It seldom happens that an album written in 1970/71 and recorded in 1973 get a first release about forty years later, long after the band that made it disbanded. Anyway, this is what happens with Spettri, a five-piece from Florence, Italy. They were formed by the brothers Ugo Ponticiello (vocals) and Raffaele Ponticiello (guitars) in 1964. The band had a fairly long career and released several singles during the heydays of the Italian beat music era. Just like many other bands in those days, they also went with the stream, but eventually changed their musical style.
In the early seventies they discovered the music of hard rock bands like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, but also bands like Spirit and Colosseum. The change of style meant that the band went through a number of personnel changes. Vincenzo Ponticiello (bass), the youngest brother of Ugo and Raffaele, joined the band just as Stefano Melani (Hammond-organ) and Giorgio Di Ruvo (drums). With this line-up they recorded the music they had written in 1970/71. They had enough original material for a full-length album, so in one single session in October 1972 Spettri recorded the entire album. However, the album never saw the light of day until 2011. Black Widow Records re-mastered the original album, because the sound of these recordings was rather primitive and badly produced.
This eponymous album appears to be a concept that portrays a man's search for his inner self by means of a sťance, although it's also an allegory of the selfishness and hypocrisy of modern society and the decline of humanity. When you listen to this album on the eve of its 40th anniversary you'll notice that the music sounds rather backward. The album starts with a spoken intro in the Italian language. As soon as the musicians start to play, a number of other bands immediately crossed my mind. At first I thought I was listening to Aqualung from Jethro Tull, since the guitar riffs are exactly the same. Also Child In Time from Deep Purple is more or less nicely copied. The way the rhythm section plays their parts over which the guitarist plays his solos sounds pretty familiar as well, and the parts performed on the Hammond-organ could have been done by Jon Lord (Deep Purple), but it also reminded me of Colosseum. Even the early albums of their fellow-countrymen of Le Orme could have been an inspiration for Spettri.
So most songs aren't very original, but that doesn't mean that they aren't worth listening to. The guitarist and organist play rather strong and I heard enough fine musical moments. Take for example the track Terza Parte: Essere that starts excellently with an acoustic guitar followed by some fine playing on the Hammond. When the rest of the band joins in, the music certainly has its fine moments. The vocalist has a strong voice, but unfortunately he sings in his native language. That might have been the reason that they never made it abroad and split in 1975.
People who love to hear music from the seventies with influences from Jethro Tull and Deep Purple, I would recommend to give the music of Spettri a try, even if the album is forty years late!
*** Henri Strik(edited by Peter Willemsen)
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