with Banco and PFM. Formed far back as 1967, they have created so many great prog-albums that they all should be talked about more than they are. ‘Uomo Di Pezza’ is one of their finest moments ever in the studio and offers some brilliant moments. The album is full of PFM-like orchestral interludes with the unmistakable sound of Aldo Tagliapietra and company. The sound quality is surprisingly good. ‘Uomo Di Pezza’ is a very complete album and should definitely appeal to fans of the classic early seventies Italian progscene. The quiet moments on this release are quite magical and very spiritual in many ways. fitting nicely the concept behind this progressive rock masterpiece.
4 Locanda Delle Fate (Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Più, 1977):
A Volte Un Istante Di Quiete
Initially, the band was a trio formed by Boero, Mazzoglio, and Gardino, with some influence from Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but more classic. Then, Vevey and Gaviglio joined the band and they spent two years playing and composing songs for an album. So, with everything almost ready, the band invited vocalist Basso. A demo tape was recorded and it was played to several record companies. Greek producer Niko Papathanassiou (brother of Vangelis) heard the compositions and opened the paths for Locanda to Polydor. In 1977, they recorded Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Più (which has since been widely acclaimed as one of the greatest symphonic albums of all time.) This is extremely light airy symphonic prog, not for those of you interested in the heavy classic early seventies variety. This album is a real masterwork with greatest melodies and musicianship. Each and every song is great in it’s own way, with the title track being the real stand out epic song.
5 Premiata Forneria Marconi (Storia Di Un Minute, 1972):
Impressioni Di Settembre
One of the big three together with Banco and Le Orme. They came together in the end of 1970, and shortly after Mauro Pagani (violin) joined the group. This is from their incredible debut album! This is truly a masterpiece of Italian Progressive Rock. You have to have this next to your Genesis and King Crimson albums! This is one of the best RPI-albums that you can get. It contains real classics of progressive music with incredible musicianship.
6 Il Balletto Di Bronzo (Ys; 1972): Terzo Incontro
Il Balletto Di Bronzo is an Italian progband from Naples that was formed in the late sixties. The first line-up featured Marco Cecioni (vocals, guitar), Michele Cupaiuolo (bass), Giancarlo Stinga (drums) and Lino Ajello (guitar). Their debut album was released in 1970 and sounds quite different from their best-known prog work ‘Ys’, since keyboard wizard and vocalist Gianni Leone joined only in 1971 along with bassist Vito Manzari, leading the band in a completely new musical direction. Many people claim this to be the best Italian progrock-album ever. Il Balleto Di Bronzo’s Ys is an unequivocal classic, and stands as one of the very best albums out of Italy, and perhaps among the finest examples of dark, heavy progressive. However, newbies to the Italian scene might want to approach this one with caution, since it can be tougher to get into than some of the other popular Italian works.
7 Celeste (Principe Di Un Giorno; 1976): Principe Di Giorno
Formed by drummer Ciro Perrino and sax player Leonardo Lagorio (who had played with Museo Rosenbach in their early days) this four piece went in a totally different direction from their beginnings, playing a mostly acoustic, dreamy and delicate prog. A studio group, they had a very limited live experience. Published in 1976, but actually composed and recorded between 1974 and 1975, ‘Principe Di Un Giorno’ is the first album by this Sanremese band and one of the finest of the era. The mood is soft and slightly melancholic. It certainly reminds of La Locanda Delle Fate, early Pierrot Lunaire and the gentler episodes of the first King Crimson LPs.
8 Alphataurus (Alphataurus; 1973): Croma
An expressive heavy progband from the classic early seventies Italian progscene, very similar to Museo Rosenbach and Il Baletto Di Bronzo. Just like their contemporary ‘sister’ bands, they mix very well the heavy parts with the soft melodic passages, with an exquisite contrasting strong voice. The keyboards are superb and their long thematic developments alone would merit an interest in their albums. They released two albums. Being the first one, ‘Alphataurus’ is considered by many as a masterpiece of the seventies Italian scene.
9 Metamorfosi (Inferno; 1973): Spacciatore Di Droga
Another little known but excellent Italian progressive band. Their roots were in psychedelia, but their sound wasn’t quite developed on their debut. ‘Inferno’, however, was a great development, a complex dynamic conceptual suite, heavy on the keyboards, and full of surprises.
10 Semiramis (Dedicato A Frazz; 1973): La Bottega Del Rigattiere
This record is considered to be one of the best from Italy, and for good reason. The style is very original. It sounds a bit like ‘circus music’, with frequent use of heavy guitars and lush keyboards. Moreover, the music is quite pacey, driven forward by brilliant drum playing. As often is the case for Italian progressive, the music is quite varied, and some parts, often the ones dominated by synth or acoustic guitar, are no more than OK. Other parts, however, are extraordinarily beautiful and make this a must-have. Semiramis are at their best when they turn energetic and disharmonious. An example is the first track, starting out with some wonderful crazy vibraphone and ditto vocals. The singer Michelle Zarrillo was just 16 years old when they recorded the album.