Monday, March 11, 2019

My Favorite Classic Era Rock Progressivo Italiano Album Releases

With an ever-close link to all-things British, the Italian rockers in the 1960s were quite aware of the musical revolution(s) coming from the United Kingdom. Italy, France, and Germany had been popular places for British bands to travel to in order try out new music on live audiences. This may be one reason that several UK bands like VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR and PINK FLOYD (as well as YES and GENESIS) had some of their first successes (in terms of sales and popularity) in the Italian peninsula. In fact, these bands hold a special place in the hearts of many Italians to this day.
     Waiting, hungry for musical changes that could match the social and political upheaval of the times, bands like the NEW TROLLS had already been experimenting with infusions of classical instruments and structures in a couple of albums in the late 1960s, while members of proto-bands of what would become LE ORME, PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) and BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO were quick to be taken with the new possibilities they were hearing from British bands.
     Though 1970 saw the release of several landmark "first wave" albums from the likes of Venezia's Le ORME, Savona's THE TRIP, and Napoli's OSANNA, it was 1971 that was to became the true breakout year for Italian progressive rock albums. Between 1971 and 1974 a majority of Italian musical artists could be found experimenting with the new sounds, stylings, and formats being modeled by the "art rock" and "album rock" bands of the north. Many of these Italian bands merely dabbled in the medium by modifying their concert performances of old releases, while some went so far as issuing new single releases, or even albums using these new sounds, instruments, and  "tools." 
     The new phase of "rock progressivo Italiano" (RPI) was, however, fairly short-lived. Most Italian bands were very much done with their fantasy and sound explorations (many of which delivered very strong soicial-political messages) after one or two albums. Whereas the after-shocks of the progressive rock movement continued to reverberate across the globe for several years (delayed in further reaches of the planet), the Italian scene peaked in 1972 and 1973 and then declined rapidly. As a matter of fact, there can be found very few RPI album releases from the second half of the decade, most bands having already reverted to the more radio-friendly, shorter, poppier songwriting styles in order to have a better chance at making a living through their art. The last blast of classic era RPI came with the 1977 release of LOCANDA DELLA FATE's Forse le lucciole non si amano più --an album whose sound draws striking parallels to the GENESIS shift into more melody-oriented and radio-friendly sounds that they established on the English band's two 1976 releases, A Trick of the Tail and Wind and Wuthering (the sound styling that would go on to inspire and inform the movement of imitation later called "Neo Prog"). Only one band, PFM, really tried to make an extended commitment to the long-playing, album-oriented styles and formats--even going so far as to rework some of their earlier material with new, English vocals in an effort to try to reach the vast and large quantity sales potentials of the English, American, and Anglo-oriented audiences.
     An Italian revival of progressive rock musical orientations began in the late 1990s with bands like NUOVA ERA, FINISTERRE, HÖSTSONATEN, MALIBRAN, IL CASTELLO DI ATLANTE, and GERMINALE producing multiple progressive rock albums--a movement that has only gathered momentum over the first two decades of the 21st Century. This new Italian Renaissance will have to remain the subject of another, more future, blog post.

Below I have ranked my personal favorite albums from the Golden Years of Rock Progressivo Italiano (1971-77) with their reviews. Enjoy!

1. IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO Ys (1972) Powerful, in-your-face, confrontational, emotional, and compelling music. Very thoughtful, intentional song construction and performances telling the story of an individual's encounters with darkness and Death. Rarely is music so well fit to the theme of its story content as it has been rendered here. 
     Though many give credit to singer-keyboard whiz (and former Città Frontale member) Gianni Leone for this project, I must here give proper recognition and adulation to the other three band members as well as the female choir:  all are integral--even essential--to the overall effect of this music! I cannot begin to imagine the chilling effect of desperation and fear to be so well rendered without the wild, powerful and often jarring contributions of lead guitarist Lino Ajello, without the eery and unsettling gifts of the background "angel" vocalists, and certainly not without the incredibly tight, subtly virtuosic, and unfailingly steady groundwork supplied by bass player Vito Manzari and drummer Giancarlo Stringa. Gianni may have been in the driver seat but his vision would never be so successfully realized were it not for his highly skilled crew members (who must have fed off of Gianni's vision in order to have performed at such a laser-focused level). 
     Sadly, Ys was the band's last album, coming only a year after 1971's rather lame, Sirio 2222, (on which Gianni Leone was a late-comer),. The band disbanded in 1973. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Lino Ajello / guitar
- Gianni Leone / vocals, piano, Hammond organ, Moog, Mellotron, spinet, celesta
- Vito Manzari / bass
- Giancarlo Stringa / drums
- Giusy Romeo / backing vocals (1)
- Rosanna Baldassari / backing vocals (1)
- Flavia Baldassari / backing vocals (1)

1. "Introduzione" (15:11) opens with female voices followed by long, sustained organ chords before singer Gianni Leone begins to tell the story. At the three minute mark the music shifts into fourth gear. Four almost tow minutes, while Gianni sings, the band cruises along very tightly. Then everything shifts to a kind of long bridge of stops and stars, female choir singing "da-da-da-das" before the band breaks into a new NEKTAR-like groove with keyboards and then guitars taking the foreground for soloing. This goes on for over minutes with some searing organ and guitar work over the rock-solid bass and drum foundation. Then, at 9:38, everything shifts to a new spacey, almost Kosmisches section with dreamy, floating drums and bass through which Mellotron and Gianni's voice Then at 11:35 things shift back into the fourth gear for a bit before settling into a new middle-paced but menacing groove over which Gianni sings. The non-singing sections ramp up into a harpsichord-propelled higher gear, alternating over the final four minutes with the mid-paced vocal sections. This back-and-forth style is carried forward into the next "song." (I can see that the album is really intended to be one "song" as the songs all flow one into the other without breaks or gaps.)
     One distinctly gripping aspect of Side One of this album is the vocal pitch and style chosen by Gianni in his delivery of these lyrics about this individual "Voice" and his descent and travels into the depths of internal and/or spiritual darkness. Brilliant! And showing such fortitude and commitment. (28.5/30)

2. "Primo Incontro" (3:27) is a continuation of the last section of the "Introduzione" with new inputs from the lead guitar (power strums, fuzz, piercingly clear) and different variations and contributions from the chorus voices. Gianni's lead vocal melody and styling remains rock steady, consistent. (9.5/10)

3. "Secondo Incontro" (3:06) opens side two with a single full band hit which is then followed by a section of heavily echoed a cappella vocal "cries" which transitions into a kind of power bridge before Gianni sings in a more fatigued, plaintive voice styling over Mellotron. The alternating powerful instrumental sections with these sparsely backed vocal sections continues over the course of the song. (9.5/10)

4. "Terzo Incontro" (4:33) shows an immediate shift into more uptempo jazz lines--especially from bass and drums. The electric guitar is in continuous solo mode though all of its notes are being trapped in a heavily-oscillating squealing electronic effect while piano and organs and "boom-boom" vocals coming from the angel choir. It's not until 90 seconds into the song that things thin out and Gianni begins to sing. The walking bass and jazzy drum lines remain constant and fixed throughout the first three minutes but then there is a sudden drop off and a squirrelly synth-backed vocal bridge occurs which is then alternated with a couple of full-on ELP-like bursts to the song's end. (9.5/10)

5. "Epilogo" (11:30) opens at breakneck pace with bass and drums admirably keeping up every step of the way with Gianni's classically-trained piano and organ play. electric guitar and other electric keyboard and organ sounds are introduced with a new funked up, almost military-style rhythm foundation. Very cool! Then, at 2:35, everything quiets down for some Mellotron, creepy intermittent bass and piano riffs with Daevid -like glissando guitar floating around. The intermittent and syncopated instrumental interjections continue as the vocalist seems to be acting stressed. When he does finally start singing, he sounds so tired, perhaps defeated--while the music sounds perhaps its bleakest, most horrific yet. Is this insanity? Or the state of mind just before one gives up? Panned, flanged drums! cool effect. Heavily flanged bass, screeching guitars sounding like screaming banshees and distonal female voices singing so creepily over the insane piano playing. This continues for about five minutes before things finally . . . die(!?) A Bar-do-like stillness with occasional ripples of activity settles in for a few seconds before an energized "resurrection" ensues at the 9:40 mark. Piano and drums arpeggiating madly, angelic voices singing in unison bursts of encouragement and . . . life? And then an end of floating, heavily treated female voices giving the feeling of noncommitment, nonresolution, mysterious as if the resolution is thrown back at you, the individual, the Voice--as if we are being told that it's all up to you, it all results are fully dependent on personal choice--on self-reliance, self-sufficiency, self-empowerment. (20/20)
       What a shocking, surprising end! Was he saved or entering Purgatory/the Afterlife? I guess only Gianni Leone and Il Balletto di Bronzo know.

Total Time: 37:47

While I consider this a masterpiece of both rendering and performance, as well as of conception, start to finish, the style of music and dated period-entrapped sound are not (nor have they ever been) my favorites. Still, the creative delivery of this material using all kinds of incredibly inventive effects and techniques is worthy of high, high praise, for Gianni Leone and Il Balletto di Bronzo have left behind this, a stellar masterpiece fully displaying the true and ultimate potential of music, progressive or otherwise.

96.25 on the Fishscales = A/five stars; a true masterpiece of human musical expression.

2. PICCHIO DAL POZZO Picchio dal pozzo (1976) 

A kind of core group, based in Genova, that welcomed a stream of contributing artists and sessions men (reminding me of the band concept of Steely Dan's Donald Fagan and Walter Becker), all started by and supported by Aldo De Scalzi (younger brother to NEW TROLLS's Vittorio De Scalzi) and his own small record label, Grog. Guitarist/milti-instrumentalist Paolo Griguolo and multi-instrumentalist Andrea Beccari were also involved in the initial project.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Paolo Griguolo / guitar, percussion, recorder (9), vocals
- Aldo De Scalzi / keyboards, percussion, alto sax & guitar (9), vocals
- Giorgio Karaghiosoff / woodwinds, flute (5), percussion, vocals
- Andrea Beccari / bass, horn, percussion, vocals
- Cristina Pomarici / vocals (3c)
- Gerry Manarolo / guitar (7)
- Vittorio De Scalzi / flute (3b,5,8)
- Leonardo Lagorio (CELESTE) / contralto sax (5,7), flute (5)
- Fabio Canini / drums (5,6), percussion (3a,5,7)
- Carlo Pascucci / drums (5,7)
- Ciro Perrino (CELESTE) / xylophone (3), flute (5)
- Renzo "Pucci" Cochis / cymbal (6)
- Roberto Romani / tenor sax & flute (9)
- Aldo Di Marco / drums, percussion & vibes (9)

1. "Merta" (3:18) Whenever this song comes on my iPod playlist (which is quite often) I find myself thinking that this is a Robert WYATT song! The vocals, unusual weave of instruments, lack of drums, and Andrea BECCARI's odd horns sound just like something RW would have done in his SOFT MACHINE/MATCHING MOLE days. (10/10)

2. "Cocomelastico" (4:25) is another song that always tricks me into thinking I'm listening to SOFT MACHINE. I love the way the horns play off of each other, and I love the odd synth playing far in the background throughout. Even the odd vocal is not unlike some of the Spanish stuff Robert Wyatt has done. The laid back, jazzy feel placed within the bar/cantina setting is brilliant. Just like the Softs or Caravan! Awesome song that I could listen to forever! (10/10)

3. "Seppia" (10:17) opens with some TANGERINE DREAM-like repeating synthesizer arpeggio which is soon joined by some oddly treated tuned percussion. When the vuvuzela-sounding horns enter with the big bass notes and, eventually, a kind of hypnotic driving rhythm, it's as if the band is trying to either drive the listener crazy or display what a drug trip or psychotic breakdown might feel like! It's actually quite fun--and very much like the feel and effect of a GONG or even Robert WYATT song. The band must have had a lot of fun doing this one. Wild, cacophonous, and random. Then there is a flute-filled break in the music, with a visit to a barnyard, followed by a pretty foundational weave of arpeggios from two electric guitars while a woman recites something dramatic over the top. Horns and then electric piano and tuned percussion then join in before some "Wah-wah" vocals enter the weave with several woodwinds. Gorgeous! This song unfolds similar to, though the opposite of countrymates YUGEN. (18/20)

4. "Napier" (7:28) opens with multiple woodwinds creating sustained cords before relinquishing the reins to a circus band. The use of dissonance here is wonderful--very Robert FRIPP/KING CRIMSON-esque. Soon the circus band moves more toward a MIKE OLDFIELD medieval troubadour sound before everything drops out at the 3:00 mark for a little odd piano play. Organ-backed male vocal singing in Italian moves us into a new section--one that is much more Canterbury jazz with the awesome multiple horns all soloing and weaving with voices, cymbals, octave climbing bass notes and piano. Horns, cymbals and electric Rhodes piano take us through a full minute before the jazzy quintet plays out the final half minute (which is faded out rather suddenly--poor engineering). (13.5/15)

5. "La floriculture di Tschincinnata" (4:24) is a rapidly changing and diverse song that would be very fitting among the CARAVAN or SOFT MACHINE repertoire. Several really awesome melodies and chord progressions are explored here as well as some really fun crazed soloing--all at the same time--from the horn, Casio-sounding synthesizer, electric guitar, and drums--all while the bass keeps the steady time that provides the foundation for the song to rest upon. This is where the 21st Century's Italian Canterbury style torch bearers, HOMUNCULUS RES, get their inspiration for silliness and tight group play! (9/10)

6. "La bolla" (4:31) repeats the Robert WYATT wordless vocal style that I heard in the album's opening song, "Merta"?creating over a melody line that is played over a repetitive JOHN COLTRANE-like piano chord progression--a melody line that will eventually become picked up by the horn and acoustic guitar before being woven in with the voice. (10/10)

7. "Off" (4:48) opens like another JOHN COLTRANE tune with harp-like arpeggiated piano play covered by mellifluous flute play. Absolutely gorgeous! At 1:56 a male voice enters up front and center singing more wordless "wah-wah"s into the tapestry. Gentle, beautiful, pastoral song that would be fitting if performed out-of-doors. Definitely one of my favorite Canterbury songs. (10/10)

My favorite Canterbury Style album ever made in the "Classic" era. In 1976, this debut album caught everyone by surprise for its unmistakable Canterbury feel and familiarity--and this from a group of Italians! I mean, Dutch, French, and even Belgian and German 'members' of the Canterbury Scene might be understandable. They are, after all, just across La Manche from County Kent and the great cathedral town of Canterbury. But Italy?!! And an amazingly excellent album did Picchio dal Pozzo come up with!

Over all this is an album of playful, fun, gorgeous melodies, and wild and at times complicated jazzy instrumental weaves very much in the Canterbury vein of musical approach. Due to the joyful emotional reaction I get when each and every song comes into my ear, Picchio dal Pozzo has supplanted KHAN's Space Shanty as my favorite Canterbury Scene album.

94.70 on the Fish scales = A/5 stars; a true masterpiece of progressive rock music!

3. PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI Per un amico (1972) 

(PA review from 2/28/2009:) My renaissance into the world of progressive rock began one year ago with the discovery of Prog Archives. (Thank you all!) With it I at first concentrated on refamiliarizing myself with all of the music I purchased and loved in the 1970s, I am now beginning an adventure into all of the music I missed which reviewers have praised. I am now the VERY HAPPY owner of my first PFM disc, Per un amico. Just as all the reviewers have raved, it is clearly a classic, with excellent songwriting, instrumentation, musicianship, vocals, pace, melody, and very few flaws or 'misses.'

Milan-based "La Premiata" (and, later, "PFM") released their debut in early 1972 and, later in the same year, this, their second album. Many consider Per un amico one of the peak achievements of RPI. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Franco Mussida / lead vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, 12-string guitar, mandocello, theorbo (?)
- Flavio Premoli / lead vocals, Hammond & Pari organs, MiniMoog, Mellotron, harpsichord, piano, spinet, tubular bells
- Mauro Pagani / flutes (contralto,piccolo), violin, backing vocals
- Giorgio Piazza / bass, backing vocals
- Franz Di Cioccio / drums, percussion, backing vocals

The opener, 1. "Appena Un Po'" (7:43) is so tight and full of surprises and twists with such wonderful balance of melody and superior musicianship, both acoustic/classical and electronic rock instrumentations, that it cannot fail to win over the new listener immediately(--as it did me). Classical guitar, flute, and harpsichord help get us started before the rock band joins in. The song structure remains complex in a kind of classical style even as the song moves into the rock domain. The vocals are delicate, soft, and beautifully arranged--are perhaps my favorite part of this song. A ROBERT FRIPP-like guitar play with mellotron, chunky bass, Michael Giles-like drumming, and haunting Arp synth solo occupy the mid-section after the first vocal presentation. A second instrumental section using a kind of carnival sound and feel then follows. By the end of the sixth minute, the vocals return and take us into a final Mellotron, organ, and synth-drenched KING CRIMSON "Court of the Crimson King" section to the end. [14.5/15]

2. "Generale" (4:18) is a romp through the sheer fun of Django-land. The fuzz guitar is a bit dated, but the high standard of musicianship throughout is enough to garner respect. (In the second section of this song, is this possibly the first "orchestra hit" as made famous years later by Trevor Horn with his Fairlight CMI?) [8.5/10]

3. "Per Un Amico" (5:23) shows off a gentler, subtler side with more constant mood and tempo streams, and with such wonderful clarity in the sound mixing, and, of course, the wonderful presence of violin and mandoloncello. This song is especially representative of the way PFM masterfully incorporates the electronics among the wonderful acoustic. [10/10]

4. "Il Banchetto" (8:39) opens with the wonderfully clear guitars, followed by the beautiful CS&N-like vocals and bass, before setting up the haunting moog solos, harp arpeggios, and background mellotron, before a Keith Emerson-like keyboard interlude. With the return of drums, Nash bass and vocal harmonies the group brings the song to a satisfying if sadly premature, end. [15/15]

5. "Geranio" (8:03) again opens with a quieter, almost medieval-then-Debussy/jazz section alternating with a Beach Boys "Pet Stories" theme, before taking us back to the twists and turns of una carnivale for a while. While the fuzzed-up bass and accompanying synth of the outgoing section get a bit annoying after the eight or twelfth measure, the album ends in a way that leaves the listener wanting so much more. [13.5/15] 

The perfect blend of complex experimental virtuosity and haunting melodic memorabilia. My only complaint is in the very low sound levels for the soft, delicate parts contrasted with the loud levels of the dynamic parts.

A very enjoyable and addictive listen even 37 years after its recording/release. So, I start it over again--until I can start adding the rest of PFM's classics (and maybe more) to my collection. My revised song-by-song rating system ("the Fish scales") yields a 9.4 out of ten average (94.61 on the Fishscales); making it a 5 star album on the Progarchives scale. I think this album is an essential asset to anyone's Prog collection.

4. AREA Crac! (1975) 

The second AREA album I'd ever heard (after Arbeit Macht Frei), there was so powerful of an impression made on me by this latter album that I failed to follow up by exploring other AREA albums for years. Luckily, I got unstuck and moved outward, into the band's other discography.
     Coming two years and one album after Arbeit (with Caution Radiation Area having been released in 1974), the growth in musicianship, studio mastery, and tightened song-writing skills is quite noticeable here. While Arbeit shocked with musical and lyrical force and brashness (it was the band's debut release), Crac! supplies proof that this band is not just a political force but that it must be looked at and respected from a musicianship perspective as well. It is an album of astounding musicianship--virtuoso performances that rival anything else the jazz or jazz fusion worlds has ever created. The amazing thing is that this album stands up perfectly even today--it sounds as if it could have been made today. I will go even farther as to say that this album exceeds my heretofore respect and reverence for all-things Mahavishnu as I think the sound engineering and overall production far surpass those of any of the Mahavishnu Orchestra albums. And the musicians and compositions are so tight! Thus, I find myself wanting to proclaim Crac! as perhaps the best jazz-rock fusion album of all-time! And drummer Giulio Capiozzo may be the best jazz-rock fusion drummer I've ever heard!

Lineup / Musicians:
- Demetrio Stratos / vocals, organ, harpsichord, percussion, steel drums
- Giampaolo Tofani / electric guitar, EMS synth, flute
- Patrizio Fariselli / electric & acoustic pianos, ARP synth, bass clarinet, percussion
- Ares Tavolazzi / electric & acoustic basses, trombone
- Giulio Capiozzo / drums, percussion

1. "L'elefante Bianco" (4:33) Demetrio's powerful voice opens the album right in your face as he and piano declare their intentions. By the end of the first minute we've apparently heard enough from Demetrio for the song catapults into a kind of jazzy version of fast-paced folk theme. At 2:30 we return to piano and voice, but this time the band gradually joins in and builds up into a modern rock variation of that amphetamine-laced folk (or is it classical?) theme. Excellent musicianship and a great opener. (9/10)

2. "La Mela Di Odessa" (6:27) opens with a kind of SUN RA-spacey-free-form-jazz sound and style, that moves quickly into a drum and percussion display before harpsichord, Arp synth and electric bass join in and move the song into structure and drive. Nice TONY WILLIAMS/MAHAVISHNU feel to this one until, after 3:10, things shift to funk land. The clavinet, synths and horns are prominent along with Demetrio's commanding vocal performance--all in spoken form. So tight! Drummer Giulio Capiozzo is extraordinary (as is Demetrio). (13.5/15)

3. "Megalopoli" (7:53) opens with some play on the Arp synthesizer before Demetrio joins in with multiple tracks of his voice free-styling. Electric piano and bass clarinet join in the atmospheric play before a drum roll takes us out and into a new funky jazz excursion with a great melodic base. Demetrio's wordless vocal scatting over the top is, at first, like a substitute for a lead guitar or sax, but then gives way to an extraordinary jam between drums, bass, electric piano, organ, and synth. The Mahavishnu Orchestra was never this tight or well recorded! Incredible drumming! Why is this guy never included in the talk of the greatest of the greats? (15/15)

4. "Nervi Scoperti (6:35) Every time I hear this song I think I am listening to one of the all-time greatest prog fusion songs ever created and that, thus, it has to be a product of Corea/RTF, Miles, Mahavishnu, Cobham, Williams, or even a straight jazz genius. But it's not. It's AREA! Astounding, stupendous, incredible, jaw-dropping performances from everybody in the band. What a band! This one deserves extra-credit for being exactly what I said: one of the very best jazz fusion songs of all-time. (11/10)

5. "Gioia E Rivoluzione (4:40) opens like a JOHN COLTRANE, TEMPTATIONS or MAGMA song before switching radically to an acoustic guitar-based, countrified jam. The lyric of Demetrio's vocal throughout is obviously meant to be the center of attention. Otherwise, it is no more than an okay pop song for delivery to the common folk. (8/10)

6. "Implosion (5:00) a little more Zawinal/Weather Report-ish than the previous jazz fusion masterpiece. More melodic and showcasing of individuals (especially the extraordinary bass player, Ares Tavolazzi). (10/10)

7. "Area 5 (2:09) an ejaculatory expression of free-form improvisational jazz. (4/5)

94.0 on the Fishscales = five stars; A-; a masterpiece of progressive rock music--mostly cutting edge jazz fusion. The amazing thing is that this album stands up perfectly even today. Amazing!

5. CERVELLO Melos (1973) 

Introducing to the world 17-year old guitar phenom, Corrado Rustici, younger brother to Osanna guitar leader, Daniele. Corrado, and the Napoli-based band in general, were obviously quite inspired by the Mahavishnu Orchestra with Corrado's guitar playing style mimicking, matching, and, at times, surpassing the speed and fire that Mahavishnu leader John McLaughlin put on display.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Antonio Spagnolo / 6 & 12 string acoustic guitar, bass, pedal, recorder, vocals
- Giulio D'Ambrosio / electric sax (contralto & tenor), flute, vocals
- Corrado Rustici / guitar, recorder, flute, vibraphone, vocals
- Gianluigi Di Franco / lead vocals, flute, small percussion
- Remigio Esposito / drums, vibraphone

1. "Canto del Capro" (6:29) opens with three minutes of weird, creepy psychedelia before establishing a fairly fast-paced psych rock song. The musicians are performing very tightly, at a very high level of competency. The dissonant flutes, guitar plucks, and reverse electric guitar over long, steady Mellotron chord progression are so fresh and creative. An odd but brilliantly inventive song. Brave youths! (9.5/10)

2. "Trittico" (7:19) opens with strong vocal sung over electric guitar arpeggi, trading the lead with flutes and vibes. Again, such an unusual and inventive foundational sound and construct! Guitar harmonics takes the lead in the third minute before vocal effects project the singers' voices to be in several places in the sound. Then, suddenly, at 3:06 the band kicks into high gear with rapid fire lead guitar licks, drum flourishes, sax, bass, and vocal stepping into the oddly-timed pace. Everything drops back into pastoral pace at 4:20--though lead guitar is playing his arpeggi at a much faster (William Tell Overture) speed. These guitarists are so talented--moving in and out of time signatures, in and out of acoustic and electric sections, in and out of strumming and picking. The song has a very odd fade-in and fade out closing of "la-la-la" drunk men's vocal chorus. Amazing song! (14/15)

3. "Euterpe" (4:32) opens with acoustic guitars and recorders before vocalist. I love the vocals of Gianluigi di Franco because they feel so common and relaxed, not forced or operatic or melodramatic. This song is John McLaughlin-inspired Corrado Rustici's breakout song--the one that lets us know just how fiery his lead style is. And yet, the fact that he has held back (or been held back) over the first 14-minutes of this very adventurous, very experimental album, just let's me know how band-oriented and non-ego driven this young man was. (9.5/10)

4. "Scinsione (T.R.M.)" (5:43) Probably the weakest song on the album, but still exploratory and innovative, not straightforward at all, it just doesn't have the beauty, surprise- or wow-factors of the previous songs. The sustained, almost-droning synth occupying the background throughout (and then climbing to the fore in the final minute) is absolutely brilliant--as is the multi-tracks of Corrado dueling with himself at the end. (9/10)

5. "Melos" (4:58) Vibes, slow acoustic guitar picking, gentle voice is soon joined by Pete Giles-like drumming, flutes to make for a gorgeous if slightly King Crimson-like song. The interplay of multiple vocalists in the second minute is cool. The two-guitar interplay that follows with singing over the top is a little awkward, but the cacophonous buildup that follows with Corrado's blistering, bluesy guitar soloing over thick mix of saxes and Mellotrons is awesome. (9.5/10)

6. "Galassia" (5:48) opens with cymbal play soon joined by distant flutes, guitar picking and voices. By the time the one minute mark arrives the soundscape had moved more forward--except for the vocals that soon ensue--which remain in the far background. Drums, guitars, flutes, even Mellotron are all forward of the voice. Vibes and electric guitar take turns soloing over the acoustic guitar pretty picking--until voice and Mellotron jump in to declare their messages. At 3:25 everything drops out for a brief vocal section before a heavy, frenetically paced instrumental section comes crashing in. This insistent, crazed weave seems to creep steadily forward even till the end. (9/10)

7. "Affresco (1:11) is an adventure into space and effects with vocal, flutes, and picked guitars weaving together over the top--the most forward presentation of sound on the album! Surprise and flawless. (4.5/5)

Eclectic, exotic, unusual, and interesting. This album is one of the best recorded and mixed albums from this classical Rock Progressivo Italiano scene--especially in the drums department. Also, all chord presentations coming from the guitars are so harmonically unusual when thrown into the rest of the melodic key structure. Truly an innovative and experimental adventure in music making.

 93.57 on the Fishscales = five stars; A; a true masterpiece of progressive rock music and one of my favorite albums from the classic period of RPI.

6. AREA Arbeit macht frei (1973) 

The world-shocking debut from this outspoken and politically-motivated band from Milano, it's as if Gil Scott-Heron and crew were amped up and amphetamines, channeling The Who's energy, yet expressing a musical dexterity and collective virtuosity to rival the Mahavishnu Orchestra! (Is that even possible?)

Line-up / Musicians:
- Demetrio Stratos / lead vocals, organ, steel drums
- Gianpaolo Tofani / lead guitar, VCS-3 synth
- Patrizio Fariselli / piano, electric piano
- Victor Edouard ('Eddie') Busnello / sax, bass clarinet, flute
- Patrick Djivas / bass, double bass
- Giulio Capiozzo / drums, percussion

1. "Luglio, Agosto, Settembre (Nero)" (4:27) 
2. "Arbeit Macht Frei" (7:56) 
3. "Consapevolezza" (6:06) 
4. "Le Labbra Del Tempo" (6:00) 
5. "240 Chilometri Da Smirne" (5:10) 
6. "L'Abbattimento Dello Zeppelin" (6:45)

Total Time: 36:24

(from my 6/12/11 review on ProgArchives:) A bona fide, certifiable masterpiece! From Italia! And not RPI in the way that RPI will come to be remembered, valued, and replicated. This is a far more abrasive, aggressive, Rock-In-Opposition kind of Jazz-Rock Fusion! 
     The mixing and recording of this album are amazingly clear and balanced for a 70s record. Though the album opens with an obviously ethnic folk-based tune, 1. "Luglio, agosto, settembre (nero)" (8/10), and the last song, 6. "L'abbattimento dello Zeppelin" (6:45) (9/10), leans heavily toward the avante garde, the center four songs, 2. "Arbeit Macht Frei" (7:56) (13.5/15), 3. "Consapevolezza " (6:06) (10/10), 4. "Le Labbra del tempo" (6:00) (9.5/10), and the ever-so smooth, 5. "240 chilometri da Smirne" (5:10) (10/10), deposit, IMHO, some of the tightest, most enjoyable jazz/ jazz-rock grooves of the 60s or 70s. All performers test the creative boundaries of their respective means of expressivity--the LEON THOMAS-like voice experimentations of Demetrio Stratos, the guitar play of Gianpaolo Tofani, woodwinds, keys, the jaw-dropping bass play of Patrick Djivas, and, especially, drumming of Giulio Capiozzo, are all "out there." The grooves laid down in "Consapevolezza" at the 1:25 and 2:15 marks are among the prettiest I've ever heard.

Having loved the vocal talents and stylings of Leon Thomas for many years, I was immediately into Demetrio Stratus's singing. Such emotion and passion! As if his soul is on fire! Without question a masterpiece of progressive music if ever there was one! The only direction of improvement needed is in the area of sound recording and reproduction (and that will come).

93.08 on the Fishscales.

Tilt (1974) 

Formed in Turino in 1974 (with ex-The Trip drummer Furio Chirico on board), the band often appeared with the Milanese band Area, having shared interests in expressing themselves through complex jazz-rock fusion. After the release of this, their debut album, the band had the privilege of touring with the likes of PFM and Gentle Giant.  

Line-up / Musicians:
- Luigi "Gigi" Venegoni / electric & acoustic guitars, ARP2600 synthesizer (8), co-producer
- Beppe Crovella / acoustic & electric pianos, ARP2600 & Eminent synths, Mellotron, Hammond organ
- Giovanni Vigliar / violin, vocals, percussion
- Arturo Vitale / soprano & baritone saxes, clarinet & bass clarinet, vibraphone
- Marco Gallesi / bass
- Furio Chirico / drums, percussion

1. "Gravità 9,81" (4:05) opens the album with an energetic burst before backing off to allow for an almost chamber strings intro. At the one minute mark everybody in the band jumps into a fully formed JEAN-LUC PONTY-sounding song of high speed, tight sequencing of high complexity, and very catchy melodic presentation with violin in the lead. At the two minute mark things break and shift to a slightly slower tempo a different structure as the bass and saxophone become more prominent. Amazing drumming throughout and nice presence of Mellotron in the background. At 3:40 we return to the violin theme of the second minute for the finale. Tight song of melodic and instrumental perfection. (9.5/10)

2. Strips (4:39) drum kit and piano and synth bass line open this before the 'tron and violin enter and the drums kick into full gear. Saxes enter later with a second melody introduced into the weave. After 90 seconds things stop and restart with vocals! Multi-voiced, gentle, even sappy--as acoustic guitars, xylophone, and Mellotron accompany in a gentler fashion than the previous section. At the three minute mark the vocals end and piano, violin, xylophone and acoustic guitar take turns with the melody in between singing sections while drums and bass support in a kind of staccato way for the final two minutes of the song. Unexpected and nice! (9/10)

3. Corrosione (1:37) opens with Mellotron strings before bass, keys, and cymbals crash in with two-stroke pattern over which roto-toms and sax. It turns out that this song is merely a bridge between "Strips" and "Positivo / Negativo" as both songs bleed into each other. A kind of three-chord experiment over which drummer gets to play and sax and keys hold down the melody and chordal structure before going into: (4.5/5)

4. "Positivo / Negativo" (3:29) opens with slow, forceful single-stroke strums of a 12-string guitar accompanied by congas. Violin, synths, cymbal play and vibraphone join in. The tempo shifts a couple of times as vibraphone takes a brief turn at lead until at 1:40 things stop, new keyboard instrument takes over the "strum" of the guitar as rest of band jumps it at breakneck speed to allow shapeshifting extravaganza of solo-turn-taking--saxes, violin, electric guitar, vibes, and then all in unison!--and this while the bass and drums are terrorizing the rhythm tracks beneath. Wow! Impressive! (9.5/10)

5. "In Cammino" (5:36) opens with some beautiful slow sax and, later, vocalise melody-making with piano and brushes providing some support. At 1:45 there is a stop as piano and electric piano provide a pretty bridge into a new section in which full band supports violin and sax dual lead melody establishment. Frequent stops, breaks, tempo and stylistic shifts follow though the busy bass, drums, and keys remain at the foundation of it all throughout. Nice electric piano and electric guitar soloing in the fifth minute. Man, this band is tight! J-RF doesn't get much better than this! (9.5/10)

6. "Farenheit" (1:15) opens as if a little piano interlude ditty, but after the first run through the piece, seconded by sax, and then full rhythm section for the third, and sax and violin for the fourth and fifth. (4.25/5)

7. "Articolazioni (13:24) opens a bit like something from PFM's Per un amico, slow and exploratory, not ready to commit to full song but willing to play around with a theme. At the one minute mark there is a pause before the band kicks into a mid-tempo, full band jazz-rock exposition with violin, sax and electric guitar providing the melody in triplicate. Music shifts behind speeded up, frenetic  drums yet slowed down bass and keys while violin, sax, and guitar take turns teaming up or independently carrying the melody forward. At 2:46 there is another break before soprano saxophone restores the melody while drums and bass provide a slow, sparse, stoccato accompaniment. At 3:17 a cool drum roll across the toms signals a new full-on dynamic commitment, but this is short-lived as a lot of shifts and transition/transformations occur before a slightly more straightforward (Brian Auger-like) singing section begins by the end of the fourth minute. Cool tension in the transition at the 5:00 mark and thereafter--a kind of preview of BRUFORD/UK-ishness. Speaking of which, man is this drummer amazing! soft and loud, subtle and intricate, fills and cymbal work that have blinding speed, and always in command as the staunch time-keeper. Very cool instrumental sections broken up by brief vocal sections play out with lots of vibes, 'tron, violin and sax in the lead. One neat thing about this band seems to be that the lead instrument is always propelling the songs' melodies with very detailed, intricate, and often-doubled up melody lines and that the actual "solos" are actually very few and brief. At 10:30 there is a big downshift in both tempo, delicacy, and mood with vibes and violin establishing the melody while drums do all kinds of wildly impressive subtleties before sensitive singing enters. At l1:45 band amps up for the full exposition of the current melody before 'tron and flanged strummed electric guitar guide us into a kind of GENESIS "As Sure as Eggs Is Eggs" finale. Great song with dazzling but never over-the-top or overwhelming complexity, constant beauty in the melodies. (24/25)

8. "Tilt" (2:29) an exercise/étude in synthesizer weirdness--including special effects being applied to saxophones and violin. Not exactly melodic or very memorable, it is a fitting representative of the infatuations that new technologies must have been causing adventurous musicians in the early 1970s. (4/5)

Total Time 36:34

How is this album, this band not as famous and talked about as other Italian prog from the mid-70s? The instrumental prowess, mature songwriting, broad dynamics, and great production here is to my mind on par with PFM, Banco, and Cervello and even AREA! Prog of ANY era does not get better than this--especially in the fact that acoustic and folk elements are worked in and there were no computers! Where are people finding the deficiencies or inadequacies! Not in melody. Not in sophistication. Not in sound quality. Is it in the seeming lack of originality? (I read all the comparisons to Mahvishnu and Jean-Luc Ponty.) Break out albums happen. The fact that they emulated--that they inspire other musicians to create in a similar style--should be rewarded not penalized! To strive to be the best--to go through doors that other geniuses have opened--should be lauded and encouraged, not denigrated and discouraged! They may even end up refining something to make it even better! But it could never happen if they are discouraged from trying. I have no hesitation calling this album a masterpiece of progressive rock music--composition and performances of the absolute highest caliber---and, best of all, very accessible/engaging and enjoyable (as opposed to some of the obtuse and jarring music made by Mahvishnu, Miles, and even Yes. Check this album out everybody! It's a work of genius, passion, and inspiration from start to finish. It should be heralded as one of the shining pieces of 1970s progressive rock music--not just RPI or jazz-rock fusion.

92.81 on the Fishscales = A/five stars; a true masterpiece of jazz-rock fusion from the classic era of Rock Progressivo Italiano.

8. MAXOPHONE Maxophone (1975) 

Formed in Milano in 1973 as a six-piece, the band was into experimentation with a wide variety of instruments, sounds, and textures from their very beginnings. Their one and only album release was sadly a little too late to find an audience as the Italian progressive rock scene was already on its way out.  

Line-up / Musicians:
- Alberto Ravasini / lead vocals, bass, acoustic guitar, recorder
- Roberto Giuliani / electric guitars, piano, backing vocals
- Sergio Lattuada / piano, electric piano, organ, backing vocals
- Maurizio Bianchini / horn, trumpet, percussion, vibraphone, backing vocals
- Leonardo Schiavone / clarinet, flute, alto & tenor saxes
- Sandro Lorenzetti / drums
- Tiziana Botticini / harp
- Eleonora de Rossi / violin
- Susannna Pedrazzini / violin
- Giovanna Correnti / cello
- Paolo Rizzi / double bass

1. "C'è Un Paese Al Mondo" (6:39) opens with a dynamically diverse piano-based song that has what seems to be an entire orchestra making contributions and with Alberto Ravasini's pleasant, husky voice in the lead vocal position. I really like the inputs of the woodwinds and brass. It's not really until the 4:40 mark when this song really declares itself a 'rock' song with full rock band lineup and searing electric guitar lead. The choral vocal arrangements in the final minute are nice. (9/10)  

2. "Fase" (7:04) opens with an almost hard rock sound as lead electric guitar, electric bass, and drum kit churn up some. Around 45 seconds in the keyboards finally enter--first clavinet, then electric piano and two different organs. Saxes and a wide variety of keyboard/organ sounds permeate the first half of the song--none lasting more than a few measures (it seems) until things slow down and get soft for a 40 second vibraphone solo. The music amps up into near-hard rock territory again (similar to KC's 21st Century Schizoid Man"--which always leaves me asking, "Was that hard rock or soft rock?") before solo horn and wind instruments again their two-cents to the maintenance of the lead melody. Guitars go acoustic in the beginning of the sixth minute as horn section and flute give me a kind of Canterbury/PIZZIO DAL POZZO-NATIONAL HEALTH feel. Me like! (13.5/15)

3. "Al Mancato Compleanno Di Una Farfalla" (5:52) opens with a classical guitar soloing for the first 45 seconds before flutes and, a little later, piano join in. Then at 1:20 everybody drops out to make room for a softly picked electric guitar and nice choral-presented vocal. It appears that the chorus is alternatively sang by lead vocalist with harmonizing background vocalists while the verses are sung collectively as a chorus. Interesting! Then, at 3:40, organ, electric bass and drums announce a harder, electrified section--over which Alberto's lead vocal gets quite aggressive. Great power here! I am so intrigued by the multiplicity and fluidity of keyboard choices through out this band's song play. At 5:35 things quite down for an soft little electric guitar outro. (10/10)

4. "Elzeviro" (6:47) opens with church organ and Alberto singing solo. It feels aggressive but unravels fairly evenly despite the increasingly menacing chord progressions used by the organ. At 1:35 the rest of the band begins their entrance--which breaks out in quite a nice, somewhat jazz-rock form. This could be BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS, ELP and GENESIS! Great section! At 3:30 lone piano hits signal the commencement of a piano-based instrumental section over which another searing guitar solo is blasted. Then at 4:05 things soften quite a bit with a beautiful choral vocal section. At 4:50 organ, horns and Alberto take center stage again. At 5:38 the rock band smoothly re-enters but this time the RENAISSANCE-like jam beautifully incorporates the contributions of all kinds of orchestral instruments to the end. Awesome song! (13.5/15)

5. "Mercanti Di Pazzie" (5:21) opens with a harp solo! When Alberto's voice enters at the 0:40 mark it is soft and high pitched. He is joined by his amazing companions of voices off and on over the next minute until a kind of classical section with vibraphone and electric bass take over. Eventually, by the 2:11 mark, they establish a new foundation over which a more rock-sounding choral sings. But then, just before the three minute mark the music returns to the section we opened with. I adore these gorgeous melodies and harmonies! A very delicate picked electric guitar section ends the fifth minute before shifting into a hypnotic, aqueous section of instrumental beauty (like the end section of PETER GABRIEL's "Humdrum")--which then plays out to the end. My favorite song on the album. (10/10)

6. "Antiche Conclusioni Negre" (8:54) opens in full band-with-orchestra form (not unlike the album's opener) with a very jovial, uptempo melody before shifting into a more Broadway-like horn-led section. It has the feel of an overture--a review of themes. When it calms down around the 1:45 mark it feels like a PFM moment. Piano-based, alternating chorus and solo lead vocals, the song is pretty. The mid-section is back to more of the uptempo sections with sax and guitar soli. 
     At 6:40 everything stops and a solo church organ rises to the fore before a low-register vocal choir sings what could be an anthemic or intentionally significant section to the song's close. Great song; kind of three in one. (18/20)

This is an album of very melodic and beautiful music, at times quite complex, especially in the vocal arrangements and support from the orchestral instruments. As always, I think these songs would mean much more to me if I knew Italian--especially in terms of how the music was created to match/support the lyrical messages. But, in terms of sound, composition, ability and performance, this deserves a place among the classics. 

92.50 on the Fishscales = five stars; A; a masterpiece of progressive rock music--Italian or otherwise.

9. IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA Contaminazione (1973) 

Formed in Rome at the end of 1970, their first great success was at Viareggio Pop festival in 1971, propelling them to become one of the most popular live bands in Italy during the early 70's. After two hard rock-oriented albums, the band added a second new member from Pescara, keyboard artist Franco Di Sabbatino, who had previously played briefly with Il Paese dei Balocchi, and also enlisted the support of Argentinian composer Luis Enriquez Bacalov, who had previously worked with both Osanna and New Trolls, thus softening the band's sound and giving them a more symphonic flavor.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Pino Ballarini /vocals, percussion
- Enzo Vita / guitars
- Franco Di Sabbatino / keyboards, Hammond B, harmonium, synths (Eminent, VCS, ARP, Moog)
- Stefano Urso / bass
- Gino Campoli / drums
- Luis Enriquez Bacalov / orchestral arrangements, director & producer

1. "Absent For This Consumed World" (1:05) awesome atmospheric opener of synths and strings and cymbals (5/5)

2. "Ora Non Ricordo Piu" (1:47) opens with  and fast lead synth arppegi over GENESIS/New Age-like synth wash. Beautiful male voice announces something in a plaintive voice. (5/5)

3. "Il Suono Del Silenzio" (5:16) exposes the full rock sound of the band for the first time even though there are some very classically organized and constructed sections within this multi-movement song. Very tight, competent instrumental cohesion. The choral choice for vocal exposition is good though it makes the song feel kind of rock-opera-ish. (9/10)

4. "Mi Sono Svegliato E... Ho Chiuso Gli Occhi" (4:19) opens with organ and strings as if from a famous Vivaldi, Bach or even Mozart composition. Vocals enter and the song builds all the while maintaining its largo foundation in sparsely arranged classical music. (10/10)

5. "Lei Sei Tu: Lei" (2:04) using harpsichord and orchestra with the rock band rhythm section lends this song a very time-representative sound. Little vocals, presented in the choral form again. (4.5/5)

6. "La Mia Musica" (4:10) opens with electric piano played classical-style (as if practicing before one's piano teacher) before the music falls away leaving a very sparsely instrument-and-space-supported foundation for a very delicate, soft solo vocal. At the two-minute mark an full church organ takes over as the foundational instrument where it is eventually joined by voice(s), rock band, and orchestral strings. The first (and only) orchestral arrangement on the album that is a bit 'cheesy.' (8/10)

7. "Johann" (1:23) uses solo electric guitar to create a finger-picked in a kind of country-classical way chordal foundation for a vocal as if from a haunted individual. (4.5/5)

8. "Scotland Machine" (3:06) returns to full rock format--though with all electronic instrumentalists performing as if in a classical composition. By the second half of the second minute the song climbs into drive with rolicking, melodic ride forward. Probably my favorite rock-oriented song on the album. (9.5/10)

9. "Cella 503" (3:18) an astonishingly perfect blend of rock'n'roll and orchestration--here used in an amazing call and response arrangement! Opening with awesome classical guitars (three tracks!), moving into harpsichord, horns, strings with drum-and-bass-supported synthesizer as its alternate. The organ and harpsichord work beneath the electric instruments is awesome and the pipe organ solo at the end of the song is great! Amazing song! (10/10)

10. "Contaminazione 1760" (1:04) is an astonishing display of woodwind (and synth?) skills and possibilities (5/5)

11. "Alzo Un Muro Elettrico" (2:55) is a straight-forward hard rock song in the RARE EARTH vein of dynamics and sound. If there is a weakness in the music present on this album it may be in the vocals. Not so much the lead but the choral voices are recorded rather poorly throughout the album.       Two interjections of classical instrumentation occur here, one a brief quartet-like interlude in the middle and the other being the joinder of organ for the final minute. (8/10)

12. "Sweet Suite" (2:17) is a slowed down, sparsely filled instrumental similar to a couple of the earlier songs on the album, using organ as the primary foundation and lead electric jazz guitar for the melody-maker. (4/5)

13. La Grande Fuga (3:42) pits organ and harpsichord against synthesizers while both orchestra and rock band play in support beneath. The best rock riff on the album lays the foundation for the song while familiar classical (Bach?) themes play over the top from a wide variety of soloists. (10/10)

Though RSV employed the same Argentinian composer/conductor that NEW TROLLS had used for their 1971 Concerto Grosso, I have to agree with many of my predecessors that the arrangements, integration, and recorded sounds of the orchestral inputs here are far, far superior to those on Concerto Grosso. These fit within and do not feel cheezy, diluted or soundtrack-like as do the ones in New Trolls' Concerto Grosso.

A brilliant and skillful merging of classical and rock traditions is here used to present a story of the life of Johann Sebastian Bach. The full title of this album is "CONTAMINAZIONE di alcune idee di certi preludi e fughe de 'Il Clavicembalo ben temprato' di J. S. Bach." Hearing the album makes it obvious how much Il Rovescio della Medaglia was inspired by J.S. Bach life and music.

92.50 on the Fishscales = five stars; A; a rare and gleaming achievement of rock and classical orchestration--as well as a great story foundation. In my opinion, this is one of the peak achievements of the classic RPI scene.

10. FRANCO BATTIATO Sulle corde di Aries (1973) 

Originally from Sicily, Francesco Battiato worked from the rich music scene in Milano from 1965 on, starting as a Beat music singles artist before attaching himself to the new progressive scene (due to his acquisition of and fascination with the VCS3, a portable analog synthesizer). This is his third album release after the highly-regarded Pollution which was released earlier in the same year.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Franco Battiato / lead vocals, VCS 3, guitar, piano, calimba
- Gianni Mocchetti / guitars, mandola, vocals
- Gianfranco D'Adda / percussion
- Gianni Bedori / tenor sax (2)
- Jane Robertson / violoncello (3)
- Daniele Cavallanti / clarinet, soprano sax (3)
- Gaetano Galli / oboe (4)
- Rossella Conz / soprano (1)
- Jutta Nienhaus / recitative vocals (3), soprano (1, 4)

1. "Sequenze e frequenze" (16:23) Side One's side-long suite opens with chaotic cacophony of female voices, reed instruments, and sustained volume-pedal-controlled electric guitar chords and notes. In the second half of the second minute this evolves into a synthesizers over a droning note. AT 2:24 a male voice enters singing in a style familiar to me from Roman Catholic High Masses. Beneath the singer the synthesizers begin to shift and evolve their weave. At the four-minute mark percussion, mandola, and synthesizers continue the weave at a fairly quick pace. Though the music feels ethereal and serpentine, it also exudes a kind of ecstatic joy. At the end of the seventh minute the drone has become chopped up like a helicopter's rotors in motion while c(k)alimba and what sounds like an organ and sax play at a loose weave. Quite mesmerizing. And beautiful. The pace seems to quicken--almost like the dance of the Sufi whirling dervishes--as we reach the two-thirds mark before it starts to fade out--all but the chopper drone. A harmonium-like sound adds itself and is then joined by tuned bells (miniature piano? small xylophone?) and calimba [sic] to form a new weave--which also builds to a crescendo of volume and frenzy over the final four minutes before finally fading away in the last minute, leaving only the tuned hand percussives playing. Amazing song of invocation and worship. (29/30)

2. "Aries" (5:27) opens with the slow emergence of a single sustained, pulsating, flute-like synthesizer note. Eventually a kind of sequenced set of synth arpeggi support this before every fallls away at the 1:30 mark to allow the entrance of African hand drums, guitar arpeggi and strums and volume pedal-controlled electric guitar notes before echo-chamber-treated "la-la-la-la" vocals enter. After these cease, a wailing saxophone leads the band into an orgiastic climax. Nice celebratory song for members of the Age of Aquarius. (9/10)

3. "Aria di rivoluzione" (5:03) opens with heavily effected guitar and rapid-echo-treated solo voice. The vocal sounds almost sacred, ritualistic, perhaps from some Arabic tradition (though it is sung in Italian). The recorded talking voice of a woman speaking in German (Jutta Nienhaus) is interjected in the place of the choruses while being accompanied by violoncello. Nice little contemplative soli occur in the "C" instrumental part over hand percussives, first from volume-pedal-controlled electric guitar and synth horn, then from several high pitched reed horns, to the song's end. It would probably mean more to me if I knew what the German recitation meant. (8.5/10)

4. "Da Oriente a Occidente" (6:38) opens like an sing-a-long in an Indian ashram with folk instruments supporting multiple loosely-aligned male vocalists, but then it turns into a kind of "everybody grab an instrument" jam session (only the instrumentalists are all well-trained musicians). Awesomely hypnotic! (9/10)

A very cool spacey, folk (or religious) psychedelia--the music a man would make if he were celebrating and supporting a kind of New Age spiritual transformation that he was going through.

92.50 on the Fishscales = five stars; A-; a masterpiece of progressive rock music (though I'm not sure this fits in with the more typical RPI sounds).

11. IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI Il Paese dei Balocchi (1972)

From Rome, the quartet got together in 1971, released their one and only symphonic-oriented album in 1972, went through a couple line-up experiments, and then called it quits in 1974.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Fabio Fabiani / guitar
- Armando Paone / organ, vocals
- Marcello Martorelli / bass
- Sanaro Laudadio / drums, vocals
- Claudio Gizzi / string arranger & conductor

1. "Il trionfo dell'egoismo, della violenza, della presunazione e dell'infifferenza" (2:34) opening with a big, rolling, full band rock rondo, the music suddenly and quite drastically shifts at the 0:45 second mark into an entirely orchestral version/variation on the opening until at 2:20 it shifts into a finishing cushion of soft beauty. (9.25/10)

2. "Impotenza dell'umiltà della rassegnazione" (4:09) opens with gentle, spacious MIKE OLDFIELD sounding pastoral play from guitar and background Gregorian chant-like voices. At 1:50 the voices increase and the full rock band join in to support the Gregorian melody. At 2:30 everything quiets again before loud church organ and amped up voices establish a more rock orientation, which then evolves into a busting out of a full-on San Francisco-like blues-rock jam for the final minute. (9/10)

3. "Canzone della speranza" (3:55) gently picked acoustic guitar with more choral-like voices establish a pretty yet-sad structure before it all switches to a string quartet-supported vocal section around the one minute mark. The strings and lone male vocal are really pulling on heartstrings! Organ joins in for the final minute, otherwise, this is a gorgeous chamber piece. (9.5/10)

4. "Evasione" (7:40) opens with very spacious gently picked electric guitar with some water-like synth or percussion occasionally peeking in. After 90 seconds some more percussion and rock instruments take turns jumping in for short bursts of emphasis until, finally, at 2:43 a fully developed five-part song emerges with a slow, very engaging pop/R&B-feeling melody leading the way. This continues for two long but very satisfying minutes before more incidental instruments are intermittently inserted and then as quickly faded out. At 5:47 everything fades away until a volume-organ enters and is eventually joined by soloing electric guitar with support of rhythm section of cymbal-crashing drums, bass, and, later, two different sets of choral background voices. Cool but mystifying song. (14/15)

5. "Risveglio e visione del paese dei balocchi" (4:40) opens with a solo oboe (or cor anglais) playing a plaintive dirge. Gentle and sparsely orchestrated strings and winds enter in gentle support in the second minute. At the end of the second minute the orchestral instruments fade and are supplanted by organ, bass, and percussives for a minute or so before a volume-oscillating keyboard and organ take over and finish the song with some choral voices in background support. Nice, sensitive, song of interesting and beautiful subtleties. (9.25/10)

6. "Ingresso e incontro con i Baloccanti" (2:00) A KING CRIMSON-like étude in sound possibilities and instrument and time variations and combinations. Breaks and ends with 
a church-like vocal solo. (4.5/5)

7. "Canzone della verità" (0:45) is a short Pachelbel-like orchestra strings rondo. (5/5) 

8. "Narcisismo della perfezione" (1:01) Brief plaintive folk song with beautiful male vocal supported by picked electric guitar and occasional strums from an acoustic steel-string guitar. (4.25/5)

9. "Verità dell'intuizione fantastica (6:56) opens with distant swirling organ accompanied by bass and gentle drum & cymbal play creating a circular melody which has very slowly increasing volume and tempo over the course of the first 1:10. Things then soften and slow back down as organ fades further into the background while repeating electric guitar arpeggio and bass take over filling the foreground. At 2:15 a kind of Peter Gunn riff from the electric guitar opens up a new section as bass, drums and percussion pick up the pace. At the three minute mark everything suddenly shifts into a very tightly-performed weave. Eventually the swirling organ returns and begins to alternately throw flames and buckets of water upon the song. Then, at 4:10, rather abruptly, the song stops and again shifts into another protracted display of full band discipline and cohesion as they repeat over an over the same motif for several bars before they are eventually joined by a subdued BRAINTICKET-like organ. Even still, over the final minute nothing new is added to this highly disciplined repetition of this short motif. Interesting! Never annoying, just ... unexpected. (13/15)

10. "Ritorno alla condizione umana (4:18) a dynamic and often frenzied solo on the church organ. Very cool! (10/10)

Total Time: 44:43

Bonus song: "Hidden song" or "Fantasia e poesia" (3:34) an Italian variation on the "Whiter Shade of Pale" blues-rock sound with more traditional folkie Italian lead vocal. 

92.37 on the Fishscales = A/five stars; a masterpiece of classically-oriented Rock Progressivo Italiano--one that achieves that rare event in its masterful blending of rock and orchestral instruments.

12. ROCKY's FILJ Storie di uomini e non (1973)

With three of the band members originally coming from Parma, and lead singer Rocky Rossi from Vicenza, the band gained a recording contract from the prestigious label Dischi Ricordi after a successful tour as the opening act for Banco Della Mutuo Soccorso. This, their one and only album, was successful but the band ran into hard times, lost momentum and broke up when one of its members was jailed soon after the album was released. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Rocky Rossi / vocals, alto & baritone saxes, clarinet
- Roby Grablovitz / electric guitar, flute
- Luigi Ventura / bass, trombone
- Rubino Colasante / drums, double-bass

1. "L'Ultima Spiaggia" (13:15) jumps out to a fast, though stop-and-go, start with electric guitar and saxophone playing lead over the very busy, driving rhythm section. At 1:15 things slow down--check that, the bottom drops out--and we're left with a very spacious section of several individual inputs: mainly clarinet, double bass, flute, and trombone. Very cool; very classical sounding. The music then transitions into a nice, slow section of beautifully picked electric guitar and busy electric bass over which vocalist Rocky Rossi unleashes some very dynamic singing. At 4:40 we shift back into the more classical-yet-this time jazzier section, keeping the electric guitar and electric bass. Eventually the drums and sax and electric guitar join the bass in not one but two little sections of interesting Crimsonian RPI. The sax play in the second half of the seventh minute is almost that of a rhaita (Morrocan oboe). At 7:15 there is yet another shift, this time into a groovy jazz section in which bass and electric guitar get busy running all over their respective fretboards while drummer Rubino Colasante keeps a solid time. At 8:38 another shift into a rapid speed CHICAGO-like section with saxes and guitars trading aggressive ejaculations with singer Rossi. Long sax solo is finally coerced into a slowdown section with bass keeping the song going as Rocky sings his heart out over the top. Very theatric vocal performance--here with an aggressive whisper voice doubling him up. Sax joins in until 11:30 when distorted rhythm guitar strums bridge into a kind of circus tent of disorganized sound before a chord hit allows a brief drum solo which the whole band then joins for the rock ending. Pretty amazing and complex composition! (28/30)

2. "Il Soldato" (6:17) Starts out quite slow with gently picked and strummed electric guitar over which Rocky's distorted voice sings plaintively. Bowed double bass joins in making it a trio before the end of the first verse and is then joined by trombone in the second. Instrumental passage following the second verse features a complex, polyrhythmic weave of all three of these instruments with Rocky's alto sax. Quite lovely! The bowed bass and sax really have the lead as trombone fades out. Then we are left with only the double bass and beautifully picked electric guitar: Roby Grablovitz truly excels at this unusual skill! Rocky's treated voice returns with the guitar, bowed bass and trombone for another verse and then finally a chorus to end the song. Beautiful! And so unique and distinctive! (10/10)

3. "E" (3:57) opens with full band in full swing with electric guitar and sax presenting the rather complicated and fast-moving melody line over bass and drums. Sax gets a little more space and freedom to go off on his own over the first half of the song but then the guitar drops an octave and gets dirtier, louder, before switching to an awesome rhythm section in support of a sax solo. The rhythm section is so tight and the sax really good but this guitarist is mesmerizing! Great jazz-rock song with really tight band cohesion yet not as melodic as I'd like. (9/10)

4. "Io Robot" (7:41) clarinet and bowed double bass open this one and are rapidly joined by delicately picked and strummed jazz guitar and electric bass before singer Rocky Rossi enters with a powerful singing performance. Late in the second minute Rocky finishes and the band shifts into third gear with some really nice chord and melodic play before shifting again into a quick-time bass-led backed-off drums section in which sax solos wildly, testing the effects that can be made with breath. Roby drops his nicely strummed rhythm guitar in order to step in with some quite dynamic flute play before the band shifts into a bridge of crazed sound-making signalling a shift back to the quick-time bass and backed-off drum motif. This doesn't last long as electric guitar picking and cymbal play make room for Rocky to play some sax with a series of long held notes. Quite beautiful! Drums pick it up a bit as Rocky continues this remarkable display of breath capacity ... to the song's end. (14/15)

5. "Martino" (5:41) another song in which the band jumps in whole-hog into a fast-paced jazz-rock instrumental. A minute into the song everybody slows down into a kind of New Orleans funeral march--but this doesn't last long as the band recoups and burst down a side street so that Rocky can let loose with his powerful singing. 
     What I find interesting is that by this point in the album I find myself getting a little bored or inured of the sound made by this band. There is a lot of repetition of form and sound and a lot of short shifts with sudden turns and not quite enough interesting melody for my tastes. Very skilled musicians with some nice creative ideas (that they can pull off!) but not always the most "pleasing" music to listen to. 
     The chord and melodic structures of the second half of the song are more accessible and engaging than the first, which is nice. (9.25/10)

Total Time: 36:51

Great sound, remarkable sound engineering (for the time), and wonderful whole band musicianship--even on multiple instruments--by each individual band member! A real surprise and gem of a find!

93.66 on the Fishscales = A/five stars; a masterpiece of dynamic and highly skilled jazz-rock fusion.

13. BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO Io sono nato libero (1973) 

The Roman band's third album release within an 18 month time span.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Francesco Di Giacomo / lead vocals
- Marcello Todaro / electric & acoustic guitars
- Gianni Nocenzi / electric & acoustic pianos
- Vittorio Nocenzi / organ, spinet, synths
- Renato D'Angelo / bass, acoustic guitar
- Pier Luigi Calderoni / drums, percussion
- Rodolfo Maltese / acoustic & electric guitars
- Silvana Aliotta / percussion
- Bruno Perosa / percussion

The opener, 1. "Canto nomade per un prigionierio politico" (15:50) is my favorite song here--though I can see why some have commented that the successive sections of the song seem somehow disjointed or that they lack comprehensible flow. I love the 'Indian' percussion and acoustic guitar parts. My only dislike is the kit drumming. I am told that this is a very, very important song to Italians and their recent history. (30/30)

3. "La città Sottile" (7:18) is exquisite: such emotional construction, pacing and soloing; such a tight rhythm section playing the music of this shifting, jazzy, quirky, surreal song, such amazing clarity and definition in its recording. (15/15)

4. "Dopo ... niente e più lo stesso" (9:55), though anthemic, feels like a twelve cylinder Rolls Royce engine running on eleven; the flaws are almost imperceptible yet somehow, collectively they add up to disappointment--inexplicably lacking some of the magic and awe of the previous three songs. (16/20)

5. "Traccia II" (2:39) is a pretty little Wakeman-like keyboard-led instrumental which serves as the album's outro. What fun it would have been to have developed this a little more. (4/5) 

(From my 8/8/2011 PA review:) I've been listening to this for a while, trying to really get to know this 'classic'--as well as a core insight into the whole RPI sub-genre. The study has been immensely rewarding. First of all, I want to point out that "Io son nato libero" is incredibly well engineered, recorded, and mixed for 1973. Except for the vocals and drums. Everyone raves about Banco's keyboards, drums, or Francesco di Giacomo's voice but for me it is the acoustic guitars and hand percussion work that draws me back again and again. I actually find the drum kit and voice the weakest elements of this album--though 'weak' here is still stronger than 95 per cent of the other groups out there--and the 'weakness' I feel may be as much in the recording as in the performances. Francesco's vocals sometimes seem a bit forced--especially the high notes. The laid-back scatting in 2. "Non mi rompete" (9/10) is beauty perfection. (Does anyone else detect the pleasant JOHN DENVER similarity to Francesco's voice and singing style?) The drumming just feels, at times, as if he's struggling to stay with the rest of the group--sometimes ever-so slightly ahead, sometimes slightly behind. The keys--both acoustic and electronic--are as incredible as everyone says. (How cool that it's two brothers who play with and off of each other!)

91.42 on the Fish scales = 5 stars; without a doubt a masterpiece of recorded music--performance, composition and production. Every bit deserving of its high ranking on ProgArchives.

14. PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI L'isola di niente (1974) 

The Milanese band's fourth studio album and last one using Italian lyrics and singers.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Franco Mussida / guitars, lead vocals
- Flavio Premoli / keyboards, lead vocals
- Mauro Pagani / violin, flute, vocals
- Jan Patrick Djivas / bass, vocals
- Franz Di Cioccio / drums, percussion, vocals
- Accademia Paolina Da Milano / chorus
- Claudio Fabi / choir conductor, co-arranger & co-producer

1. "L'Isola di Niente" (10:42) is one of the most unique songs in progressive rock. A true masterpiece. (20/20)

2. "Is My Face On Straight" (6:38) is the band's first attempt at singing in English. Very nice to the 1:30 mark where a very NEKTAR-sounding section begins. At 3:35 it becomes more like URIAH HEEP. Instrumental section of soli is then followed by an awesome FOCUS-like accordian piece to end. (13.5/15)

3. "La Luna Nuova" (6:21) begins with a very GRYPHON/JETHRO TULL flavor. At the 2:27 mark the second theme is presented until it is supplanted by a soft piano and mellotron-backed vocal. The 3:40 mark sees the start of a very YES "THE Yes Album" "Yours Is No Disgrace" sound which is then taken over by a more WAKEMAN-ish theme before the 5:05 return to "theme 2", which is then speeded up till the finale of a low horn. (9/10)

4. "Dolcissima Maria" (4:01) is a folksy CROSBY, STILL, AND NASH-plus-violin-sounding piece which takes on much more of a pop feel when the drums join in at the 3:05 mark. (8/10)

5. "Via Lumiere" (7:21) begins with a one minute bass solo a la JACO PASTORIUS before the slow RTF/CHICK COREA sounds take over. The 4:00 minute mark sees a shift to a more FOCUS/JOE WALSH sound. From 4:55 on it shifts to more FOCUS/GENESIS. (13.5/15)

Total Time: 35:29

Power, passion and grace--if surprisingly poor in sound quality.

(PA review from 9/21/2010:) An amazing album which demonstrates the virtuosity of all of the band's intstrumentalists. It also shows the band being influence by the Jazz Fusion and YES world quite a bit. My only criticism of this album is that it's recording/engineering quality definitely shows its age. 

My second favorite PFM album--and one which shows the band's growth both as instrumental masters and daring, adventurous composers. 

91.42 on the Fish scales = A-/five stars. Despite it's 1970s typical short length, and one weak, 'poppy' song, this is a true masterpiece of progressive rock music. 

15. ALPHATAURUS Alphataurus

Born in Milan in 1970, after a couple of years of success on the summer music festival circuit, NEW TROLLS' Vittorio De Scalzi offered the band a recording contract for his new label, Magma, the result of which was this sole album of theirs. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Michele Bavaro / vocals
- Guido Wasserman / guitar
- Pietro Pellegrini / piano, organ, Moog, vibraphone, Spinet
- Alfonso Oliva / bass
- Giorgio Santandrea / drums, timpani, congas

1. "Peccato d'orgoglio" (12:26) a wonderful song with lots of power and emotion and beautiful melodies, without a bad section in its long construction. (23.5/25)

2. "Dopo l'uragano" (5:06) I'm not quite sure where the band was going with this one. Led Zeppelin? (8/10)

3. "Croma" (3:17) is an instrumental that opens with harpsichord sounding keys, chunky bass and surprisingly quiet drums. In the second minute a second theme is introduced for a brief time before going back to the opening theme. Buy the end of the second minute we are fully committed to a full blown version of the opening theme. Nicely done in a kind of traditional classical music construction. (9/10)

4. "La mente vola" (9:21) I really like the tight rhythm section and foundational construct to this one. Almost Tangerine Dream-ish but truly rock'n'roll. The song builds in the third minute, with synths soloing over the opening foundation. At 3:25 everything shifts into more of a four-chord blues-rock ballad format--just before the vocals enter--doubled up by the same singer. The melody is okay, the song foundation is not as catchy or mesmerizing as the opening section. Synth and vibes soli are interspersed between the vocal verses and chorus. The descending chord progression used for the verse section reminds me of the awesome and climactic music from Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Gesthemene" from Jesus Christ Superstar. I love the first section, am not blown away by the second. (17/20)

5. "Ombra muta" (9:44) feels like a powerful URIAH HEEP song. Great song composition and instrumental and vocal performances throughout--especially the multiple keyboards. Also, incredible rendering of all of the instruments in the engineering mix: so clear and defined and yet cohesive. Even the wild and psychedelic final three minutes. I like that the tension is not fully resolved in the end. It seems fitting.
     The best song on the album. (20/20)

URIAH HEEP made Italian! In a good way!

91.18 on the Fishscales = five stars; A-; a masterpiece of classic and true progressive rock music.

16. CELESTE Principe di un giorno (1976) 

Another band from small Italian Riviera town of Sanremo, their sound was picked up and produced for their one and only album by local music label Grog, owned by the De Scalzi brothers (Vittorio, from NEW TROLLS, and ALDO, from PICCHIO DAL POZZO).

Line-up / Musicians:
- Mariano Schiavolini / guitar, violin, vocals (3) & backing vocals
- Leonardo Lagorio / acoustic & electric piano, flute, alto & tenor sax, spinet, Mellotron, Eminent & ARP Odyssey/2600 synths, backing vocals
- Giorgio Battaglia / bass, bass pedals, electric (7) & steel (1) guitars, xylophone, backing vocals
- Ciro Perrino / percussion, flute, recorder, Mellotron, xylophone, vocals & backing vocals
- Aldo De Scalzi / vocals (3), "plop" cheek-percussion" effect (7)

1. "Principe Di Giorno" (6:12) (9/10)

2. "Favole Antiche" (8:18) (20/20)

3. "Eftus" (4:17) (8.5/10)

4. "Giochi Nella Notte" (8:11) (13.5/15)

5. "La Grande Isola" (5:04) (9/10)

6. "La Danza Del Fato" (3:56) (9.5/10)

7. "L'imbroglio" (1:06) (4.25/5)

Pastoral, bucolic, delicate, beautiful. And almost no drums! Delicate, ephemeral weaves of acoustic guitars, bass, piano, woodwinds (especially flutes--multiple tracks!), violins, and tuned percussion, all set against or accompanied by copious amounts of Mellotron and then coupled with the gentle male vocals of composer Ciro Perrino set within the music and sung in the band's native tongue, Italian, make for some absolutely gorgeous music.
      Celeste came onto the scene with this, a concept album of gentle, pastoral music in which there is a minimum input of percussion instruments. As noted by other reviewers, the similarities to Québeçois band HARMONIUM's album of the same year, Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison, are strong, but just as strong are the influences of countrymates PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI's early albums--especially in the intricate multi-instrument weaves--as well as the softer side of GENESIS's Trespass, and even King Crimson's first two albums (in the style of the use of the Mellotron). The key words here are "delicacy" and "pastoral." There is very little heaviness or barely any "rock" here. The band uses beautiful, intricately constructed instrumental weaves to try to re-construct a beautiful day in the countryside.
     I love this album. I count it as one of the masterpiece gems of the late classical period of prog. Every song is its own gem among the king's riches, but the whole, listened to start-to-finish, is a wonderful excuse for nostalgic daydreaming. IMHO, one can never do enough daydreaming.

90.71 on the Fishscales = five stars; A-; a masterpiece of pastoral progressive rock music.

17. GOBLIN Roller (1976)

Goblin becomes Goblin instead of Cherry Five (or Oliver).

Line-up / Musicians:
- Massimo Morante / guitars
- Fabio Pignatelli / basses
- Claudio Simonetti / organ, piano, Hohner clavinet, Moog, Logan & Elka string synthesizers
- Maurizio Guarini / Fender Rhodes piano, Hohner pianet, Moog, clarinet, piano
- Agostino Marangolo / drums, percussion 

1. "Roller" (4:38) opens sounding quite a bit like the "Main Theme" the Profundo Rossi soundtrack only a little more densely constructed like a rock instrumental but using the same instruments (bass a little chunkier, synths a little more advanced). Very similar melodic theme. (9/10)

2. "Aquaman" (5:22) again, cinematic accompaniment is the feeling projected from this slow developing, pensive instrumental. All instruments contribute in an individualistic, intermittent capacity until the 2:50 mark when drums and bass kick into a rhythm track supporting a bluesy electric guitar solo. At 3:48 the guitar solo ends and the music returns to the sensitive patchwork hodgepodge of the opening section. (8.75/10)

3. "Snip snap" (3:37) opens with an upbeat bluesy clavinet setting the scene before funky rhythm guitar, bass and drums join in. Jazzy, chunky bass attracts a lot of attention before synths and Fender Rhodes take over the lead, alternating with funky jazz solos. This could be a song from a concurrent Billy Cobham or Herbie Hancock album (Fat Albert Rotunda or Head Hunters). (8.5/10)

4. "The snake awakens" (3:27) sounds like a jazzified classical piano piece adapted for lounge entertainment. (8.75/10)

5. "Goblin" (11:10) opens with percussion and sound effects to create a sound imitating crackling of an open fire. After a minute of this, piano and organ create a melodic weave over which drums and bass submit intermittent, syncopated crashes. At the two minute mark a fully structured full-band song presents itself but is fairly soon dropped for a more complex variation of the previous introductory section. At 3:15 the song finally settles into full speed, full form as synths and electric guitar take turns soloing over the fairly rapid drive of the drums and chunky fretless bass. 

     At 4:40 there is a breakdown and an ensuing delicate and more sparsely adorned synth-led section of sensitive, slow, emotive play. Electric piano, Moog and string synths take turns carrying the pretty lead over the next three minutes with drums and bass slipping respectfully into a more-background support role. At 8:20 there is a turn down a more funky country road in which the speed shifts to a comfortable, steady, breezy rate within which the fine technique of drummer Agostino Marangolo get a chance to shine. Then things end. Good song with some very nice, creative instrumental performances. (18/20)

6. "Dr. Frankenstein" (6:00) opens with an ominous deep synth note that continues to float and flange in the background as bass, electric guitar, drums, and multiple keys build a funky, syncopated jazz weave. Lots of epithets and interjections spewed into the weave from each and every instrument as the only constant, consistent driving force remains the opening synth note and some oddly timed 
     At 3:45 everybody stops, the sound drops away, and then an aggressive rolling bass line emerges  to announce the beginning of a much more cohesive, fully fielded sonic spectrum of instruments and fast driving drumming over which a MIDI-sounding synth (but this was pre-MIDI, wasn't it?) plays a frantic, "running" lead--which then plays out to the end. Both sections are pretty cool but truly could've/should have been delineated and separated into two different songs--or, at least, two different movements of a two part suite. (9/10) 

Total Time: 34:14

90.71 on the Fishscales = A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of jazzy, cinematic instrumental music.

18. BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO Banco del mutuo soccorso (1972) 

Formed in Rome in 1969 by piano virtuoso brothers, Gianni and Vittorio Nocenzi, this great band of classically-trained musicians published their debut album in the early weeks of 1972. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Francesco Di Giacomo / lead vocals
- Marcello Todaro / electric & acoustic guitars, vocals
- Vittorio Nocenzi / organ, harpsichord, clarino (?), recorder, vocals
- Gianni Nocenzi / piano, E-flat clarinet, vocals
- Renato D'Angelo / bass
- Pier Luigi Calderoni / drums, timpani

1. "In Volo" (2:13) Awesome mediæval intro! (5/5)

2. "R.I.P. (Requiescant In Pace)" (6:40) hard driving rock song introducing Francesco Di Giacomo's unusual voice. Only the sparsely adorned (and appropriately emotional) final two minutes feel funereal. Cool finish! (12.75/15)

3. "Passaggio" (1:19) brief harpsichord practice piece with accompanying footsteps as player enters and leaves as well as player vocalizing along with the melody. (4.25/5)

4. "Metamorfosi" (10:52) opens with the full band before becoming a piano solo for over two minutes. Organ and synths take over with some occasional (and quite dynamic) support from the rest of the rock combo. Electric guitar takes a turn in the sixth minute as the full band is at full strength in support. Guitar and organ double up on lead melody before a protracted bridge at the beginning of the seventh minute leads into a long quiet section of organ, piano and bass playing rather sparsely and not only gradually beginning to weave into one another's play. Halfway through the ninth minute Francesco joins in with his powerful voice. Then there is another shift into a very hard-driving section for the final minute's rush to the end. Very accomplished musicianship, interesting compositionally, but not entirely engaging or satisfying. (17.5/20)

5. "Il Giardino Del Mago" (18:26)
- a. ... Passo Dopo Passo ... - opens with organ and band kind of warming up, bass following organ's slow arpeggi as drums, piano and guitar perform dazzling runs as if from another room. Everybody finally unites in a cohesive song as choral vocals arrive and present the basic melody line-which is then picked up by the guitar, bass, and organ with piano chords also providing harmonic and syncopated support.

      A break sees only the organ perpetuating the melody line in a higher octave as Francesco's mournful voice enters and begins to tell the (I assume, sad) story.
- b. ... Chi Ride E Chi Geme ... - at 5:22 into the song the tempo suddenly picks up with the band and Francesco speeding off to tell some more exciting part of the drama. Great use of Greek chorus-like vocals in intermittent places. Very nice keyboard work from multiple keys in the instrumental section. Then everything slows down to a stop while sustained organ chords hold the foundation for some slow sustained bottleneck guitar notes to play lead. Solo piano then takes over at the end of the ninth minute for a while before horn-like "clarino" adds a little melody line.
- c. ... Coi Capelli Sciolti Al Vento ... - Full band re-enters to support the next plaintive vocal section before a brief spoken section introduces the support of a classical guitar. Piano rejoins, Francesco re-enters with his full voice, then things shift into a power jam with everybody contributing in every way imaginable. 

     The mayhem and cacophony finally crescendo and crash to a stop during which the classical guitar returns and the band picks up a more sedate, straightforward pace to support recorder solo before reconstituting into a fuller sound with orchestral instruments intermingled as Francesco sings again.
- d. Compenetrazione - bass and bass string of electric guitar introduce new slightly threatening melody line for a mintue before organ and piano kick in with the drums to introduce a powerful and very concisely arranged ELP-like section before the band begins to break it down for the rock finish.

     Overall, this is a wonderful and highly accomplished composition of complex music orchestrated to deliver an epic story. Well done. (37.5/40) 

6. "Traccia" (2:10) starts out sounding like a pianist in another room practicing some dextrous piece but then organ, bass, drums and choral vocals join in--all the while sounding as if they are in the next room. Unusual. Nice music, though. (4.5/5)

Total Time: 41:40

Ever since re-entering the music scene in 2008 after an absence of nearly twenty years I was overwhelmed by many international music scenes of which I had previously been relatively unaware. Rock progressivo Italiano is one of these. And with my enthusiastic interest drawn to the amazing number of modern artists contributing to what has proved to be quite an exciting revival of my once-beloved progressive rock music, I have not always given older albums the time and attention necessary to truly familiarize myself with them much less appreciate them. Still, I have slowly acquired the much revered "classics." (This one has 663 ratings/reviews on PA alone!) Banco has impressed me from my initial listens. The maturity and sophistication of songmaking is astounding. And to put into the formula the fact that this album and Darwin! (both 1972 releases) predate many of the most cherished masterpieces of the Golden Age only increases my appreciation and awe. The dynamic range, confidence to be quiet and subtle and then be bold and loud, all the while using thoughtful not-whimsical constructs and virtuosic command of all instruments is a wonder to behold. While the sound of lead vocalist Francesco Di Giacomo's voice is one that has still not grown comfortable or favorable to me, I find nothing but musical excellence throughout Banco's first album. It's display of musical and instrumental mastery is undeniable. Where it may lack slightly is in memorability. After several years of owning this and occasionally spinning it through my brain I still find little or no connection with the music--it has not penetrated my soul in the way that many of the 'less sophisticated' masterpieces of the era have. Not the way Darwin! and especially Io sono nato libero have done.  Hence, a rating is very difficult for me to render as I do not rate this one on the same par as the two aforementioned classics, yet it is such an amazing collection of constructs it is difficult for me to give it anything less than the five stars it truly deserves. To me, it is an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection but in terms of its contribution to music history I cannot deny that it is probably essential and is definitely a masterpiece of progressive rock music . . . just not as great as either Darwin! or Io sono nato libero.

90.56 on the Fishscales = A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music in general and RPI specifically. A wonderful and surprisingly strong album for a debut, with all of the fire of youth and classical training coming burning through.

19. DEDALUS Dedalus (1973) 

From Pinerolo (near Turino), this jazz-oriented band recorded its first album in the fall of 1973 after a very successful run of Italy's summer music festival circuit. After Naples' Festival di Avanguardia e Nuove Tendenze one journalist called them "the revelation of the festival.") This first of two albums released by the band had a experimental jazz-rock sound that was reminiscent of British band The Soft Machine.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Marco Di Castri / guitar, tenor saxophone, percussion
- Fiorenzo Bonansone / electric cello, Fender Rhodes, synth (3)
- Furio Di Castri / bass, percussion
- Enrico Grosso / drums, percussion
- René Mantegna / African percussion

1. "Santiago" (9:13) driven by a great bass line and some solid rhythmic support from keys and drums, the sax and electric cello get most of the solos on this long, very well produced jam. The spacey electric cello begins a solo in the middle of the song, allowing Fiorenzo Bonansone the chance to display the experimental use of the echo and sustain effects he's plugged into. This solo plays out for the remainder of the song--about five minutes worth. Reminiscent of some of the electronic sound experiments released on albums by CHICAGO, PINK FLOYD, or JEAN-LUC PONTY. (17.75/20)

2. "Leda" (4:30) an unexceptional first half yields to an amazing second half with simply stunning work from the Fender Rhodes. (8.75/10)

3. "Conn" (3:48) an oddly discontiguous intro opens this one for the first minute before a fully formed jazz tune is spliced in and played out for the next two-and-a-half minutes. (8.5/10)

4. "C.T.6" (14:02) the truest jazz song on the album, this one could have come straight from an RTF or Freddy Hubbard album. There are several sections, each with their own groove, pacing, melodic structure, and familiarity, from flourishes of John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Deodato, and Herbie Hancock. Nice Jerry Goodman-like play from the electric cello in the tenth minute. Not a prog song, this is an excellent jazz song, filled totally with jazz solos, jazz scales, and jazz drumming. (28/30)

5. "Brilla" (5:39) drums, bass, and beautiful Fender Rhodes play support to a gorgeous and sensitive solo saxophone in the lead . . . for the first 1:23. Then things stop, change directions, pick up speed, and shift into electric cello and fast-walking bass mode. Lead instrument switches to electric guitar and then back and forth, sometimes together, until 4:45 when we turn back onto a Coltrane-like sax-led "easy street," familiar to us from the opening section. (9/10)

Total Time: 37:12

A great, amazingly well produced Canterbury-oriented jazz album. (from my 9/22/13 review on PA:) Presdoug is right:  This is an album that deserves much more attention and recognition than it has (thus far) received. The other reviewers aptly cover the comparable bands though some of the uses of electronics reminds me of a less-avant DEODATO, too. Everyone seems to want to give Soft Machine or Weather Report credit for the style and sound of this band, but I think this group has far superior planning and less jamming, plus the instrumentation sounds are often quite different (the keys' sounds are much more diverse than Ratledge, more strings-oriented than Zawinal & Co.) Also, the guitarist sounds much more "straightforward" jazz, not at all like John McLaughlin (to me). I love the combination of the Coltrane, Freddy Hubbard/Chick Corea and Eumir Deodato feel of "C.T. 6" and the beautiful "Leda" and "Brilla." Side 2 definitely feels more jazz-oriented than Canterbury or Avant/RIO to me. I will add that it has incredible engineering/production for its time!

It is quite remarkable how narrow the window of productivity was for the artists of this amazing nation and yet how bright these stars shine. Also of interest to me is how these artists most typically produced only one, maybe two, album forays into the "experimental" fad that was progressive rock--again, a testament to how small the window of "popularity" this musical movement had. As a matter of fact, only five of the bands recognized in this list of masterpieces from the "classic" RPI period of 1971-1975 had more than two albums under consideration (PFM, Le Orme, Banco, Area, and Oliver/Cherry Five/Goblin).  

90.0 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; a of jazz-rock fusion. 

20. LOCANDA DELLE FATE Forse le lucciole non si amano più (1977) 

Originally from Asti, this two-keyboard, two-guitar player band appeared a bit too late to be able to take advantage of the all-too-brief period of popularity of progressive rock music in Italy. Still, this is a very polished piano-based progressive rock album with a combined RENAISSANCE-GENESIS Foxtrot/SEbtP-era sound and feel to it.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Leonardo Sasso / lead vocals
- Alberto Gaviglio / electric guitar, 12-string guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
- Ezio Vevy / electric guitar, 12-string guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals, flute
- Michele Conta / piano, electric Piano, synthesizer (Polymoog), harpsichord, clarinet
- Oscar Mazzoglio / Hammond organ, Fender electric piano, synthesizers (Moog, Polymoog)
- Luciano Boero / bass, Hammond organ
- Giorgio Gardino / drums, vibraphone

1. "A volte un istante di quiete" (6:31) opens as an up tempo, piano-based rock song sounding quite a bit like a peak-era Jon TOUT-led RENAISSANCE song. The band plays quite nicely together--tight band. The synth lines in the fourth minute are almost straight out of the finale of GENESIS' "Supper's Ready" and the guitar sound that joins in later is also quite Steve Hackett-esque. The fast-paced jazzier section that takes over at the 4:40 mark returns the band more to a RENAISSANCE/ "MacArthur's Park" sound. (9.5/10)

2. "Forse le lucciole non si amano più" (9:48) opens with a piano and vibes duet, establishing melody that the vocalist soon uses. By the end of the first minute the full band has joined in, establishing a fairly slow, methodical pace and sound. The instruments amp up into a little harsher ground at the 1:40 mark before falling back into support for the husky-voice male singer (Leonardo Sasso). Chunky bass (think John Camp) with well-integrated drums lead into an instrumental section with electric guitar 'power' chords and harpsichord in the lead. The more aggressive, jazzier section in the sixth minute feels a little discombobulated from the multiple vocal lines--very theatric--but it's working in a dramatic way. (17/20)

3. "Profumo di colla Bianca" (8:25) opens with a collection of sounds and riffs that make it sound like it comes straight off a YES album--Relayer or later. When things calm down for the vocal to enter at the one minute mark it feels all Italia(--all Banco). The next sections--instrumental and vocal--magically blend themes and sounds from the early years of both GENESIS (Gabriel era) and KING CRIMSON (ItCotCK). A more piano-based section returns to the beautiful realm of Italian melodrama--which is then carried forward and enhanced by an interesting section that feels like a blend of THE ALLMAN BROTHERS and STARCASTLE. Very interesting and deftly crafted song. (19/20)   

4. "Cercando un nuovo confine" (6:41) opens delicately, beautifully, like the "play me a song" part of Genesis' "The Musical Box." In the second minute, piano, mellotron and background singers are added to the foundational acoustic guitar and electric guitar arpeggi. Then the song bursts into full rock dynamics in an almost ELTON JOHN way but then quickly settle back into more Genesis-Renaissance domains. An new theme is introduced at the three-minute mark that is piano-led, enriching the dimensionality of the song in a Tony Banks kind of way. The vocalist becomes more forceful but it sounds strained and makes the song suffer (in my opinion). And then the song quiets down, moving more toward the opening in its delicacy--though the piano continues tinkling away for a bit. The vocal harmonies in the final minute are nice. (12.75/15)

5. "Sogno di Estunno" (4:41) opens with flute and piano playing melody line in unison while bass and drums build in support. When Leonardo's vocals are introduced, the mood becomes more assertive, even aggressive. But then a delicate Genesis-like section ensues before it, too, is absorbed in the aggression of the next vocal-lead section (verse 2). The instrumental section that follows is peppered with soli from Arp synth and piano before Leonardo returns. It is my opinion that his voice is just to gruff for these beautiful instrumental weaves. I also believe that the piano is too dominant. One can see how these songs were created (and could be performed solo) by the piano, but it should have been mixed down a bit in the final mixes--to allow the weave of instruments to seem more even keeled. (8.5/10)

6. "Non chiudere a chiave le stelle" (3:34) opens with a pretty multiple guitar- and all-arpeggi-based weave which is soon joined by the gentle voice of a different male singer than the previous songs. Nice, gentle background harmony vocals used as well. Thought the song never really 'goes' anywhere, it is nice--and probably would mean much more to me if I knew what he was singing about. (8.5/10)

7. "Vendesi saggezza (9:37) is another piano and chunky Jon Camp-led song with Leonardo's gruff, aged-sounding voice in the lead vocal spot. The instrumental section in the third minute is quite nice--even powerful--and helps the next singing section by bringing in quite a sophisticated weave with it--or could it be that Leonardo's voice is mixed a bit further back in the soundscape? Whatever, this is the first time on the album that the instrumental dynamics has felt perfectly mixed!

     The GENTLE GIANT-like section that opens at the 6:20 mark is a nice twist--and then the next section at 7:10 is pure GENESIS perfection. (19/20)

89.76 on the Fishscales = 4.5 stars; B+; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music.

21. QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA Il tempo della Gioia (1974) 

The second of two creative and sophisticated albums by this band from Rome, its reception was mixed as many did not like the lineup changes (especially the departure/absence of dynamic violin phenom, Donald Lax) but others saw the compositional growth, the improved sound engineering, and loved the less crazed, more melodic accessibility of this album over the self-titled debut.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Claudio Filice / violin
- Giorgio Giorgi / vocals, flute, piccolo
- Massima Giorgi / bass, contrabass, vocals
- Massimo Roselli / vocals, keyboards
- Raimondo Cocco / vocals, guitar, trumpet (clarino)
- Patrick Fraina / drums, vocals

1. "Villa Doria Pamphili" (5:27) beautiful, symphonic, even cinematic music that begins being piano-based and dominated but then turns symphonic with strings. At 1:45 electric bass enters to accompany acoustic guitar for a lone male singer to enter and sing over. At 2:40, with the end of the singer's first verse comes a bombastic RENAISSANCE/Russian-like symphonic bridge and then return to simple acoustic foundation for the second verse. The bombastic Russian section repeats and is prolonged before decaying into a gorgeous solo piano piece for the final 45 seconds. (9.5/10)

2. "A Forma Di" (4:07) opens with quiet, pulsing strings with gentle, almost distant flutes, winds, upper octave piano, and harpsicord "dancing" around. Only very slowly does the background move forward and into full presence and full volume. Definitely conjures up a musical "view" of a religious ceremonial march of rural folk--like a processional of Russian peasant souls from Gogol's Dead Souls. (9.25/10)

3. "Il Tempo Della Gioia" (6:15) interesting music and song structure are betrayed by overall poor sound reproduction as well as flawed vocal and electric guitar performances and choices. (7.5/10)

4. "Un Giorno, un Amico" (9:39) wonderful acoustic intro of piano and violin. The breakout of full-band even goes well (again, the sound and stylings of the English band RENAISSANCE come strongly to mind), as the folk melodies and sounds are well-maintained. Over the course of the first half of the song, the music develops no further than a cabaret-like gypsy folk dance despite some find performances from the violin and piano, but then things shift under the leadership of clarinet. Everything slows down a notch and becomes more jazz lounge-y. Again, it is the emotional sense of melody expressed by the violinist that keeps me engaged--and deeply so. At the seven minute mark vocals join the fray for the first time, followed by an electric guitar solo--both of which fail to impress. Poor, flangy drum sound, too. (17/20)

5. "È Accaduto una Notte" (8:16) opens with choral voices singing wordlessly (like the opening and ending sections of PFM's "L'isola de niente") which also fade away leaving a very gentle, spacious pastoral section not unlike some sections of CELESTE's Principe di un giorno or even MAXOPHONE--both of which won't come out for over a year). 
     Musically, this is the most mature, interesting, and fully developed piece on the album. Still poor production of voice and electric instruments, but musically very perfect--brilliantly conceived. This is a piece I'd LOVE to hear re-recorded or performed live. (19/20)

The musical constructs, compositional arrangements, and instrumental performances of this album are incredible--delicious. Where it falls short is in sound production and vocal performances. When the sounds are acoustic, the engineering team seems to do well; it's with the renderings of the electrical instruments that the music production falls short. Still, I am one of the faction who like this album better than the more bluesy, frenzied debut.

88.93 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music and a wonderful listening experience for the more acoustic, symphonic approaches to rock music.

22. NEW TROLLS Concerto Grosso per i New Trolls (1971) 

From Genova, 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Maurizio Salvi / piano, organ
- Vittorio De Scalzi / guitar, flute
- Nico Di Palo / guitar, lead vocals
- Gianni Belleno / drums, vocals
- Giorgio D'Adamo / bass, vocals

1. "Tempo: Allegro" (2:15) an awesome JETHRO TULL-sounding rock version of classical themes. (4.5/5)

2. "Tempo: Adagio" (4:50)  What gorgeous singing voices Nico and his background singers are! No wonder they were so successful as generators of pop hits after their prog phase. It's too bad the orchestral arrangements are so syrupy (and strings-dominant) here. (8/10)

3. "Tempo: Cadenza - Andante Con Moto" (4:10) plays for the first minute and a half as for all intents and purposes, a violin solo. But then those syrupy strings get involved. Too bad. (Barely a rock song--were it not for the drumming.) Nice use of harpsichord and wordless and worded vocals over the strings and violin in the second half. Disappointing end with orchestral strings leading us out. (8.5/10)

4. "Tempo: Shadows" (5:30) a bluesy rock song in the PROCUL HAREM vein with a show of HENDRIX in the lead electric guitar department. The flute-led instrumental section in third and fourth minutes employs a very Hendrix-like guitar improvisational background (and, later, foreground)--and it works marvellously! Most excellent! it gets a little carried away with the guitar feedback solo in the fifth and sixth minutes, but it is ballsy! and well done. (9.5/10)

5. Nella Sala Vuota, Improvvisazioni Dei New Trolls Registrate In Diretta (20:32) opens as a bluesy Hammond solo for the first two minutes. As the full band join in, the breathy flute-led song begins to sound like the theme song from the original Mission: Impossible television series--as it might be played by The Netherlands' FOCUS around 1972. JETHRO TULL influences also come raging through in the second quarter of the song. 
     After the mid-song break, the music returns in what sounds like a RAY CHARLES instrumental. Nice Hammond work is followed by a loud and dated-sounding electric guitar solo which is then followed by a surprisingly impressive (and surprisingly long) drum solo by Gianni Belleno. (I love the fast panning effect used near its end!) 
     Gianni finally builds back the song base to allow the rest of the band to join in for the last 45 seconds.
     The highs of the musician's skills on display here outweigh the distractions of poor sonic effects and engineering limitations of the day. (36/40)

Side one contains a nice blend of classical instrumentation into a kind of blues-rock operetta JETHRO TULL-style. It is not as well recorded or refined as some other rock-classical blends however I have to laud it for it's daring in being one of the first fairly successful rock conversions of famous themes from classical music (Vivaldi)--and for the gutsy daring of the musicians involved.
    One side note:  As accent-less as Nico Di Palo's English is, I do find it strange that the band chose to sing the lyrics in English.

Despite its flaws sonically, and the disappointing cheesiness of the strings inputs, I really like the ballsy confidence shown by these players. Electric guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums are all solid in both their ability to contribute to the whole while all are equally able to show their confident chops in the solo department as well.  

88.67 on the Fishscales = 4.5 stars; B+; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music. 

23. BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO Darwin! (1972) The much-acclaimed and revered epitome of 1970s 'classic' RPI here finds criticism and disconnect.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Francesco Di Giacomo / lead vocals
- Marcello Todaro / electric & acoustic guitars
- Vittorio Nocenzi / Hammond organ, Moog synthesizers, harpsichord, vocals
- Gianni Nocenzi / piano, E-flat clarinet
- Renato D'Angelo / bass, double bass
- Pier Luigi Calderoni / drums, timpani

1. "L'Evoluzione" (13:59) This song offers a perfect opportunity for me to express a few of my dislikes in Banco music. Banco songs can sometimes be too busy. Like the comment in Amadeus about Mozart using just too many notes, the average, untrained human brain can only take in so much. Then there are the tendencies that Banco uses to compose support music for individual soli that is too rigid and monotonous--that goes on for far longer than one would like to hear. And then there are the flaws in the mixes of the instruments. Still, there is the fact of the amazing complexity and sophistication that is always a part of Banco compositions. Admirable and laudable, but they do not always translate into enjoyable listening experiences. Sometimes there can be just . . . too much going on at once. And I am often found having trouble finding, much less attaching to, lead or woven melodies. Where are they? And I will finally admit that after all these listens to Banco materials:  I am just not that big of a fan of Francesco Di Giacomo's voice. He may be the equivalent of the Peter Hammill of Italy--you either love him or you hate him. (Like with Hammill), I fall into this latter category. (Well, I don't really hate him. I don't always enjoy his voice or vocal performances.) (25.5/30)

2. "La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta" (8:42) until the final two minutes, this is an instrumental song of typical Banco complexity and breakneck speed but possessing some nice, interesting, engaging melodies on the top (mostly from the synthesizer). Still, this song feels a bit too much like a song that would run over the introductory or end credits of a 1970s spy film. One of the more tolerable, even enjoyable, Francesco Di Giacomo vocals. (19/20) 

3. "Danza Dei Grandi Rettili" (3:42) opens with a kind of sophisticated coffee-house jazz feel. For 45 seconds. Then the full-house orchestral hall sound bursts forth. For a bit. Reverting back to café dynamics, the jazzy sound returns for some piano and jazz guitar interplay. The louder 'chorus' section returns with some cool organ and synth interplay before a bridge back to the original sound and theme occurs. Piano, jazz bass, brushed drums, and jazz lead guitar play out to the end--and, it is assumed, the sparse applause of the smokey café. (9/10)

4. "Cento Mani E Cento Occhi" (5:22) opens with a driving, dynamic burst of straightforward organ-based rock. Francesco's poorly recorded voice is oddly mixed. There then follows a kind of Keith Emerson section before the vocals return. In the second half of the song, a kind of all-male barrel-house vocal ensemble becomes the form of vocal delivery--in both the louder and even the softer sections. A well constructed and performed song that is somehow poorly recorded and troublesome to connect with. Better to sit back and enjoy as spectator. (8.5/10)

5. "750,000 Anni Fa ... L'Amore?" (5:38) opens as a gentle, contemplative piano-based song over which a very strong, passionate, almost operatic vocal is sung by Francesco Di Giacomo. The man can definitely sing! There's even a section where Francesco's voice alone exudes the force that an entire full rock band might try to display--just his voice! Perhaps he was a failed or frustrated opera singer. 

     The odd synth interlude in the middle is unfortunate. But, it is short-lived. We return to the piano and solo voce format where Francesco and Gianni Nocenzi perform their magic--until the rest of the rock band finally joins in for the final 35 seconds. (9/10)

6. "Miserere Alla Storia" (5:58) opens with a fade in of an already in full-form and fast-pace jazz-rock weave, but, then, just as it reaches front and center, it stops! Instead we are left with some spacious organ, bass, synthesizer play beneath a distant soloing clarinet. At two minute mark a very aggressive, demonic (non-Francesco) vocal sets up the onset of a new instrumental section of driving film soundtrack music. Piano soloing over staccato rhythm section ensues at the end of the fourth minute before returning first to the soundtrack "chase scene" theme and then to a pensive soft section for bass and fading clarinet to take us out. Odd song. (8.5/10)

7. "Ed Ora Io Domando Tempo Al Tempo Ed Egli Mi Risponde ... Non Ne Ho!" (3:29) opens with themes and sounds that could come from several ethnic musical traditions--and which sounds a lot like some of Woody Allen's clarinet-led Italian music as used in his films. The song is partly beautiful, partly grotesquely sad, partly funny--and definitely interesting. (9/10) 

88.50 on the Fishscales = 4.5 stars; B+; a near-masterpiece of Rock Progressivo Italiano. A clear example of how brilliant ideas in the hands of virtuoso artists do not always result in glowing masterpieces of artistic product.  

24. CHERRY FIVE Cherry Five (1975) 

The story of frustration and parallel timetables that resulted in the making of this album by the band that formerly called themselves Oliver, sold their soul to English music-makers before skulking back to Italia with their tails between their legs, and who would become the great band Goblin, is legendary.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Claudio Simonetti / keyboards
- Massimo Morante / guitars
- Fabio Pignatelli / bass
- Tony Tartarini / lead voice
- Carlo Bordini / drums, percussion

1. "Country Grave-Yard" (8:21) excellent musicianship abounds here but the blues-jazzy jam here is rather standard and lacking of melodies--especially in the rather weak vocal sections. The instrumental jam in the middle almost makes up for those weak sections. (17/20)

2. "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (8:00) another amazingly busy, intricately constructed song that could only be performed with virtuoso musicians--as these gentlemen no doubt were. It's just too bad that the vocalist isn't more exceptional (and that the lyrical melodies aren't up to the high standards of the instrumental structures playing beneath). (12.75/15)

3. "The Swan Is a Murderer (Part 1) (3:54) (8.5/10)

4. "The Swan Is a Murderer (Part 2)" (5:21) sounds like a YES-wannabe tune as performed by a band that Eddie Offield dissed (which he did). (9/10)

5. "Oliver" (9:33) a truly challenging and well-constructed, if fairly predictable, composition. These guys were certainly ambitious! Again, the YES-influences are fairly out in the open. The slow section that begins with the gong-crash at the 3:50 mark is pretty but kind of meandering and listless. The final uptempo section is the tightest yet (though still Yes-like). Still, this song would stand up well on a modern day WOBBLER album. (18/20)

6. "Little Cloud Land" (7:46) is a solid, melody-driven rocker with Chris Squire-like bass, Uriah Heep-like voice and organ and an awesome buildup and climax. Probably the best song on the album. (13.5/15)

 I liked this album upon first listen but now see that it is more, in fact, of a practice/rehearsal/growing experience for its members. The musicianship is so polished, but the performances are like the jamming that a band of newbies makes to get to know each other, to explore themes, weaves, and compositional options. Nothing here is extraordinarily new or innovative; the YES-influences are worn fairly on their sleeves. Even the choice to sing in English is curious for a band from Italy which (finally, ultimately) recorded the album in Italia.

87.5 on the Fishscales = 4.5 stars; B+; a near-masterpiece of well-performed, well-recorded progressive rock music.

25. BIGLIETTO PER L'INFERNO Biglietto per l'Inferno (1974) 

From the city of Lecco, on the Eastern Banks of the south-eastern arm of Lake Como, this much-revered band only produced this one, single album, and then broke up after their record company thwarted the release of their second, follow-up album (which was never officially released). Other than Guiseppe "Baffo" Banfi and drummer Mauro Gnecchi, the musicians involved never really pursue careers in music. (Flutist Claudio Canali actually chose a career as a church friar.) The album is considered one of the classics of the 1970s RPI scene--a "masterpiece"--by many.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Fausto Branchini / bass
- Mauro Gnecchi / drums
- Giuseppe Banfi / keyboards
- Marco Mainetti / guitars
- Claudio Canali / vocal, flute
- Giuseppe Cossa / keyboards

1. "Ansia" (4:16) a kind of standard, nothing special rock'n'roll song. Even the melodies here are nothing memorable. (7.5/10)

2. "Confessione" (6:32) opens like a DOORS song but then in the second section becomes more like a hard rockin' ZZ TOP "La Grange." The vocal section in the second and third minutes is kind of URIAH HEEP and THE BEATLES. The fifth minute with its flutes and electric guitar lead bring the song into the heavy side of JETHRO TULL. Great effects used on the guitar in the final two minutes. Awesome! (9/10)

3. "Una strana regina" (6:12) opens with an unusual sound:  slow, distant low end organ chords--over which is added a speedier mid-range arpeggiated chord progression and distant drums and electric bass. The vocal that enters in the second minute sounds a lot like the voice and stylings of Uriah Heep's David Byron. At the three minute mark the song suddenly jumps into fast-pace J TULL territory. For 35 seconds! Then, just as suddenly, it reverts back into ultra soft and plaintive URIAH HEEP territory before lifting itself up into a nice moderate pace for a brief stretch before bang! another shocking shift--into a kind of FELA/Afro-pop guitar solo leading to . . . the next song!  (8.5/10)

4. "Il nevare" (4:37) bleeds over from the previous song as the band continues its string of totally unexpected and unpredictable dynamic shifts: moderate to loud and fast to soft and delicate and back and forth within seconds of one another, over and over. How odd! A little disconcerting upon the first few listens but once used to it, one can appreciate the nice sounds and performance challenges pulled off here. (8.5/10)

5. "L'amico suicida" (13:20) opens with another bluesy, PROCUL HARUM-like chord and sound progression, performed slowly with great dramatic effect--especially coming from the keyboards and drums. Nice first two minutes. Then a frenetic and confusing section begins around 2:05 but then is just as suddenly cut off as we move into a vocal section supported by funereal piano chords and sustained squeals from a synthesizer. Definitely conveying sadness, anger, overwhelm, frustration in this powerfully emotional rendering. Quite a mature and devastatingly powerful composition in the expression of this topic. Even the oddly pretty Latin-infused acoustic guitar strummed section that begins at 6:31 seems fitting. Easily the best song on the album--worthy of hundreds of listens as there are so many sections and nuances to take in. Kudos to these musicians for the amazing performances realized here. (27/30)

Some of the best song and melody developments I've heard in Italian prog--and containing a rare thing in Italian music: space! room between the notes.

86.43 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; an excellent addition of classic progressive rock music.

26. QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA Quella Vecchia Locanda (1972)

Hailing from Rome, this band formed in 1970 as a quintet. After a successful year as a cover band and some nice acclaim for their own material being worked out in their live performances, the band membership stabilized enough to go into the studios of RCA subsidiary, Help, to record their first album, released in early 1972.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Massimo Roselli / piano, organ, Mellotron, Moog, electric sitar, cembalo, vocals
- Giorgio Giorgi / lead vocals, flute, piccolo
- Patrik Traina / drums
- Romualdo Coletta / bass, frequency generator
- Raimondo Maria Cocco / electric & acoustic & 12 string guitars, vocals
- Donald Lax / electric & acoustic violin

1. "Prologo" (5:01) plays like a prog epic with its many, many small themes, sections, twists and turns, classical and rock. Fine musicianship and vocals, but just a little too busy and nonsensical to me.  (9/10)

2. "Un villagio, un'illusione" (3:53) after the radical twisting and turning of the opening song, the fairly straightforward and steady arrangement of this one is a bit of a surprise. (7.5/10)

3. "Realtà" (4:14) has very delicate, nylon-string guitar opening with matching vocal, before a heavier LED ZEPPELIN-like blues rock chord progression takes us into a chorus. Repeat one more time and then the song shifts into a still gentle, almost folk-classical instrumental section. Return to A-B format for the final minute or so. Beautiful song. (9.5/10)

4. "Immagini sfuocate" (2:57) opens with demonic sounding organ play, moving into a sustained crescendo within which flutes, electric bass, violin, and guitar add their spice. When we finally come out of the worm hole, we find ourselves in classic blues rock in the vein of SPIRIT or RARE EARTH. (8.5/10)

5. "Il cieco" (4:12) opens with a dated rock sound feel but then moves into a softer, flute-dominated section in the second minute. Piano and percussion bring us out into a kind of JETHRO TULL "Locomotive Breath" sound and style. The final 30 seconds are spent in more plaintive classical mode. (8/10)

6. "Dialogo" (3:43) another classically-infused blues rock tune that breaks for an interesting final minute of vocal 'dialogue'. (8.5/10)

7. "Sogno, risveglia e" (5:16) Easily the best song on the album, for its classical themes at the beginning--played on piano and strings--which then set up the entire beautiful song. Solo violin and flute take over the largo melody play in the third minute before the violin tracks fire it up a bit. At 3:30 vocalist sings over his piano, alternating with strings' input. The song returns to the gorgeous spacious piano theme for the final 45 seconds. (9.5/10)

 This is a nice blues rock album with a lot of input from classically trained musicians and composers. The presence of flutes, violins, and clarinet make it a little more interesting. The drums and bass play make it sound rather dated.

An album that does a fairly competent job of melding classical music instruments and compositional styles and themes with rock instruments and formats. It would have been better if the rock compositionship was a little beyond fairly simple, straightforward blues rock formats.

86.43 on the Fishscales = 4.5 stars; B; a near-masterpiece of classically-infused blues ("progressive") rock.

27. LE ORME Uomo di Pezza (1972) 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Aldo Tagliapietra / vocals, bass, electric & 12-strings acoustic guitars
- Antonio Pagliuca / organ, synthesizer, piano, electric clavichord, Mellotron, celesta
- Michi Dei Rossi / drums, bells, percussions
- Gian Piero Reverberi / piano (1), producer

1. "Una dolcezza nuova" (5:28) introduces some of Uomo de pezza's distinctive sounds: organ, fuzzy bass, pastoral piano, and, of course, the beautiful voice and singing of guitarist/bass guitarist Aldo Tagliapietra. (9/10)

2. "Gioco di bimba" (2:54) introduces what becomes one of the other distinctive sounds of Uomo: the 12-string guitar. Joined by clavinet and synthesized flute, the song has a rather Donovan-mixed-with-Scarlatti feel to it. Cheery, 1960s sunshine. (4/5)

3. "La porta chuisa" (7:28) begins with a Camel-like sound with synth, drum and bass, before shifting into a more theatric sound with organ, followed by solo organ notes sneaking over the drummer's rim shots. Higher pitched vocal singing follows the organ until a heavy, "Tarkus"-like organ section appears and disappears, becoming the alternating partner for the soft, rim-shot-accompanied, high pitch singing sections. Enter some Nektar/Camel-esque riffs at 3:15, followed at 3:40 by the bass drum pounding out quarter notes till 5:10's silence. This pounding, quiet, pounding, quiet pattern continues alternating until a church organ fills the soundscape at the 6:15 mark, followed by piano at 6:45, ending with an ELP sound and pace. (13.5/15)

4. "Breve immagine" (2:42) sounds like a return to "Una dolcezza nuova" with the higher-pitched singing done over a church organ until 0:50 sounds a crescendo of mellotron, rhythm section, and synthesizer. The quiet, bucolic A section and King Crimson-like crescendoing B section alternate two more cycles. Beautiful song. (4.5/5)

5. "Figure di cartone" (3:48) begins with a very engaging "My Sweet Lord" kind of feel: strumming 12-string guitars, KC/"Lucky Man"-like drums, roving Prophet 5 synth, and a very catchy vocal melody. A long solo from a buzzing synthesizer sound. (9/10)

6. "Aspettando l'alba" (4:43) uses very pensive, ominous sound and chord choices, which then yield to guitar strums at the 0:50 mark. The defining Uomo song structure seems to be the alternating quiet and dynamic sections--used to great effect. Here the quiet sections are peppered with a variety of instruments: flute, keyboard synths, drum travels, echoing space sounds, and quiet guitar strums until at 3:20 there is a complete change to percussives with flute-like keyboard chorus to fade. (8/10)

7. "Alienazione" (4:43)  is Le Orme's attempt at discord and complexity a la King Crimson. (The song actually has quite a similar feel to it is KC's "21st Century Schizoid Man," though I'm also reminded of The Doors and Traffic. Dark and ominous.) (8/10)

(From my 6/17/10 review on PA:)  As with all old prog "classics" that I am only now having the privilege of discovering, I've been taking my time to get to know Uomo di pezza. I can assure you, it has been truly a labour of love. This is a beautiful album with some wonderful songs, sounds, and melodies.

Overall very high consistency and quality. 85.71 on the Fish scales = 4.5 stars; B; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music. Le Orme exploring a lot of new sounds while relying on one basic structural pattern--to perfection--and having wonderful singer. I can't quite give it a five star rating--though I do think this is Le Orme's finest work. Still, an excellent addition to any prog-lover's music collection.

28. AREA Caution Radiation Area (1974) 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Demetrio Stratos / vocals, organ, harpsichord, steel drums, percussion
- Paolo Tofani / guitar, flute, EMS synthesizer
- Patrizio Fariselli / piano, electric piano, ARP synthesizer, bass clarinet
- Ares Tavolazzi / bass, double bass, trombone
- Giulio Capiozzo / drums, percussion

1. "Cometa Rossa" (4:00) employing some Arabian folk instruments and melodies, the song does a great job of setting up Demetrio's astounding a cappella vocal in the middle. (9/10)

2. "ZYG (Crescita zero)" (5:27) pure instrumental jazz tending toward the crazed world of avant garde. BUT the musicianship is incredible and performed so tightly. Astonishing! (10/10)

3. "Brujo" (8:02) an extended foray into unstructured musical chaos--like a long ELP, GENESIS or TODD RUNDGREN intro--the jazz musicianship of the song in the fourth and fifth minutes is quite CHICK COREA/RETURN TO FOREVER-like (though it also sounds like the crazed section of YES' "Gates of Delirium" between the 8:00 and 13:00 minute marks). The final two minutes of eerie synth-supported cave-like vocals does little to make the song more endearing. (12.5/15)

4. "Mirage" (10:27) opening with four minutes of free-form sound experimentation, the rhythm section finally kicks in with a hard-driving structure over (and beneath) which the synth and horn experimentations continue. At 5:45 everything cuts out and we're exposed to multiple tracks of Demtrio's whispering voices, gutteral word recitations, and haunted ghost screams. Breaking glass at 7:10 stops the vocal mayhem, unleashing, instead, a cacophony of instrumental mayhem. ("Ahem! A little humanity, please!") Droning synths, fast-running double bass, underscore the out-of-control guitar shredding before Fender Rohdes enters to bring in some calm and order--within which sax and Demetrio vocalise scat. Ends with some Tibetan-like monastic chants. Weird song that retains little significance this many years later. (16/20)

5. "Lobotomia" (4:23) an instrumental synth solo of electronically-distorted sound waves. Interesting but four and a half minutes of this? But, heck! Many other mainstream artists were doing it! (E.g. Todd Rundgren, Keith Emerson, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Larry Fast, Jan Hammer, and George Duke). (8/10)

Total Time: 32:19

An album that upset and disturbed a lot of people who had been blown away by the band's debut the year before, Arbeit Macht Frei, Caution Radiation Area put on display too much edge, too many aggressive and experimental sounds and constructions--often fully going over to the realms of jazz-rock fusion and even avant garde music.  

85.38 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; a wonderful example of the kind of experimentation going on within music and particularly progressive rock music in 1973-4.

29. LE ORME Felona e Sorona (1973) 
Line-up / Musicians:
- Aldo Tagliapietra / vocals, bass, guitar
- Antonio Pagliuca / keyboards
- Michi Dei Rossi / drums, percussion

1. "Sospesi Nell'Incredibile" (8:43) The opening number makes me feel as if I'm at cheesy county fair--though it does have a wonderful final two minutes. (17.25/20)

2. "Felona" (1:58) The second number is best for its recorder at the end. (3.75/5)

3. "La Solitudine Di Chi Protegge Il Mondo" (1:57) The third song is best in its sparseness--the piano accompanying Aldo, the simple synth solo at the end. (4/5)

4. "L'Equilbrio" (3:47) The upbeat fourth song is most remarkable for its keyboard beginning--which is similar to, and predates, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by a year or more. Good vocal from Aldo and excellent piano/Arp solos in the middle. (8.75/10)

5. "Sorona" (2:28) The fifth song is sparse with guitar supplanting keyboards but really goes nowhere. Aldo's vocal is heartfelt. Perhaps if I knew Italian.... Too bad about the poor sound of the wobbly bass. (8.75/10)

6. "Attesa Inerte" (3:25) after a nice beginning, this song is scarred (to my ears) by the odd sliding bass riff repeating itself over the disco drumming that takes over and remains from 1:15 on. Annoying. (7.5/10)

7. "Ritratto Di Un Mattino" (3:29) Simple and anthemic, this song has the album's best drumming and best overall mix (until the L channel electric guitar starts to get louder). (8.75/10)

8. "All'infuori Del Tempo" (4:08) This is the one of the most experimental songs on the album despite its simple 12-string guitar foundation: there is a subtle, unusual drum opening, quick organ flourishes, multiple guitar strumming tracks, pleasant vocal and cool mediæval sounding synth flourishes thrown in between Aldo's vocals. Simplicity and procession seem to reign here. (8.5/10)

9. "Ritorno Al Nulla" (3:34) The album's best song is the finale (from which, understandably, La Maschera de Cera found their inspiration to create their 2013 Felona e Sorona 'continuation,' La Porte del Domani), this is an instrumental which finally uses all of its band members' sounds in interesting and innovative fashion. (9/10)

Total Time: 33:39

(from my 6/13/2014 review on PA:)  I loved LE ORME's Uomo di pezza upon first listen and continue to do so to this day. But, try as I might, the magic that so many prog lovers feel for Felona e Sorona has completely eluded me. The recording of the electronic keyboards is unusually bad--almost painful to my ears. I have listened to this album for almost six years. I even went so far as to buy it about a year ago--in hopes that the physical presence might help win me over. But it just doesn't work. The drums and bass are so elementary. The vocals don't have any of the melodic hooks that I fell for in Uomo di pizza. Sure, there are awesome, memorable moments or passages, but overall, in my opinion, it does not maintain the highs of a prog classic. 

Anyway, perhaps if I knew Italian the impact of the lyrics would boost this one for me. Otherwise, this is but a three and a half star production for me: better than good but not an album that I'm going to rave about on a "highly recommended" list.

84.72 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; a much revered exposition of Rock Progressivo Italiano that I find quite simple and lacking instrumental complexity, emotional punch, as well as any ability to engage and enthrall me.

30. STEFANO TESTA Una Balena Bianca e altre cose (1977) 

Moving from the Italian Beat scene into acoustic pop before hearing the likes of , Stefano and Portici were given a record contract from the small new record label, Disco Più (then based out of the Adriatic coastal city of Rimini). The result was this acoustically-founded masterpiece--another late-comer to the prog scene that was surprisingly well-received due to its folk sound and few radio friendly songs. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Stefano Testa / piano, rhythm guitar, vocals, composer
- Portici / acoustic guitars trio
- Marco Coppi / flute
- Alberto Monpellio / Moog synthesizer
- Cosimo Fabiano / bass
- Ottavio Corbellini / drums

1. "Una vita" (16:09) a decent epic--complete with compelling story and music to match-reminds me of a HARRY CHAPIN-style song. Very interesting use of Moog and flute and final five minutes.(25.5/30)

2. "Risveglio" (3:35) piano and choir opening before silence and solo pensive flute open this before piano and voice enter just after the one minute mark. A serious ballad with a very pleasant vocal delivery and simple piano-based accompaniment. (9/10)

3. "La ballata di Achab (Moby Dick)" (5:22) piano and accordion open this one before brisk Jacques Brel-like vocal delivery begins. The chorus is just as grandiose and melodramatic as one of M. Brel's. This would probably be better if I understood Italian but it just sounds like theatric cabaret to me. (7.5/10)

4. "Notturno" (4:00) acoustic guitars with some flute while Stefano sings a very pretty song. Again, I wish I understood Italian. More similarities to Jacques Brel. (9/10)

5. "Difficile chiamarti amore" (2:50) sounds like "Bojangles" or a Jim Croce song. (8/10)

6. "Il Dio sulla ferrovia" (5:04) a nice combination of acoustic and electric instruments woven together to make this one. It's pretty. Stefano definitely has a pleasing voice for telling stories. (8.75/10)

7. "Ninna nanna" (2:41) like a little bed-time dittie for a child or elderly grandparent. (8.5/10)

Total Time: 39:44

I'm guessing that its the presence of the Portici acoustic guitar, flute, Moog, and rock combo that make this a proggy record, though it's mostly balladeering man-with-acoustic guitar to me. Or it's the presence of a 16-minute "epic." Probably the latter. As I listen to this I'm reminded of both Belgian Jacques Brel and Québecois Serge Fiori. 

84.72 on the Fishscales = B/four star album; a nice entry as a folk balladeer experimenting with some of the stylistic and sonic offerings of the progressive rock movement.

31. REALE ACCADEMIA DI MUSICA Reale Accademia di Musica (1972) 

A more folk-oriented progressive rock endeavor from these artists from Rome. Great first effort.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Henryk Topel Cabanes / lead vocals
- Nicola Agrimi / acoustic & electric guitars
- Pericle Sponzilli / electric guitar
- Federico Troiani / acoustic & electric piano, organ, Mellotron, vocals
- Pierfranco Pavone / bass
- Roberto Senzasono / drums, percussion
- Maurizio Vandelli / acoustic guitar (2), Mellotron (5), producer
- Natale Massara / orchestra conductor (1,2) 

1. "Favola" (3:46) pretty folk-instrument song with a lazy, lead vocal from Spaniard Henryk Topel Cabanes. (8.25/10)

2. "Mattino" (9:19) cleverly effected piano is the dominant instrument of the first four minutes of this one. There is singing over the gentle opening minute or two before piano takes over, then there is heavier, more in-your-face rock section starting in the fifth minute. Very nice driving piano chord play in the sixth minute within which electric guitar, piano and organ share the solo duties. At 7:15 things shut down for a new, more delicate section (sans drums and bass) with acoustic guitars, piano and voice dominating. (17/20)

3. "Ognuno Sa" (5:19) opens sounding like a BEATLES or GEORGE HARRISON song despite (or because of?) the treated vocal. Very much a straightforward slow rock song that could have come off of any Clapton, Harrison, or Harry Nilsson album. (7.5/10)

4. "Padre" (8:41) opens with cool organ arpeggio which is soon joined by bass and guitar introducing themselves and the well-spaced syncopated chord progression that is going to follow. After two minutes we have the song's foundation well established and engaging our brain just as the band starts to introduce and support solos--first a nice rock electric guitar solo--but then everything quiets down save for a constant organ in the background over which Henryk sings. Two tracks of bluesy electric guitar interject emphasis points occasionally within the vocal section. The singing is adequate, suitably emotional, but never super-convincing. As a matter of fact, I find myself underwhelmed by Henryk's work throughout the course of this album. Toward the end of the seventh minute the music kind swells and a very nice doubled-up electric guitar solo ensues. The final minute returns to the slow bluesy spacious format for the singer to finish his story. (17/20)

5. "Lavoro In Citta'" (5:56) has a very different feel and sound from the other songs--especially in the singing department. Still piano-based, this bluesy song is founded on the traditional bass-drums- and piano combo (the guitars are quite quiet). Very nice, engaging chord sequence in the middle half of the song with a nice multi-voiced chorus and professional caliber guitar solo. The final section sees another blues-based up-tempo section which plays out in an instrumental jam. (8.75/10)

6. "Vertigine" (7:11) sounds and feels as if ELP and BLUE OYSTER CULT had a baby. Nice musicianship and passion. (13.5/15)

Total Time: 40:12

84.71 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; an excellent blues-based representative of the early 1970s Rock Progressive Italiano phenom. 

32. LE ORME Contrappunti (1974) 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Aldo Tagliapietra / vocals, bass, guitar
- Antonio Pagliuca / keyboards
- Gian Piero Reverberi / piano, producer
- Michi Dei Rossi / drums, percussion

1. "Contrappunti" (5:56) a great intro to the album illustrating the band's commitment to serious symphonic music and really good sound reproduction. At times this instrumental feels almost like a classical song in disguise--especially in the fourth and fifth minutes--then it goes classical jazz. (9.25/10)

2. "Frutto Acerbo" (3:35) syrupy pop song sung primarily over guitar and bass. Man! does Aldo Tagliapietra have a memorable voice! This song might be more impactful if I A) understood Italian and B) heard lyrics. (7.75/10)

3. "Aliante" (3:20) funky drums and clavinet/synth with bass playing along in the odd-tempoed syncopation. Other synths enter with the second minute to present a trite yet catchy melody. Is this really more of an extended étude? There is an almost BUGGLES-like feel to the layers and dénouement of the final minute. (8.75/10)

4. "India" (3:13) Aldo solo voce for the first 25 seconds before spacey synth note and then bass join in fro the second verse. Rest of the band join in after the second verse to take over with another bizarre carnivalesque étude-like song to fill the middle two minutes. Aldo finishes the final minute with bass and synth. Odd but interesting. (8.25/10)

5. "La Fabbricante D'Angeli" (4:47) a proggy jazzier song for which I am so very thankful for the band's improvements in sound recording: there is clarity and definition throughout, despite some full layering. The bass and flute-like synths are a bit cheezy and incongruous despite Aldo's higher pitched singing voice and the light, bouncy nature of the song and singing. The drums and bass are a bit annoying. Wonder what an Antonio Pagliucca solo album would sound like... (7.75/10)

6. "Notturno" (3:51) This! this is what an Antonio Pagliucca solo album would sound like. A synth-exploring version of Erik Satie! (8.5/10)

7. "Maggio" (8:51) a real prog epic--one done very well, very thoroughly with a lot of detail, complexity, and great time and melody shifts. One of Le Orme's shining prog moments. (17.5/20)

Total Time: 33:35

Finely crafted and well-produced symphonic music from these nation-leading prog "veterans" with a more serious, ambitious feeling to it. It is so nice to finally hear Le Orme without the frustrating distraction of poor sound engineering. 

84.69 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; a nice example of symphonic jazz oriented RPI.

33. JUMBO Vietato ai minori di 18 anni (1973) 

The band's second album 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Alvaro Fella / vocals, acoustic guitar, electric piano, organ, sax
- Sergio Conte / keyboards
- Dario Guidotti / acoustic and electric guitar, flutes, harmonica, sistrum, vocals
- Aldo Gargano / Mellotron, bells, sistrum
- Daniele "Pupo" Bianchini / acoustic guitar, bass
- Tullio Granatello / drums, tympani
Guest musicians:
- Franco Battiato / VCS3 synthesizer (5)
- Lino "Capra" Vaccina / tabla (5), percussion (5)
- Angelo Vaggi / Minimoog synthesizer (5)
- Fats Gallo / slide guitar (5)

1. "Specchio" (7:23) (13.5/15)

2. "Come Vorrei Essere Uguale A Te" (5:43) CS&N! Beautiful Stephen Stills lead guitar work and accompanying acoustic guitars. And somehow the vocals are mixed within the music this time! At 3:17 the song bursts forth into a kind of LIGHTHOUSE "One Fine Day" frenzy with horns. Great drum, keys, and bass play with dramatic horn effects. Ahead of its time! Easily my favorite song on the album and one of the best classic RPI songs ever. (10/10)

3. "Il Ritorno Del Signor K" (2:03) nice keyboard and tuned percussion peice with uncharacteristic gentle, subdued singing from Alvaro Fella. (5/5)

4. "Via Larga" (6:59) opens like a tongue-in-cheek spy movie soundtrack song, hot on the trail of the murder mystery. Traditional folk instruments, melody lines, and even beats, rhythms, and voices flit in and out over the first two minutes, sometimes dominating, sometimes spicing things up, but then at 2:00 everything fades away and we are left with what feels and sounds like the start of an entirely new song: soft pastoral guitars and flutes and, later, violin. At the 3:00 mark only gently picked acoustic guitar and little violin flourishes are left to accompany Alvaro's rough, scratchy voice. At 3:48 the foundation switches to a little more classically-oriented folk guitar with mandolin, over which Alvaro sings with a much gentler, Dylan-esque voice. Then at 4:45 we break into a kind of PFM or MAXOPHONE section of electronics over which a little bass, guitar and drum passage floats in and as mysteriously pans across and fades away. Then, at 5:55 the band bursts into a dynamic rock passage for a few seconds with Alvaro screaming his vocals, but then, just as suddenly, it all fades away and we are left with a gentle acoustic guitar and flute outro. Odd, theatric and quick-changing song. Very interesting! (13/15)

5. "Gil" (7:12) appears to have been caught live--like a studio jam--as voices of people in the studio are heard before, beneath, and throughout the jam. The strumming acoustic guitar seems to be the only thread holding the group in line over the course of the first minutes as all kinds of percussion instruments and synthesizers are adding their two cents at seeming random intervals and flourishes. Even after the 2:30 mark when Alvaro enters singing we get the feeling that most of the room's occupants are free to unleash their contributions at random and without cause or restraint. 

     At 5:20 there is a fadeout and then an entirely different (part of the) jam is spliced in to fill the final 90 seconds of the song. Tablas and other hand percussion instruments (talking drum, etc.), synths, droning single chords from electric guitar. The song may represent and carry the story of the album's concept forward, but I'm not sure how. (11/15)

6. "Vangelo?" (5:41) opens quite sedately, with winds, percussives, and another gentle vocal performance from Alvaro. At 1:57 the full band breaks into a breakneck speed jazzified gallop while flute flies in the lead and piano carries the foundation. Another slowdown with slow chunky bass notes, organ pedals, iron bells, and swirling organ ensues starting at 2:32. The song is, unfortunately, a little too all-over-the-place--especially for a five-and-a-half-minute song--to warrant any mercy or tolerance. (7.5/10)

7. "40 Gradi" (6:41) sounding a bit like an ELP acoustic guitar-based song, Alvaro attempts another delicate, restrained vocal--at least until 1:40 when the song bursts forth in full force rock and roll. Bouncing back and forth from delicate acoustic to all-out rock for a minute, the song goes from a soft acoustic section to a psychedelic organ and effected guitar with scratchy-voiced vocal at 3:20, settling into a very satisfying CS&N groove for a relatively long instrumental section. Gorgeous! Mellotron, spacey electric guitar squeaks and squeals, gentle acoustic guitar harmonics and strums, saxes, hypnotic bass play and brushed drums make for a beautiful outro. (9.5/10)

8. "No!" (2:21) acoustic guitar, distant organ and mutliple breathy flute tracks open this before bass and Alvaro break into a kind of campy lounge song. Crazed vocals are matched by the band's march-down-the-street-and-off-the page/movie fadeout end. (4.5/5) 

Where Vietato ai minori di 18 anni falls short is in the sound engineering/production department: the instruments are often rendered as if scoped down--as if the band were recorded in a concrete tunnel with a single microphone posted 30 feet away. Weird! And then when the vocalist is present everything else is oddly and disturbingly relegated to the background. Still, this is a eminently satisfying (if inconsistent) musical excursion with entirely impressive compositions and powerful, intricately orchestrated instrumental performances. They were just mis-recorded! 

Very interesting and diverse song offerings with remarkable compositional skill--and great guitar soli. And broaching sensitive, even controversial topics! A BIG step up from their previous albums. 

84.29 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; an inconsistent but at-time brilliant concept album that I happen to really love. Worth a listen if only for the two masterpieces, "Come Vorrei Essere Uguale A Te" and "40 Gradi."

34. AREA Maledetti (1976)

The fifth album release (fourth studio album) from this Milan-based band finds the band still firing on all cylinders--though they are getting a little cocky with some of their more avant garde constructs.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Demetrio Stratos / vocals, voice filter (4), Hammond organ (2-4,6), piano (6), bells
- Giampaolo Tofani / electric guitar, (Serge) Tcherepnin synth (3,4,7)
- Patrizio Fariselli / piano (4,6), electric piano (3,4,6), prepared piano (7), ARP Odyssey synth (3,4,6)
- Ares Tavolazzi / electric (3,4) & acoustic (2,3) basses
- Giulio Capiozzo / drums (3,4)
- Eugenio Colombo / kazumba ? (1)
- Steve Lacy / soprano sax (2,3,7)
- Paolo Salvi / cello (5)
- Giorgio Garulli / contrabass (5)
- Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli / violin (5)
- Armando Burattin / viola (5)
- Hugh Bullen / bass (2,6)
- Walter Calloni / drums (2,6)
- Anton Arze /txalaparta (3)
- Jose Arze / txalaparta (3)
- Paul Lytton / percussion (6,7)

1. "Evaporazione" (1:45) a wonderful and powerful introduction to the crazed and unique mind and world of Demetrio Stratos. (4.5/5)

2. "Diforisma Urbano" (6:18) 
slightly discofied jazz-rock fusion of the funky kind being churned out in the second half of the 1970s by such bands as JAN AKKERMAN, SBB, STOMU YAMASH'TA's GO, JAN HAMMER, GEORGE DUKE, LENNY WHITE, and JEFF BECK. Excellent for that fare. (8.75/10)

3. "Gerontocrazia" (7:30) Demetrio, soprano sax, and an African marimba open this one with a very African folk feel until cello takes over at 2:40 as sole companion of Demetrio's singing. At 3:36 the full electrified contingent joins in though carrying a North African melody as its standard. Then at 4:20 we get another drastic shift into a more JAN HAMMER/MAHAVISHNU-like passage in which jazz-rock drums support multi-instrumental presentation of high-speed melody-noodling. A minute later the whole-group presentation breaks down to allow for singular soloists to present their interpretations. At 6:25 the passage ends and we are bridged back to the North African melody section for the song's finish. Interesting! (13.5/15))

4. "Scum" (6:30) piano-based WEATHER REPORT, JOE SAMPLE or even DONALD FAGEN-like jazz fusion with fretless bass in the initial lead and synths and electronic keys adding their voices after a minute. Nice, virtuosic DON PULLEN-like piano solo in the third minute continuing on until the ELP/YES-like 4:23 mark. Experimental synth noises take over, setting the stage for a Demetrio Stratos political vocal recitation (oddly, electronically treated). (9/10)

5. "Il Massacro Di Brandeburgo Numero Tre In Sol Maggiore" (2:20) a BACH string quartet with a little organ support from Demetrio. (4.5/5)

6. "Giro, Giro, Tondo" (5:55) Single note synth drops support a multi-track, multi-voice Demetrio onslaught before drums and keys smash their way into the song at the one minute mark. By 1:45 there is a full-band jazz-rock tapestry playing out over which Demetrio sings a fairly straightforward (for him) impassioned vocal. (8.75/10)

7. "Caos (Parte Seconda)" (9:00) a sonic free-for-all in which every band member is set loose in the studio with the intention, it would seem, to pluck and strike, clink and clank, wah and wang, fizzle and fazzle, strafe and staccato anything and everything they can A) come in contact with or B) imagine and invent. Methinks Demetrio, saxophonist Steve Lacy, and all percussionists had the most fun during this one. I'm guessing that only the most patient, most curious, 
or else detached and unexpectant listeners will find enjoyment in this one. (14/20)

Total Time: 39:18

84.0 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; another wonderful, well-produced display of the kind of politically-charged experimental music being done within the progressive rock movement in the mid-1970s.

35. PANNA FREDDA Uno (1971) 

Angelo Giardinelli, one member of a 1960-s Beat band that had a solid club presence with a lineup that included a full horn section, had a vision for a new sound based upon his exposure to the music of bands like Vanilla Fudge, Jimi Hendrix and The Band of Gypsies, The Moody Blues, and Pink Floyd. He had to convince the core lineup to go behind the backs of the rest of the band (mostly the horn section) in order to realize his vision. In live performances, the rock lineup's new music was received to great enthusiasm but the resulting album, recorded in 1970, was met with cold feet among their record company (who were used to hit-machine singles producers) and refused to release the album until public outcry and pressure forced their hand, but they did nothing to promote/back the album's release despite public and critical acclaim. Also, the delayed release forced the band to disband early (though pressure from family's--new marriages and national military service requirements also had a hand). Even a second incarnation--after the album's release in 1971--with a new lineup, couldn't revive the band's prospects and proceeded to fold at the end of 1971. Thus, this wonderful album, which would have been concurrent with the first wave of prog releases with Le Orme's Collage, The Trip's The Trip, and Osanna's L'Uomo, has remained in relative obscurity.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Angelo Giardinelli / guitar, vocals
- Giorgio Brandi / keyboards, guitar
- Filippo Carnevale / guitar, drums
- Carlo Bruno / bass

1. "La Paura" (6:02) a kind of cool, melodic, though simple blues rock song in the DOORS or DEEP PURPLE vein. I guess it's the panned "wind" synth and organ play that make this one proggy. The weave of multiple soloists in the final two minutes, too. (9/10)

2. "Un Re Senza Reame" (5:06) such clear engineering is a delight to hear--even with the lead vocals. I don' t know why it's so difficult to record and mix choral or background vocals, though. Melodic and in your face, this one could prove memorable. (8.5/10)

3. "Un Uomo" (4:56) opens with some aggressive, fairly fast whole-band chord play before dropping back into a very simple foundation for the vocals to begin. The alternating quiet vocal-heavy instrumental sections used here seems fairly common in Italian prog. At 2:16 a sole bass bridges to a new kind of jazzy jam section. Bass and organ seem both on the verge of soloing though it is really the drummer who is doing the interesting stuff. Then we get a lead guitarist to step forward in a kind of GRAND FUNK RAILROAD solo section. The spirit of URIAH HEEP seems also strongly present. (8.5/10)

4. "Scacco Al Re Lot" (4:32) opens with some quick-to-engage melodic hooks from guitar and organ. It is interesting how essential to each melody structure the bass play is. It is highly unusual to here such prominence given to the bass throughout an album as it is here. 

     The vocal section in the second half of the second minute is quite nice. This is then followed by a bridge into a "mediæval" section with guitar and harpsichord providing old background to the emotional vocal. Again, URIAH HEEP comes strongly to mind here. 
     The final minute shifts back into heavier rock mode before playing an electrical variation on the classical theme using in the mediæval section. (9/10) 

 5. "Il Vento, La Luna E Pulcini Blu" (9:58) opens with a kind of rock founded ancient theme (as in the previous song) with spinet and acoustic guitar. These remain to accompany the vocal section but is then followed by an instrumental section in which some experimenting with bass and electric guitar sounds in the third minute is accompanied by spinet arppegi and cymbal play from the drums. This section then repeats three times as it is alternated with variations on the theme from the opening. 
      The plaintive vocal only recurs twice in the entire song for perhaps a total of one minute's time, making this virtually and instrumental composition. 
      An entertaining and nice sounding song--though it could have been developed with more variation and an additional theme or two in the ten-minute mix. (15/20) 

6. "Waiting" (3:08) opens with recorded noise either from a factory or a train station which is then joined and commuted into distorted portamento space sounds before being replaced by fast-paced blues rock music of two main alternating themes, the first ejaculatory and bridge-like, the second more organ-based blues cruising. The alternating occurs four cycles before ending in a kind of crescendo of cacophonous sound coming from all of the instruments at one time. Interesting but... (7.5/10)

This is an album of good rock music but nothing very special or too innovative here--and I even find myself wondering if it is even prog--though it is bombastic and pretentious. But, then, so were The Doors. I do wonder, however, what might have happened had the band members stuck together and done some more albums together, though.
    The production engineering are surprisingly clear and the mixing done very well.

83.33 on the Fishscales = a solid four star album; B; a nice addition to any prog lover's music collection and especially recommended for RPI fans. 

36. LUCIANO BASSO Voci  (1976) An album in which Venezia-born keyboard artist Luciano Basso tries to shoulder his way to front of the crowd of prog keyboardists. He fails rather miserably.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Luciano Basso / acoustic & electric pianos, organ, Mellotron, harpsichord, composer & arranger
- Michele Zorzi / guitar
- Luigi Campalani / violin
- Massimo Palma / cello
- Mauro Periotto / acoustic & electric basses
- Riccardo Da Par / drums

1. "Preludio" (7:35) firm piano opening joined by violin and, later, Mellotron. At 2:10 the tempo slows and cello and bass join in. Not the most memorable melody nor very complex music. At the end of the fourth minute electric guitar joins the weave before drums enter and solidify the rock nature of this music at 4:25. Bombast that is over-the-top and, at the same time, not very impressive. As a matter of fact, no instrumentalist really wows or even impresses. The weave itself is even fairly mundane until the six minute mark when the bass and drums switch into an odd tempo (off and on). Nothing very special here. (10.5/15)

2. "Promenade I" (4:45) opens with a ELP sound, feel and tempo, add the violin and you have something a little different. In the first part of the second minute everything shifts to a little solo harpsichord section--over two minutes of this! Supreme cheese. At 3:21 the keyboardist switches to organ and the rest of the band joins in. Violin and electric guitar get a little foreplay before organ tries a Keith Emerson solo from beneath the full-band weave. And then it just stops. A tough song to rate. (7.75.10) 

3. "Promenade II" (6:19) the Keith Emerson imitation is so blatant that it's almost sad. Luciano does a pretty good job here as a KE imitator but brings nothing new, innovative, or even very impressive to the table. (8/10)

4. "Voci" (10:52) what amounts to a rock-band embellished KEITH JARRETT- or GEORGE WINSTON-like solo piano piece (pretty!) turns awesome at 5:12 when electric guitars (2) and drums join in. Wow! was that unexpected, powerful, and beautiful! But then they kind of wear it out. Finally at 6:20 the full band kicks in, almost leaving the piano in its own room. It feels like the first time the band was allowed to be themselves. And it's so short-lived as its broken down into more of a string quartet support for this syrupy demonstration of classical piano skills. At 9:10 the band gets another chance to join in, but this time it falls flat--the piano is too insistent, to domineering to let anything else have its own voice. The music switches at 10:20 for 30 seconds of rock finale. Another song that is very difficult to rate as a whole because of some outstanding parts and some real flops. (17/20)

5. "Echo" (9:17) opens with organ and choir, sounding like a modern day New Age church service (e.g. The Polyphonic Spree). Piano and strings and Mellotron strings take over in the second minute. 'tron and lap slide electric guitar in the third minute are joined by drums, "ah" choir vocalise, and organ. At 3:47 the song shifts gears into a faster tempo simplistic jazz-rock piece. There is something rather refreshing (or Mike Oldfield-like) in the mixing of church organ, slide guitar, and choral voices with the rock backbeat. If only the song structure and solos weren't so simplistic, scripted, and reserved. (18/20)

Total Time: 38:08

Nice recording of what amounts to nothing more than a tribute to Keith Emerson--a fair, solid exposition but nothing special or innovative. This imitation of KE is fairly rudimentary and as if following a by-the-numbers script. 

81.67 on the Fishscales = B-/3.5 stars; a great representative of the lure that progressive rock had for Italian musicians of every ilk.  

37. PROCESSION Frontiera (1972) 

The debut album from this band that originated in Turino. It's a full-on rock album more in the vein of Classic Rock bands LED ZEPPELIN, CREAM, and THIN LIZZY; I hear very little progressive rock music here.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Gianfranco Gaza / lead vocals, harmonica
- Roby Munciguerra / electric & acoustic 12-string guitars
- Marcello Capra / electric & acoustic 6-string guitars
- Angelo Girardi / bass, electric mandolin
- Giancarlo Capello / drums, percussion

1. "Ancora Una Notte" (5:24) blues rock of the CREAM kind with a powerful singer. Unfortunately, the guitar play and riffs and the vocal melody line get old real fast and never really develop or shift. (7.5/10)

2. "Uomini E Illusioni" (2:42) a full-on rock anthem in the YARDBIRDS, DEREK AND THE DOMINOES, and THIN LIZZY tradition. The highly touted drummer is not as impressive to me as the twin guitars are. Nor is the powerful but almost monochromatic voice of Gianfranco Gaza. (8.5/10)

3. "Citta Grande" (5:15) gently played acoustic guitar over which Gianfranco sings--this time with some nice emotional nuance (reminding me a bit of JAQUES BREL). The song bursts into a "la-la'la" sing along with some more dynamic full-band instrumentation (though the acoustic guitars continue) but then settles back down for Gianfranco's second verse. The drummer's fills to transition are rather sloppy and over-filled. The first good song though it still has a fairly straightforward blues rock chord structure (very much like CREAM's "White Room" or ZEPPELIN's "Rambler" or even THE EAGLES' "Hotel California"). The twin electric guitar passages again remind me of Thin Lizzy--though these guys precede TL by a couple of years. The song's final two minutes are purely a classical guitar solo. Odd. (9/10)

4. "Incontro" (2:43) mandolin and acoustic guitars with Gianfranco singing. Kind of nice Woodstock music. Electric guitar and flute in the final jam section. Love the acoustic instruments strumming together throughout the final jam! (8.5/10)

5. "Anche Io Sono Un Uomo" (3:59) thick chunky bass and two guitars being picked in the side channels are sung over by Gianfranco. Man this guy's voice is monotonous! Drums kick in at 1:30 with Mellotron and single electric guitar and gently picked steel string guitar in opposite ears. Gentle two-guitar motif returns for Gianfranco's next verse. Robert Plant-like vocal section is then paired up with Zepp-like bass, drums, and lead guitar to the fin. (8/10)

6. "Un Mondo Di Liberta" (8:41) slightly complex rhythm section supporting the screaming guitar shredding of a single electric guitar over the first two and a half minutes. Things shift into a little "Frankenstein"-like passage at the end of the third minute--which is interesting--before falling back into the misleading melodic chorus-pedaled electric guitar picking of the opening seconds. Then, poof! we're in an entirely different song! I don't know how people are expected to tolerate this--there isn't even any connection or bleeding from one section to the next; totally different, isolated songs spliced together for whatever reason. And then there are the "la-la-las" for the chorus/bridge into next full-band section. I'm sorry, this just doesn't work for me. (15/20)

7. "Solo 1" (3:29) raw and raunchy electric rhythm guitar starts things off before straight-time rock rhythm section and blistering Robert Plant-like lead guitar starts ripping it up. Even Gianfranco's vocal sounds like something straight out of one of LED ZEPPELIN's first two albums. Then there is a "la-la-la" vocal section to fade followed by a second song: acoustic guitars in the CSN&Y vein with a volume pedal experimented lead electric soloing in the middle. I like this stuff but it's kind of like pushing the record button while the band members aren't looking--catching them jamming mindlessly in the studio. Not fair. (7/10)

8. "Un'Ombra Che Vaga" (5:09) yet another song with more than one entirely separate song within the song. A heavy guitar-centered intro followed by an acoustic supported vocal section (with yet more "la-la-las"!). Sounds very mainstream poppy. Just a weird splicing. Can't imagine this being played live. (7/10)

9. "Solo 2" (2:10) more blues rock as if straight off of an early LED ZEPPELIN album. Good by highly unoriginal. (3.5/5)

Total time 39:32

77.89 on the Fishscales = C+/three stars; a fair but dismissive representative of Rock Progressivo Italiano; better suited as a classic rock / blues-rock album.

38. PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI Storia di un minuto (1971) 

Formed in Milan in 1970, this is the band's first album release. It is considered, with Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso's debut, to be one of the essential genre-defining albums.

After winning the top award at the inaugural staging of a prestigious music festival ("Festival d’Avanguardia e Nuove Tendenze" in Viareggio) in the summer of 1971, the band went into studio to record two of its hits--La carrozza di Hans and Impressioni di settembre--both of which appear on this album, which was then released in early 1972. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Franco Mussida / electric, acoustic & 12-string guitars, mandocello, lead vocals
- Flavio Premoli / organ, pianos (piano a puntine?), Mellotron, harpsichord, MiniMoog, lead vocals
- Mauro Pagani / flute, piccolo, violin, vocals
- Giorgio Piazza / bass, vocals
- Franz Di Cioccio / drums, percussion, Moog, vocals

1. "Introduzione (1:10) an interesting, bucolic entry into the world of PFM: vocalise, flutes, Mellotron, and, finally, full rock band. (4/5)

2. "Impressioni di Settembre" (5:44) back and forth, back and forth the song swings from the soft, spacious vocal section to the louder KING CRIMSON imitation part. The soft "C" part in the fifth minute sounds as if vocalist and instrumentalists (except for drummer, Michael Giles) are stuck in a time loop. (7.5/10)

3. "E' Festa" (4:52) a piano from an old West saloon and an ancient electric guitar from the early 60s open this frolicking song before turning into a BEATLES/ELP collage. This song might be great in a live concert experience but what a waste of vinyl! (6/10)

4. "Dove... Quando... (Parte I)" (4:08) This is obviously a song that was rejected from one of Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns. Too bad:  This band shows promise! (8/10)

5. "Dove... Quando... (Parte II)" (6:00) opens with the engineer unable to decide what volume levels he wishes to use for the pipe organ, finally settling on the loudest--which causes some overload hiss in the audio playback. Oh, well. We can drown it out with piano, bass and drums, right? At 2:15 things slow down and shift into lullaby time--piano(s) and cello (or is that double bass and cello?) with Mellotron and tympani added in for good measure so that a portamento synth can be panned across the soundscape. For some mysterious reason, the studio recorder decides to turn on the monitors in Studio B where a jazz combo is playing. Now this is some nice sound engineering! Oops! I spoke too soon. The electronic synthesizer keyboards throw up on the scene as the musicians from Studio A are staging a battle for supremacy. Who will win this war? As the song VERY suddenly ends, we'll never get to know. (A very good decision, if you ask me.) (7/10)

6. "La Carrozza di Hans" (6:46) opens out of the ashes of the previous debacle and takes a minute (that's right, a full minute) to re-establish order. The ASSOCIATION-like choral vocal which ensues is strangely disrupted by all kinds of weird instrumental noises and then just disappears all together as we are diverted by a solo concert from some coffee shop guitarist. It's pretty. Luckily I've got my Black and Tan, a nice bowl of hot stew, and my best friends to sit and chat with; the music can occupy the background. But wait! He's trying some tricky classical stuff! Oh, (4:43) no! I was mistaken. It's just The Them doing one of their Irish reels. That is a pretty decent violin player, though. Mellotron!?? Where'd that come from? (And WHY?!!) (7/10)

7. "Grazie Davvero" (5:52) this one predates PINK FLOYD's "Brain Damage" by a year or more! How'd they do that? That's brilliant! And then some Jacques Brel! I am loving this (if confused. It's like I'm sitting watching an old-fashioned television while someone else controls the channel changing.) Then comes part three--or is it a variation of part 2? At least the sound engineering and mix is better. 
     Then loud dynamics with a kind of Jesus Christ Superstar "Awaken - Gentle - Mass - Touch" riff arrives and then just as quickly disappears in lieu of . . . Pink Floyd! (Please excuse my time-touched perspective:  after forty years of immersion, DSotM and GftO are part of my dna but this is . . . not.)       The parts are all cool, well done, it's just quite a mystery as to how and why they all got spliced together as they did! (7.5/10)

No matter how many times I listen to this album, no matter how many different sound delivery mechanisms I experiment with, I always, always come away with the strong sense that this is a vastly overrated album in which the "new" sounds, riffs, and even themes coming out of the prog bands from the British Isles are merely being absorbed and then regurgitated.

Maybe it was all a dream!? Or part of some kind of a musical review?! If I had known that that was what I was in for, I might have felt better prepared--and more receptive. (But why, then, after this, my nth listen to this highly acclaimed, praised album, am I as dumbfounded and mystified as ever?!?!?)

72.86 on the Fishscales = 3.5 stars; C-; a good to fair presentation of . . . spliced together excellent sections of many, many songs, some original, some borrowed or stolen. 

The Metrics

A / Five Star Masterpieces (100 to 92.50):
1. IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO Ys (1972) - 96.25
2. PICCHIO DAL POZZO Picchio dal pozzo (1976) - 94.70
3. PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI Per un amico (1972) - 94.61
4. AREA Crac! (1975) - 94.0
5. ROCKY's FILJ Storie di uomini e non (1973) - 93.67
6. CERVELLO Melos (1973) -  93.57
7. AREA Arbeit macht frei (1973) - 93.08
8. ARTI E MESTIERI Tilt (1974) - 92.81
9. MAXOPHONE Maxophone (1975) - 92.50
10. IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA Contaminazione (1973) - 92.50
11. FRANCO BATTIATO Sulle corde di Aries (1973) - 92.50

A- / Five Star Minor Masterpieces (92.49 to 90.00):
12. IL PAESE DEI BALOCCHI Il Paese dei Balocchi (1972) - 92.37
13. BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO Io sono nato libero (1973) - 91.42
14. PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI L'isola di niente (1974) - 91.42
15. ALPHATAURUS Alphataurus (1973) - 91.18
16. CELESTE Principe di un giorno (1976) - 90.71
17. GOBLIN Roller (1976) - 90.71
18. BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO Banco del mutuo soccorso (1972) - 90.56 
19. DEDALUS Dedalus (1973) - 90.0

B+ / 4.5 Star Near-Masterpieces (89.99 to 87.50):
20. LOCANDA DELLE FATE Forse le lucciole non si amano più (1977) - 89.76
21. QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA Il tempo della Gioia (1974) - 88.93
22. NEW TROLLS Concerto Grosso per i New Trolls (1971) - 88.67
23. BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO Darwin! (1972) - 88.50
24. CHERRY FIVE Cherry Five (1975) - 87.50

B / Four Star Albums of Virtue (87.49 to 83.34):
21. BIGLIETTO PER L'INFERNO Biglietto per l'Inferno (1974) - 86.43
22. QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA Quella Vecchia Locanda (1972) - 86.43
23. LE ORME Uomo di Pezza (1972) - 85.71
24. AREA Caution Radiation Area (1974) - 85.38
25. LE ORME Felona e Sorona (1973) - 84.72
26. STEFANO TESTA Una Balena Bianca e altre cose (1977) - 84.72
27. REALE ACCADEMIA DI MUSICA Reale Accademia di Musica (1972) - 84.71
28. LE ORME Contrappunti (1974) - 84.69
29. JUMBO Vietato ai minori di 18 anni (1973) - 84.29
30. AREA Maledetti (1976) - 84.0 

B- / 3.5 Star Albums of Distinction (83.33 to 80.00):
35. PANNA FREDDA Uno (1971) - 83.33
36. LUCIANO BASSO Voci (1976) - 81.67

C+ / Three Star Albums of Merit (79.99 to 76.67):
37. PROCESSION Frontiera (1972) - 77.89

C / 2.5 Star Albums (76.66 to 73.34):

C- / 2.0 Star Albums (73.33 to 70.00):
38. PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI Storia di un minuto (1971) - 72.86


GOBLIN Profundo Rossi OST (1974)

Founded in Rome in 1973 as "Oliver",  the band underwent an identity problem when they went to England to record their first album--allowing their production label to give them the name CHERRY FIVE. (See above.) In 1974 the remaining members finally came out of their Oliver and Cherry Five Yes-clone phase to do some soundtrack music for horror films with conductor/composer Giorgio Gaslini for Dario Argento's film "Red Blood" (Profundo Rossi). 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Massimo Morante / guitar
- Claudio Simonetti / keyboards
- Fabio Pignatelli / bass
- Walter Martino / drums
- Giorgio Gaslini / orchestral score & conductor (4-7)
- Agostino Marangolo / drums (2)

1. Profondo Rosso (3:45)
2. Death Dies (4:37)
3. Mad Puppet (6:30)
4. Wild Session (5:40)
5. Deep Shadows (5:45)
6. School At Night (2:05)
7. Gianna (1:47)

"Main Theme" (3:44) opens with a catchy little multiple keyboard weave that sounds like a VDGG song we all know. Bass joins in after about 20 seconds and then church organ and full band for a few seconds in the early seconds of the second minute. Things quiet down again for a length time before a variation on the full band theme builds up, breaks down, and then kicks in fully in the fourth minute. A really cool, somewhat spooky, cinematic song constructed in a sophisticated classical music way. (10/10)

Total time 30:09
on the Fishscales = / stars; 

LE ORME Collage (1971)

Though founded in Marghera (near Venizia) in 1966 by Aldo Tagliapietra and three friends, it wasn't until 1970 that Le Orme found its most stable and solid lineup--as a trio. After this album the band found such a large and avid fan base that they were able to leave the festival scene and tour as a venue-based group (which was rare at the time)--where they even had artists like Peter Hammill as warm-up bands.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Aldo Tagliapietra / vocals, bass, acoustic guitar
- Antonio Pagliuca / Hammond, electric piano, audio generator
- Michi Dei Rossi / drums, percussions

Side 1
1. "Collage" (4:42)
2. "Era Inverno" (5:00)
3. "Cemento Armato" (8:08)
Side 2
4. "Sguardo Verso Il Cielo" (4:12)
5. "Evasione Totale" (6:56)
6. "Immagini" (2:58)
7. "Morte Di Un Fiore" (3:00)

on the Fishscales = / stars; 

THE TRIP The Trip (1970)

Formed in Savona out of the ashes of an English band (Rick Malocchi & The Trips) that came to Italy to try to improve their fortunes (a band that included guitarist Ritchie Blackmore), singer-guitarist Billy Gray and bassist-vocalist Arvid Andersen are the two holdouts, local organist Joe Vescovi and drummer Pino Sinnone were the members picked up once the other Brits left for home. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Billy Gray / guitar, vocals
- Joe Vescovi / organ, vocals, arrangements
- Arvid "Wegg" Andersen / bass, vocals
- Pino Sinnone / drums & percussion

1. Prologo (8:09)
2. Incubi (8:23)
3. Visioni dell'aldilà (8:50)
4. Riflessioni (5:46)
5. Una Pietra Colorata (2:26)

Total Time 33:34

THE TRIP Caronte (1971)

The Savona-based International group have had some months to hone their skill, (re-)define their vision, and produce their second prog-related, ELP-inspired psychedelic album. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- William Gray / electric & acoustic guitars, vocals
- Joe Vescovi / Hammond organ, piano, church organ, Mellotron, arrangements, lead vocals
- Arvid "WEGG" Andersen / bass, lead vocals
- Pino Sinnone / percussion

1. Caronte 1 (6:45)
2. Two Brothers (8:15)
3. Little Janie (4:00)
4. L'Ultima Ora e Ode a J. Hendrix (10:18)
5. Caronte 2 (3:32)

Total Time 32:50

OSANNA L'Uomo (1971) 

A Naples-based band that produced some of RPI's highest, most-beloved achievements. Even their stage act--with costumes and facial costume makeup--were innovative. (As a warmup to some of English band Genesis' early Italian concerts, Osanna may very well have had quite an influence on its soon-to-be theatric front man, Peter Gabriel.)

Line-up / Musicians:
- Lino Vairetti / vocals, 12-string guitar, harmonica, Hammond organ, synthesizer
- Danilo Rustici / lead & 12-string guitars, pipe organ, audio oscillator
- Elio D'anna / flute, piccolo, tenor & baritone saxophones
- Lello Brandi / bass
- Massimo Guarino / drums & percussion
- Toto Calabrese / Fx

1. Introduzione (3:26)
2. L'uomo (3:34)
3. Mirror Train (4:56)
4. Non sei vissuto mai (6:00)
5. Vado verso una meta (3:15)
6. In un vecchio cieco (3:31)
7. L'amore vincerà di nuovo (6:13)
8. Everybody's Gonna See You Die (3:04)
9. Lady Power (3:56)

Total Time 37:55

* OSANNA Palepoli (1973) 

The Naples-based band's third studio album (their second was a soundtrack), Palepoli  is widely considered to be one of the crowning achievements of Rock Progressivo Italiano.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Lino Vairetti / lead vocals, 12-string guitar, ARP 2600 synth, Mellotron
- Danilo Rustici / acoustic, steel, 12-string & electric guitars, Vox organ, backing vocals
- Elio D'Anna / baritone & soprano saxes, tenor & contralto electric saxes, flute, piccolo, backing vocals
- Lello Brandi / bass, bass pedals, guitar
- Massimo Guarino / drums, vibraphone, bells, percussion, backing vocals

1. Oro Caldo (18:30) 
2. Stanza Città (1:45) 
3. Animale Senza Respiro (21:36)

on the Fishscales = / stars; 
This almost-universally acclaimed "classic" is far too brash, too hard-driving, and too rock-oriented for my personal tastes. Definitely nowhere near my cup of tea!

MUSEO ROSENBACH Zarathustra (1972) 

A band that was created in 1971 out of two previous bands from Sanremo (in the Italian Riviera, just next to the border with France) and offered a recording contract by the ancient and very influential Milan-based music label, Dischi Ricordi. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Stefano "Lupo" Galifi / vocals
- Enzo Merogno / guitar, vocals
- Pit Corradi / Mellotron, Hammond organ, vibraphone, Farfisa el. piano
- Alberto Moreno / bass, piano
- Giancarlo Golzi / drums, timpani, bells, vocals

1. "Zarathustra"
- a. "L'Ultimo Uomo (3:57)
- b. "Il Re Di Ieri (3:12)
- c. "Al Di La Del Bene E Del Male (4:09)
- d. "Superuomo (1:22)
- e. "Il Tempio Delle Clessidre (8:02)

2. "Degli Uomini" (4:01)
3. "Della Natura" (8:24)
4. "Dell'Eterno Ritorno" (6:15)

sounds to me like a rehashed and extended version of GENESIS' "The Knife." Not enough variety, diversity and virtuosity to exalt it among the pantheon of the Prog Olympians.
     Poor recording/production denies this album from any consideration of masterpiece status. The dynamics are too diverse and inconsistent, the recording too muddy, the sound attempting, IMO, to be too imitative of a combination of KC's "In the Court of the Crimson King," ELP (especially "Tarkus"), or JETHRO TULL ("Aqualung"). The drums sound too much like filler--and they and the bass stand out front too much, often taking one's attention from the whole. And what's with the engineer's hand on the master volume nob! It's like a NEKTAR, ZAPPA, or early SANTANA listening experience: one never knows when or where the song starts, stops or segues because the fade in and fade out can seem to come from out of nowhere! Plus, not unlike ELP, I'm not quite sure what MR are trying to accomplish with their music--the section changes are often so sudden and incongruous feeling. Curiously--and, again, unexpectedly--the album highlight for me is the little song from which we get a rather highly acclaimed album from Anno Domini 2010, " Il tempio delle clessidre" (9/10). "Dell'eterno ritorno" (8/10) is also pretty decent. 3 stars. Could've been better with better mixing, recording, engineering.

on the Fishscales = / stars; 

* JUMBO DNA (1972) not developed, mature, or polished enough.

Milan-based band's second of three albums made in the space of two years (1972-73), they continued to perform live, mostly at festivals (despite their songs from Vietato ai minori di 18 anni? being banned from the radio for their content of homosexuality) until 1977.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Alvaro "Jumbo" Fella / vocals, acoustic guitar
- Daniele "Pupo" Bianchini / acoustic & electric guitars
- Sergio "Samuel" Conte / organ, piano, electric piano
- Dario Guidotti / flute, mouth harp, acoustic guitar
- Aldo Gargano / bass
- Vito "Juarak" Balzano / drums

1. "Suite Per Il Sig. K" (20:46) (/40)
- Sta Accadendo Qualcosa Dentro Me
- Ed Ora Corri
- Dio E'

2. "Miss Rand" (5:05) blues rock guitar and drumming with organ for 35 seconds before everybody cuts out for a mouth harp solo. At 1:15 Alvaro joins with his Tom Waits-like gravelly voice with New Orleans sounding musical support with guitar, piano, bass, and flute and all playing a two-step. flute and bass lead a bridge into a new section (/10)

3. "E' Brutto Sentirsi Vecchi" (6:34) (/10)
4. "Hai Visto..." (7:20) (/15)

Total Time: 39:45

on the Fishscales = / stars; 

* MURPLE Ion Sono Murple (1974) *

A one-off from a prog-inspired quartet of young musicians from Rome, they took their band name (and theme of the story of their first album) from an invisible penguin that an American friend of theirs claimed to talk to. The album suffered from lack of promotion (and delayed release) from their German record label.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Giuseppe "Pino" Santamaria / lead & backing vocals, electric, acoustic & 12-string guitars
- Pier Carlo Zanco / lead & backing vocals, organ, piano, Eminent, synthesizer, bowed contrabass
- Mario Garbarino / bass, bongos, triangle
- Duilio Sorrenti / drums, congas, timbales, gong

1. "Antartide / Metamorfosi / Pathos / Senza Un Perché / Nessuna Scelta / Murple Rock" (17:37) (/35)

2. "Preludio E Scherzo / Tra I Fili / Variazioni In 6/8 / Fratello / Un Mondo Così / Antarplastic" (16:37) (/35)

Total time 34:14

on the Fishscales = / stars; 


Pleasant piano-based jazz-rock fusion prog from a one-off band that formed for a short while in Rome. (Three of the band members, including the Monopoli-born Boccuzzi brothers and Bari's Alessio Alba, were originally from Apulia). They were together less than a year!

Line-up / Musicians:
- Renato Baldassarri / vocals
- Alessio Alba / guitar
- Giovanni Boccuzzi / keyboards
- Francesco Boccuzzi / bass, keyboards
- Maurizio Cobianchi / drums

1. "La Corte di Hon" (4:57)
2. "Canto" (6:11) a bit of Coltrane-like wandering before turning into a rock song. (8/10)
3. "Aristea" (5:05)
4. "Ljalja" (6:53)
5. "Ritorno" (8:43)

Total Time 31:51

on the Fishscales = / stars; 

* I, GIGANTI Terra in Bocca (1971) *

A Milan-based band that started off as a very successful Beat band in the 1960s reformed in 1971 to put together a Prog album before finally disbanding (to work on other projects/in other bands) in 1973.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Giacomo "Mino" Di Martino / guitar, vocals
- Francesco "Checco" Marsella / piano, organ, Mellotron, vocals
- Sergio Di Martino / bass, guitar, vocals
- Sergio Enrico Maria Papes / drums, Fx, vocals
- Marcello Dellacasa (later to LATTE E MIELE)/ guitar
- Gigi Rizzi / guitar
- Ares Tavolazzi (later to AREA)/ guitar, bass
- Carmelo La Bionda / acoustic guitar (uncredited)
- Michelangelo La Bionda / acoustic guitar (uncredited)
- Vincenzo Tempera (later to IL VOLO)/ organ, piano
- Ellade Bandini / drums

1. "Largo Iniziale" (3:28)
2. "Molto Largo" (2:13)
3. "Avanti" (3:42)
4. "Avanti Tutto-Brutto Momento-Plim Plim" (4:33)
5. "Plim Plim Al Parossismo-Delicato Andante" (3:13)
6. "Rumori-Fine Incombente" (6:12)
7. "Fine Lontana-Allegro Per Niente" (6:04)
8. "Tanto Va La Gatta Al Lardo-Su E Giu'" (7:44)
9. "Larghissimo- Dentro Tutto" (4:14)
10. "Alba Di Note-Rimbalzello Triste" (1:27)
11. "Rimbalzello Compiacente-Ossessivo Ma Non Troppo- Fine" (3:25)

Total time 46:15

on the Fishscales = / stars; 

* SEMIRAMIS Dedicato a Frazz (1973) *

Formed in Rome in 1970 by 15-year old Maurizio Zarrillo and same-aged cousins, Marcello Reddavide and Memmo Pulvano, they added Maurizio's younger brother, Michele, a guitar prodigy, to record this one-off in 1971. With a constantly changing lineup, the band continued to tour, playing mostly at live festivals, until 1974.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Michele Zarrillo / electric & acoustic guitars, vocals, composer
- Giampiero Artegiani / synthesizer, Classical & 12-string guitars
- Maurizio Zarrillo / grand piano, Eminent organ, electric piano, synthesizer, harpsichord, sistro
- Marcello Reddavide / bass guitar, bells, Fx
- Paolo Faenza / drums, percussion, vibraphone, Fx

1. "La bottega del rigattiere" (6:01)
2. "Luna Park" (5:58)
3. "Uno zoo di vetro" (4:28)
4. "Per un strada affolata" (5:00)
5. "Dietro una porta di carta" (5:42)
6. "Frazz" (5:05)
7. "Clown" (4:34)

Total Time: 36:48

on the Fishscales = / stars; 

* METAMORFOSI Inferno (1973) *

A band from Rome that produced two albums in 1970s, both proggy, with this one, their second, being a big step better than their debut of the previous year.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Jimmy Spitaleri / lead vocals, flute
- Roberto Turbitosi / guitars, bass, vocals
- Enrico Olivieri / keyboards, synthesizer, vocals
- Gianluca Herygers / drums, percussions

1. "Introduzione" (7:51) church organ intro is soon replaced by Dracula-sounding male singer backed by concertina-like piano. In the second minute full RPI rock sound with synths, piano, and thick bass takes over, moving through two different motifs with some solid rhythm section play beneath (especially the bass). Church organ breaks things up at 3:15 before Wurlitzer-like organ and jazzy piano take over the lead, taking turns as the leader. At 4:45 another tempo shift is connected by the organ before a slower, weird vibrato-synth-dominated section takes over. Back to the faster rock pace by the end of the sixth minute before another time downshift occurs and 6:35. Buzz saw bass line and Prophet 5 lead over the top. Another church interlude bridge at 7:30 leads into the next song. (14/15)
2. "Porta dell'Inferno" (1:20) the Dracula voice returns 
but then runs away (4.5/5)
3. "Caronte" (1:19) /4.5/10)
4. "Spacciatore di droga" (6:22) excellent bass and bouncing Hammond organ 
5. "Lussuriosi" (3:15)
6. "Avari" (1:32)
7. "Violenti" (3:45)
8. "Malebolge" (1:32)
9. "Sfruttatori" (5:42)
10. "Razzisti" (3:25)
11. "Lucifero (Politicanti)" (2:32)
12. "Conclusione" (1:37)

Total Time 40:18

on the Fishscales = / stars; 

DE DE LIND Io non so da dove vengo e non so dove mai andrò, uomo è il nome che mi han dato (1973)

Named after a Playboy pinup model from the early 1960s, this Milan-based band started releasing singles in the late 1960s. This was their first and only album release.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Vito Paradiso / vocals, acoustic guitar
- Matteo Vitolli / electric & acoustic guitars, percussion, prepared piano, flute
- Gilberto Trama / flute, tenor saxophone, flugelhorn, piano, prepared piano, organ
- Eddy Lorigiola / bass
- Ricky Rebajoli / drums, percussion, timpani

1. "Fuga E Morte" (7:20) 
2. "Indietro Nel Tempo" (4:17)
3. "Paura Del Niente" (7:46)
4. "Smarrimento" (7:59)
5. "Cimitero Di Guerra" (5:19)
6. "Voglia Di Rivivere" (3:35)
7. "E Poi" (2:03)

Total Time: 38:19

on the Fishscales = / stars; 

 JACULA In cauda semper stat venenum (1969/2001)

Recorded in England in 1969, this album was never released until the tapes were reprocessed and heavily altered for release in 2001. Had Jacula released this album in 1969 it would have most certainly been one of the first Italian representations of progressive rock music. As it stands, it is still a fascinating display of visionary music--exploiting the cinematic potentiality of rock that will become such a foundational aspect and expression of prog music. Doubtless, members of GOBLIN, MUSEO ROSENBACH, IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO,  and OSANNA were aware of and influenced by the music and performances of Antonio Baroccetti. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Antonio Bartoccetti / guitars, bass, vocals, producer
- Charles Tiring / church organ
- Doris Norton / effects

1. Ajtus (4:06)
2. Magister Dixit (10:30) (16.5/20) 
3. Triumphatus Sad (3:35)
4. Veneficium (2:21)
5. Initiatjo (6:49)
6. In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum (10:05)

Total Time: 37:26

on the Fishscales = / stars; 

JACULA Tardo Pede in Magiam Versus (1972)

Jacula is actually one of Milan-based (originally from the Marche, on the Adriatic coast below San Marino, near Perugia) artist Antonio Bartoccetti (Antonius Rex)'s multiple projects in which he pulled together studio musicians to form "bands". At the same time Antonio was running and leading Dietro Noi Deserto and Invisible Force, each of whom released singles in 1971. Antonio was into mediums and spiritualists--some of whom were occasionally listed as band members and whose rants were included in songs (like here, on "Long Black Magic Night"). This was the second and final album released under the Jacula name. Bartoccetti would settle on the name and band Antonius Rex, a band that continued to release albums under the Black Widow label into the 2010s.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Vittoria Lo Turco / lead vocals, violin, flute
- Antonio Bartoccetti / guitars, bass, vocals, producer
- Charles Tiring / church organ, harpsichord, Moog, vocals

1. U.F.D.E.M. (8:50)
2. Praesentia Domini (10:50)
3. Jacula Valzer (5:00)
4. Long Black Magic Night (6:21)
5. "In Old Castle" (9:36) pure, 100% solo pipe organ! (18/20) 

Total time 40:37

on the Fishscales = / stars; 

J.E.T. Fede, speranza, carità (1972)

Formed in Genova (Genoa) in 1970, reformed as Matia Bazar in 1974.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Aldo Stelita / guitars, vocals
- Piero Cassano / keyboards
- Carlo Marrale 'Bimbo' / bass, marimba, cello, vibraphone
- Pucci Cochis / drums

1. "Fede, Speranza, Carità" (10:56)
2. "Il Prete E Il Peccatore" (11:10)
3. "C'e' Chi Non Ha" (6:35)
4. "Sinfonia Per Un Re" (7:59)
5. "Sfogo" (3:39)

Total time 40:22

on the Fishscales = / stars; 

L'UVO DI COLOMBO L'Uovo di Colombo (1973)

A Rome-based band that only stayed together long enough to release one album.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Toni Gionta / lead vocals
- Enzo Volpini / keyboards, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
- Elio Volpini / bass, guitar, lead (1) & backing vocals
- Ruggero Stefani / drums, percussion, backing vocals

1. "L'Indecisione" (4:55)
2. "Io" (3:32)
3. "Anja" (4:37)
4. "Vox Dei" (4:57)
5. "Turba" (4:09)
6. "Consiglio" (4:48)
7. Visione Della Morte (6:42)
8. Scherzo (0:22)

Total Time: 34:08

on the Fishscales = / stars; 

ALUSA FALLUX Intorno alla mia cattiva educazione (1974)

A one-off from album from this band from Milan (despite being together as a band for ten years).

Line-up / Musicians:
- Guido Gabet / electric & acoustic guitars, backing vocals
- Massimo Parretti / piano, organ, harpsichord, ARP synth
- Mario Cirla / tenor & contralto saxophones, flute, French horn, backing vocals
- Guido Cirla / bass, backing vocals
- Augusto "Duty" Cirla / drums, bells, recorder, lead vocals

1. "Soliloquio" (2:58)
2. "Non Fatemi Caso" (4:28)
3. "Intorno Alla Mia Cattiva Educazione" (4:13)
4. "Fuori Di Me, Dentro Di Me" (3:03)
5. "Riflessioni Al Tramonto" (3:04)
6. "Il Peso Delle Tradizioni" (1:40)
7. "Carta Carbone" (3:36)
8. "Perchè Ho Venduto Il Mio Sangue" (1:43)
9. "Per Iniziare Una Vita" (4:20)
10. "E' Oggi" (3:05)
11. "E' Così Poco Quel Che Conosco" (2:32)
12. "Ciò Che Nasce Con Me" (4:12)
13. "Splendida Sensazione" (5:45)

Total Time: 44:39

on the Fishscales = / stars; 

STORMY SIX L'apprendista (1977)

Rock-In-Opposition (RIO) band formed in Milan in 1965, disbanded in 1983.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Franco Fabbri / vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, vibraphone, xylophone
- Umberto Fiori / vocals, acoustic guitar
- Carlo de Martini / violin, viola, mandolin, acoustic guitar, vocals
- Tommaso Leddi / mandolin, violin, acoustic & electric guitars, piano
- Luca Piscicelli / bass, vocals
- Salvatore Garau / drums
- Gianfranco Gagliardi / keyboards
- Renato Rivolta / saxophone
- Leo Dosso / bassoon
- Pino Martini / bass (3,4)
- Bruno Fraimini / percussion (5)
- Cristina Pederiva / viola (7)
- Andrea Vicario / cello

1. "Buon Lavoro!" (5:12)
2. "L'Apprendista" (5:39)
3. "Carmine" (5:53)
4. "Il Barbiere" (7:39)
5. "Cuore" (5:51)
6. "Il Labirinto" (8:25)
7. "Rosso" (3:02)
8. "L'Orchestra dei Fischietti" (6:29)

Total Time: 48:10

on the Fishscales = / stars; 

CORTE DEI MIRACOLI Corte dei Miracoli (1976)

Hailing from Savona (Liguria, on the Italian Riviera), the band formed in 1973, disbanded in 1976.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Graziano Zippo / vocals
- Alessio Feltri / keyboards
- Riccardo Zegna / keyboards
- Gabliele Siri / bass
- Flavio Scogna / drums, percussions
- Vittorio De Scalzi / guitar (1), mixing

1. ...E Verrà L'Uomo (7:00)
2. Verso Il sole (6:34)
3 .Una Storia Fiabesca (6:52)
4. Il Rituale Notturno (7:12)
5. I Due Amanti (13:40)

Total Time: 41:18

on the Fishscales = / stars; 

Campo di Marte (1973)

A band naming themselves after the quarter of Firenze (Florence) that they were from formed in 1971, disbanded in 1975.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Enrico Rosa / electric & acoustic guitars, Mellotron, vocals
- Alfredo Barducci / French horn, flute, piano, organ, clavioline, vocals
- Paul Richard (aka Richard Ursillo) / bass, vocals
- Carlo Felice Marcovecchio / drums, bongos, vocals
- Mauro Sarti / drums, bongos, flute, vocals

1. Primo Tempo (8:10)
2. Secundo Tempo (3:20)
3. Terzo Tempo (6:20)
4. Quarto Tempo (3:15)
5. Quinto Tempo (5:58)
6. Sesto Tempo (5:12)
7. Settimo Tempo (8:28)

Total Time: 40:43

The tracklist on the 2006 remaster was altered from the original LP and follows the sequence 5-6-7-1-2-3-4, and with new titles:
1. Prologo I
2. Prologo II
3. Prologo III
4. Riflessione I
5. Riflessione II
6. Epilogo I
7. Epilogo II

on the Fishscales = / stars; 

IL VOLO Il Volo (1974)

A gathering of seasoned musicans from five different Milan-based bands to try out the prog scene.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Alberto Radius (FORMULA TRE) / electric & acoustic guitars, electric sitar, vocals
- Mario Lavezzi (FLORA FAUNA CEMENTO, CAMALIONTI) / acoustic, 12-string & electric guitars, electric mandolin, vocals
- Vincenzo Tempera (PLEASURE MACHINE) / piano, Fender Rhodes, clavinet
- Gabrile Lorenzi (FORMULA TRE) / organ, Moog & Eminent synths, harpsichord
- Roberto Callero (OSAGE TRIBE, DUELLO MADRE) / bass
- Gianni Dall'Aglio (RIBELLI) / drums, congas, vocals

1. Come una zanzara (4:21)
2. La mia rivoluzione (3:58)
3. Il calore umano (4:43)
4. Il canto della preistoria (4:34)
5. I primi respiri (3:52)
6. La canzone del nostro tempo (4:14)
7. Sonno (4:08)
8. Sinfonia delle scarpe da tennis (2:56)

Total Time: 32:46

IL VOLO Essere O Non Essere ? (1975)

Italian "super group" second effort at progressive rock music.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Alberto Radius / electric & acoustic guitars, electric sitar, vocals
- Mario Lavezzi / acoustic, 12-string & electric guitars, electric mandolin, vocals
- Vincenzo Tempera / piano, Fender Rhodes, clavinet
- Gabrile Lorenzi / organ, Moog synth
- Roberto Callero / bass
- Gianni Dall'Aglio / drums, vocals

1. Gente In Amore (5:03)
2. Medio Oriente 249000 Tutto Compreso (5:46)
3. Essere (4:02)
4. Alcune Scene (6:16)
5. Svegliandomi Con Te Alle 6 Del Mattino (5:17)
6. Canti E Suoni (4:23)

Total Time: 30:47

APOTEOSI Apoteosi (1975)

from Palmi, Calabria.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Silvana Idà / vocals
- Franco Vinci / acoustic & electric guitars, vocals
- Massimo Idà / grand piano, Hammond B3, Eminent organ, ARP Pro Soloist synthesizer
- Federico Idà / bass, flute
- Marcello Surace / drums
- Coro Alessandroni / chorus vocals (in Oratorio)

1. Embrion (2:35)
2. Prima Realta / Frammentaria Rivolta (14:40)
3. Il Grande Disumano / Oratorio (Chorale) / Attesa (8:36)
4. Dimensione Da Sogno (3:48)
5. Apoteosi (5:50)

Total Time 35:29


Though Napoli-based Città Frontale pre-existed Osanna (their original keyboard player, Gianni Leone, went on to help form Il Balletto di Bronzo), the band didn't really make a mark in the music scene until they reformed in 1974 after the break up of Osanna. Keyboardist / vocalist Lino Vairetti and percussionist Massimo Guarino returned to re-form their original band with some other old and new personnel and then were able to keep things together long enough to produce this minor masterpiece.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Enzo Avitabile / flute, sax, vocals
- Massimo Guarino / percussion, vocals
- Gianni Guarracino / guitars, Moog, vocals
- Paolo Raffone / keyboards
- Lino Viaretti / keyboards, lead vocals
- Rino Zurzulo / bass

1. Alba Di una Citta'(instrumental) (3:03)
2. Solo Uniti (4:57)
3. El Tor (6:31)
4. Duro Lavoro (6:24)
5. Mutatione (6:51)
6. La Casa del Mercante "Sun" (4:06)
7. Milioni di Persone (3:39)
8. Equilibrio Divino? (6:37)

Total Time: 44:08

PROCESSION Fiaba (1974)

The band's second album; they've undergone an almost complete lineup change (only two of the original band members are present here).

Line-up / Musicians:
- Gianfranco Gaza / vocals
- Roby Munciguerra / guitars
- Maurizio Gianotti / tenor & alto saxophones, flute
- Paolo D'Angelo / bass
- Francesco "Froggio" Francica / drums, percussion
- Franco Fernandez / keyboards (2,6)
- Ettore Vigo / keyboards (3)
- Silvana Aliotta / vocals (3)

1. Uomini Di Vento (3:49)
2. Un Mondo Sprecato (4:34)
3. C'era Una Volta (8:03)
4. Notturno (8:01)
5. Il Volo Della Paura (4:47)
6. Fiaba (5:25)

Total time 34:39

FRANCO BATTIATO Pollution (1973)

Sicilian-born artist Francesco Battiato had set up camp in the musically-rich and diverse city of Milano. After the release of an initial proggy album of simplistic soundscapes based on the VCS3, "Franco" pulled together a band to create this more rock-oriented music. The album was well-received, as were their concert performances, with it even reaching the Italian Top 10 in album sales.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Francesco Battiato / lead vocals, VCS3 synth
- Mario Ellepi / acoustic & electric guitars, vocals
- Ruby Cacciapaglia / piano, VCS3 synth
- Gianni Mocchetti / bass, vocals
- Gianfranco D'Adda / drums, timpani, Fx

1. Il Silenzio Del Rumore (2:48)
2. 31 Dicembre 1999 - Ore 9 (0:20)
3. Areknames (5:07)
4. Beta (7:25)
5. Plancton (5:03)
6. Pollution (8:49)
7. Ti Sei Mai Chiesto Quale Funzione Hai? (3:35)

Total Time 33:09