Prognosis

I was busy with another project (building a guitar) and didn’t have any ideas until last night when I went through the library and started pulling tunes. Even then, it doesn’t always work, and I admit I’ve spent days tinkering with the sequence. Not this time.

I grew up with Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, ELP, and the rest.
None of them are featured here.
This is music I’m less familiar with than usual.
Most of it is from years of trolling blog sites for things I’d only read about in the past.

For example, Mogul Thrash is the band John Wetton left to join Family, before leaving them for King Crimson. I never expected to find it, but thanks to the internet, I have FLAC files.

I hope you like mellotron.

I tended towards shorter songs when possible. My favorite Genesis song, for instance, “Supper’s Ready” is a whole album side and clocks in over 20 minutes. Add “Close To The Edge”, and “Lark’s Tongues In Aspic Pt 1”, and there’s an entirely epic cd length mix.

The Italians really “got” Prog and some of the best bands were from there. “Impressioni Di Settembre”, an old favorite, was somewhat blandly re-recorded by PFM in english as “The World Became The World”, the title track to their second american release, but I’ve always preferred the original Italian version.

Also here is Il Volo, another of the best, represented by “Il Canto Della Preistoria (Molecule)”, which also transcends it’s lack of english with some truly extraordinary guitar sounds.

Amon Düül II is from Germany, and technically krautrock.

Aphrodite’s Child is from Greece, and features Vangelis, long before “Chariots Of Fire”.

Brian Davison was the drummer in the Nice. This 1970 solo album is nothing like his former band.

Tempest was a power trio freaturing Ollie Halsall, sadly best known for playing “Paul” on The Rutles recordings. He briefly joined this band, wrote all the songs, and sang lead on the album they recorded and left, to play with Kevin Ayers.

Bram Stoker is a band who left behind an album with nary a trace of other info. This is one of those that collectors go nuts for. Same goes for Pete Fine’s.

I only downloaded Aubrey Small a few days ago, and barely know “Smoker Will Blow”. This description caught my eye:
“The recording experience at Trident became intoxicating and at times even became somewhat surreal. For one number “Smoker Will Blow”(producer)John Anthony had the idea of putting orchestration on the track as it was too simple. Within a matter of days arranger Richard Hewson appeared together with a huge assembly of the finest jazz and orchestral musicians available. Here was another highly respected musician who had a list of high profile credits to his name including the Beatles, Bee Gees, Diana Ross, Art Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac, Supertramp, Chris Rea among others – another who’s who! The band watched from the control room with amazement as an extraordinary and complex soundscape unfolded on their song”.

Kaleidoscope was an English band whose roots were in ’60’s psychedelia, and released some really exceptional music, but for some reason ended up with less than nothing. This song is the closer to an album they finished in 1971, but didn’t see release until 1992.

Prognosis

Prognosis Too

Enjoy!
-BBJ

I liked the new neck so much I regretted not doing a better job painting it, so I repainted with 20 coats of lacquer, and upgraded the pickguard. Now it’s finally finished. 1987 Fender Japan 50’s reissue body with Fender licensed USA made late ’60’s style neck. Tuners, and except for the ’90’s Les Paul humbucker, original hardware.

Sodoma E Gomorra

 

Even if you use a mirror, it’s still in Italian

Call me crazy, but I like Italian Prog. I don’t know how long I’ve had this in my hard drive, or where it came from, but it rocks. And hard. This song is a kickass instrumental. The rest of the album has standard, but not odious, hard rock vocals.
It would have been a classic if made by an American, British, or even Australian band.

from http://www.italianprog.com

Il Rovescio della Medaglia were formed in Rome around the end of 1970 from the ashes of the beat band I Lombrichi. Enzo Vita, Stefano Urso e Gino Campoli founded the group, that had as lead singer first Gianni Mereu (not the guitarist of Logan Dwight), then Sandro Falbo (from Le Rivelazioni) and soon later Pino Ballarini, who had moved to Rome from Pescara where he played with Poema.
Their first great success was at Viareggio Pop festival and they soon became one of the most popular live bands in Italy during the early 70’s.

First LP La Bibbia, released in 1971, was basically a very good hard-rock album with slight prog influences, recorded live in studio and accompanied by a distinctive round medallion-shaped booklet
The second one, Io come io a year later, was in the same style, with ambitious philosophical lyrics inspired from Hegel works. A short album (less than 30 minutes) but again a really good one!

In 1973 a fifth member was added, keyboard player Franco Di Sabbatino, also from Pescara, like Pino Ballarini, and briefly with Il Paese dei Balocchi.
With their sound enriched by the keyboards, Il Rovescio released the third album, Contaminazione, with the help of argentine composer Luis Enriquez Bacalov, who had already worked with New Trolls for their Concerto Grosso and Osanna.
The album was obviously more in a symphonic direction, and was also released in an English-sung version and issued in many foreign countries, to try to launch the group abroad. The English language album appeared in Italy in 1975 only, when the band had already split up.

By this time the band was being renowned for their powerful performances, always played at the loudest possible volume and helped by a unique sound system. This is what the Contamination LP liner notes said about it (originally written in English, mistakes and all…): “Their instrumentation is among the moste interesting in Europe. The 6000 watt Mack vocal equipment is quadrophonic and is equivalent to 36 track amplifiers. The console table is really a portable recording studio with filters, compressors, etc. The guitar, the battery and the keyboards have 900 watt amplifiers. The keyboards consist of a vertical B Hammond organ, a harmonium, an eminent for the reproduction of strings, two VCS synthesizers, a 200 Harp [it was probably an ARP], and two mini moog synthesizers. The lighting equipment is also important. There are 50 spotlights which produce colors and special effects. On a special screen behind the group, slides and films are projected to produce abstract musical effects.”.
Not bad for an Italian band, and no one else in Italy had such a powerful live act!

But… in December 1973 the stealing of their big and expensive PA brought the band close to the end, with Pino Ballarini leaving for Switzerland (briefly replaced by Michele Zarrillo from Semiramis) and the others continuing as an instrumental-only band. The live album Giudizio avrai, privately released by the band in the late 80’s, contains a recording from this period, with the band’s sound dominated by the keyboards.

Last release is a single from 1975 (there’s a mention on its cover of a new album, but this was never released), then the band had various line-up changes up to 1977.

Bassist Stefano Urso founded Europe, authors in the early 80’s of an album (Bubble BLU-19609) and some singles in pop/rock style.
In early 90’s guitarist Enzo Vita reformed the band with a new line-up and released a new CD called Il ritorno, different from their past production and more AOR-inspired, as its followers Vitae (recorded earlier) and Microstorie, issued in 2011.

Sodoma E Gomorra

PFM

 
 
 

Bad Art

Bad Art

Somehow not as bad

Somehow not as bad

PFM were the epitome of Italian Prog Rock.
I bought these records back in the day. I heard “Celebration” on FM radio and was immediately hooked. I bought the album, “Photos Of Ghosts” in 1973. Since I regularly thumbed through the import racks at the local Licorice Pizza it wasn’t long until I found the imports, which I also bought. I have always preferred them to the English language versions, and apparently so did they, by firing the lyricist, Peter Sinfield,  not long after. He did get a little over-ripe sometimes. In 2000 I spent a month in Tokyo. I was housed at the Sofitel overlooking beautiful Ueno Park.

I had a pretty memorable experience with an earthquake as my hotel room was on the 18th floor. People were still buying cd’s back then, so the record stores were the absolute bomb. I bought these cd’s, plus other long lost prog rock favorites. This music has never ceased to float my boat.  Now, especially when I hear “Impression Di Settembre”, incredible Tokyo is evoked with my view from the 18th floor between tremors.  And the mini-bar.

Here’s wiki:
In early 1972, PFM released their first album, ”Storia di un minuto”. The album topped the Italian charts after only one week and was the first album by an Italian rock group to achieve this kind of success. It contained re-recorded versions of songs from the first single, as well as “È Festa” and “Dove… Quando…” which continue to be essential parts of their live concerts.

Later in 1972 saw the release of their second LP, ”Per un amico”. This album opened the way to broader audience recognition all across Europe. It featured a more sophisticated Multitrack recording|16-track production and allowed the group continue to refine their special combination of symphonic classical and traditional Italian musical influences in a rock context. Later, an English language version was re-recorded and re-mixed.

PFM came to the attention of Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer during an Italian tour and PFM were signed to Manticore Records. The first album on Manticore, ”Photos of Ghosts” was released in late 1973. It contained mostly remakes of songs from ”Per un amico” in English. New lyrics (not translations) were written for the album by former King Crimson member Peter Sinfield, who also helped produce the re-recording and mixing at Advision Studios in London. ”Photos of Ghosts” was released all across Europe, Japan, and North America and represented the first real attempt by an Italian rock band to break into foreign markets. It was one of the first recordings by a European rock group to have significant chart success in the USA. The album also contained a new instrumental “Old Rain”, one song in Italian, “Il Banchetto” (“The Banquet”), as well as “Celebration (PFM song)|Celebration”, (a remake of “È Festa”) which received considerable airplay on album oriented rock stations in the U.S.A and Canada.

Impressioni Di Settembre

Per Un Amico

E Festa

Italian Prog

 
 
 

Every picture tells a story

Every picture tells a story

Between 1971 and 1977 there must have been dozens of Italian Prog bands that cut an album or two. In later posts I’ll get to more of them as I sift through a dozen or more lp’s in my collection. (I had a windfall thanks to Sakalli).
A lot of good music out there. This is “out there” too.

A college roomate and even older friend sent me this postcard from Perugia, Italy, in 1983. Somebody in that picture played in Il Volo. The drummer, actually.

Il Volo – Il Volo (1974)
Usually described as a “supergroup”, Il Volo was a studio band formed by very popular musicians all coming from famous bands: Alberto Radius and Gabriele Lorenzi from Formula Tre, Mario Lavezzi from FLORA FAUNA CEMENTO and Camaleonti, Bob Callero from Osage Tribe and Duello Madre, Gianni Dall’Aglio from Ribelli, along with composer Vince Tempera who also had his own band Pleasure Machine.

You’ll dig it. check out the bass (or whatever it is) solo in “Il Canto Della Preistoria (Molecule)”

Il Calore Umano
Il Canto Della Preistoria (Molecule)

All Killer No Filler

All Killer No Filler

Here’s Area from the album Maledetti (1976).

Area grew to be one of the most respected and important bands of the blooming 70s Italian progressive rock scene. The youth of the time was able to identify with their socialist lyrics and Area soon grew to prominence, also because the band was founded on a strong and virtuosic musicianship. Area’s sound is an odd mish-mash, drawing from rock, jazz, eastern and arabic music, and it was this blend of all sorts of music that made the band stand out.

Maledetti holds all of the elements that make Area such a hair raising listening experience, while exploring new territory foreign to the Area camp. Most of the information on Area comprises their releases up to this one and stops short of really describing this torrent wave of musical experimentation called Maledetti. All of the Area elements are intact; from the Mediterranean sonic fusion, rhythmic assaults that leave one breathless, to newer elements of African rhythmic percussion via Paul Lytton, classical jazz elements courtesy of Steve Lacy, and a classical music overture with the aid of a string quartet, making Maledetti a monster in the Area catalog.

Area "Maledetti" 1976

Diforisma Urbano