(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 5:
Reunions of Legendary and Popular Bands In The Last Decade

BANCO – Nudo (1997)

This double album by the Italian prog rock legend Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso also known as Banco contains material from the new line-up. CD-1 starts with the title track divided in Part I, II and III. This is a studio piece recorded in 1997. First, we hear a fluent rhythm, fiery electric guitar and modern sounding keyboards. The vocals are still great, very powerful and inspired, loaded with that typical Mediterranean pathos! The next five songs recorded 'unplugged' between March and April 1997 in Rome contain  sparkling piano in the vein of Keith Emerson, wonderful acoustic rhythm guitar and again great vocals. Especially the renditions of the ‘classics’ R.I.P. and L'Evoluzione sound impressive. CD-1 ends with two live pieces from the Italian radio: Emiliano with acoustic guitar and again excellent piano work and 750.000 Anni Fa ..L'Amore? with beautiful interplay between piano and vocals. CD-2 demonstrates Banco at their best: from dreamy to bombastic with lots of swirling soli and duets on guitar and keyboards. Very exciting is the long Metamorfosi delivering propulsive piano play, flashy synthesizers, biting electric guitar runs and a great build-up end. The climax is very moving due to the splendid vocals! CD-2 ends with two tracks taken from a live performance in Avigliana in September 1989. At the end of Non Mi Rompete, there’s a hidden studio track, a short reprise of Nudo. Nudo is a real prog rock document!

(IL) BALLETTO DI BRONZO – Live In Rome (2008)

Ask fans of the seventies Italian prog rock about their favourite albums from that era and I’m sure that most of them will name Ys (1972) by Il Balletto Di Bronzo, among legends PFM, Banco and Le Orme. Personally, I have opposite feelings about the music on that highly acclaimed album. On the one hand, I’m delighted about the sumptuous, vintage keyboard drenched symphonic rock moments, but on the other hand, I can’t get into the nerve-racking avant-garde inspired interludes. For me the music remains a bit too complex and a too varied prog rock album, but I really appreciate Il Balletto Di Bronzo’s adventurous musical ideas on Ys. In my opinion, Ys is a ‘classic’ in the history of prog rock competing with the best work of Yes, Genesis, ELP and King Crimson! In
2007, as a trio Il Balletto Di Bronzo performed old and new material during a concert in the wonderful historical Italian capital of Rome. They also did in 1996, in 1999 followed by the Trys- album. First Live In Rome 2007 had been released as a CD, now there is the DVD-version (2008), so you can experience a bit of the magic of that legendary Ys -album, 35 years after its release.

The first part of the concert contains five compositions featuring theatrical vocals, sumptuous keyboard work like fat and spectacular synthesizer flights and a very propulsive and ‘groovy’ rhythm-section with compelling and hypnotizing atmospheres and ELP-hints. It sounds a bit weird and experimental, but also captivating and adventurous, perhaps you can describe it best as ‘an avant-garde version of ELP’. An abridged version of 25 minutes of the Ys-album followed. Now we can enjoy one of the highlights of seventies Italian prog rock on DVD! Well, this trio comes pretty close in capturing the unique spirit of that album. You hear a choir in the intro and then breathtaking swirling Hammond-organ and flashy MiniMoog flights in Introduzione with lots of sensational keyboards, theatrical vocals and a wonderful final part with harpsichord. The more complex sounding Primo Incontro we hear splendid drumming, a bass solo with freaky synthesizer support and a jazzy piano with a propulsive rhythm-section. Secondo Incontro and Terzo Incontro deliver lots of piano, theatrical vocals and a distorted bass sound. The final song Epilogo has a bombastic atmosphere with drums and organ. What an awesome and compelling sound! I was just carried away during this half an hour tribute to the album Ys. A big hand for this Il Balletto Di Bronzo trio!

Then we get three songs I’ve never heard of, but to me the swinging L’Emofago and Il Castello sound very pleasant with spectacular keyboard work and an adventurous rhythm-section, often reminding me of ELP. An extra on this DVD is a solo performance by singer and keyboardist Gianni Leone. I have to admit that I’m a bit disappointed about his blend of electronic music and synthi-pop. Only Hommage To Balleto is interesting with sequencers and virtuosic keyboard play. In general, I miss the bombastic atmosphere without the rhythm-section on the original Ys-album. To be honest: a drum machine sounds poor, indeed.

My conclusion: the first part will not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I appreciate the adventurous mind of Gianni Leone.  The Ys -rendition is jaw dropping, the final part is good but the solo of Gianni Leone fails to keep my attention, so I quickly zapped back to the Ys -rendition, which is worth to buy this DVD!

CAMPO DI MARTE - Concerto Zero (2003)

This is a double album by Campio Di Marte. The first CD contains live recordings of the concert in The Space Electronic in Florence (1972). The sound quality is at the level of an average bootleg and the running time about 31 minutes. The music is exciting and dynamic, somewhere between Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Focus
featuring fiery and raw guitar work, swirling flute play and lush Hammond-organ. The second disc contains studio recordings made in 2003 and recorded in one take as a ‘live concert’. In this case, the sound quality is good and that makes listening to Campo Di Marte more comfortable. The compositions don’t sound very elaborate, but Campo Di Marte plays powerful, compelling with bombastic eruptions and mellow parts as well. The interplay between guitar and keyboards is captivating with frequent fiery and heavy guitar runs. Without doubt, Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page were the main sources of inspiration! The Italian vocals sound inspired and emotional in the great tradition of many legendary Italian prog rock singers. The acoustic guitar is wonderfully integrated in the music in Back In Time and Italian Irish accompanied by floating flute tones. In Bluesy Rocky, you can enjoy a compelling guitar solo on ‘freak out’ level and a jazzy piano solo. The lay out of this CD is excellent: a ‘fold-out-cover’ digipack version. Both albums contain an eight pages booklet with history, lyrics and pictures. For the ‘nice price’ of this 2-CD you don’t have to worry about the inferior sound quality of disc one. What a great comeback of experienced musicians after thirty years!

DELIRIUM – Delirium Live (2007)

Delirium is a legendary Italian prog rock band that produced several albums in the early seventies. Halfway the nineties Delirium made a comeback including some new studio albums and in 2006, they performed in the Italian city of Trento. That concert has been recorded for this live album. We can enjoy the crafty and inspired musicians who treat us with a tasteful blend of folk featuring swirling flute, warm acoustic guitars, strong vocals
and rock songs with fiery guitar and powerful saxophone. Sometimes Delirium delivers jazzy sounding parts with swinging piano and bas. Most of the thirteen compositions however, contain great guitar and saxophone work and in the tradition of the seventies, we hear solos on drums and bass. The powerful Villagio with swirling flute, fiery guitar and strong guitar, saxophone, flute and organ solos is one of the highlights. The other highlights are Preludio Paura, a folky piece with a wonderful solo on acoustic guitar. Gioia, Disordine, Risentimento, a compelling track with a raw and bluesy guitar solo, a Jethro Tull Medley with excellent play on flute, guitar and bass and with a pleasant live atmosphere and an excellent rendition of Joe Cocker’s With A Little Bit Help From My Friends featuring splendid organ floods and an inspired vocal performance! The song Notte A Bagdad deals with the sending of Italian soldiers to Iraq for a mission. It sounds swinging and modern. I’m impressed by this legendary Italian prog rock band! This is a good live album with outstanding work on guitar, flute and saxophone in a captivating progressive blend of rock and folk just like Jethro Tull, their main inspiration. The latest news: in 2009, Delirium released a new studio-album entitled Il Nome Del Viento. This Italian prog rock legend is still alive and progging after almost forty years!

LATTE E MIELE -  Live Tasting (2009)

Incredible how many legendary classic Italian prog rock bands have reunited in the last decade. After bands like Il Balletto Di Bronzo, Le Orme, Banco, New Trolls and Osanna, here is Latte E Miele featuring three members of the original line up on their debut album Passio Secundum Mattheum (1972). This live album was recorded in Canada in 2008. The music sounds good and the band plays very inspired songs from their three seventies albums. The first part concerns a selection of their first album. We can enjoy a great blend of classical and symphonic rock with awesome vintage keyboard work on grand piano, Hammond-organ, mellotron, synthesizers and some splendid harpsichord runs as well. Furthermore, we hear wonderful moving guitar solos, warm Italian vocals and lots of variety with a
tender grand piano solo, classical guitar with mellotron flutes, powerful and bombastic with a choir sound, propulsive drumbeats and beautiful interplay between guitar and piano. Then we can enjoy three songs from the album Papillon (1973). Ouverture has a mid-tempo with Keith Emerson-inspired Hammond-work and classical orchestrations. Primo Quadro delivers a lot of variety with brass instruments, classical guitar, church organ and a jazzy acoustic guitar solo. Rimani Nella Mia has a dreamy atmosphere with warm and sparkling grand piano, mellotron-flutes, wonderful Italian vocals and compelling classical orchestrations in. Next Fantasia Pere Chandra – I’m not familiar with this track - that contains virtuosic classical guitar, followed by the suite Pavana from the album Aquile E Scoiattoli (1976). The music often sounds similar to The Enid featuring a classical keyboard sound, blended with fiery electric guitar, a strong rhythm-section and again great work on keyboards, especially in Pavana Parte Terza with among others a Bolero-like accordion sound on synthesizer. Very impressive! The band concludes this live album with a new song entitled Vision Of  Sunlight. This song starts a bit ‘polished’, but then we can enjoy strong work on guitar and keyboards in a more bombastic and compelling atmosphere. Perhaps this is a prelude for a new album. I hope so! My conclusion is: great musicians, great music, great album!

NEW TROLLS – Concerto Grosso, The Seven Seasons (2007)

I was pleasantly surprised when I read about this new album by a reformed line-up of the legendary New Trolls, one of the most popular Italian bands. In the sixties, they even were the support act of The Rolling Stones! Listening to this third part of the Concerto Grosso, I enjoy the quality and creativity with elements that hosted in so many classic Italian prog rock bands. What a wonderful and varied album this is! The Knowledge, Overture with flute play like Ian Anderson, Future Joy including fine work on clarinet and Barocco’n 'Roll - Allegro Brioso with fat guitar play, feature that typical classic Italian prog rock sound. That is: blends of classical, rock and symphonic rock with great tension
between the instruments, in this case the violins and fiery electric guitar in a bombastic atmosphere. Dance With The Rain – Ballatta is a mellow piece delivering a warm sound with twanging acoustic guitar, floating flute play and violins. Other mellow pieces are: Intro And Canone with beautiful classical guitar, Testament Of Time – Andante with melancholic violins alongside clarinet,  pleasant vocals and piano, The Season Of Hope - Piano Preludio with a sparkling grand piano solo and finally Ethix – Canzona, a wonderful ballad with piano, violins and vocals. I’m also delighted about the alternating composition To Love The Land – Adagio with an exciting contrast between the violins and guitars and including two sensitive solos. Then the early Queen-inspired The Ray Of White Light – Rondo : first we hear grand piano, then a strong build-up with a rock-opera-like atmosphere featuring great guitar work. The captivating Simply Angels – Suite delivers a bombastic and varied instrumentation with heavy guitar, vibraphone and a violin-section. The final track So Che Ci Sei, the Italian version of Dance With The Rain, is unfortunately the only song with native vocals. It sounds warm and dreamy with twanging acoustic guitar, flute and clarinet. Simply wonderful! To me this ‘reunion album’ sounds impressive. The legend is back with a bit less guitar and a bit more classical overtones, but in their true spirit: varied, exciting and with great musical creativity!

(LE) ORME – Il Fiume (1996)

I’m a huge fan of seventies band Le Orme, especially the albums Collage with great Hammond-work, Felona E Sorona, in my opinion their masterpiece, and Uomo Di Pezza with wonderful mellotron
passages. Therefore, I was very pleased when I heard that Le Orme was re-founded with two original members, unfortunately not including keyboard player Toni Pagliuca. His last Le Orme-album is the disappointing Orme from 1995 and featuring Angelo Branduari. Pagliuca has been replaced by two keyboardists.

How about the new Le Orme sound? Well, I’m pleasantly surprised. What a wonderful music! The compositions sound very elaborate and contain lots of emotion and subtle musical ideas. The colouring by the two keyboard players on piano and synthesizers is very tasteful and adds a lush symphonic sound to the music. The vocals by Aldo are very distinctive as well with a lot of power and emotion, in the same league as John Wetton and Peter Gabriel as far as I’m concerned! With this album, Le Orme showcases to be back after many years. I sincerely hope they once will visit The Netherlands!

OSANNA - Osanna Live – Uomini E Miti (CD + DVD) (2003)

Osanna was one of those many captivating Italian prog rock bands from the seventies. They made some fine albums, perhaps Palepoli is their most acclaimed one. In the autumn of 2001, Osanna gave a reunion concert and the band even decided to compose new songs. Two years later Osanna performed live in Napoli contributed by members of other Italian prog rock legends. This performance has been released on CD and DVD, beautifully packaged in a double fold out cover entitled Osanna Live, Uomini E Miti.

The CD delivers a bit more polished and groovy sound than the more raw and aggressive sound of the seventies. However, the performance of all the musicians is outstanding. These veterans love to play their music and they are very talented and experienced! Osanna plays material from their seventies albums Ce Vulesse Ce Vulesse with an exciting ethnic sounding clarinet. There Will Be Time delivers wonderful piano play and warm vocals. Mirror Train contains protrusive guitar riffs, powerful clarinet, organ and strong vocals and an abridged version of Oro Caldo with a swinging bass intro, catchy rhythms and great work on clarinet, fiery electric guitar and vocals. If you like the early Osanna, I’m sure you will not be disappointed by this reunion band concert featuring three members from the seventies line-up. The four studio tracks sound pleasant and varied with strong guitar, saxophone and clarinet, but I wonder how many fans from the early Osanna will be pleased by this quite modern and more polished sound.

The DVD is definitely worth to check out, especially because of the contributions of members from Area, Il Balletto Di Bronzo and Banco. The concert has been recorded on December 2nd, 2003 in a theatre in Napoli in the poor southern part of Italy. Osanna plays powerful and inspired. Most of the songs have been previously released on the aforementioned CD’s. The tracks by the Italian prog rock legends are very interesting. We see Vittorio De Scalzi from New Trolls with Signore, Io Sono Irish with tender piano and expressive vocals and Ti Ricordi Joe? with strong acoustic rhythm guitar. Furthermore, we see Francesco Di Giacomo and Rodolfo Maltese from Banco with R.I.P. This is a very compelling ‘unplugged’ version with splendid work on a blue Ovation guitar and great moving vocals. Goosebumps! Patrizio Fariselli from Area with Luglio, Agusto, Settembre (Nero) with sparkling piano, guitar and a talkbox sounding a bit experimental. Gianni Leone from Il Balletto Di Bronzo with Love In The Kitchen with very distinctive and bombastic keyboards, classical orchestrations and theatrical vocals. The final song entitled Everybody’s Gonna See You Die has been recorded on a festival in 2003 and features Osanna again with Gianni Leone. This rocky track sounds swinging featuring clarinet, saxophone and heavy electric guitar riffs.

PFM – Stati Di Immaginazione CD (+ bonus DVD) (2006)

This legendary Italian prog rock band delivered many outstanding studio albums in the seventies, but I prefer their live sound. They sound just a grade more powerful and captivating as on the album USA (1975), also known as Cook, and work from the new PFM like the DVD Live In Japan 2002 and the CD/DVD Piazza Del Campo. All members of PFM are outstanding musicians who deliver dynamic and captivating prog! I was very curious to listen to this new CD with bonus DVD, featuring eight instrumental songs from the ‘veterans’ Franz Di Cioccio on drums and Franco Mussida on guitars who founded a trio with bass player Patrick Djivas, accompanied by guest musicians Lucio Fabbri (violin and keyboards) and Gianluca Tagliavini (Hammond-organ and Moog-synthesizer).

1. La Terra Dell’Acqua (8.13): this track starts with spacey keyboards, fragile guitar play and a warm bass sound. Gradually, the music turns into a lush sound delivering a compelling violin solo. After an acceleration with a swinging bass, we can enjoy a splendid guitar solo in captivating interplay with piano and propulsive drum work, eventually quite bombastic followed by a mellow part with tender grand piano and in the end a dynamic conclusion featuring a fiery and bluesy guitar solo with howling licks, accompanied by a powerful rhythm-section. Great!

2. Il Mondo In Testa (3.55): after a classical, warm sounding intro on piano and violin, a swinging rhythm follows with a pleasant blend of guitar, piano and violin while halfway a vibraphone joins. The music reminds me of Gentle Giant and Frank Zappa, because of the strong interplay between the instruments and inventive change of atmospheres.

3. La Conquista (6.26): this track provides another swinging rhythm and exciting interplay between rhythm guitar, bass and vibraphone. The moods shift from dreamy with soaring keyboards and fragile guitar to bluesy with wah-wah guitar. The vintage keyboard aficionados can freak out with a wonderful and long solo on the Moog-synthesizer evoking ‘the good old celebration days’.

4. Il Sogno Di Leonardo (6.43): first, you hear warm acoustic guitar and flute, then a beautiful build-up with wonderful interplay between piano and acoustic guitar. Very romantic. I also enjoyed the sensitive violin sound and the slow synthesizer solo.

5. Cyber Alpha (4.27): this piece is build upon an excellent guitar solo with howling and biting runs and spectacular use of the wah-wah pedal.

6. Agua Azul (3.53): the intro delivers subtle interplay between bass and strings, then lots of shifting moods and exciting work on the Moog and the violin. What a unique sound!

7. Nederland 1903 (3.20): thanks PFM for this tribute to my home country The Netherlands. The picture in the booklet shows the family of a fisher in traditional clothes. The atmosphere is mainly dreamy with beautiful work on the piano and guitar alongside mellow Hammond-play.

8. Visioni Di Archimede (8.57): in this track PFM are at their best. What a dynamic and varied sound, great colouring by fiery electric guitar, exciting rhythm guitar, powerful Hammond and spectacular Moog-play.

Finally, the track list of the bonus-DVD is similar to the CD, but unfortunately, it features only images from landscapes, cartoons and black and white scenes from the African native people. We see no studio or live footage from the band. Nonetheless, the images are wonderful! In my opinion, PFM made a masterpiece and - it may sound as ‘blasphemy to the Italian prog rock history - I would like to conclude that this is PFM’s best studio effort ever. What a dynamic, varied and captivating album!

Proceed to Chapter 6: Compilations and  Special Projects

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