Un Biglietto Del Tram
02. La fabbrica
03. Arrivano gli americani
04. 8 settembre
05. Nuvole a Vinca
06. Dante Di Nanni
07. Gianfranco Mattei
08. La sepoltura dei morti
09. Un biglietto del tram
- Franco Fabbri / guitar, vocals
- Umberto Fiori / guitar, vocals
- Carlo De Martini / sax, violin
- Tommaso Leddi / violin, mandolin, balalajka, guitar
- Luca Piscicelli / bass, vocals
- Antonio Zanuso / drums
Stormy Six were formed in Milan in the mid sixties and began their career as a "beat" band. Later their music turned to folk and West Coast and finally to progressive rock. In 1975 Stormy Six released their fourth album, "Un biglietto del tram", on the independent label L'Orchestra that they contributed to found. The line up featured Franco Fabbri (guitar, vocals), Umberto Fiori (guitar, vocals), Carlo De Martini (sax, violin), Tommaso Leddi (violin, mandolin, balalajka, guitar), Luca Piscicelli (bass, vocals) and Antonio Zanuso (drums). The overall sound on this album is acoustic and well refined featuring an original blend of folk, classical and progressive rock influences. In the early seventies the band got involved in politics and kept tight links with the left-wing protest movements and lyrics on this work reflect the commitment of the band. "Un biglietto del tram" is, in fact, a concept album based on some events of the last period of World War II and celebrates the Italian Resistance movement against the Nazi-Fascists.
The opener "Stalingrado" (Stalingrad) is an epic track about the battle of Stalingrad that was fought between 17th July 1942 and 2nd February 1943 and marked a turning of the tide of war in favour of the Allies (this battle is also the subject of a good film directed by Joseph Vilsmaier in 1993). Old waltzes and Cossack dances clash while lyrics describe hunger, debris, bombardments and roads paved with blood while the city resists like iron. Hope rises as the news of the Nazi-Fascist defeat spreads out and some workers celebrate the victory drinking a toast... "On its frozen way the swastika knows it / From now on it will find Stalingrad in every city...".
"La fabbrica" (The factory) is a lively track about the strikes that started on 5th March 1943, after the news of Stalingrad victory reached Northern Italy. While the Italian "betrayed" troops are dying in the mud in Russia along Don river, in some Italian factories blue collar workers begin their fight against the regime... "As in Stalingrad the Nazis crumbled / At the red Breda factory on strike the Fascists rushed away...".
Next comes the ironic, almost caustic "Arrivano gli americani" (The Americans are coming). It describes the arrivals of the American troops... "Statues sweat blood, they talk inside the churches / They announce a big miracle from the hereafter... The Americans are coming as Garibaldi's troops from Mars...". There was a strong anti-Americanism feeling in the left wings movements during the seventies (and in the extreme right wing as well) and here Americans are depicted in words and music almost as looney tunes characters, as bringers of consumerism and capitalism, as "Chocolate Kings" giving away "bars of freedom" as if they were bars of chocolate...
"8 settembre" (September, 8) is sad and dark. After a delicate acoustic intro, lyrics describe a man walking along the rail-road singing a song to sooth his tension. He has thrown away his uniform and now he tries to go home. All is lost, the Italian army melted and the country is broken. The north is under the control of the Germans, from the south the allies are coming and the king has fled. It's 8th September 1943, a gloomy day for Italy that marks the beginning of a bloody civil war between Fascists and Anti-Fascists. "In a village the Death has come wearing the uniform... In the square a smothered scream rises / They were killed like dogs with a sign hanging on their neck: Partisans!".
"Nuvole a Vinca" (Clouds in Vinca) is another beautiful and melancholic track about a Nazi- Fascists massacre of helpless civilians suspected to support the partisans. In Vinca, a village in the Alpi Apuane mountains, in Tuscany, on 24th August 1944, Nazi troops and Fascists brigades killed 174 inhabitants, most of them were just women and children. Lyrics describe a breathtaking landscape, in the sky there are black and white clouds, old peasants are able to look at them and predict the weather... Then a black cloud comes up the bends of the mountain and it brings nothing but pain... "They do the shooting, damned butchers! / What a good aim, they never miss the target!".
The evocative "Dante di Nanni" is a kind of haunting ghost dance. Dante Di Nanni was a partisan who died as a hero, fighting as a lion against the Nazi-Fascists who surrounded the house where he was sheltered. But his ghost is still walking around in the city, untamed... "I met him one morning on the subway / He was bleeding hard and smiling... Thirty years have passed since the day he was killed / It took hundred men to have him... And they can't feel safe yet / Because they know he's still strolling around, Dante Di Nanni". "Gianfranco Mattei" is tense and proud and features strong classical influences. Gianfranco Mattei was an university professor who contributed to the partisans attacks by making bombing devices. He was arrested by the Nazi-Fascists thanks to a spy and committed suicide in his cell to avoid revealing the names of his companions under the pressure of tortures... "Gianfranco Mattei, your science went too far / Gianfranco Mattei, you will never go back on your teaching post... Gianfranco Mattei, your tribune is always there / Gianfranco Mattei, your lesson won't get lost".
"La sepoltura dei morti" (The burial of the dead) is a melancholic ballad dealing with fading memories... "April is really cruel / Lilac flowers blossom upon the dead / Winter has buried their souvenir leaving nothing but pity / And now a life is just a yellowed face, just a photograph / Death doesn't worth even the price of the newspaper / That you read and then throw away...".
Last track "Un biglietto del tram" (A tram ticket) is a kind of ghastly waltz where some ghosts of victims of the Nazi-Fascists still asking for justice seem to move through the indifference of busy people. One of them makes you a present, a tram ticket to go back in Piazzale Loreto, a place full of dark memories. In 1944 the Nazi-Fascists killed there fifteen partisans and exposed their corpses on the square. In 1945 in Piazzale Loreto were exposed the corpses of Benito Mussolini, his lover Claretta Petacci and other members of the National Fascist Party...
On the whole an excellent album and an interesting way to explore obscure memories coming out from recent Italian history. In my opinion this is the best Stormy Six's album. At the end of the 70's the band had prolific collaboration with foreign artists and Stormy Six were one of the five founder members of the RIO-Rock In Opposition international movement, that gave them the opportunity to play all over Europe and their music became more experimental but in recent reunions they went back to their roots and "Un biglietto del tram" still represents the band at their best.