(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 7: Italian Progrock DVD’s

< AINUR – Children Of Hurin (2008)

This CD/DVD box set contains a wonderful 32-page booklet in which you can read all about this Tolkien-inspired dark concept story, taken from the book The Silmarillion. The music is performed by musicians who use a wide range of instruments: harp, violin, French horn, clarinet, flute, several keyboards and many male and female singers including a bass baritone. The amount of classical instruments is a strong indication of what we can expect from Ainur on the thirteen songs on Children Of Hurin.

CD: The first composition Morgoth’s Prophecy is an impressive start. We can enjoy lots of dynamics between the classical instruments and the electric guitar and sensational MiniMoog-synthesizer flights, layered with classically trained vocals. The other eleven songs also deliver a blend of classic and progressive rock music, but slightly emphasized on classical music. Just when it tends too become a bit too classical, the music turns into fluent, often sumptuous prog rock with sparkling piano, propulsive guitar and lush organ in Mim And The Outlaws, sweeping guitar riffs and fat MiniMoog-runs in The Sack Of Nargothrond and beautiful interplay between electric guitar and the MiniMoog with a prog metal sounding rhythm-section in Glaurung’s Death. Ainur succeeds in keeping my attention during the entire album! The sound on Children Of Hurin is in the vein of their debut album From Ancient Times (2007). I tend to prefer this second effort and I’m very curious how this promising new Italian prog rock band develops.

DVD: The main footage is the Original Ainur Live Video featuring two songs from the album Children Of Hurin. You can witness Ainur’s capabilities to perform their story on stage like in War Of Wrath from the album From Ancient Times, which contains heavy guitar work, pleasant keyboard work by two band members along violins and a baritone: great tension between two musical styles. Finally, two live songs from earlier concerts in this section. The other extras are an interview, recording sessions, the Ainur history documentary, the Ainur live documentary and an extra video. A big hand for this unknown new Italian prog rock band Ainur!

BANCO - Cio’Che Si Ede E (2004)

This is a concert from a Banco -reunion tour in 1992 with a line-up including four original members. The audience react very enthusiastically, no wonder because Banco plays an inspired set, featuring many ‘classics’. This DVD is not a pure concert, because at some moments black-and-white images from nature to short early seventies live footage are shown.  On the one hand it creates a special atmosphere, but on the other hand it sometimes is a bit disturbing. The first track Il Volo contains black-and-white images from the sound check. Then, in colour, we can enjoy the song R.I.P. Singer Francesco Di Giacomo still has an impressive, very warm voice. The second part evokes goose bumps when Francesco sings a bit melancholic, supported by compelling piano. The next composition L’Evoluzione starts with sumptuous keyboards, followed by a swinging rhythm, delivering swirling keyboards in the vein of Keith Emerson during the Works-era. Moby Dick is an ultra-sweet ballad from the later, more commercial period. The long and alternating track Il Giardino Del Mago includes virtuosic interplay, vocal harmonies, and a wonderful intermezzo with classical piano and often Keith Emerson-like keyboards. Amazing! Next is 750.00 Anni Fa ... L’Amore, a captivating composition featuring sparkling keyboards and a piece with warm vocals and piano, causing goose bumps again. The final song is the catchy Non Mi Rompete containing virtuosic interplay this time, with acoustic guitar and electric piano. In the end all kinds of figures from the famous Venetian carnival enters the stage. What a splendid and spectacular ending of a magnificent performance by these skilful veterans from Banco. This is a monumental DVD!

BANCO – Live 1980 (2007)

Many prog heads love to listen to the wonderful Italian prog from legendary seventies bands like PFM, Goblin, Le Orme and Banco, but unfortunately it’s very hard to find video footage. So I’m very glad to present it on this site.

I presume the footage on this DVD it from the Canto Di Primavera (1979)-tour, because the track list contains the songs E Mi Viene Da Pensare with warm piano work and breathtaking vocals, Interno Citta delivering swinging rhythm and a nice piece of theatre and Circobanda with a cheerful atmosphere with Venetian carnival scenes. The band, with an additional percussionist in their line-up, plays strong and inspired, but you have to be up to the more jazzy and funky sound. For example, the ‘classic’ Banco composition R.I.P. is a bit more swinging and I’m not happy that the final part with the great piano and vocal contribution has been deleted during this tour. However, there’s still a lot to enjoy like many flashy synthesizer flights with brass-sounds like in Garofano Rosso and Capolinea, and many fiery electric guitar soli with jazzy overtones like in Di Terra and Il Ragno. The final two tracks Non Mi Rompete and Circobanda deliver a cheerful atmosphere, a pleasant goodbye to a varied DVD alternating between classic symphonic rock and funk! The running time is not 60 minutes as Btf. Mentions, but only 45 minutes. However, a nice bonus feature is an interview with Gianni Nocenzi with an English voice-over; he has many interesting facts to tell. The packaging is lavish including a Banco story in 3,5 pages. If you have no problems with the jazzy and funky elements and the short running time, this is an Italian prog rock document!

JUMBO – Anthology: Due Salto Nel Passato (2007)

This DVD-release is a Vinyl Magic/AMS collaboration and distributed by the known Italian prog rock label Btf. It contains 22 tracks divided in several sections. The first section includes a nostalgic view on their three albums: Jumbo, DNA and Vietato released in the seventies, embellished with early footage and comments by Jumbo -members Alvaro Fella (vocals), Daniele Bianchini (guitar) and Aldo Gargano (bass). Then an unplugged version of the song La Strada Che Porta Al Fiume followed by a registration of a 1995 concert with mainly new material except the epic Suite X Il Sig K from the album DNA. What an excellent rendition! In my opinion, the highlight of this DVD! The final part delivers images of a gig in Paris (1990), organized by a French fan.

This DVD includes some interesting material, but has a poor lay-out: a four page booklet with a small history in Italian and English taken from a specialized Italian prog rock site, but no live pictures or comments on the track list except some words on the back cover of this DVD. Jumbo don’t deserve this cheap treatment!

MALIBRAN - 10 Anni In Concerto (2005)

In the early nineties, I bought the album A Wood Of Tales (1991) after I’d read a positive review. I was delighted about the long track A Pyramid’s Street featuring hints from Jethro Tull with an ethnic touch. Since then I follow this fine Italian band that showed a more early Marillion influence on their next albums.

This DVD (running time 150 minutes) is a very comprehensive musical view on their prog rock career spanning the period between 1988 and 1999. 10 Anni In Concerto can be divided into three parts. The first part contains live recordings from the second half of the nineties. The powerful, tight and enthusiastic approach of the band is remarkable. On a live stage Malibran is on its best with great shifting moods from dreamy with flute, twanging guitars and mellow organ to propulsive rhythms with Eastern inspired flute work in Pyramid’s Street. We see classical interplay between flute and guitar and a Ritchie Blackmore-like guitar solo between classic and heavy metal in Prelude. Most of the other live tracks deliver powerful and sensitive guitar soli from the two guitar players and some nice work on keyboards. The rhythm-section is dynamic and adventurous especially the bass player. Sometimes we see swirling flute play in the vein of Thijs van Leer (Focus).

The second part features Malibran in TV-specials and is mainly playback. On a certain moment the flute player starts its solo too early! The final part contains amateur live video shots. It’s a kind of bootleg, but worthwhile watching, because it showcases the enthusiastic performances from Malibran on stage featuring the funny stage antics from the flute player. He’s just pretending to play his flute during several guitar soli and at one moment he takes one of the guitarists on his shoulders! One of the highlights is Le Porte Del Silenzio, a very compelling but short rendition in the vein of the early Marillion.

You can argue about the value of the TV-specials and the bootleg amateur shots, but in my opinion this DVD is almost worth buying, because of the first part of almost an hour featuring the exciting sound of Malibran on stage!

MANGALA VALLIS - Intergalactic Live Video Archives (2009)

Singer Bernardo Lanzetti is a big name in the classic Italian prog rock. He was a member of Acqua Fragille that recorded two albums in the early seventies, but he also joined the legendary PFM. Between 1975 and 1978 Bernardo made three albums with PFM. I was pleasantly surprised that this prog rock veteran decided to join Mangala Vallis, a new and promising
band. Lanzetti sang on the strong second album Lycanthrope (2005), but on the debut album The Book Of Dreams (2002), he already had a guest role on one track. This DVD is a registration of the 2006 European tour. It contains a concert in The Netherlands - six tracks recorded at De Boerderij, Zoetermeer - and two concerts in Italy - two tracks in Milan and three in Fidenza - along some interesting extras.

Watching this DVD I notice that Lanzetti adds an extra dimension to the pleasant blend of symphonic rock and neo-prog that the six-piece formation Mangala Vallis deliver. He has not only a distinctive voice, but he obviously adds a theatrical element with his Peter Gabriel -inspired gestures, his facial expressions and the phrasing of his vocals. However, he is not the only one who has an important role in the sound of the band. I also enjoyed the lush vintage sound of the keyboards, the violin, flute and choir sounds of the unsurpassed Mellotron on a Roland U 20 keyboard, the MiniMoog sound on the Nord Lead synthesizer and the sound of the Hammond on the digital Hammond-Suzuki XB-2. Especially on the highlight The Boy That Howls At The Moon it’s vintage keyboard time, but the composition A New Century also features lots of Mellotron! The guitarists use ‘a small vintage guitar museum’, I noticed: a Gibson ES 345, Gibson Les Paul, Fender Stratocaster and a Fender Telecaster, both legends in the history of the electric guitar. In the track Call Me Alias one of the guitarists plays on a Fender Stratocaster with delicate use of the bottle neck and in the track Days Of Light we can enjoy a guitarist playing on a red and white Fender Stratocaster. For me these are almost magical elements! The songs Lycanthroparty/Hum/Animal (in The Netherlands) and Cosmotraffic Jam and The Journey (both in Fidenza) are embellished with animations, a fine visual element on this DVD just like the two interesting bonus video clips entitled Lycanthrope Ducalis: The Boy That Howls At The Moon and The Mask. The ‘Milan session’ was recorded live in the studio, a nice feature. To complete my review I have to mention that this DVD also contains an interview and concert excerpts including PFM’s composition Impressioni Di Settembre. The total running time of this DVD is 143 minutes, so there’s lot to enjoy. What a strong new band Mangala Vallis is! Watch it now! Highly recommended!

(LE) ORME - Live In Pennsylvania (2008)

In my eternal quest for prog rock, I stumbled upon very positive reviews about Le Orme‘s early seventies albums in the mail-order catalogues of Musea (France) and Syn-Phonic and Laser’s Edge (USA) in the late eighties. I decided to order the albums Felona E Sorona, Collage and Uomo Di Pezza. During my first
listening session, I was delighted about Le Orme’s music. It’s still my favourite classic Italian prog band. I even compare Le Orme to the captivating sound of the Genesis with Peter Gabriel and early King Crimson, because of the stunning blend of - as Edward Macan describes in his excellent book Rocking The Classics - warm and mellow feminine elements and the more aggressive and bombastic masculine elements. On the one hand we hear pleasant vocals, acoustic guitar, sitar and Mellotron and on the other hand the fiery electric guitar and the sumptuous sound of the Hammond-organ and the Moog-synthesizer.

In 2005 Le Orme was invited to perform on the annual Nearfest Festival in the USA in order to present their new line up including their original members Aldo Tagliapietra and Michi Di Rossi and their latest album L’Infinito (2004). It turned out to be a legendary gig with Le Orme at their peak and an awesome set list! Here’s my review about their DVD. The set list is similar to the CD’s.

Le Orme starts with five songs from L’Infinito : the instrumental Il Tuono E La Luce featuring majestic Mellotron-choir samples and then propulsive drum beats, fiery guitar and intense guitar runs on a ‘keytar’ and the musical brainchild Aldo on a wonderful double-neck, all in mesmerizing blue light. La Voce Del Silenzio delivers howling guitar and beautiful work on piano and Hammond. The very compelling and impressive title track has great classical orchestrations, Mellotron-choirs and fat synthesizer flights and finally Aldo on the sitar in La Ruota Del Cielo. Then Le Orme starts to play songs from their early seventies albums: Una Dolcezza Nuova with a bombastic church organ intro, followed by lush Hammond along varied piano play and warm vocals. In Gioco Di Bimba we hear Aldo on the twelve-string of his double-neck guitar. Next a breathtaking version of the mainly instrumental La Porta Chiusa from Uomo Di Pezza (1972) with exciting bombastic keyboards with Hammond, Moog and church organ. Cemento Armato from Collage (1971) is loaded with excellent solos on violin, keytar and Hammond and the absolute highlight of this evening is the complete version – consisting of nine parts - of the mind-blowing epic Felona E Sorona. We are carried away to a Prog Walhalla with a wide range of captivating shifting moods, wonderful keyboard work and a splendid grand finale. For me, this epic piece belongs to one of the highlights of classic Italian prog. Goosebumps!

My euphoric conclusion: Live In Pennsylvania is an outstanding album with very inspired musicians having the dual-keyboards as their musical focus, a thrilling set-list, a beautiful lightshow, several camera positions - even some multi-screen - and a good sound quality. You can’t beg for more! Highly recommended!


This DVD is a tribute concert to the legendary Italian prog rock band Biglietto Per L'Inferno. This sold out concert was given in Lecco (Italy), early 2005. It was a memorable day for the Italian prog rock fans that day, because some line-ups featured musicians from other legendary Italian prog rock bands like Rodolfo Maltese from Banco, Tony Pagliuca from Le Orme and Patrizio Faresseli and Paolo Tofani from Area.

The first band opening this concert is Ubi Maior. They play tight and dynamic with a humorous and very energetic singer. Their keyboards sound modern, only the Hammond-organ takes you back to the typical prog rock sound of the seventies.

Greenwall presents a female singer with a very distinctive voice, which is not always my cup of tea. Greenwall plays mainly acoustic, but on Abbiamo Ragione the band members took a keytar and a twin-neck, always nice to watch musicians playing these instruments!

The next two musicians both from Area, performed solo: first Paolo Tofani on a sitar-like acoustic guitar and then Patrizio Fariselli on an acoustic piano. Both musicians delivered a great performance.

The band Fonderia started to perform Dubbio II and when this song was finished guitar and trumpet player Rodolfo Maltese from Banco entered the stage. He surprised the audience with Banco-songs like R.I.P. and Non Mi Rompete. Great!

Between the band Destabanda and musicians from Claudio Rocchi, keyboard player Tony Pagliuca from Le Orme joined the band Gas for two Le Orme-songs: Era Inverno and Uno Sguardo Verso Il Cielo. In both songs they were supported by a violin player who gave the music a more classical touch along the powerful Hammond-organ sound.

Don’t expect a perfect dive into the Italian prog rock sound from the seventies on this DVD. Just enjoy the pleasant and inspired appearances of some representatives from that era. They delivered a good performance so we could taste a few moments from that wonderful era! If you are an Italian seventies aficionado this DVD is essential.

PFM – Live In Japan (2002)

This DVD is a real treat! What an amazing music from Italian prog rock legend PFM featuring three original members and recorded in 2002. Some hair was lost or has become grey, but the band sounds very inspired and virtuosic! PFM plays 25 songs including strong and exciting renditions of ‘classics’ like La Carozza Di Hans, Photos Of Ghosts, Dove .. Quando, Il Banchetto, Mr 9 Till 5, E Festa, also known as Celebration and La Luna Nuova, also known as Four Holes In The Ground. We hear many outstanding soli on piano, acoustic and electric guitar, keyboards and violin by special guest Lucio Fabbri. Some tracks from the later more commercial era, sound a bit polished, but in general this DVD delivers outstanding progrock that makes the Japanese fans go wild. What a perfect atmosphere from the best Italian prog rock band ever. Great!

PFM+PAGANI - Piazza Del Campo (2005)

Here’s another even more exciting and captivating DVD from PFM including a CD. The images are from a concert in the beautiful Italian city of Sienna, so PFM played a home game. You can feel it in the air! What an enthusiastic atmosphere on stage and what a warm interaction with the audience under which many people older than forty years. On the DVD Live In Japan 2002 PFM played almost in the original line-up. In Siena former violinist Mauro Pagani joined the band on stage along guest musicians Piero Pelu (vocals), Lucio Fabbri (violin, keyboards, rhythm guitar), Roberto Gualdi (drums) and some classical musicians.

After the short opener Rain Birth PFM showcases their class with River Of Life. This piece has a wonderful harmony of classical guitar, flute and piano, followed by sparkling and dynamic interplay by piano, flute, electric guitar, MiniMoog and violin. What a lush and captivating sound and what a warm performance! These veterans love to play prog rock coming straight from their hearts! The remainder of the concert is a succession of ‘classics’. Photos Of Ghosts with a splendid violin solo accompanied by a propulsive rhythm-section. In La Carrozza Di Hans we can enjoy exciting interplay from flute and electric guitar. Four Holes In The Ground has many changing atmospheres, fat MiniMoog runs and cheerful violin while Mr. 9 Till 5 delivers stunning interplay from sparkling piano, hard-edged guitar en sweeping drums. Celebration has a catchy rhythm featuring the legendary MiniMoog flights, flute and violin. The audience is cheering, clapping and dancing! The long live improvisation Siena Rock Jam delivers lots of soli from a ‘western’ violin and sensational MiniMoog with pitch bend to a short Blackmore/Gillan variation. Also worth mentioning is the duo-violin performance resulting in Rossini’s William Tell Ouverture, an excellent encounter of classical and progressive rock music and very appreciated by the fans.

This DVD contains fifteen tracks and the CD twelve slightly different tracks, so you can enjoy this outstanding Italian prog rock legend both on CD and DVD. Highly recommended!

WICKED MINDS – Witchflower (2006)

From the very first moment I heard this new Italian band, I was carried away by their heavy and dynamic sound with floods of Hammond-organ, often biting and wah-wah drenched guitar and powerful vocals. The hints from early Uriah Heep are obvious, but in my opinion Wicked Minds is not just a derivative band. First they offer pleasant variation in their compositions: Burning Tree is a fine ballad with warm vocals, flute and acoustic guitar, Black Capricorn Fire is swinging with a swirling flute and The Court Of The Satyr is a delicate classical guitar piece. Second Wicked Minds blend their sound with a wide range of vintage keyboards like the warm Solina string-ensemble in Witchflower and Black Capricorn Fire, the fat Moog-synthesizer in Sad Woman and Soldier Of Fortune, the distinctive Fender Rhodes piano in Sad Woman and the unsurpassed Mellotron in Scorpio Odyssey. The highlights on this album consisting of twelve songs are A Child And A Mirror with excellent Hammond-work in a dreamy and bluesy atmosphere, Shadows Train having an extensive, mind-blowing Hammond-solo, Sad Woman with exciting Moog-playing and a captivating blend of Fender Rhodes electric piano and biting wah-wah guitar and the tasteful ballad Soldier Of Fortune with a Lucky Man -inspired Moog-solo, a sensitive guitar solo and a great bombastic final part with powerful saxophone play. The DVD showcases this dynamic and exciting band on an Italian festival in Tendenze in 2004 and on a Belgian festival in The Spirit Of 66 in Verviers in 2005. Enjoy the inspired live act of Wicked Minds and the strong cover of Uriah Heep’s song Gypsy. Say no more!

Proceed to Chapter 8: My Personal 1969 – 2009 Italian Prog rock Album Top 20

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