Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Premiata Forneria Marconi - 2010 - River Of Life - The Manticore Years Anthology 1973-1977

Premiata Forneria Marconi
River Of Life - The Manticore Years Anthology 1973-1977

101. River Of Life
102. Photos Of Ghosts
103. Il Banchetto
104. Promenade The Puzzle
105. La Carroza Di Hans [Previously Unreleased On Cd]
106. The Mountain
107. The World Became The World
108. Just Look Away
109. Four Holes In The Ground [Live]
110. Alta Loma Nine Till Five [Live]

201. Is My Face On Straight [Live, Previously Unreleased]
202. Harlequin
203. From Under
204. Chocolate Kings
205. Dove Quando [Live, Previously Unreleased]
206. Out Of The Roundabout [Live, Previously Unreleased]
207. Celebration [Live, Previously Unreleased]
208. Storia In L.A.
209. Jet Lag
210. Traveller

- Flavio Premoli / piano, keyboards, Mellotron, Moog synthesizer, lead vocals
- Giorgio Piazza / bass
- Mauro Pagani / flute, piccolo, violin, vocals
- Bernardo Lanzetti / lead vocals, rhythm guitar
- Gregory Bloch / violin

Such an interesting reissue of some ever-green classic tunes by P.F.M, this time (fortunately) remastered, cause a typical defect of their old albums was represented by a group of weak recordings...if I think of their old tapes or vynils I'm not so enthusiastic about it and-moreover-I've always been quite disappointed talking about their old records. But this time the job of the sound engineer is good, often being able to clean the dirty traces of the original vynils and making them more brilliant (except on a few circumstances only, which could make you change idea and erase an half star from the evaluation at least). This 2cd anthology is focused on four studio albums and a live record between 1973 and 1977, without regarding of four previously unreleased recordings from their "hot" stage- during the MANTICORE years- indicating a true testament concerning their best music season!! Instead I'm not so glad about a rare B-side of a UK session (becoming a UK single), which has not been improved in comparison to the old tape; nevertheless an immortal track like "Alta Loma 5 to 9" (already being unforgettable inside their live USA) and of course the classic numbers from Chocolate Kings as well, make this anthology quite essential!! Besides their performance regarding the Electric piano, the violin and the flute (for instance do you remember the classic piano within "Dove Quando"? Well this time it's a live version, with a good execution to be remembered..), without forgetting the typical tone by B. Lanzetti too, not often remarked in the present anthology as a singer, are the best features here!! At the end, if you consider the support of an excellent musician like Mauro Pagani (always involved in the music plot), for sure you'll choose the present anthology!!

Premiata Forneria Marconi - 2010 - A.D. 2010 - La buona Novella

Premiata Forneria Marconi 
A.D. 2010 - La buona Novella

01. Universo e terra (Preludio) (Di Cioccio / Djivas / Mussida) (2:26)
02. L'infanzia di Maria (De Andrè) (7:38) (Total 10:01)
      incl. La Tentazione (Di Cioccio / Djivas / Mussida) (2:23)
03. Il ritorno di Giuseppe (De Andrè) (5:17) (Total 9:12)
      incl. Il respiro del deserto (Di Cioccio / Djivas / Mussida) (3:55)
04. Il sogno di Maria (De Andrè) (5:55)
05. Ave Maria (De Andrè) (2:00) (Total 3:49)
      incl. Aria per Maria (Di Cioccio / Djivas / Mussida) (1:49)
06. Maria nella bottega di un falegname (De Andrè) (3:20) (Total 4:48)
      incl. Rumori di bottega (Di Cioccio / Djivas / Mussida) (1:28)
07. Via della croce (De Andrè) (5:00) (Total 7:08)
      incl. Scintille di pena (Di Cioccio / Djivas / Mussida) (2:08)
08. Tre madri (De Andrè) (3:29) (Total 5:24)
      incl. Canto delle madri (Di Cioccio / Djivas / Mussida) (1:55)
09. Il testamento di Tito (De Andrè) (7:01)
10. Laudate Hominem (4:13) (Total 6:37)
      incl. Ode all'uomo (Di Cioccio / Djivas / Mussida) (2:24)

- Franz Di Cioccio / vocals, drums, percussion
- Patrick Djivas / bass
- Franco Mussida / guitars, vocals

Special guest:
- Lucio Fabbri / violin, acoustic guitar

Guest musicians:
- Piero Monterisi / drums
- Gianluca Tagliavini / keyboards

 It was with great anticipation that I waited to hear the new album from PFM, having thoroughly enjoyed the all instrumental Stati Di Immaginazione released four years ago. Was it worth the wait? Well, while not entirely disappointing, in fact La Buonna Novella is certainly a good album; it does fail to reach the heights of their previous masterpiece.

La Buonna Novella is not an entirely original piece of work from PFM. It was released forty years ago by Fabrizio De Andre. Having not heard the original I could not say how faithful if at all it remains. What I do know is that the songs have at the very least been re-arranged and new music added. The lyrics apparently remain faithful to the original.

No doubt disappointing to most PA members, on La Buonna Novella you wont much in the way of progressive rock. Where you do is on the instrumental sections which when they happen are sometimes stunning, often with a similar sound and feel to Stati Di Immaginazione. Unfortunately there aren't enough of these moments, the songs in the main taking a light rock approach. At the back of my mind the feel of this album was reminding me of something that annoyingly I couldn't lay my finger on. Then it came to me, this cd has a vibe not dissimilar to Mark Knopfler's (Dire Straits) solo album Shangri-La. In fact a Dire Straits comparison is also valid. Listen to Il Sogno Di Maria for a perfect example of this. It's all beautifully played of course, if a little sterile and safe, but some strong melodies make up for this. There are the occasional folk influences, prog touches here and there but in the main it's that light rock stuff. The vocals are adequate though certainly not spectacular, it's at its best on the instrumental work with some excellent guitar playing in particular. Violin adds a nice touch along with some pleasing keyboard work and the impressive rhythm section.

Overall then, La Buonna Novella has to be a slight disappointment but it had a lot to live up to. Nevertheless despite its weak prog credentials it's still an enjoyable listen but I think that today's PFM are better when sticking to the instrumental material,

Premiata Forneria Marconi - 2008 - PFM canta De Andre

Premiata Forneria Marconi
PFM canta De Andre

01. Bocca di rosa
02. La guerra di Piero
03. Un giudice
04. Giugno '73
05. Maria nella bottega di un falegname
06. Il testamento di Tito
07. Zirichiltaggia
08. Volta la carta
09. La canzone di Marinella
10. Amico fragile
11. Il pescatore

- Franz Di Cioccio / lead vocals (except 4, 5, 8)**, drums, percussion
- Patrick Djivas / bass
- Franco Mussida / electric, classic and acoustic guitars, lead vocals (4, 5, 6, 8)**, backing vocals

** - tracks' numbers correspond to CD

Special guest:
- Lucio Fabbri / violin, acoustic guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Guest musicians:
- Piero Monterisi / drums
- Gianluca Tagliavini / keyboards, backing vocals

 Back then, in 2006, I found the announcement on BTF website: ''2/8/2006 - PFM will play in Milano on February 18, 2006, at Teatro Ventaglio Nazionale. PFM will be performing their tribute-show to the late great Fabrizio De Andrè''. A special guest appearance by Patti Smith has been announced too. Wow, with or without Patti Smith, it should be great, I thought. What songs will they play? Something new for the band? Will the concert be filmed? I know, no one can sing his songs better than good old Faber himself. But such great musicians like PFM can bring something new in De Andrè's music. So many good songs, so many possibilities!

And at last I'm holding in my hands nice blue digipack. I look at track list and realise - nothing new to PFM here, only songs they played with Faber in their 1979 tour. OK, slightly disappointing, but it's their right to choose what they want.

I listen to CD - OK, musicianship is superb (who can doubt?). Some wrong intonations in voices - OK, it's a live record, sometimes it happens. Not a bad live album. It could be better (and, by the way, longer), but it's not bad at all.

Let's watch DVD now. I look at the cover - the same songs as on CD, but with a strange ''feature'': two last tracks are separated to video only and audio only versions. What does it mean? OK, technical problems, sometimes they happen.

I press Play and start watching (my cat sits near me, then falls asleep). Good old opera theatre, Franz Di Cioccio presents the band and the show starts with ''Bocca di rosa''. Good light, good playing, Fabrizio's projections, intimate atmosphere, but something's wrong. What? - Franz often looks at the lyrics sheet. Too often. ''La guerra di Piero'' - again he endlessly looks at the paper with lyrics, though this song sounds well. ''Un giudice'' - the same story, he does not remember lyrics. In addition he overplays the song, it became too grotesque, at least for my taste.

''Giugno '73'' - Franz goes to his drum kit, Patrick Djivas plays amazing bass solo, it's Franco Mussida's turn to sing. His voice suits perfectly to the song, but he often looks at the lyrics sheet too.

''Maria nella bottega di un falegname'' - lead vocals by Di Cioccio, nice guitar improvisation and... Yes, you guessed, Franz often looks at the paper.

''Il testamento di Tito'', one of the most dramatic songs. Vocals, in a form of dialog, are shared between Di Cioccio and Mussida. Both look at their papers. How it's possible to sing emotionally if singers don't know words? The song suffers badly, especially of Mussida's singing.

''La canzone di Marinella''. Quite a simple song, it seems I, without being Italian, will learn it soon. But Franco reads his paper and, as the result, often sings out of tune.

The shame comes to end with ''Amico fragile''. Franz on drums, inventive lighting underlines dramatic music, great guitar solos, PFM at their best. Mussida's vocals are good, though not without the help of the paper.

And, at last, ''Il pescatore''! The band often plays this song in concerts and (what a joy!) signore Di Cioccio knows lyrics. Sweet freedom! Musicians seems spread their wings, voice and music flow free and naturally, PFM in full flight! End of the show.

''Zirichiltaggia'' and ''Volta la carta'' are rather doubtful bonus. You can watch each of these songs first without sound (strange pleasure) and then listen without video. Was not it better to exclude them from DVD if enginneers could not solve technical problem?

Premiata Forneria Marconi - 2007 - 35... e un minuto

Premiata Forneria Marconi 
35... e un minuto

101. Impressioni Di Settembre (4:21)
102. La Carrozza Di Hans (5:40)
103. Dove... Quando (4:07)
104. è festa (4:50)
105. Appena Un Po' (6:52)
106. Il Banchetto (5:17)
107. Photos Of Ghosts (5:20)
108. L'Isola Di Niente (8:31)
109. La Luna Nuova (6:20)
110. Dolcissima Maria (4:02)
111. Harleqin (7:48)
112. Choccolate Kings (4:38)
113. Traveller (5:27)
114. Passpartù (4:52)

201. Suonare Suonare (4:47)
202. Si può Fare (4:52)
203. Come Ti Va (5:40)
204. Quartiere Otto (5:30)
205. Chi Ha Paura Della Notte (4:31)
206. "46" (4:16)
207. Un Amore Vero (5:01)
208. Andare Per Andare (6:22)
209. Il Cavallo Di Legno (4:28)
210. La Rivoluzione (3:50)
211. KNA (4:48)
212. Sea Of Memory (6:44)
213. La Terra Dell'Acqua (8:14)
214. Cyber Alpha 3.1 (4.27)
215. Nederland 1903 (3:22)

301. 21st Century Schizoid Man (4:40)
302. Mr 9 Till 5 (4:32)
303. Altaloma 5 Till 9 (15.31)
304. Celebration (8:14)
305. Il Pescatore (3:59)
306. Out Of The Roundabout (6:13)
307. Sei (6:12)
308. Maestro della Voce (7:54)
309. Promenade The puzzle (7.10)
310. La Luna Nuova (Four Holes In The Ground) (7.40)
311. La Carrozza di Hans (6:25)

- Franz Di Cioccio
- Franco Mussida
- Mauro Pagani
- Giorgio Piazza
- Flavio premoli
- Patrick Djivas
- Bernardo Lanzetti
- Gregory Bloch
- Lucio "violino" Fabbri
- Cosma
- Walter Calloni
- Fabrizio de André

- Roberto Colombo
- Phil Drummy
- Stefano Tavernese
- Peter Hammill
- Piero Monterisi
- Roberto Gualdi

Premiata Forneria Marconi - 2006 - Stati Di Immaginazione

Premiata Forneria Marconi
Stati Di Immaginazione

01. La terra dell'acqua (8:17)
02. Il mondo in testa (3:58)
03. La conquista (6:29)
04. Il sogno di Leonardo (6:44)
05. Cyber Alpha (4:28)
06. Agua Azul (3:53)
07. Nederland 1903 (3:23)
08. Visioni di Archimede (9:00)

- Franz Di Cioccio / drums, percussion
- Patrick Djivas / bass, fretless bass, plastic flute
- Franco Mussida / electric, classic and acoustic guitars

Special guest:

- Lucio Fabbri / violin, keyboards


- Gianluca Tagliavini / keyboards, Hammond organ, Moog

PFM's newest record stands high not only as one of the best italian prog albums of the recent years but also as one of the best PFM's records ever! I tell you this 'cause I don't fear any comparison with the past, especially when we are in front of such wonderful contemporary records. It's somehow strange to see that the boys (?!!) reach another highest peak of maturity, after - at least - thirty years! It's true, though, and I would like that the great part of you could share this great enthousiasm of mine!

PFM is now reduced to a trio, since Premoli silently left. The line up now consists into Franz Di Cioccio on drums and percussions, Patrick Djivas on bass, fretless bass and plastic flute, and Franco Mussida on electric, classic and acoustic guitars. For the pleasure of any good symphomaniac, the trio is helped and assisted by guests musicians of all respect: Lucio "Violino" Fabbri on violin and keyboards and Gianluca Tagliavini on keyboards, hammond organ and moog.

The album is a completely instrumental opus divided in eight tracks, each of those represents a different video in the dvd added to the cd. A misterious journey into imagination and feelings, adding images to the music. From the prehistoric man to the future android, passing through the past, sometimes of famous "scientists" and "visionaries" Leonardo and Archimede and sometimes of common people as in the intimate and short "Nederland 1903", based upon a small fishermen's village in The Netherlands.

Romantic and melodic tastes alternate aggressive and harder parts as the second part of the opener "La Terra nell'Acqua" (Ground in the Water) which is about the sadly well known problem of Venice.

The general mood of the music is varied, complex and intriguing with beautiful violin's and keyboards' and synths' solos/interludes/interplay. Just listen, for examples to the third track "La Conquista" and to the fantastic closer "Visioni di Archimede". Wonderful!

Sometimes the band goes dreamy as in the stunning "Il Sogno di Leonardo" (Leonardo's Dream) where even the bass guitar sounds, finally, as a freely played instrument. This happens also in "Agua Azul".

It would be very difficult to be more detailed in what is played where and how. By the way, this has been already written. The important thing is to recommend Stati di Immaginazione as the big records that many of you are waiting/searching for.

Premiata Forneria Marconi - 2005 - Dracula Opera Rock

Premiata Forneria Marconi
Dracula Opera Rock

01. Ouverture (5:08)
02. Il Confine dell'Amore (1:13)
03. Non è un Incubo è Realtà (5:38)
04. Il Mio Nome è Dracula (7:16)
05. Il Castello dei Perchè (4:03)
06. Non Guardarmi (4:11)
07. Ho Mangiato gli Uccelli (3:57)
08. Terra Madre (6:16)
09. Male d'Amore (3:59)
10. La Morte Non Muore (2:53)
11. Un Destino di Rondine (11:07)

- Franz Di Cioccio / vocals, percussion and vocals
- Franco Mussida / guitars and vocals
- Patrick Djivas / bass and programming
- Flavio Premoli / piano, organ, synthesizers and vocals

Finally a modern accessible Opera Rock, which can be appreciated by a wider crowd of listeners (not for the prog fans only!!), of course with the same mood of a musical, even though I can not say it's equal to the 70's majestic opera rocks, such as "Jesus Christ Superstar for example or the good work by Who entitled "Tommy"...nevertheless it's suitable for a thrilling music event live on stage (as foreseen in the next concert programme of 2006), starring the whole old line up of PFM, plus a few guest stars, as well as a young talented female singer called "Dolcenera", singing in the final track "Un Destino di Rondine"... the good and the evil living together, the perfect representation of Dracula, this latter character already represented in the cinematographic masterpiece by F. Ford Coppola and here helped by the orchestral sections and the symphonic chorus as well, really delightful ; it's strange that it's the second concept album only, after the controversial (and quite disappointing too) "Ulisse" dated 1997, as They try to be involved in the development of a famous story and this time reaching their goal in a lot of circumstances: in fact the style of PFM is inspiring both in the accessible classic rock genre and in the symphonic breaks-through as well, close to a kind of classic music and with a certain creativity which is often remarkable. The lyrics by Vincenzo Incenzo are clever, thanks also to the melodramatic passages (think of the overture): of course it's not a prog masterpiece nor strictly a progressive concept album, but their music taste is always pleasant, being able to represent the various dramatic and romantic moods!! It should be worth a "3 stars" righter score in comparison to their best albums ...long live PFM, anyway!!

Premiata Forneria Marconi + Pagani - 2004 - Piazza Del Campo

Premiata Forneria Marconi + Pagani
Piazza Del Campo

01. Rain Birth (Intro To The River)
02. River Of Life
03. Photos Of Ghosts
04. La Carrozza Di Hans
05. La Luna Nuova (Four Holes In The Ground)
06. Un Giudice
07. Mr 9 Till 5
08. Siena Violin Jam
09. Rossini's William Tell Ouverture
10. E' Festa (Celebration)
11. Se Le Brescion
12. E' Festa (Celebration) Reprise

- Flavio Premoli / piano, keyboards, mellotron, Moog synthesizer, lead vocals
- Franco Mussida / acoustic guitar, electric guitar, 12 string guitar, mandolin, lead vocals
- Franz Di Cioccio / drums, percussion, vocals
- Patrik Djivas / bass

Guest musicians:
Mauro Pagani / flute, piccolo, violin, backing vocals
- Lucio "Violino" Fabbri / violin, keyboards
- Piero Pelù / vocals

Very popular in Italy, both as a solo artist and as a session musician, multi-instrumentalist Mauro Pagani left Premiata Forneria Marconi in 1976, tired of life on the road. His first solo album, released in 1978 and simply titled "Mauro Pagani", featured many of the best Italian musicians of that time, including AREA members Demetrio Stratos, Patrizio Fariselli, Giulio Capiozzo and Ares Tavolazzi, Mauro's former PFM cohorts Franco Mussida, Patrick Djivas and Franz Di Cioccio, and singer Teresa De Sio. This album, strongly influenced by Mauro's love for world music (especially Eastern folk music), though quite different from his old band's work, is definitely an excellent record.

In 1980 Pagani took part in the CARNASCIALIA project, a new group formed by Pasquale Minieri and Giorgio Vivaldi (both also involved in the 1978 solo album) in order to revive the traditional folk sounds of central and southern Italy. In the same vein was the first and only album by ALIA MUSICA, which Pagani produced in 1979. Mauro's second album, "Sogno di una notte d'estate", came in 1981. It was first meant to be the soundtrack of a play by Oscar-winning Italian director Gabriele Salvatores, based on Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Later this was made into a film, and a new soundtrack was released in 1983 with the same title.
In the same year Mauro began his collaboration with influential singer-songwriter FABRIZIO DE ANDRE', and in 1984 they released what many consider one of the best De André albums, and one of the best Italian albums of the decade, "Creuza de mä" (Church by the Sea).

In the '80s Pagani mainly worked as session musician with many popular Italian artists, including Ornella Vanoni, Roberto Vecchioni and Gianna Nannini, and released his third solo album, "Passa la bellezza", in 1991. Other soundtracks followed in the 90's, for the Salvatores movies "Puerto Escondido" (1992) and "Nirvana" (1997). In 1999 Pagani rejoined PFM for a single concert in Milan, as he did again in the summer of 2003, for a concert in Siena's historic Piazza del Campo. The latest studio album by Pagani, a remake of the already mentioned "Creuza de mä", was released in 2004.

Even though the package comes with CD and DVD, I will dedicate this review exclusively to explore the DVD, being that for the first time I have the chance to see the great Italian band with Mauro Pagani and Lucio Fabbri playing together with a competent string quartet in the background and sincerely what a tremendous show.

PFM are like the wine, the older, the better, they play as if they were 20 years old but with more experience, they capture the audience, mostly formed by young people, some of whom probably never saw PFM before but all of them with the older fans are jumping, clapping and enjoying together this great show.

Won't enter in many details of the songs because all have been largely reviewed in the original release but they added so many new things that have to be mentioned.

The band starts, with the amazing Classic/Baroque introduction called "Rain Birth", with Premio in the pianoli, Mussida witha n acoustic guitar and Pagani playing violin plus flute make a fantastic job, I wish it could last longer, but as I said before it's only an introduction for "The River of Life" which is the perfect complement that proves how well this guys can blend Classical and Rock without sounding like something artificial, but instead flows gently as if both genres were meant to be played together.

In "Photos of Ghosts" the star is Premoli who does an outstanding Jazzy piano work and adds his vocals still with strong accent, but who cares, after so many years we are used to it.

In "La Carrozza di Hans" the star is Mauro Pagani, who also takes the lead vocals but Franz Di Cioccio almost steals the show with his strong drumming.

Apart of it's natural beauty, "La Luna Nuova" sounds incredible because Fabbri and Pagani show a spirit of cooperation rarely seen in two musicians who play the same instrument, when one plays the violin, the other stops but when Fabbri gets his turn with the violin, Pagani supports him with the flute, incredible show at this point.

"Si Puo' Fare" gives us the chance to listen Piero Pelú on the vocals, the guy has a great voice, but sounds out of place in PFM, the advantage is that the track is one of the weakest, this time supported by Di Cioccio in the vocals while Roberto Gualdi takes the drums.

"Promenade The Puzzle" is a song that never convinced me, but the guitar intro of Franco Mussida is extremely beautiful, so it alone pays for the track

"Siena Violin Jam"n is almost a friendly contest between Fabbri and Pagani, each trying to do their best with Patrick Djivas playing in the bass a constant chord, which if I'm not wrong is a modification of "Heaven's on their Minds" from Jesus Christ Superstar, excellent exhibition of virtuoso performance.

Now, the "William Tell Overture" is a classic in PFM repertoire, but this time done with two violins is better than ever, probably the best version I ever heard of this song by the Italian icons of Prog.

The show is closed with the breathtaking "E' Festa" (Italian version of Celebration), and it's the chance for them to do what they want and show how much they still enjoy the stage, in an acrobatic movement Gualdi replaces Di Cioccio in the drums, Di Cioccio makes the crowd sing and everybody has a good time, very nice closing for a real "Celebration".

A must have for any fan of Premiata Forneria Marconi with a double advantage, you can enjoy the DVD at home and the CD in your car, five solid stars for one of the best DVD's I ever seen.