(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 2: The Classic Era: 1969 - 1979

ACQUA FRAGILE – Acqua Fragile (1973)

The sound on their eponymous debut album is pleasant and melodic, reminding me of Genesis, Yes and Gentle Giant. Their choice to sing in English is remarkable. Their second effort, entitled Mass Media Stars (1974), was released in the USA as well. A year later Acqua Fragile disbanded, singer Bernardo Lanzetti moved to PFM and recently he joined Mangala Vallis, one of the new and promising Italian prog rock bands.

(GLI) ALLUMINOGENI — Scolopendra (1972)

This is an often overlooked gem from the Italian seventies prog. The seven compositions on this debut album are a very dynamic and alternating blend of sixties, blues, rock and classic featuring excellent work on the Hammond organ, great Italian vocals and raw electric guitar. The one moment you are carried away by a bombastic church organ sound, the other moment there is a bluesy electric guitar or a pleasant and warm sixties atmosphere. Very exciting!

ALPHATAURUS — Alphataurus (1973)

During their short existence, Alphataurus only released one album, but it is extremely acclaimed by the Italian prog rock aficionados for two reasons: first, because of the very captivating music and second, because of the mind-blowing cover art. Vinyl Magic’s CD reissue with the triple fold out cover is almost worth the purchase! To start with the latter: the flying white pigeon with an olive branch in its beak, while throwing bombs is a strong indication for the music: contrasts, tension and emotion! The album opens with the 13-minutes suite Peccato D’Orgoglio, an exciting trip with many changing atmospheres: from dreamy, compelling and bombastic outbursts to hypnotizing psychedelia and mid-tempo rock, coloured in a fascinating way with a majestic Hammond organ sound, raw guitar work and passionate Italian vocals, this is top notch Italian prog rock! Then two shorter tracks: between dreamy and bombastic with bluesy guitar and splendid interplay between guitar and piano, topped by excellent vocals in Dopo L’Uragano and between cheerful and bombastic with honky tonk piano and orchestral keyboards in Croma. The album ends with two long compositions (around 9 minutes). First, the strongly build-up La Mente Vola with a romantic undertone, a vibraphone solo and exciting Emersonian MiniMoog flights, and finally Ombra Muta that delivers captivating interplay between the guitar and keyboards and great work on the Hammond organ and MiniMoog. The tension between the slow and bombastic parts is very compelling and the bluesy vocals match perfectly with the emotional atmospheres. Enjoy this wonderful blend of rock, blues, symphonic rock and psychedelia with hints of early ELP and Uriah Heep. Highly recommended!

ALUSA FALLAX - Intorno Alla Mia Cattiva Educazione (1974)

Here’s another fine one-shot band from the prolific Italian prog rock scene from the seventies. The sound on their album is melodic and alternating: from mellow, folky-like pieces with flute, piano, beautiful strings and moving vocals to accelerations featuring organ and saxophone, but also more fiery parts delivering electric guitar and protrusive drums or interludes with lush keyboards.

ANOLOGY – Anology (1972)

Most members of one-shot-band Anology were Germans who grew up in Italy, just look a the typical German names like Schoene and Nienhaus. Those names sound different from Mauro Pagani! On their eponymous debut album Anology, often sounds compelling with lots of propulsive guitar work and bombastic organ. The emotional and powerful vocals emphasize the bluesy undertones in some songs.

APOTEOSI – Apoteosi (1975)

Another fine one-shot Italian prog rock band from the seventies. The five tracks on their eponymous debut album sound melodic and alternating, the female vocals are wonderful. In the mellow pieces, you hear a lot of strings, piano and flute often giving the music strong classical overtones. The more up-tempo interludes contain a strong harmony between the keyboards and guitar. The solo work is also worth wile listening; the guitar has some psychedelic hints. This album has many beautiful moments, thanks to the subtle and inventive approach of these good musicians.

AREA – Crac (1974)

Area made a lot of records, but their album Crac is generally considered as their best. Many reviewers name Area ‘the Italian version of Magma’. You can enjoy an original, very captivating blend of jazz, rock and ethnic with wonderful mellotron work and varied atmospheres, topped by the inspired singer Demitrio Stratos. The band also hosts I Califfi guitarist Paolo Tofani and bass player Patrick Djivas who later went to PFM.

ARTI E MESTIERI – Tilt (1974)

This is another acclaimed Italian prog rock band. Their debut album Tilt is a winner for the jazz rock and fusion aficionados. You can often enjoy powerful and swinging music evoking Mahavishnu Orchestra and Colosseum and featuring awesome interplay between guitar, violin, saxophone, clarinet and a dynamic rhythm-section and lots of strong soli. Remarkable is the sound of keyboard player Beppe Crovela, who later had an important role in the nineties Italian prog rock as a producer at Vinyl Magic. In addition, he is guest musician on many songs with his layers of mellotron-violin and his inventive work on acoustic and electric piano, synthesizer and Hammond organ. Sometimes, Arti E Mestieri sounds mellow like in the wonderful second part of Strips: warm Italian vocals, lush mellotron and twanging acoustic guitar. My highlight is the long composition Articolazioni: multiple breaks and accelerations and a pleasant colouring by a wide range of instruments. The CD reissue contains a bonus track entitled Scacco Matto delivering first mellow saxophone and then a mid-tempo piece with a Fender piano solo and fiery electric guitar play.


In my opinion this is one of the legendary albums that epitomizes the classic Italian prog rock: on the one hand influenced by the classic prog rock and on the other hand a very adventurous, typical Italian approach towards progressive rock. You hear a blend of several styles delivering lots of captivating musical ideas. On their second album Ys that appeared two years after the debut album Siro 2222, Il Balletti Di Bronzo takes us to places in the prog rock galaxy where no one has ever been, scouting the borders between symphonic rock, psychedelia, jazz and avant-garde. It sounds very captivating, but you have to be up to the huge variety and the experimental musical ideas. For example, the long composition Introduzione alternates between hypnotizing with expressive, slightly theatrical and high-pitched Italian vocals, Emersonian sounding Hammond and Moog work and a slow rhythm with floating mellotron-violin and propulsive drumbeats. The contrast between the raw electric guitar and the fluent harpsichord runs is exciting! The three short parts each have its own atmosphere: psychedelic with fiery guitar and bombastic organ and a final part with tender harpsichord in Primo Incontro. Heavy and bombastic electric guitar, Hammond and mellotron with avant-garde elements in Secondo Incontro and jazz meets avant-garde, lush Hammond and a delicate duel between jazzy piano and powerful electric guitar in the experimental Terzo Incontro. The long and varied final composition Epilogo starts with a swinging rhythm featuring a Hammond organ and piano duel, topped with expressive Italian vocals. Then a long interlude with a hypnotizing bass sound and an ominous atmosphere that sounds like ‘a psychedelia meets avant-garde sound collage’, a bit weird, but also pretty compelling with adventurous interplay between piano, guitar and keyboards. The final part is similar to the first part of this epic composition with swinging rhythms and bombastic work on Hammond and piano. P.S.: the Polydor reissue contains the short and melodic bonus track La Tua Casa Comoda. That song delivers a pleasant atmosphere with warm vocals, acoustic rhythm guitar and piano along a vibraphone solo and a nice vintage keyboard sound. This is Italian prog rock history!


In 1969, members of Fiori Di Campo and Experience, at the time two top Italian bands, founded Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso in Rome. The success continued because the first three albums Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso (1972), Darwin (1972) and Io Sono Nato Libero (1973) topped the Italian album charts and the international press invented a nickname for the Italian prog rock: spaghetti rock. I tried to imagine how exciting it must have been, to listen to Banco at the time they released their first album! What a unique blend of several styles, from rock to jazz and from classical to symphonic rock. Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso succeeded in keeping my attention from the very first second until the last, because of the dynamic, varied and captivating five compositions, loaded with a very colourful sonor palet by the Nocenzi brothers. WE hear awesome interplay, subtle guitar work, an inventive rhythm-section and very inspired and passionate Italian vocals. My highlights on this pivotal debut album are the compelling vocals/grand piano duet halfway R.I.P., the exciting Hammond-drenched build-up in Metamorfosi and the strong shifting moods and lush instrumentation in the epic Il Giardino Del Mago.

Their second album Darwin starts in the vein of the eponymous album with the long composition L’Evoluzione with wonderful keyboards and many strong musical ideas, but then Banco delivers a more adventurous sound with jazzy piano in Danza Del Grandi Rettili and rather experimental tracks like Misere Alla Storia and Ed Ora Io Demando. During the breathtaking song 750.000 Anni Fa .. L’Amore? we can enjoy the distinctive Banco sound: tender, classically inspired grand piano and warm vocals with a dramatic, opera-like undertone. Goose bumps!

The third album Io Sono Nato Libero is generally considered as their best effort. To me it sounds as a perfect hybrid of their first two albums: more adventurous and elaborate than their first and less experimental and better balanced than their second. Especially the two long compositions Canto Nomado Per Un Prigioniero Politico and Dopo... Niente E Piu Lo Stesso deliver splendid prog rock with awesome interplay, sensational shifting moods and spectacular work on the Hammond and MiniMoog. We can also enjoy mellow twanging acoustic guitar and jazzy Steve Howe inspired runs, topped by Francesco Di Giacomo’s great vocals. Banco’s strong classical and folky influences can be enjoyed during Non Mi Rompete with warm classical guitar and vocals, La Citta Sottile with a beautiful intro on grand piano. The final track Traccia II has a strong build-up and pleasant interplay between grand piano and MiniMoog.

In 1975, Banco was invited to record re-arranged versions of songs from their three studio albums with an additional new composition entitled L'Albero Del Pane. On this fourth studio effort, simply entitled Banco, the band sounds as never before with new guitarist Rodolfo Maltese, who is still a member after almost 35 years).
For me, this album epitomizes the legendary Italian prog rock sound: hints of the seventies symphonic rock dinosaurs ELP, but presented with those very distinctive classic Italian prog rock elements. Passionate native vocals, classically inspired compositions with sumptuous undertones, a pleasant variety of instruments, an eclectic musical approach from classic and rock to jazz, avant-garde and folk and last but not least, very crafted, often classically trained musicians. Here is my musical analysis.

1. Chorale (From Traccia Theme) (2:30): First, a bit ominous spacey atmosphere, and then lush vintage keyboards by the obviously classically trained Nocenzi brothers.

2. L'Albero Del Pane (The Bread Tree) (4:45): A fluent rhythm in which Banco incorporates elements of rock, classical and folk, topped with the excellent Italian vocals by Francesco Di Giacomo, one of my favourite prog rock singers. The duo-keyboard work delivers a wide range of sounds, from sparkling grand piano and the warm string-ensemble to powerful Hammond organ runs and fat synthesizer flights, obviously ELP inspired. The acoustic rhythm-guitar and the adventurous rhythm-section are wonderfully blended in the lush keyboard sound. The interplay is awesome!

3. Metamorphosis (14:54): In my opinion the final composition on side I is one of the highlights in classic Italian prog rock: classical meets symphonic rock in a very exciting and captivating way. The first part delivers the distinctive early Banco sound with great interplay, ELP organ and synthesizer sounds and rock guitar. Then a sumptuous church organ sound follows forming a bridge to a long part featuring virtuosic solo on grand piano in the vein of the first ELP album. When the drums and bass join it culminates to ‘ELP goes avant-garde’ before Banco returns to a 24-carat symphonic rock atmosphere with sensational Moog synthesizer outbursts. The music slows down to warm grand piano runs, then spectacular interplay between fat Moog and sparkling grand piano, soon Hammond and fiery electric guitar join and again we can enjoy the splendid and exciting Banco interplay. After a slightly experimental interlude with clarinet evoking the avant-garde side of King Crimson, Banco delivers a breathtaking build-up and grand finale: first soaring strings, fragile electric guitar and warm piano, then a compelling climate with emotional vocals and sparkling grand piano, culminating in acceleration with bombastic keyboards and a propulsive rhythm-section! What a power and dynamics and how many goose bumps moments I had during this mind-blowing final part!

4. Outside (7:42): In this track, the guitarist is omnipresent and adds a ‘rock element’ that fits perfectly with the classical sounding keyboards. In a swinging rhythm, we can enjoy great interplay, warm vocals, rock-meets-jazz guitar solos, jazzy Fender Rhodes electric piano and Emerson-oriented Hammond organ. The second part starts mellow with emotional vocals, beautiful grand piano and warm acoustic guitar, but gradually the atmosphere turns into a more compelling sound with a pleasant string-ensemble and strong vocals.

5. Leave Me Alone (5:20): This composition contains wonderful duo-classical guitar play and the emotional voice of Francesco, halfway blended with cheerful acoustic rhythm-guitar and in the end a sparkling Moog-synthesizer solo, very tastefully arranged.

6. Nothing's The Same (9:58): Along powerful electric guitar, the Moog-synthesizer sound, with echoes of Larry Fast, is very important here. To me, it often sounds if Banco has invited a certain J.S. Bach because of the very classical way of playing. Again, singer Francesco adds an extra dimension to the Banco sound, a bit more theatrical than usual but that is part of the Italian tradition!

7. Traccia II (2:42) : The final track delivers outstanding duo-keyboard work, warm grand piano and fat Moog-synthesizer in a classical atmosphere, gradually turning into a bombastic climax. A perfect end!

Not to be missed by any Italian prog rock aficionado. This is one of the best classic Italian prog rock albums ever made!

BANCO - Seguendo Le Tracce (CD 2005)

This live-album contains never released recordings from 1975, we can enjoy Banco at their artistic pinnacle. Their captivating and dynamic sound is based upon the magnificent, omnipresent duo- keyboard play with organ, synthesizers, acoustic and electric piano, strings by the Nocenzi brothers and the powerful voice from Francesco Di Giacomo, loaded with pathos. The track list is great featuring R.I.P. with beautiful interlude delivering moving piano, vocals and acoustic guitar. L’Alberto Del Pane has splendid varied keyboards and La Danza Dei Grandi Rettilli has a swinging blend of symphonic, blues and jazz. You can enjoy Passagio, Non Mi Rompete with pleasant acoustic guitar play and Dopo … Niente E Piu Lo Stesso with wonderful sumptuous keyboards and great vocals. Traccia II has fine acoustic piano play along trumpet and synthesizer and last but not least, an extended version of about 26 minutes of Metamorfosi including a long and virtuosic piano solo, lots of exciting keyboards and shifting moods. If you do not own records from Banco, this one is a perfect start.

(LUCIANO) BASSO – Voci (1976)

Luciano Basso is a classically trained and experienced musician, specialized in grand piano and writing compositions, he has made four albums (source: book Progressivo Italiano by Barotto & D’Ubaldo): Voci (1976), Cogli Il Giorno (1978), Frammenti Tonali (1979) and Luciano Basso (1980) on the Ariston-label. Later he released five CD’s and nowadays he is a music teacher in the Italian city of Padua. Listening to his instrumental debut album Voci, the music reminds me of keyboard oriented seventies prog bands like Trace, ELP, Le Orme and Triumvirat. They made albums driven by virtuosic play on the Grand piano as well. From fragile on Voci and sparkling in Promenade II and Voci to jazzy in Promenade II or wonderful interplay between grand piano and the violin like in Preludio, Voci and the experimental Echo with many good ideas, but sometimes it sounds a bit too fragmentarily to me. Although the grand piano is omnipresent, you can also enjoy a wide range of vintage keyboards: the mighty Hammond organ and the unsurpassed mellotron, harpsichord, clavinet, string-ensemble and even a church organ. Some songs contain sensitive work on the electric guitar. The Vinyl Magic album features the poorly recorded bonus track Mignon, s slightly disappointing end to a beautiful seventies Italian prog album, layered with great work on keyboards. Especially in the title track, Luciano Basso shows his skills on the keyboards and in writing compositions!

BIGLIETTO PER L'INFERNO - Biglietto Per L'Inferno (1974)

Biglietto Per L'Inferno, a pivotal Italian prog rock formation, was founded in the early seventies. On their eponymous debut album, we can enjoy an exciting blend of rock, blues and symphonic rock. The atmospheres in the six compositions range from dreamy with twanging electric guitar, flute and mellow organ to catchy rhythms with MiniMoog flights, swinging piano, bombastic heavy organ waves and harder-edged guitar play. A strong point in their music is the Jethro Tull -like flute play and the omnipresent powerful organ sound that evokes Rare Bird and Dave Greenslade like in Il Nevare. The magnum opus is the long and alternating  L’Amico Suicida that delivers a very tasteful instrumentation (flute, organ, acoustic and electric guitar) and lots of shifting moods, including a bit experimental interlude in the second part. I also would like to mention the strong Italian vocals that contain a warm and emotional undertone. This is one of the Italian prog rock albums that every prog head must check out!


Although the sound quality of this CD is at the level of an average bootleg, the music of this Italian prog rock legend is very interesting and often exciting, because of the wide range of instruments: flute, flugelhorn, Gemorgan, MiniMoog, Hammond organ, piano, acoustic and electric guitars along drums and bass. As you would expect the music from Biglietto Per L'Inferno is varied indeed and contains many shifting moods. The first song consists of a brass section, organ runs and fiery electric guitar. The other six tracks have echoes from Jethro Tull including cheerful rhythms, mellow organ and lots of flute play. The Italian vocals sound inspired but the compositions are structured as jams. If you like Jethro Tull and the early Italian prog rock, than this CD is recommended, that is if you have bootleg-resistant ears!

BIGLIETTO PER L’INFERNO- Il Tempo Della Semina (CD 1992)

In 1975, Biglietto Per L’Inferno intended to release a second album with 1974 recordings, but unfortunately these recordings only appeared on a bootleg tape. Finally, the Italian prog rock label Mellow Records released it as a CD in 1992 entitled Il Tempo Della Semina. The album opens with the titletrack: a rather ominous atmosphere, the dark voice from Claudio Canali (also flute) matches perfectly. This song contains lots of organ, delicate strings and in the more swinging parts a sound that is similar to Jethro Tull: powerful and catchy rhythms featuring fiery electric guitar and the inevitable flute. The first impression is a good one, this track (about 10 minutes) is alternating and has many captivating moments. Then three shorter songs follow, each with a completely different atmosphere. Mente Sola-Mente delivers freaky sounds and music that evokes Kraftwerk. In Vivi Lotta Pensa we hear pleasant Hammond and Moog-play and some biting electric guitar. L'Arte is again in the vein of Jethro Tull. Then a strong composition entitled Sola Ma Vivo: the mellow parts contain wonderful keyboards, the more heavy interludes deliver fiery electric guitar and fine flute work. The final song is their best: La Canzione Del Padre (almost 10 minutes) is very alternating, from swinging with organ and propulsive with electric guitar to dreamy with acoustic guitar, rhythm guitar, flute and soaring keyboards. To me this is a varied prog rock album that will please, indeed... Jethro Tull fans.

(I) CALIFFI – Fiore Di Metallo (1973)

This is another interesting one-shot Italian formation with a pretty varied album. First dynamic rock songs with pleasant keyboard colouring like Nel Mio Passato with subtle harpsichord and fluent synthesizer flights, Varius with bombastic church organ, organ, synthesizer and a jazzy piano solo and the compelling Campane with a Keith Emerson-like Moog solo. Then more dreamy songs like Alleluia Gente with wonderful Italian vocals and Moog-solo, Felicità, Sorriso E Pianto with again wonderful Italian vocals and Madre, Domani ... with twanging guitar, organ and fluent synthesizer runs. Finally pure rock tracks like Fiore Finto, Fiore Di Metallo (propulsive climate), A Piedi Scalzi (up-tempo with raw guitar sound) and Col Vento Nei Capelli with fiery guitar runs. This is not a classic album, there are so many better albums, but I love the variety, the typical seventies atmosphere and the Italian vocals!

(IL) CAMPO DI MARTE – Il Campo Di Marte (1973)

Here’s one of the ‘better lesser known’ Italian prog rock bands, their one-shot in 1973 is a captivating and dynamic effort, that scouts the borders between rock, psychedelia, symphonic rock and folk with echoes of other Italian bands like Il Balletto Di Bronzo, PFM and New Trolls. The seven compositions deliver very varied atmospheres: mellow with acoustic guitar and flute, rock with heavy guitar work in the vein of Jimmy Page and Ritchie Blackmore, compelling with psychedelic sounding organ and swinging with swirling organ, fiery electric guitar and a protrusive rhythm-section. The colouring of the compositions is very tasteful with a wide range of instruments: classical guitar, flute, trombone, church-organ and some majestic mellotron-violin waves. An album to discover.

CELESTE – Principe Di Un Giorno (1976)

Here is a one-shot-band that made a wonderful album, but don’t expect the usual exciting keyboard excerptions, complex breaks or unexpected shifting moods. No, the music on the seven elaborate compositions sound quite mellow and laid-back with some medieval and jazzy influences and fine work on acoustic guitars, flute, saxophone and often a majestic mellotron sound that evokes the great days of early King Crimson!

CHERRY FIVE-Cherry Five (1974)

Cherry Five was a one-shot five piece. The line-up included three musicians who later founded Goblin, drummer Carlo Bordini was part of the legendary duo Rustichelli & Bordini, that made the wonderful album Opera Prima, and singer Tony Tartarini had joined the formation L’Uovo Di Colombo in 1973 on their eponymous debut album.

The eight compositions on Cherry Five’s debut album Cherry Five (1974) often deliver fluent and swinging rhythms with splendid work on the keyboards: from swirling Hammond solos and lush mellotron-violin waves to jazzy grand piano, sparkling harpsichord runs and fat MiniMoog synthesizer flights. Due to the powerful Rickenbacker bass sound, the English vocal harmonies and the fiery Steve Howe-inspired guitar play, the seventies Yes echoes are obviously. However, in the long and alternating composition Oliver the omnipresent Hammond organ strongly evokes early ELP, also because of the Moog synthesizer work. If you like Yes-oriented bands like Druid, England or Mirthrandir this overlooked gem will please you, especially the ‘Tron-maniacs’ will be delighted!

CINCINNATO – Cincinnato (1974)

This is an Italian four-piece that started to make music in a basement in 1973. They described their music as art-rock, but after the bass player was replaced, Cincinnato turned more into a jazz rock formation. Every time the band went into their rehearsal room, they began with 'a one hour jam' in order to warm up and get inspiration! This became the foundation of their strong interplay and great instrumental ideas. The four compositions on the original studio LP from 1974 in general contain slow rhythms and dreamy atmospheres featuring excellent interplay, powerful guitar play and tasteful keyboard work: from jazzy piano and beautiful grand piano play to fluent runs on the ARP-synthesizer. The highlight is the over twenty minutes long track L'Ebete. It starts with warm Italian vocals and piano with a slow rhythm, then lots of flowing shifting moods featuring exciting duels between piano and guitar, wonderful work on guitar, from fragile to fiery, and a splendid jazzy piano solo. This CD release also delivers three bonus tracks: the first two are renditions from two LP songs (now with vibraphone) and the third is a live recording from 1972, a raw and mediocre sound quality with lush Hammond and a blistering guitar solo. This is typical early seventies! If you like jazz rock, this CD will please you.

CITTA FRONTALE – El Tor (1975)

After legendary formation Osanna disbanded in 1974, two members founded the six-piece Citta Frontale. Unfortunately, Citta Frontale made only made one album entitled El Tor consisting of eight compositions, running time at about 45 minutes. The sound is very interesting: a warm and varied blend of folk, jazz and classical and the use of a wide range of instruments. The album starts with the instrumental Alba Di Una Citta, the folky atmosphere evokes early Mike Oldfield featuring twanging acoustic guitar, flute and percussion, a fine opener. Another instrumental is the jazzy Mutatione with sparkling Fender Rhodes electric piano and strong interplay between the electric guitar and saxophone. The other six tracks sound varied: from dreamy with warm classical, acoustic guitar and flute to bluesy with mouth harp and piano to rock with powerful electric guitar and jazz with swinging saxophone. Often Citta Frontale’s music contains flowing shifting moods and strong solos and the Italian vocals match perfectly with the very pleasant sound on this alternating prog rock album.


Corte Dei Miracoli is another one-shot-band although Mellow Records released unknown 1973-1974 recordings in 1992 entitled Dimensione Onirica. Their music in the five tracks sound very pleasant, alternating and melodic featuring a lush and varied keyboard sound by the two keyboard players. They play powerful Hammond, delicate synthesizer flights, wonderful soaring string-ensemble, especially on the epic composition I Due Amanti, and jazzy Fender Rhodes electric piano. The Italian vocals are strong and the rhythm-section does well including some inventive percussive ideas. If you like keyboard driven prog rock with good Italian vocals, I’m sure this album will please you.

DE DE LIND - Io Non So Da Dove Vengo E Non So Dove Mai Andrò.. (1973)

The unusual name of this one-shot-band has been derived from a Sixties Playboy model. Is the music also exciting and beautiful? Well, Jethro Tull fans will be pleased with the heavy parts featuring great flute solos in the vein of Ian Anderson and the fiery guitar runs. However, De De Lind presents more than prog rock like Jethro Tull. In fact their sound is pretty varied and contains lots of captivating shifting moods and breaks. The atmospheres change from dreamy with soaring flute and warm twanging acoustic guitar to powerful with biting guitar and protrusive drums. This is a solid Italian prog rock album with interesting guitar work and a good balance between mellow and heavy parts.

DELIRIUM – Delirium III : Viaggio Negli Arcipelaghi Del Tempo (1974)

Delirium was founded in 1970, one year later the band released their debut album entitled Dolce Acqua and the hit single Canto Di Osanna (1971) resulting in some national popularity. The album is a fine mixture of pop, jazz and folk with the focus on leader Ivano Fossati with his powerful flute play. In the first part of 1972 Delirium released the singles Jesahel and Haum!, a few months later Fossati left because of army duties. British flute player Martin Fredrick Grice replaced him. He has a prominent role on the next album entitled Lo Scemo E Il Villaggio (1972) featuring a more jazz oriented sound. In 1974, Delirium released their most acclaimed album Delirium III containing a varied sound: acoustic ballads alternate with instrumental jazzy tracks, complex prog and even some experimental work. The influences range from King Crimson and Gentle Giant to Jethro Tull and Van Der Graaf Generator, an album to discover.

(I) DIK DIK - Suite Per Una Donna Assolutamente Relativa (1972)

This is the only progressive album (I) Dik Dik (the name is derived from an African gazelle) made but it is an acclaimed one by prog rock aficionados. The eleven compositions sound melodic and alternating: from folky to bombastic prog. Although all musicians play very well, the focus is on the magnificent keyboard play: sparkling piano, swinging clavinet, sensational synthesizer flights, strong organ floods and majestic mellotron eruptions. If you like the wonderful sound of the sixties: warm vocals, acoustic guitars, organ blended with the progressive sound of the early seventies with The Moody Blues and Strawbs, this is an album to check out. By the way, the album cover is one of the funniest albums covers ever published!

EDGAR ALLAN POE – Generazioni (1974)

Edgar Allan Poe is a typical seventies Italian prog rock sounding band, at some moments the band reminds me of early Metamorfosi: a sixties touch, pleasant Hammond organ work and a slightly distorted electric guitar sound. We can enjoy seven simply structured, but tastefully arranged songs with a lot of variety: a jazzy atmosphere with subtle electric guitar, folky with acoustic rhythm guitar and mandolin, slow rhythms with compelling Hammond organ, bombastic with emotional Italian vocals and sumptuous Hammond and Moog. This is a nice effort with a special flavour due to the organ and the Italian vocals.

ERRATA CORRIGE - Siegfried, Il Drago E Altre Storie (1976)

This album is a fine example of the wonderful Italian prog rock from the seventies. To my surprise the distinctive string-ensemble has been used very frequently, I love that sound. The six compositions are very melodic and changes from folky and classical to symphonic, very beautiful. At some moments, the music reminds me of early Barclay James Harvest because of the lush and compelling keyboards, but in general, this is original prog featuring lots of mellow shifting moods with strong Italian vocals, flute, piano and cello. This is a rather dreamy album, but certainly not boring! I prefer this album above their later album Mappamondo.

FESTA MOBILE – Diario Di Viaggio Della Festa Mobile (1973)

Another one-shot-band; on their album Diario Di Viaggio Della Festa Mobile the band delivers tasteful and elaborate songs featuring omnipresent grand piano work evoking early ELP, along a bit raw and powerful electric guitar play. This album has been reissued several times on different labels, recently by Sony/BMG in a jewel case.

FLEA - Topo O Uomini (1972)

This is a wonderful digi-pack distribution by the prolific Italian label Btf. The information is in Italian and in English, embellished with nice pictures. Flea made three LP’s: Flea On The Honey (1971), Topi O Uomini (1974) and finally their most acclaimed effort Etna (1975). Topi O Uomini opens with the long title track, around 20 minutes, which sounds as energetic rock: powerful vocals, raw guitar with lots of fiery and moving solos, bluesy harmonica and a propulsive rhythm-section evoking Led Zeppelin. The other three tracks, between four and seven minutes, deliver more variety, due to the wider range of instruments: vibraphone, pianoforte, soprano-saxophone and acoustic guitar. We can enjoy a sound that alternates from heavy to jazzy, very pleasant if you like the typical rock sound of the seventies and Flea added some fine progressive ideas.

FORMULA 3 - Sognando E Risognando (1972)

Of all four Formula Tree albums, this is my favourite one. It contains four compositions divided in several parts. The music alternates between bombastic symphonic rock and compelling psychedelia with a wonderful ‘vintage keyboards’ colouring, mainly Hammond organ. You hear a swirling solo in Non Mi Ritrovo and often captivating interplay with powerful guitar, but also string-ensemble, a wonderful sound in L’Ultima Foglia: Finale, Moog-synthesizer, an exciting duel with fiery guitar in Interludio and piano, a virtuosic solo in Interludio. A very special track is the romantic Storia Di Un Uomo E Di Una Donna, featuring warm, a bit melancholic vocals. Although this album sounds a bit fragmented to me at some moments, I love the typical Italian prog rock sound: a blend of classic prog and adventurous ideas.

(IVANO ALBERTO) FOSSATI - Il Grande Mare Che Avremmo Traversato (1973)

In the early seventies ex-Delirium keyboard and flute player Ivano Fossati was considered to be a huge talent. He was 22 when he released his first solo album in 1973 ; in 1971 he made the LP Dolce Aqua with Delirium. His solo effort contains ten compositions each with its own atmosphere: from dreamy to swinging with a pleasant colouring by the use of instruments like acoustic guitar, electric guitar, flute traverse, piano and a violin section. Ivano’s vocals are almost narrative with a bit melancholic undertone, as if he his putting his unpleasant memories into music. A wonderful album.

GARYBALDI – Astrolabio (1973)

In 1971, the four-piece band Gleemen (eponymous debut album in 1970) changed their name into Garybaldi with the same line-up featuring the excellent guitar player and singer ‘Bambi’ P.N. Fossati who sounds obviously inspired by the late sixties guitar heroes Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. On their first album Nuda (1971) we can enjoy a progressive blend of rock, blues and symphonic rock with hints of early Camel. On their second record Astrolabio, the booklet mentions that keyboard player Lio Marchi ‘gently participated on keyboards’ so in fact the band has been reduced to a trio with Lio as guest musician. The album contains two long compositions of about twenty minutes. First Madre Di Cose Perdute that delivers great interplay between guitar and keyboards with a compelling atmosphere with strong psychedelic undertones. The other track Sette was recorded live in the studio attended by a small audience. It is a long jam session with exciting Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton inspired guitar work including many wah-wah drenched solos and biting runs. The duels with the omnipresent Hammond organ sound like Jimi Hendrix meets Jon Lord. A wesome! I also enjoyed the long improvisations like a guitar-church organ duet and a mind-blowing bombastic final part with wah-wah guitar, Hammond organ, Hohner piano and MiniMoog synthesizer, like Jimi Hendrix meets PFM. What a unique progressive effort!

(I) GIGANTI – Terra In Boca (1971)

I Giganti was founded around the mid-sixties. This third studio-album is their most progressive effort featuring two long compositions, both over 20 minutes. The music is very alternating and delivers many captivating moments: heavy compelling keyboard play, subdued acoustic guitar and emotional vocals, mellow swelling mellotron, especially in the beautiful intermezzo halfway Part Two. We hear virtuosic piano work in the vein of Keith Emerson, but more refined, and fiery, propulsive guitar play. Despite the long running time of the two tracks, it sounds cohesive and pleasant. This very fine album deserves to be discovered.

(IL) GIRO STRANO – La Divina Commedia

This 1992 CD-release from the 1972-1973 recordings is dedicated to their singer Mirko Ostinet who sadly died in 1983. He was one of the most promising and acclaimed Italian voices: powerful, melodic and emotional. His contribution on this posthumously released album sounds as the most original of all members because the organ reminds me of The Nice and ELP, the sometimes a bit screamy saxophone evokes King Crimson and the flute play is in the vein of Jethro Tull and Focus. The structure of the five mainly long compositions sounds simple: lots of organ waves and many soli on saxophone, guitar and flute. In the tracks Il 13 Transistor with a Pictures At An Exhibition-like atmosphere, Il Corridoio with echoes from The Nice and La Divina Commedia, a kind of Keith Emerson-tribute, the Hammond-organ is omnipresence. Il Vecchio Oldsea starts with guitar work in the vein of Jimmy Page, next an acceleration with Jethro Tull-like flute and in the end a jazz-rock-inspired guitar solo. The vocals are very strong. The composition Il Pianeta Della Verita delivers swinging duets between organ and saxophone. La Devina Commedia is good album from the Mellow Records label.

GOBLIN - Il Fantastico Viaggio Del Bagarozzo Mark (1978)

I’ve never been a fan of Goblin, but I appreciate this album very much because of its pure symphonic rock sound. The album contains for the first time vocals. The eight compositions feature strong and beautiful interplay between a fiery and flowing electric guitar and sumptuous keyboards with lots of organ and some flashy synthesizers with echoes from Keith Emerson. Some songs are different and even contain rock and roll elements. Many prog heads consider this album as the best Goblin ever produced.

IBIS – Ibis (1975)

This eponymous album from Italian band Ibis is not their debut, as you would expect from the title, but their third after the records Canti d'Innozenza, Canti d'Esperienza (1973) and Sun Supreme (1974). The prime mover is singer and guitarist Nico Di Palo, known as a member of the legendary Italian formation The New Trolls. The music on Ibis is varied: the two long tracks Narratio and Ritrovarci deliver sumptuous keyboards a bit similar to my favourite Hungarian band Omega and fiery guitar duels. The song Passa Il Tempo contains wonderful acoustic guitar and Keep On Movin’ features straight rock and roll! My highlight on this album is Strada, a beautiful blend of electric piano, sensitive electric guitar, flute and a swinging rhythm-section. To me this sounds as a pleasant and varied album, no more, no less.

JACULA – Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus (1972)

Jacula was a musical project by Anthony Bartocetti (guitars, bass and vocals) and Fiamma Dello Spirito (lead vocals, violin and flute). In 1969, Jacula released their first album In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum, in 2001 reissued on CD by Black Widow Records. Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus (1972) was their second effort, in 1992 reissued by Mellow Records and in 2007 by Black Widow records. In 1974, Jacula changed their name into Antonius Rex. On Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus the line-up features Anthony and Fiamma playing together with Charles Tiring (organ, harpsichord, Moog and vocals) and Franz Partheny as a ‘medium’, the five compositions came from spiritual séances. Most of the music has been built around a majestic, often bombastic church organ sound, especially in the first composition U.F.D.E.M, with tender harpsichord and strong, passionate female vocals and in the final track In Old Castle. In the song Praesenta Domini, the vocals sound spooky, evoking the necrophilia front cover art, and in Long Black Magic Night the dreamy atmosphere is coloured by harpsichord and flute. Unique, very fascinating progressive rock!

JUMBO – DNA (1972)

Awful cover, awesome music! The Italian band Jumbo made three albums in the seventies; this is their second one. The focus is on the raw and expressive voice of singer Alvaro Fella. He colours Jumbo’s music, plays acoustic guitar and is the main composer. This album starts with the twenty minutes composition Suite Per Il Sign. The epic contains many shifting moods, breaks and soli and the use of a wide range of instruments: piano, flute, mouth organ, heavy floods of organ and heavy electric guitar. The track Miss Rand starts with bombastic organ and next a swinging rhythm with catchy piano play. E. Butto Sentirsi Vecchi sounds dreamy featuring twanging acoustic guitar and cheerful flute work. The final composition Hai Visto, has a rather jazzy atmosphere and lots of soli on flute and organ. DNA is not a very elaborate or complex album, it simply sounds pleasant with lots of strong soli.

LATTE E MIELE - Aquile E Scoiattoli (1976)

Latte E Miele is an acclaimed Italian band from the seventies. On their first two albums, we can enjoy cascades of shifting moods, breaks, accelerations and the atmospheres change from classical overtones to ELP-like keyboard work or even heavy metal. This third album is the most accessible one. I trace echoes from the early Genesis especially as far as the keyboards are concerned. The long and impressive Pavane (almost 25 minutes) reminds me of The Enid, Sky and Craft. If you prefer more complex and adventurous prog, I prefer the first two albums to start with, but if you like more melodic prog, this is one to discover.

LOCANDA DELLE FATE - Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Più (1977)

On this one-shot effort the septet Locanda Della Fate   delivers wonderful symphonic rock in the seven melodic and accessible compositions with an omnipresent, very beautiful grand piano sound, pleasant synthesizer work, moving electric guitar and some inspired flute play with echoes of seventies Genesis. The title track has passionate Italian vocals, wonderful interplay between sparkling grand piano and Steve Hackett-like guitar play and many interesting shifting moods. The final composition Vendesi Saggezza has a strong build-up with wonderful vocals and grand piano, howling electric guitar and exciting breaks with clavinet and synthesizers. Apart from the excellent dynamic and varied sound this highly acclaimed album sounds a bit too laidback for me. Of course, it’s all a matter of taste, because I know many prog heads who disagree!

(LE) MANI – Le Mani (CD 2006)

This Italian band was rooted in the early seventies, halfway that era Le Mani recorded five studio tracks, but unfortunately  the record companies ignored them and Le Mani disbanded without making an album. Thanks to the support of Italian prog rock label Vinyl Magic, the music can be heard on this mini-CD, running time about 19 minutes, released in 2006.

1. Tarantella: A fluent song featuring fast organ runs and sparkling flute play. It sounds typical seventies Italian but the music also reminds me of Hungarian prog rock legend Solaris.

2. Il Palazzo: Again, a fluent rhythm with organ and saxophone, halfway the music gets dreamier with the wonderful sound of the string-ensemble.

3. Canto: This track delivers a cheerful atmosphere with acoustic guitar, pleasant Italian vocals and fine flute work. This is the typical Italian seventies prog rock sound!

4. Mani: Solo piece on the grand piano, sounding beautifully.

5. La Casa Del Vento: The final song contains warm vocals and sensitive piano play, a pleasant goodbye to Le Mani.

What a pity that Le Mani only made five studio tracks. They deserved an entire studio album!

MAXOPHONE – Maxophone (1973)

Maxophone was a six-piece that existed between 1973 and 1977. They released only an eponymous album in 1973. The melodic sound has strong jazz-rock undertones with lots of woodwind and brass instruments: flute, saxophone, clarinet, French horn and trumpet. The atmospheres vary from dreamy with flute and acoustic guitar to bombastic with an orchestra or heavy with powerful guitar work. The vocals evoke the distinctive voice of Peter Gabriel. In 2005, the Italian labels Btf./Vinyl Magic collaborated in order to release the CD/DVD box set From Cocoon To Butterfly that contains previously unreleased material, interviews and TV-recordings, recommended to the fans!

METAMORFOSI – Inferno (1973)

Metamorfosi was founded in the second half of the sixties. In 1972, the band released their eponymous debut album. The simply structured seven compositions sound very melodic with a pleasant sixties touch. The focus is on the Hammond organ and the very distinctive vocals: warm and inspired with a strong pathetical undertone. Remarkably are the harder-edged guitar solos together with the nice synthesizer flights in Hiroshima. One year later, Metamorfosi made a second LP entitled Inferno sounding superior to their first effort. The spirit of Keith Emerson is omnipresent in all twelve tracks. These tracks are varied and often compelling, but at some moments a bit fragmented. We hear an exciting vintage keyboard sound: the impressive sound of a church-organ, fat MiniMoog flights, delicate harpsichord runs, sparkling grand piano and swirling Hammond organ, topped by great Italian vocals. This is one of the classic Italian prog rock albums!

MURPLE – Io Sono Murple (1974)

The quartet Murple released only one album in 1974 on a German label and the reissue on CD was on a German label (Akarma) as well. Murple plays in the 24-carat symphonic rock tradition with a lush organ sound and flowing electric guitar, reminding me of nineties Italian prog rock band Nuova Era. In 2007, three members of the original line-up reunited and made a new album in 2008 entitled Quadri Di Un'Esposizione on the Btf-label.

MUSEO ROSENBACH – Zarathustra (1973)

In the early nineties, I started to search for the Italian prog rock from the seventies. The mail order catalogues from the prog rock labels Laser’s Edge en Syn-Phonic became my most important sources. I still enjoy the warm and enthusiastic descriptions of Ken Golden and Greg Walker about bands like Il Balletto Di Bronzo, Cherry Five, I Dik Dik and Edgar Allan Poe. One highly acclaimed group was Museo Rosenbach with their album Zarathustra, about Nietzsche’s super human, from 1973. This album had such euphoric reviews that I decided to order it. Well, very soon I was mesmerized by the splendid title track, a twenty-minute killer composition with echoes from Genesis and King Crimson. The foundation of this wonderful and moving song is a beautiful theme, like Firth Of Fifth by Genesis, that returns in different atmospheres: from dreamy to heavy and bombastic and with different colouring of the instruments. The interplay between the electric guitar, keyboards, rhythm- section and the strong and expressive Italian vocals is very captivating. It all creates a constant tension, topped by majestic eruptions of the mellotron. These moments give the title track the same compelling impact as it does on the early albums of King Crimson. Goose bumps all over! The other three shorter tracks sound flowing and powerful with a lot of Hammond organ and guitar play with echoes from Steve Hackett. For me this album is one of the absolute highlights of the adventurous and varied Italian prog rock scene in the seventies. A must-have!

NEW TROLLS – Searching For A land (1972)

This Italian prog rock legend has made many albums, my favourite is this 2-LP (re-released on 1-CD). What an exciting music! All tracks strongly alternate: David Bowie-like vocals in Searching, warm twanging acoustic guitar in Giga, splendid mellotron waves in In St. Peter's day, beautiful classical inspired piano play in Once That I Prayed and raw and heavy rock with hints from Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple in To Edith and Lying Here with Ian Gillan-like vocals. Only few albums sound so varied and captivating. This one deserves more attention!

NUOVA IDEA – Clowns (1973)

This is Nuova Idea’s final effort and to me it is their best one. The line-up has been changed, the music delivers a raw organ and guitar sound that only has a few mellow moments. The vocals are powerful, but sometimes a bit too screamy. The title track is the most captivating and alternating composition. Due to some experimental ideas like the use of brass instruments Nuova Idea is not always a band with an accessible approach. Nonetheless, this is one of the better releases from the Italian prog rock label Mellow Records.

(LE) ORME – Ad Gloriam (1969)

My favourite classic Italian prog rock band Le Orme was founded in 1967. Especially their albums Felona E Sorona and Collage manage to delight me with every spin. This album features music from their very early period in the late sixties and you may consider this album as a starting point of my article about forty years Italian prog rock. The cover is typical ‘flower power’ art. I like it very much because of its creativity and many colours. The eleven compositions are simply structured, but tastefully arranged and contain a varied instrumentation: flute, acoustic and electric guitar, keyboards (piano, harpsichord and organ) together with warm vocals. Some tracks deliver a short, psychedelic inspired intro like I Miei Sogni and Fumo with echoes from Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd. Other songs have hints from The Moody Blues, The Beatles and Rare Bird. To me, this CD sounds as a pleasant progressive blend of beat, flower power and rock.

(LE) ORME – Collage (1971)

After two psychedelic/sixties inspired albums, this third record is a true prog rock gem. The seven compositions feature great Hammond organ play ( Keith Emerson, early Jane and Ramses), very distinctive and warm vocals with a melancholic undertone, some acoustic guitar and a dynamic rhythm-section. A very good element in the music from Le Orme is the tension between the mellow and bombastic atmospheres. And Le Orme delivers a lot of musical surprises like a kind of Blackmore/Gillan-Page/Plant duel from the bass and Hammond organ in Cemiento Armato, wonderful Hammond organ work from psychedelic to church organ in Evasione Totale and exciting interplay between organ and drums in Era Inverno. This album is not as refined as Felona E Sorona, Uomo Di Pezza or Contapuntti, but it is very worth listening.

(LE) ORME – Uomo Di Pezza (1972)

When Le Orme started touring to promote this album, one of their guests was Peter Hammill. Both this album and the single Gioco Di Bimba turned into a very successful effort. Le Orme were hot in Italy in those days!

1. Una Dolcezza Nuova (5:28): After a church organ-like intro, the music alternates between propulsive and bombastic featuring a dynamic rhythm-section, great organ runs with strong echoes from ELP and dreamy with sensitive acoustic piano. The Italian vocals sound very warm with a melancholic undertone. Excellent!

2. Gioco Di Bimba (2:54): This was the hit single featuring a mellow atmosphere with acoustic rhythm guitar, synthesizer flights and warm vocals along a surprising break with mandolin and clavinet.

3. La Porta Chiusa (7:28): This track has captivating atmospheres changing from romantic to bombastic with great Hammond and Moog play. The final part contains wonderful interplay between Hammond and grand piano and a short but sensational, dynamic piece in the vein of ELP.

4. Breve Imagine (2:42): wonderful mellotron-violin eruptions and warm vocals and bass. Goose bumps!

5. Figure Di Cartone (3:48): This track delivers fat Moog flights with obvious hints of Keith Emerson’s work on the Moog synthesizer in Lucky Man.

6. Aspettando L’Alba (4:43): A romantic atmosphere with warm vocals and acoustic rhythm-guitar, in the end delivering some mellotron-flutes.

7. Alienazione (4:43): This is Le Orme in their most bombastic tribute to ELP with dynamic drums and spectacular keyboard play. This sounds so exciting! This is another masterpiece from the Italian seventies prog!

(LE) ORME - Felona e Sorona (1973)

During the seventies Le Orme turned from a very ELP inspired band into a more refined prog rock formation with a distinctive sound. The concept-album Felona E Sorona is their acclaimed ‘magnum opus’ featuring nine alternating and elaborated compositions with lush and varied keyboards, wonderful changing atmospheres and a strong, dynamic rhythm-section. The final part is one of the most compelling ‘grand finales’ I’ve ever heard: slow and fat Moog runs, repetitive organ chords, a powerful drumbeat, a propulsive rhythm-section, culminating in a very moving and sumptuous atmosphere featuring dazzling Moog-flights and great string-sounds. What a mind-blowing experience! This is the amazing classic Italian prog rock, one of my all time favourites.

(LE) ORME - Live Orme (2-CD 1986)

If I look at the Italian section of my prog rock collection, it seems to be a battle between PFM, Banco and Le Orme, but the latter is my favourite band. I tend to choose seventies Le Orme because of their splendid compositorial qualities, huge musical skills, great dynamics and perfect blend of technical and emotional elements. In the mid-nineties, I noticed this live-CD, as a good bootleg, in the catalogue of Musea, the well-known French prog rock label and mail-order service, and decided to buy it. These live recordings were never released on vinyl, but fortunately released as a double album in 1986 by Japanese labels Nexus and in 1993 by King Record. The line-up on Live Orme was: Aldo Tagliapietra (vocals, bass and guitars), Antonio Pagliuca (keyboards), Michi Dei Rossi (drums and percussion) and Germano Serafin (guitar). Eventually Live Orme turned out to be one of my most expensive orders (almost US $ 90). It took many months before I received the album, but then it was time to let me carry away by this great Italian prog rock sound. I can tell you that Live Orme is one of my most precious Italian prog rock documents because the 2-CD contains great renditions of all the ‘classics’: Contrappunti, Maggio, Gioco Di Bimba, Era Inverno, Truck Of Fire, Cementi Armato, Collage and the surprising, but unfortunately short covers from Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love and Jethro Tull’s Aqualung. I’m delighted about the wonderful changing atmospheres, from warm and melancholic featuring the great, very distinctive Italians vocals and pleasant acoustic guitar, to compelling and bombastic in the vein of The Nice and ELP.

OSANNA – Palepoli (1973)

Between 1971 and 1974, the interesting five piece formation Osanna released four studio albums, in general their third entitled Palepoli is considered as the most acclaimed one. The album contains three songs, two epic compositions between 18 and 22 minutes and a very short track below two minutes. The sound on the two long compositions is very varied, it ranges from dreamy with warm vocals, flute and twanging acoustic guitar to heavy rock with harder-edged R&R guitar with some wah-wah and powerful Jethro Tull inspired flute. In between, we can enjoy lots of lush mellotron-violin waves, accompanied by instruments ranging from mellow flute and soaring Hammond organ to fiery electric guitar and screamy saxophone. Especially the final part of Animale Senza Respiro delivers majestic mellotron work. If you have no problem with the somewhat dated sound, this is an album to check out.

(IL) PAESE DEI BALOCHI – Same (1972)

This is one of the acclaimed typical seventies Italian prog rock albums with a varied sound in the ten compositions, ranging from classical (cello, Vivaldi-like violins and Bach-like church organ) and folky (acoustic guitars) to symphonic rock ( ELP-inspired with lots of Hammond organ) and psychedelia. The reissue of Italian label Mellow Records contains two bonus tracks that sound rather romantic. Fantasia E Poesia has a Procol Harum sounding Hammond organ and Amore Per Gico is close to pop with sensitive guitar runs. However, both tracks do not really represent the interesting and adventurous sound of the original album.

PANNA FREDDA - Uno (1971)

Panna Freda was an Italian band that made only one album entitled Uno. You don’t need an Italian dictionary to understand that this means 'one', but to my surprise Panna Fredda showcases two sides on their album! The first and final part features swelling and moving organ play and raw guitar work that sounds a bit like early Eloy. It all sounds very sumptuous, mainly due to the heavy Hammond organ chords. Halfway this album, however, Panna Fredda changes their sound to very mellow, featuring acoustic guitar, sensitive vocals and medieval-like keyboards. Wonderful, a unique album, often overlooked.

Storia Di Un Minuto (1972)

The debut album Storia Di Un Minuto of PFM has strong echoes from early King Crimson, especially the ‘feminine’ side. In general, the seven compositions contain beautiful and mellow atmospheres featuring lots of acoustic guitar, soaring keyboards and warm vocals, interfered by bombastic mellotron drenched eruptions and fat synthesizers. At other times, you can hear shifting moods with fiery electric guitar and swinging rhythms. The highlight is the track Dove-Quando Part Two delivering a great variety and a wide range of instruments: flute, piano, violin, organ and electric guitar. The album lasts only 34 minutes, but I prefer quality above quantity.


On the second album Per Un Amico PFM has even matured their sound: wonderful symphonic rock featuring acoustic instruments like the piano, violin, acoustic guitar and flute together with electronic instruments like the mellotron and the MiniMoog synthesizer. The atmospheres change more frequently including up-tempo rhythms with electric guitar or a surprising church-organ intermezzo. The songs are very melodic and harmonic and the vocals are powerful and expressive. Another classic!


On their third album we read that Pete Sinfield from King Crimson produced this record and also delivered the lyrics, not really a coincidence if you listen to the main influence for PFM! All songs sound strong and are tastefully elaborated. The music sounds as a pleasant mix of folk, classical and symphonic. The violin play is excellent! A great song is the long Il Barchetto containing lots of majestic mellotron and sparkling classical piano work. Unfortunately, the vocals are not in the native language.


On the fourth album L’Isola Di Niente (English version The World Became The World) I noticed again an obvious influence from early King Crimson, and again the ‘feminine’ side in the vein of tracks like Epitaph and In The Court Of The Crimson King featuring bombastic mellotron and Moogs together with folky acoustic instruments. Another influence is Yes: powerful and propulsive guitars and keyboards with echoes from Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman. Some parts even contain jazz-rock-like music, so there are a lot of varied styles on this album. Although sometimes my attention slips away. This album has many strong songs, especially the compelling mellotron-drenched title track. Goose bumps!


This album is a registration of a concert from 1974 while touring in the USA. To me it is a perfect compilation of their best work and shows the band at its pinnacle. Four Holes In The Ground has a propulsive rhythm and a catchy melody, delivering fat MiniMoog synthesizer runs, some fiery electric guitar and impressive Hammond organ and majestic mellotron waves in the mellow interludes. The English vocals sound warm and the interplay between the skilled musicians is great. Next is Dove ... Quando with a classical/jazzy intro on the Fender Rhodes electric piano, turning into a duet with sparkling piano and beautiful Italian vocals. Just Look Away has a splendid acoustic guitar intro followed by twanging acoustic guitar, soft MiniMoog flights and warm English vocals. The build-up with Hammond and flute is great with a closing section with tremolo guitar. The ‘crowd-pleaser’ Celebration is a cheerful and catchy composition, delivering spectacular MiniMoog runs and swirling interplay. The grand finale includes the moving final part of The World Became The World. Enjoy the mellotron floods! PFM is ay their best in Mr. Nine Till Five with the distinctive interplay between flute, Moog and violin. The final song Alta Loma Five Till Nine includes a long and bluesy guitar solo with a strong build-up, supported by mellotron-violin, featuring howling and biting licks: superb! The second part has a moving violin soli, culminating in a version of Rossini’s piece William Tell Overture with virtuosic play on the Moog-synthesizer and violin. This is without doubt my favourite PFM album!

QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA - Quella Vecchia Locanda (1972)

This is one of the most acclaimed albums of the Italian prog rock, a unique progressive blend of folk, classical and rock. The band consists of six musicians playing a wide range of instruments: an array of vintage keyboards including soaring mellotron-violin and MiniMoog, saxophone, twelve-string, acoustic and electric guitar, flute. QVL’s eponymous debut album contains eight beautiful, original and dynamic compositions. The one moment the atmosphere is dreamy with warm vocals and twanging acoustic guitar, classical flute and violin; at other moments, we hear up-tempo rock with fiery electric guitar, a catchy beat with swinging piano or a part with a Jethro Tull-like flute sound or a grand piano solo. The strong Italian vocals add an extra dimension to the very pleasant atmosphere on this album. Simply wonderful!

RACCOMANDATA CON RICEVUTA DI RITORNO (aka RRR) – Per .. Un Mondo Di Cristallo (1972)

If you want to discover unique, not very accessible, but alternating prog rock in the vein of King Crimson and Gentle Giant. You can also enjoy a wide range of instruments: from acoustic guitar and flute to saxophone and even a church organ! Never a dull moment! What a varied, typical adventurous Italian progressive rock! Check out this one!

(IL) ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA (aka RDM) – Contaminazione (1973)

The third RDM-album is their best. It features lots of Keith Emerson inspired Hammond organ play. Together with the propulsive and dynamic rhythm-section, it evokes also Trace and Ekseption, featuring the late Dutch pride Rick van der Linden. The instrumentation varies, including violin, harpsichord, heavy guitar, a violin-section, piano, classical guitar and church organ. At some moments, the music sounds a bit freaky or experimental, but in general this is wonderful melodic seventies based prog rock. The Italian vocals are beautiful and warm. By the way, this album is a kind of tribute to Johan Sebastian Bach, especially the composition Toccata In D-Fuga.

RUSTICHELLI & BORDINI – Opera Prima (1973)

Rustichelli & Bordini made this wonderful album. Unfortunately, it turned out to be their swan song. The cover picture is very original: a nude and bald heavy weight man who tenderly holds a baby in his arms. To me this is a metaphor for the music, ranging from warm to bombastic. Drummer Carlo Bordini later joined Cherry Five and Goblin, but before the first album was released, he was sacked.

1. Nativita: The album starts with a swinging rhythm featuring inventive drums, a warm bass sound and lush keyboards with Hammond organ, mellotron and piano. The atmospheres alternate from mellow with soaring mellotron-violin and classical inspired piano to swinging with lots of Hammond. The interplay between the keyboards is wonderful and the rhythm-section sounds great.

2. Icaro: This is a mid-tempo song with splendid play on the Hammond, featuring a church organ like sound, a jazzy piano part and strong vocals with an emotional undertone.

3. Dolce Sorella: Again, we can enjoy a wonderful lush keyboard sound delivering classical orchestrations, synthesizers and sparkling piano. The vocals sound melancholic and fit perfect to the bombastic atmosphere.

4. Un Cana: The first part contains beautiful classical piano, next a full symphonic sound, emphasized by synthesizers, mellotron, piano and emotional vocals.

5. E Svegliarsi In Un Giorno: This track features many Hammond organ floods and strong vocals, it carries you away to prog heaven !

6. Cammellandia: First, you hear bombastic organ, fat synthesizers flights, then an ominous sounding mellotron-violin and dynamic drums. The atmosphere’s changes into bombastic with propulsive drums and a lush Hammond and mellotron sound, gradually the mellotron becomes more and more omnipresent and is blended with the Hammond and drums in an exciting way! In the end, the atmosphere returns to mellow with tender piano and strange sounds.

Excellent vintage keyboard driven classic Italian prog rock!


The name of this Italian prog rock band has been derived from Francesco and Antonio Salis. The music on their fourth album from 1979 sounds like dynamic symphonic jazz rock and reminds me of the splendid Spanish band Mezquita. Their music is also based upon captivating interplay between fiery and powerful guitar and vintage keyboards, including a Steinway grand piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, organ, MiniMoog and ARP string-ensemble. The quality level of the musicians is very high. You can enjoy strong soli on guitar and keyboards and many captivating moments: exciting shifting moods and virtuosic piano play in the title track, excellent guitar work in the vein of Jan Akkerman (Focus) in Peccato Che .. !, a Spanish climate featuring strong vocals, howling electric guitar and orchestral keyboards in El Diablo and swirling Fender Rhodes piano and fiery electric guitar in Inquinamento.

SAMADHI – Samadhi (1974)

The septet Samadhi, featuring members of RRR and L’Uovo Di Colombo, delivers pretty varied music: from dreamy and romantic to heavy with fiery electric guitar. The brass sound reminds me of Earth, Wind & Fire and Chicago. The highlight is the epic, often bombastic composition L’Ultima featuring wonderful grand piano and a choir.


Attention, electronic prog heads! This instrumental album (drums and keyboards) contains exciting bombastic parts featuring majestic mellotron choirs, swinging rhythms with Hammond organ and MiniMoog, evoking Rick Wakeman solo, and mellow interludes with a wonderful strings-sound and warm piano. It is neither a classic, nor a masterpiece, but interesting to check out for electronic music fans.

SEMIRAMIS - Dedicato A Frazz (1973)

Semiramis made only one album and that’s a pity because this Italian band sounded strong and promising. The album contains pleasant and melodic compositions featuring a lot of strings and fiery electric guitar play. The parts with the twanging acoustic guitars and the mellow keyboards obviously have echoes from early Genesis. Highlights are some spectacular breaks delivering organ and protrusive guitar riffs, a flashy synthesizer solo, swelling keyboards, followed by a church-organ-guitar. These elements emphasize how original Semiramis sounded. This album is one of the most acclaimed Italian prog rock gems from the seventies. Discover why!

SENSITIVA IMMAGINE - E Tutto Comincio Cosi (CD 1991)

I discovered this often overlooked gem when I read a review in the French prog rock magazine Harmonie. They compared the music with the Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, my favourite prog rock, so I decided to order the Japanese digi-pack version. Inside I found a coloured picture that strongly evoked this period. Well, to me almost every inch of this album, transferred from a 1976 demo-tape that the band sold at concerts, has the spirit of early Genesis, only the Italian vocals make you realize that you’re not dealing with a kind of lost ‘Selling England By The Pound-tapes’! The six compositions,  the Kaliphonia re-release has six bonus tracks, sound pleasant and melodic featuring warm vocals, great sensitive electric guitar work and lush keyboards. In comparison with German early-Genesis-inspired band Neuschwanstein, the Italian compositions sound less elaborate, but I love the warm atmosphere and wonderful flowing electric guitar work in the vein of Steve Hackett, blended with Tony Banks -like keyboards and pleasant Italian vocals, a must for all Genesis fans, era 1970-1977!

(IL) SISTEMA – Il Viaggio Senza Andata (posthumously: 2-LP 1991, CD 1992)

This album was released on CD in the early nineties by Mellow Records, a known Italian prog rock label specialized in releasing seventies Italian prog like Il Giro Strano, Biglietto Per L'Inferno and Jumbo. According to my information, Mellow Records also released this CD on a double LP with additional tracks. Il Sistema featured guitar player Enzo Merogno who later appeared in Museo Rosenbach and Leonardo Lagario (sax, flute, piano) who became a member of Celeste, both legendary Italian prog bands! Il Sistema’s music from the era between 1969 and 1971, is mainly based upon the powerful sound of the Hammond organ evoking Gregg Rolie (Santana) in long tracks like Il Pensieri Del Mattino and Dinamica E. Cibernitica. I’m sure you will be carried away! Together with the omnipresent Hammond organ, we can also enjoy good work on saxophone, flute and electric guitar and some vocals with a melancholic undertone. The only disappointing track is Il Pozzo. It is too long, sounds cacophonic, a maverick on this CD with a running time over 70 minutes. The recording quality isn’t that good, but if you are up to a decent bootleg sound, this CD is one to discover.

TRIADE - La Storia Di Sabazio (1973)

Triade is an obscure Italian trio that made only one album. Their music is keyboard driven prog rock with strong hints to classical music and ELP (organ and synthesizers). The combination of bombastic keyboards and acoustic guitar sounds very pleasant. The pieces featuring strings and rhythm-guitar are breathtaking. The running time is just over half an hour, but here you can say: quality above quantity!

(THE) TRIP – Atlantide (1972)

Recently, I watched an Italian TV documentary about the classic Italian prog rock with great footage from Banco, PFM and Le Orme. I saw The Trip during a performance on the Caracalla Pop Festival when the band played the single Fantasia in front of a very enthusiastic audience. The Trip released four albums in the first half of the seventies: The Trip (1970) and Caronte (1971) contain a kind of ‘progressive blues-rock’ with a lot of harder-edged guitar and powerful organ, their last Time Of Change (1973) is jazzy oriented together with the ELP/classical sound that dominates all albums. I prefer their third album Atlantide on which The Trip plays as a trio without a guitar player. The eight songs sound pleasant and varied with decent English vocals and strong work on keyboards: from swinging and sparkling grand piano to bombastic Hammond and church-organ evoking The Nice and early ELP and some synthesizer work.

(L’) UOVO DI COLOMBO – L’Uovo Di Colombo (1973)

L’Uovo Di Colombo is a four piece including the brothers Enzo Volpini (keyboards, electric and acoustic guitars) and Elio Volpini (bass, electric guitar and lead vocals in the first track L’Indecisione). Most of the tracks sound simply structured with a very tasteful vintage keyboard colouring of mainly Emersonian Hammond organ, but also string-ensemble, Moog-synthesizer and piano alongside some electric guitar (fiery runs in Turba and Consiglio). The atmospheres range from swinging rhythms with bombastic keyboards to dreamy. The most elaborate composition is Visione Della Morte. It begins mellow with acoustic rhythm guitar and warm vocals, then a catchy break with strong work on piano and Hammond and a short drum solo, followed by slow rhythm featuring beautiful string-ensemble and in the end tender piano. If you are a Hammond aficionado, this is an album worth to check out.

(IL) VOLO – Il Volo (1974)

Il Volo made two albums in the mid-seventies. I prefer their first eponymous effort above the second one entitled Essere O Non Essere? (1975), because the debut album sounds more mature and varied and the Italian vocals have a more important role. The eight varied and melodic compositions are tastefully coloured by two keyboard players including Gabriele Lorenzi from Formula Tre often featuring string-ensemble and Fender Rhodes electric piano, beautifully blended with moving electric guitar work and instruments like an electric sitar or acoustic guitar. Il Volo is not a classic, but a fine example of Italian prog rock.

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