1969 – 2009

(by Erik Neuteboom)

(edited by Peter Willemsen)

The Chapters:

1) Introduction
2) The Classic Era: 1969 – 1979
3) The Years Between 1980 and 2002
4) Interesting New Bands and New Releases Between 2003 and 2009
5) Reunions of Legendary and Popular Bands In The Last Decade
6) Compilations and  Special Projects
7) DVD’s
8) My Personal 1969 – 2009 Italian Prog rock Album Top 20
9) Epilogue

Chapter 1: Introduction

My first experience with Italian prog rock was in the early eighties when I bought the albums The World Became The World by PFM and Banco (aka Banco IV) by Banco. In those days, I was searching for prog rock from other countries than the U.K. I had already discovered Ange and Pulsar from France, Novalis, Grobschnitt, Eloy and Jane from Germany, Machiavel from Belgium, Triana from Spain and Gandalf from Austria. I was very curious to hear Italian prog rock.  After listening to Banco and PFM, I was impressed by both bands, especially their great interplay, strong vocals and captivating musical ideas. However, I was all together unaware of the very prolific Italian prog rock history. I even had the idea that these bands were the only two interesting prog rock bands from Italy. That view changed thoroughly in the early nineties after I collaborated with the Dutch prog rock paper SI Magazine as a reviewer. The office was flooded with CD re-issues of less known and unknown seventies prog rock bands, mainly from Korean, Japanese and Italian labels. Because I was one of the few reviewers who knew some Italian bands, I received most of those CD re-issues to review. This turned out to be a huge boost for my love for early Italian prog rock bands. Soon I discovered the excitement and beauty of bands like Biglietto Per L’Inferno, Jumbo, Semiramis, Corte Dei Miracoli, Celeste and
Quella Vecchia Locanda
. I decided to broaden my classic Italian prog rock horizon, often by reading the short descriptions in the USA prog rock mail-order services Syn-Phonic and Laser’s Edge and the cascades of varied reviews in the New Gibraltar Encyclopedia Of Progressive Rock. In those days, that was an important source of information. Soon I bought albums of Museo Rosenbach, New Trolls, Cherry Five, Rustichelli & Bordini and Le Orme. I was in Italian prog rock heaven!

For me the great thing in that era is the way all those young, talented, creative and adventurous musicians incorporated elements of the legendary prog rock bands (especially ELP, Genesis, King Crimson, Jethro Tull and VDGG) and blended this with a wide range of musical styles, backed by the impressive Italian musical history that circulated in their genes and subconscious. Soon after the development of the progressive rock in the U.K. in the second half of the sixties, Italy turned out to be a very prolific country with a unique sound, often topped by great native vocals, excellent musicianship and daring ideas. It was interesting to notice that the U.K, as the cradle of prog rock, collaborated with Italy. Pete Sinfield (King Crimson) wrote the English lyrics for the PFM compositions and ELP’s label Manticore produced PFM and Banco albums. These bands are also mentioned in The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia Of Rock, one of my (prog) rock bibles! The main features of the classic Italian prog rock are the adventurous and varied compositional skills. For me this is often a joy, from the ‘pastoral prog’ like Celeste and Errata Corrige and the vintage keyboards drenched sound of Museo Rosenbach (exciting mellotron eruptions) and Rustichelli & Bordini (great Hammond sound) to the Yes-inspired Cherry Five and the complexity of Osanna and Opus Avantra, once described as ‘opera music from hell’! In the late seventies, the fall of the Italian prog rock gradually began, but in the early nineties, the scene recovered with bands like Nuova Era, Asgard, Calliope, Eris Pluvia, Malibran, Tale Cue and Il Castello Di Atlante. Their success led to the reunion of many legendary and popular bands, from PFM and New Trolls to Delirium and Il Balletto Di Bronzo. The current Italian prog rock even delivers excellent, pretty eclectic sounding bands like Il Bacio Delle Medusa, Pandora and VIII Strada who own a bit of the magical flavour of the classic Italian prog rock era. This article is recently updated with brand-new CD new releases of Ubi Maior, Moongarden, Narrow Pass and the Mangala Vallis DVD Intergalactic Live Video Archives. Good luck with your Italian prog rock quest!

Proceed to Chapter 2: The Classic Era: 1969 – 1979

Proceed to other chapters

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