Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - 1989 - Donna Plautilla

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
Donna Plautilla

01. Ed io canto (4:40)
02. Cantico (2:07)
03. Piazza dell'oro (eh, eh) (3:30)
04. Mille poesie (3:37)
05. Un giorno di sole (2:36)
06. Un uomo solo (3:26)
07. Bla, bla, bla (5:27)
08. E luce fù (6:57)
09. Mille poesie (Seconda versione) (4:07)
10. Donna Plautilla (3:41)

- Vittorio Nocenzi / organ, lead vocals
- Gianni Nocenzi / piano
- Claudio Falco / guitar, backing vocals
- Fabrizio Falco / bass guitar, backing vocals
- Franco Pontecorvi / drums

Recorded in 1970 or 1971

The first thing that must be said about this album is that, despite of the release date, it is a collection of previously unreleased songs by the very first line-up of the band, which didn't include the wonderful voice of Francesco Di Giacomo. The lyrics are quite simple and so it's better to point the attention to the music that, although far from the complex textures of the first period albums, is very fine and includes some themes that had been developed in the following albums (the last notes of "E io Canto" are the main theme of "Non mi rompete" in "Io sono nato libero", the music of "E luce fu" later became the one of "Quando la buona gente dice" from "Come in un'ultima cena"). The title track is an extremely mature instrumental jazzy work, which can remember, for the structure and the execution, a little gem by Sting "The dream of the blue turtle". At the end, even if it is not a masterpiece, this album is an important historical witness to explore the origins of this milestone band. Line-up: Vittorio Nocenzi: organ, vocals; Gianni Nocenzi: piano; Claudio Falco: guitar, back vocals; Fabrizio Falco: bass guitar, back vocals; Franco Pontecorvi: drums.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - 1985 - ...E Via

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso 
...E Via

01. Notte Kamikaze (4:20)
02. Ice Love (4:33)
03. Black Out (4:27)
04. (When We) Touched Our Eyes (5:08)
05. To The Fire (4:32)
06. Mexico City (4:00)
07. Lies In Your Eyes (4:23)
08. Baby Jane (3:22)

- Francesco Di Giacomo / vocals
- Rodolfo Maltese / guitar, mandolin
- Vittorio Nocenzi / keyboards, piano, vocals
- Gabriel Amato / bass, vocals
- Pierluigi Calderoni / drums

Guest musicians:
- Gianni Nocenzi / keyboards (7)
- Sandro Centofanti / programming, drum machines
- Mino Chirivi / cello (6)
- Fabio De Nido / contrabass (6)
- Marco Zucarolli, Fabio Sinigaglia, Elga Paoli, Rita Chiapelli, Simona Perone / backing vocals (4)
- Alessandro and Michela Giunta / voices (8)

Just imagine Banco trying very hard to sound like, not the 80s Genesis... that would have been better... no. In this album, they're trying to sound like Phil Collins and his Sussudio album. Yes, it's that bad. Or is it ? To tell you the truth, I've seen Phil in concert for his Sussudio album tour and enjoyed it very much at the time. So if you're crazy enough about Banco like I am, well this album can't hurt you but be warned ! The poppy songs are quite well crafted as a matter of fact. I'd rather hear this Banco on the radio than the usual crap. Only for fans.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - 1983 - Banco

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso 

01. Ninna nanna (4:22)
02. Lontano da (3:51)
03. Moby Dick (5:19)
04. Pioverà (4:43)
05. Allons enfants (4:19)
06. Velocità (5:18)
07. Moyo Ukoje (5:16)
08. Traccia III (2:44)

- Francesco Di Giacomo / vocals
- Vittorio Nocenzi / keyboards
- Gianni Nocenzi / keyboards
- Rodolfo Maltese / guitars, trumpet, French horn
- Gianni Colaiacomo / bass
- Pierluigi Calderoni / drums

 In my opinion the best Banco album from the 80's.

Yes, the sound changed according to that time fashion. No improvisations, no long epics, in general no prog here. But songs are nice and memorable, Di Giacomo's voice is strong as ever. The only more or less prog song here is ''Moby Dick'', it stood the test of time and the band often plays it in concerts till now. Best album's track.

My other favourites are ''Lontano Da'', ''Pioverà'' and ''Allons Enfants'', though I can't tell other songs are bad. Enjoyable record, I listen to it more often than to some BANCO's works from the 70's.

Anyway, this album helped the band to survive in hard years for prog. Perhaps not essential, but pleasant.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - 1981 - Buone Notizie

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
Buone Notizie

01. Taxi (4:48)
02. Canzone d'amore (5:13)
03. Si, ma si (4:37)
04. Buonanotte, sogni d'oro (5:11)
05. Baciami Alfredo (5:18)
06. Michele e il treno (6:02)
07. AM/FM (2:35)
08. Buone notizie (4:40)

Line-up / Musicians

- Francesco Di Giacomo / lead vocals
- Vittorio Nocenzi / piano Yamaha CP 80, grand piano, Synth. Jupiter Roland, vocoder, vocals
- Gianni Nocenzi / Synth. Jupiter 4 Roland - Promars Roland, piano Yamaha CS 80
- Rodolfo Maltese / guitars Ibanez and EKO M 24, trumpet, vocals
- Pierluigi Calderoni / Premier drums
- Gianni Colaiacomo / bass EKO

Guest musicians:
- Karl Potter / percussion
- Gigi Tonet / computer microcomposer Roland

That album this Buone Notizie for Banco. Ok, Buone Notizie is only a POP album but... Extreme consistent. And with 5 80's Banco ecergreen Taxi, Si, Ma Si, Buonanotte, Sogni D'Oro, Baciami Alfredo and Buone Notizie. Extreme good the production and song writing and inspired francesco Di Giacomo. Today Buone Notizie is one of my preferred 80's Italian albums, also if isn't Prog. But the sound of Buone Notizie (another not Prog situation) is very good to the time test. So Buone Notizie is a superior POP album.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - 1980 - Urgentissimo

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso 

01. Senza riguardo (5:10)
02. Dove sarà (5:15)
03. C'è qualcosa (5:35)
04. Luna piena (2:40)
05. Paolo, Pa (4:50)
06. Felice (5:40)
07. Ma che idea (5:30)
08. Il cielo sta in alto (2:10)

- Francesco Di Giacomo / vocals
- Gianni Nocenzi / piano Yamaha CP 80, Synthd Promars Roland, Jupiter Roland, ARP Odissey
- Vittorio Nocenzi / Polysinth Yamaha CS 80, Minimoog, Multiman Crumar, organ Diamond, vocals (3)
- Rodolfo Maltese / guitar Ibanez, EKO M 24, Amp. EKO ST 800, Sintar Yen, trumpet, vocals
- Pierluigi Calderoni / drums Yamaha, percussion Ufip
- Gianni Colaiacomo / bass EKO & Fender

Guest musicians:
- Karl Potter / percussion

 80's began and you can hear it in the music! 70's prog's dead and this is only the beginning. Banco, as most of the other great prog bands (ELP, Yes, Genesis, PFM, Gentle Giant, King Crimson and so on) didn't escape to the new wave and, perhaps, this renewal is the reason why the band is still active today. The album is not bad, if you listen to it as to a pop-rock album, but it's far away from the progressive! In fact with some of the songs of this album (i.e. "Paolo Pa") the band gathered the first pop hit in Italy! Two tracks can be saved from the bunch: "C'è qualcosa" and "Felice". Only for die-hard fans (like me!).

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - 1979 - Capolinea

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso 

01. Il ragno (5:29)
02. Canto di primavera (4:57)
03. 750.000 anni fa ... l'amore (4:06)
04. Capolinea (1a parte) (4:14)
05. Capolinea (2a parte) (3:28)
06. R.I.P. (4:31)
07. Garofano rosso (4:38)
08. Non mi rompete (6:53)

- Francesco Di Giacomo / vocals
- Gianni Nocenzi / Yamaha GP 70 piano, Roland and Arp Odissey synthesizers
- Vittorio Nocenzi / Polysinth Yamaha CS 80, Minimoog, Multiman Crumar, Uranus 2, Vocostring CRB, vocals
- Rodolfo Maltese / electric & acoustic guitars, Sint Uranus 2, vocals
- Pierluigi Calderoni / drums, percussion
- Gianni Colailacomo / electric bass, acoustic guitar, EKO, vocals
- Karl Potter / percussion

- Beppe Cantarelli / electric guitar (1, 6, 7), acoustic guitar (8)
- Dino D'Autorio / electric bass (3-6)

''Shame!'', ''Disco!'', ''They betrayed prog ideals!'', ''Why Banco did not kill themselves after this record?'' - is what we often read here and there about ''Capolinea''. Is this album really that bad? I don't think so.

On the contrary, we have here perfectly sounding live record of BANCO. Yes, with its highs and lows. The opener ''Il ragno'' has funky beat, pretty good for this uplifting song. Then we hear a decent version of ''Canto di primavera'', quite close to studio original. There are excellent melodic bass lines (fretless bass I guess) throughout the whole song and contrasting heavier part in the end of ''750.000 anni fa ... l'amore'' from ''Darwin!''. Nice! ''Capolinea'' is an instrumental jam based on ''Fino alla mia porta'' theme from the album ''Come in un'ultima cena''. Good live version again.

The only obvious flaw is, in my opinion, new arrangements of ''R.I.P.''. Funky (or, if you like, disco) beat and jazzy scats ruin dramatic atmosphere of one of the band's greatest songs, additionally reduced here to 4 and a half minutes. From the other hand, it's musicians' right to play their own music in some different way. Probably such significant song like ''R.I.P.'' was a wrong choice for experiments while in case of instrumental ''Garofano rosso'' new arrangements work quite well.

One of the best versions of ''Non mi rompete'' closes this short live album. I don't know whether this record presents the whole concert. Back then, in vinyl days, it was a risky move to make a double album. If other songs from that gig were recorded and longer CD will be released one day I'll be among those who orders a copy.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - 1979 - Canto Di Primavera

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso 
Canto Di Primavera

01. Ciclo (4:20)
02. Canto di primavera (5:30)
03. Sono la bestia (4:35)
04. Niente (4:00)
05. E mi viene da pensare (3:20)
06. Interno citta' (6:30)
07. Lungo il margine (4:50)
08. Circobanda (5:30)

- Francesco Di Giacomo / vocals
- Vittorio Nocenzi / keyboards, synthesizers
- Gianni Nocenzi / el. piano, clavinet
- Rodolfo Maltese / electric and acoustic guitars, charango, bouzouki, trumpet, horn
- Pierluigi Calderoni / drums and percussions
- Gianni Colaiacomo / bass, fretless bass, 6-string bass
- Luigi Cinque / soprano sax, harmonica
- George Aghedo / percussions

- Francesco Di Giacomo / vocals
- Vittorio Nocenzi / keyboards, synthesizers
- Gianni Nocenzi / el. piano, clavinet
- Rodolfo Maltese / electric and acoustic guitars, charango, bouzouki, trumpet, horn
- Pierluigi Calderoni / drums and percussions
- Gianni Colaiacomo / bass, fretless bass, 6-string bass
- Luigi Cinque / soprano sax, harmonica
- George Aghedo / percussions

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - 1978 - ... Di terra

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso 
... Di terra

01. Nel Cielo E Nelle Altre Cose Mute (4:39)
02. Terramadre (3:08)
03. Non Senza Dolore (5:02)
04. Io Vivo (9:08)
05. Né Più Di Un Albero Non Meno Di Una Stella (8:01)
06. Nei Suoni E Nei Silenzi (5:48)
07. Di Terra (5:57)

- Gianni Nocenzi / piano
- Rodolfo Maltese / electric guitar, acoustic guitar, trumpet
- Pierluigi Calderoni / drums, timpani, percussion
- Renato d'Angelo / bass

- Alan King / flute, sax
- Orchestra dell'Unione Musiciti di Roma conducted by Vittorio Nocenzi

This is an album I have put off buying for a couple of reasons. First of all Fransesco one of my favourite vocalists isn't even singing on it, and second of all there is a full blown orchestra on board. I'm not totally against orchestral music but i've been disappointed so many times with the combination of Progressive Rock and orchestral that I didn't even want to bother. Big mistake ! "...Di Terra" has completely captivated me with the dual keyboard work of the Nocenzi brothers and the tasteful orchestral music. We get Jazz, Chamber rock and Symphonic, reminding me at times of UNIVERS ZERO, Miles Davis and many others. I'm so impressed with this album ! As others have said this really is one long piece of music.

"Nel Cielo E Nelle Altre Cose Mute" opens with some atmosphere before strings and horns come in tastefully. It starts to build to a great sound 3 1/2 minutes in before settling back down to the end. "Terramadre" is where the piano play comes to the fore as trumpet plays over top. Fantastic sound ! It settles before 2 minutes but then kicks back in. I can't help but think of Miles. It blends into "Non Senza Dolore" where it starts off in a haunting way with choir-like sounds as horns and organ play along. It then turns very atmospheric as a melody builds. This has to be heard to be appreciated. A change 3 1/2 minutes in as timpani and flutes take over as well as other sounds. "Io Vivo" is very orchestral with the strings and wind instruments to start. A change before 2 minutes as piano starts to lead the way. A calm 3 1/2 minutes in and I love the atmosphere here, it sounds like chamber music. Kicks back in at 5 1/2 minutes with guitar. Nice. Another calm 7 minutes in to the end.

"Ne Piu Di Un Albero Non Meno Di Una Stella" opens with some gorgeous piano melodies until we get a change before 4 minutes as drums and flute take over. Sax before 6 1/2 minutes and horns lead the way after 7 minutes to the end. "Nei Suoni E Nei Siunzi" is pretty restrained early but then it starts to build as the sound gets fuller. It becomes eerie sounding 4 1/2 minutes in, very UNIVERS ZERO-like with the dark piano melodies. Some dissonance late to end it. "Di Terra" builds to an incredible sound 1 1/2 minutes in. Then horns come blasting in. So much going on a minute later. It settles 3 1/2 minutes in with lots of piano.

This is a unique album in BANCO's catologue and one I treasure. It's one of those albums that gives me joy just listening to the collage of sounds and the way they all work perfectly with each other.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - 1976 - As In A Last Supper

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso 
As In A Last Supper

01. At Supper, For Example (6:19)
02. The Spider (4:56)
03. John Has A Good Heart, But (3:34)
04. Slogan (7:25)
05. They Say Dolphins Speak (5:52)
06. Voilà Midae! (5:52)
07. When Good People Counsel (1:53)
08. The Night Is Full (4:11)
09. Towards My Door (4:30)

This is an English version of the album "Come in un'ultima cena"

- Francesco "Big" Di Giacomo / vocals
- Rodolfo Maltese / electric and acoustic guitars, trumpet, backing vocals
- Vittorio Nocenzi / organ, synthesizers, electronic strings
- Gianni Nocenzi / piano, clavinet, synthesizer
- Renato D'Angelo / bass, acoustic guitar
- Pierluigi Calderoni / drums, percusion

OK , this is post-classical BANCO album, an English version of "Come di un'Ultima Cena". Concept can be clearly seen here,and English lyrics are very good (though I prefer Franceso when he sings in Italian). Very symphonic and marked with great talent, though not my personal favourite. Best tracks here are "Slogan","They say dolphins speak" and "At a supper for example".A Must for every BANCO/Italian Prog collector, but not that necessary thing for most of us. I got it by chance and left in my collection - why not?

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - 1976 - Come In Un'ultima Cena

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso 
Come In Un'ultima Cena

01. ...a cena, per esempio (6:20)
02. Il ragno (4:55)
03. È così buono Giovanni, ma... (3:32)
04. Slogan (7:23)
05. Si dice che i delfini parlino (5:50)
06. Voilà Mida (Il guaritore) (6:14)
07. Quando la buona gente dice (1:57)
08. La notte è piena (4:14)
09. Fino alla mia porta (4:30)

- Francesco Di Giancomo / lead vocals
- Vittorio Nocenzi / organs, synthesizers, harpsichord
- Gianni Nocenzi / el. and ac. piano, synthesizers, clarinet, recorder
- Rudolfo Maltese / el. and ac. guitars, trumpet, French horn and vocals
- Pierluigi Calderoni / drums and percussion
- Renato D'Angelo / bass, acoustic guitar

This album seems more mature and refined than their earlier albums, but that just might be because of the subject matter. This is a concept album about Christ, from the last supper to the crucifixion. So one can understand why it's more subdued. Fancesco has a more prominant role vocally which is great news.

"...A Cena, Per Esempio" takes a while to really get going. Finally vocals and piano arrive before 2 minutes as tasteful guitar and drums join in. Synths before 3 minutes. A calm a minute later. Vocals are simply other- worldly. "Il Ragno" is my favourite song on here. Instrumentally it's just a joy to listen to, and don't get me started about the vocals. It's so cool that the Nocenzi brothers both play keyboards, as we can hear organ and piano at the same time. "E Cosi Buono Giovanni Ma..." opens with piano as reserved vocals come in and then recorder. Some mellow horns before 2 minutes. "Slogan" sounds really good once it gets going. It's kind of dark and intense. It changes before 2 minutes to an uptempo soundscape with vocals. A calm before 4 minutes. Piano and incredible vocals 6 minutes as guitar follows lighting it up 6 1/2 minutes in. Organ follows. Nice.

"Si Dice Che I Delfini Parlino" opens with some dramatic instrumental work including piano and violin for the first 2 minutes. It then settles down with vocals. What a pleasing section this is. It's almost jazzy with piano and restrained vocals. They get pretty passionate though as the contrast continues. Great track ! "Viola Mida (Il Guaritore)" opens with some beautiful piano before organ and drums join in. Awesome sound 2 1/2 minutes in, we get some guitar too. Vocals after 3 minutes. The tempo picks up later. "Quando La Buona Gente Dice" is a fantastic uptempo vocal led tune. "La Notte E Piena" opens with recorder as we can hear heavy breathing. Sad. Acoustic guitar then comes in gently. Reserved vocals 2 minutes in. Violin and some melancholic piano follows. "Fino Alla Mia Porta" is an uptempo song once it gets going. Some nice guitar in this section. Spoken words before 2 minutes. Vocals follow as it calms down some with some deep bass. Synths are prominant.

A must for BANCO fans, and for people who love Italian music.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - 1976 - Garofano Rosso

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso 
Garofano Rosso

01. Zobeida (2:40)
02. Funerale (4:28)
03. 10 Giugno 1924 (4:28)
04. Quasi Saltarello (1:38)
05. Esterno Notte (Casa di Giovanna) (3:15)
06. Garofano Rosso (5:02)
07. Suggestioni Di Un Ritorno In Campagna (7:38)
08. Passeggiata In Bicicletta E Corteo Dei Dimostranti (2:53)
09. Tema Di Giovanna (2:35)
10. Siracusa: Appunti D'Epoca (2:12)
11. Notturno Breve (2:20)
12. Lasciando La Casa Antica (2:35)

- Rodolfo Maltese / electric & acoustic guitars, trumpet, French horn
- PierLuigi Calderoni / drums, percussion, timpani
- Renato D'Angelo / bass, contrabass, acoustic guitar
- Gianni Nocenzi / piano, electric piano, synthesizer, clarinet
- Vittorio Nocenzi / organ, synthesizer, violin, vibraphone

 It's dark and gritty at times while also being uplifting and powerful. It is very classical at times, but very electronic at others. The odd yet beautiful artwork compliments the music well. This album has so many different moods housed within that it is a completely different experience every time. If all Italian Symphonic Prog is like this, then I am sorry for putting it off for so long!

My favorite tracks on the album are: 10 Giugno 1924, Quasi Saltarello, Esterno Notte (Casa di Giovanna), Suggestioni Di Un Ritorno In Campagna, and Tema di Giovanna. Each song has its own theme or mood, while sometimes carryingf that over into new territory, while other, shorter songs seem to stay where they are the entire time. Neither song style is bad, and both work very well, here. I assumde since this was written for a film that the band must have been making the length of each song pertain specifically to certain situations already recorded on film. So the sometimes stagnate state of some of the shorter songs doesn't bother me much. They recorded only what was needed to create a certain mood for any givens scene, and sometimes that took longer than others. I hear some recopitulation as well here and there, reminding the listener and/or viewer that this is pne big piece of something. The album on the whole is very visual, and that is how any good soundtrack should be.

All of the tracks on the record just seem to speak to me emotionally in ways that I haven't been spoken to since Tool's ''La te ra lus'' back in '01. Yes, some of the tracks may get a little funky here and there, but that's what makes this album so cool! One minute it sounds like your listening to Bach, the next moment you could be listening to Ozric Tentacles (this form of genre-meshing can be heard very clearly on the album's title track). The combination of classical music and psychedelic influences really works somehow for these guys, and I for one am very impressed.

So there aren't any lyrics, I frankly don't care. The music itself is so pleasent that any voice overtop of the compositions would most likely kill the effect the music itself has on its own. Trumpets, guitars, keyboards and violins all converge on this effort, and somehow, this odd combination works! What impresses me the most with this is that the band never seems to fall short anywhere. Never does it sound like the musicians are missing their marks or not quite saying what they want; on the contrary, every note, every song, every mood change or sudden switch of pace all seem to be part of te plan, and the emotions come out of the music seemingly effortlessly. Now THAT is true talent there, folks.

The technical prowess found here is exceptional, as well, and while I don't always think that is what makes for good music, it can work to the music's strengths and make it better as long as the person playing the instrument has talent to begin with, which I feel this band certainly does.

Granted, I am not sure how the band's other albums compare, and I do realize that this is technically a soundtrack and not a free form studio album, but hey, if the bands albums proper are anything even remotely as good as this (or even better, perhaps?), then I will be more than happy that I discovered Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso.

So, there you have it. My first venture into uncharted waters in Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso's instrumental album Garofano Rosso was a success. I loved every minute of it, and I will come back to Italian Symphonic Prog and more specifically BMS again very soon for a second helping. Truly remarkable stuff. I am quite pleased. I only retract the one star on the rating scale because I still don't know how this album compares to the band's other work, otherwise this would have gotten a perfect five.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - 1975 - Banco

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso

01. Chorale (From Traccia Theme) (2:30)
02. L'Albero Del Pane (The Bread Tree) (4:45)
03. Metamorphosis (14:54)
04. Outside (7:42)
05. Leave Me Alone (5:20)
06. Nothing's The Same (9:58)
07. Traccia II (2:42)

- Francesco Di Giacomo / vocals
- Vittorio Nocenzi / organ, synthesizers, electronic strings
- Gianni Nocenzi / grand piano, clarinet, synthetizer
- Rodolfo Maltese / electric & acoustic guitar, trumpet, vocal
- Renato D'angelo / bass guitar, acoustic guitar
- Pier Luigi Calderoni / drums, percussion

This is to BANCO what "Photos of Ghosts" is to PFM: rerecord their Italian language material in English and have it released on ELP's Manticore label. Actually the description of this album is only partially correct as they also include a brand new song, "L'Abero del Pane". The rest consists of material off their 1972 debut and "Io Sono Nato Libero". Oddly nothing off "Darwin!" is included, probably because the two best cuts on that album are too long to include.

The material off their debut is vastly improved with far greater production. Like "Metamorfosi", where the passages are unbelievably powerful and dramatic, as opposed to the original (which piano and organ dominated, piano and synthesizer dominate this version, in a vastly improved fashion). This improved piece comes to show, excellent as BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO's debut was, could have used a better and more powerful production. There's also an electronic version of "Traccia II", called "Traccia's Theme". The material off "Io Sono Nato Libero" really couldn't be improved on, since that album was well produced in the first place. Plus I thought the remake of "Non Mi Rompete", called "Leave Me Alone" just doesn't cut it with the English lyrics, which comes across as being overly sentimental. This piece was also extended a bit, by adding an extra synth solo at the end. "Traccia II" is left the same as on "Io Sono Nato Libero".

It's too bad that for many, especially in 1970s America, this was the only way people were exposed to this band, as their second and third albums are wonderful classics of Italian prog that should not be overlooked. But the music is great regardless.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - 1973 - Io Sono Nato Libero

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
Io Sono Nato Libero

01. Canto Nomade Per Un Prigioniero Politico (15:46)
02. Non Mi Rompete (5:09)
03. La Città Sottile (7:13)
04. Dopo... Niente È Più Lo Stesso (9:55)
05. Traccia II (2:39)

- Vittorio Nocenzi / organ, harpischord, synths
- Gianni Nocenzi / piano, keyboards
- Marcello Todaro / electric and acoustic guitars
- Renato D'Angelo / bass, acoustic guitar
- Pier Luigi Calderoni / drums, percussion
- Francesco Di Giacomo / vocals

Guest Musicians:
- Rodolfo Maltese / acoustic and electric guitars
- Silvana Aliotta / percussion
- Bruno Perosa / percussion

On the podium shared by Le Orme and Premiata Forneria Marconi stands yet another band with yet another exotic name for us ignorant non-Italians that happen to be fans of RPI. Banco del Mutuo Succorso is the last of the Big Three of Italy's Symphonic Rock Movement and I might as well have saved the best part until now. Where PFM often have very dense, guitar-oriented arrangements and a heavy-rockier touch on some songs and Le Orme shifts between keyboard bombast and delicate poppier tunes, Banco manages to establish some kind of middle-ground between the other two. The e-guitar work is always great, but it's not an extremely big part of the music here. It never takes on a lead role, so to speak, and instead it works together with keys, which instead of being as in-your-face and atmospheric as those of Le Orme intricately builds up the web-like structure of the album. Acoustic guitar is more of an interlude-ish, dynamism-creating addition (except for the song Non Mi Rompete - Italian-style guitar galore). Io Sono Nato Libero is really a very eclectic effort with the band showing great talent in creating a 'classic' symphonic feel. Even the electric instruments, synthesisers included, have a way of sounding traditionally orchestral. And this talent together with an unsurpassed ability to create rising and falling tension and emotional crescendos is, all in all, a killing combination that keeps the attention level on a constant maximum while enjoying the album. I still haven't found a weak spot after countless spins.

A big asset to Banco's sound is the fact that they use not only one keyboardist, but two, the brothers Vittorio and Gianni Nocenzi. To have both piano and the more versatile organs and synthesisers working together makes so much more than a single keyboardists could achieve. Two guest percussionists also adds some spice to the mix. The biggest asset of Banco must still be Francesco Di Giacomo. He's got a wonderful, almost operatic voice capable of the same shifts in tension and emotion as the music itself.

Naturally, it's very difficult to pick a favourite among the five excellent tracks on Io Sono Nato Libero. The first one, Canto Nomade Per Un Prigioniero Politico still stands out, not just because of its length. It's a condensation of all the moods and nuances of this album, with stunning performances from the band. The 'io sono nato libero'-part's classical piano, emotional denseness and Francesco Di Giacomo's vocal performance is a top goose-bump moment.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - 1972 - Darwin

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso 

01. L'Evoluzione (13:59)
02. La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta (8:42)
03. Danza Dei Grandi Rettili (3:42)
04. Cento Mani E Cento Occhi (5:22)
05. 750,000 Anni Fa ... L'Amore? (5:38)
06. Miserere Alla Storia (5:58)
07. Ed Ora Io Domando Tempo Al Tempo Ed Egli Mi Risponde ... Non Ne Ho! (3:29)

- Gianni Nocenzi / clarinet, piano, keyboards
- Pier Luigi Calderoni / drums, tympani
- Renato D'Angelo / bass, guitar, guitar (bass)
- Francesco DiGiacomo / vocals
- Vittorio Nocenzi / organ, synthesizer, keyboards, clavinet
- Marcello Todaro / guitar (acoustic), guitar, guitar (electric), vocals

This concept album is my favourite of the first three BANCO albums, but it is also the oddest (mind you, all BANCO's music is a bit odd in my opinion). Pity I understand very little Italian, because I think the lyrics for such an ambitious theme (evolution) would be interesting.

The long 'L'Evoluzione' (evolution) is obviously the vehicle to introduce the album's concept. It starts off as a fairly sedate song (I even hear a little PINK FLOYD in there somewhere) but then comes some synth which makes me think of erupting volcanoes, and the song heats up, not very melodically, with BANCO's characteristic repetitive note sequences, with a piccolo mib playing over the top in places. Keeping one's mind on the theme stops the track getting tedious.

'La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta' (the conquest of the upright position) is really atmospheric, with synth used to produce animal-like sounds, and some dynamic 'echoey' synth that, given the theme and track title, make me think of apes swinging through the forest treetops at great speed (honestly!, although the band probably intended nothing of the kind). I really, really like this track.

'Danza Dei Grandi Rettili' (dance of the large reptiles) is also the business. It has a very laid-back jazzy barroom feel, starting with some piano and bass, and then adding synth. Again, bearing in mind the theme, it's not hard to picture a T. Rex clomping around looking for prey. Great synth on this one.

'Cento Mani E Cento Occhi' (a hundred hands and a hundred eyes) is the reason I bought the album in the first place. It is a frenetic track with a fair amount of unmelodic keyboard with what sounds like repetitive two-finger key bashing and 'wailing' by Francesco Di Giacomo (well, that's how it sounds to me!). When I first heard this track I thought, "What on Earth is this?" but had to listen to it again, and again and finally had to buy the album. This is probably the track to play if you want to clear a room! Knowing the title, the music makes me think of a giant millipede scuttling at high speed along the jungle floor, but I'm probably way off: wish I could understand the lyrics. Then, right at the end of the song, there is what sounds like a tribal ritual chant over some foot-tapping progressive rock. A bizarre track, but strangely compelling.

'750,000 Anni Fa...L'Amore?' (750,000 Years Ago...Love?) is ballad-like, Francesco Di Giacomo singing with great feeling with the piano as the principal backing instrument, interrupted for a short while by some very electronic synth. It's pleasant enough.

'Miserere Alla Storia' starts off with staccato, repeated note sequences on the organ, then changes to a classical-sounding theme with piccolo mib and acoustic guitar, then transmogrifies into a mad-sounding Francesco Di Giacomo half speaking, half singing, then back to the staccato repeated note sequences on the organ. It becomes more interesting towards the end when piano kicks in with synth and other instruments, but in places reminds me a bit of a slightly out of tune village band.

'Ed Ora Io Domando Tempo Al Tempo Ed Egli Mi Risponde...Non Ne Ho!' (and now I ask the time to Time and he replies...I haven't got it!) is yet another bizarre track. It starts with a sound like a donkey braying, which sounds to me like the very slow dragging of a violin bow or perhaps the rocking of a very creaky rocking chair. Then the clavicembalo and piccolo mib add some background as Francisco Di Giacomo sings to backing music that sounds a bit like an umpapa umpapa village band.

I hope the above whets your curiosity rather than putting you off getting this album. If you're used to melodic Progressive Rock then this is a very different beast, but should grow on you. The composition and use of instruments to convey the theme are clever, and there is so much variety and oddity in the tracks - and within tracks - that it keeps you listening intently and enjoying immensely. Get it, listen to it on headphones, imagine and enjoy. If you don't like it at first, stick with it, it's worth it.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - 1972 - Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso

01. In Volo (2:13)
02. R.I.P. (Requiescant In Pace) (6:40)
03. Passaggio (1:19)
04. Metamorfosi (10:52)
05. Il Giardino Del Mago (18:26)
- a. ... Passo Dopo Passo ...
- b. ... Chi Ride E Chi Geme ...
- c. ... Coi Capelli Sciolti Al Vento ...
- d. Compenetrazione
06. Traccia (2:10)

- Gianni Nocenzi / clarinet, piano, keyboards, piccolo, vocals
- Pier Luigi Calderoni / drums
- Renato D'Angelo / bass, guitar, electric bass
- Francesco DiGiacomo / vocals
- Vittorio Nocenzi / organ, clarinet, keyboards, vocals
- Marcello Todaro / guitar, vocals, chitarrone

One of the most important progressive rock bands to come from Italy, BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO, along with LE ORME and PFM are regarded as the big three of the RPI genre. This is not only because of their longevity and the level of success they achieved in their own country, but also because each were able to make considerable inroads abroad, something which didn't happen for most of their contemporaries.

Despite not releasing their first album until 1972, the band actually formed in 1969, their sound centering around the virtuoso dual keyboard work of the Nocenzi brothers, Gianni and Vittorio. The early line-up fluctuated with various members coming and going before any recorded output was released, including drummers Franco Pontecorvi and Mario Achilli, bassist Fabrizio Falco and guitarists Gianfranco Coletta (ex CHETRO & CO) and Claudio Falco. This early incarnation of the band did, however, record some material but this wouldn't surface until 1989 (see the "Donna Plautilla" album).

Joining the Nocenzi brothers for a more stable line-up in time for their first album was ex-FIORI DI CAMPO guitarist Marcello Todaro and three members of LE ESPERIENZE, vocalist Francesco Di Giacomo, drummer Pier Luigi Calderoni and bassist Renato D'Angelo. Their eponymous first album was a remarkably mature piece of inventive symphonic progressive rock with classical influences, featuring excellent musicianship and the emotionally charged vocal delivery of Di Giacomo. This was quickly followed up by the equally highly regarded "Darwin" and "Io Sono Nato Libero," forming a trio of albums that are essential listening for anyone with even the most casual interest in the RPI genre.

A change of guitarist followed shortly after the recording of "Io Sono Nato Libero," when Todaro left and joined CRYSTALS and was replaced by Rodolfo Maltese, formerly of HOMO SAPIENS. Around this time the band attempted to make inroads outside their native Italy and released the English sung "Banco" on ELP'S Manticore label. In reality this was largely a compilation, as it consisted of re-recorded songs from their first three albums with the exception of one track. To promote this they toured the USA and UK with limited success. "Banco" was followed in 1976 by the film soundtrack album "Garofano Rosso," and in the same year two versions of the same album, one Italian and one English, "Come In Un'Ultima Cena" and "As In A Last Supper" were released. 1978 saw the release of another all instrumental album ".Di Terra", this time incorporating the use of an orchestra.

"Canto Di Primavera" saw bassist D'Angelo being replaced by Gianni Colaiacomo, and after this the band entered a period that is probably of little interest to prog fans, moving in a more commercial pop direction. In 1983 Gianni Nocenzi was to leave the band, and the following years saw the coming and going of a number of musicians through a series of critically slated albums, at least amongst the prog community.

Signs that the band may be returning to their prog roots came in 1991 when the band re-recorded their acclaimed first album and "Darwin". The lightweight pop/rock of "Banco 13", released in 1994 showed however that it was a little early to celebrate. No studio albums have appeared since 1996 but the band continued with sporadic live activity and released a number of live albums. Perhaps the most interesting of these is "Seguendo Le Tracce", which captures a stunning concert from 1975, reminding us how great this band can be. The most recent of these live albums is ''Quaranta'', a 2010 recording previously released as part of the Prog Exhibition box set. The then line-up comprised of vocalist Francesco Di Giacomo, on keyboards Vittorio Nocenzi, guitarists Rodolfo Maltese and Filippo Marcheggiani, drummer Maurizio Masi, bassist Tiziano Ricci and on sax, flute and clarinet Alessandro Papotto (PERIFERIA DEL MONDO). Sadly, Francesco Di Giacomo died following a road traffic accident on 21st February, 2014.

BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO, particularly the first three albums, is an essential early port of call for anyone looking to discover the RPI genre.

"Present and yet remote, a living vision of that which has already been left far behind by the flowing streams of Time". Well, Tolkien wrote these words to describe Lady Galadriel in "The Lord Of The Rings", but I think that the same words could be used to describe the debut album of BMS. This work is a melting pot of classical influences and progressive sounds where the musicians try to find a personal way to express their ideas with music and suggestive lyrics hanging above past and present, fantasy and reality.

"Loose your hippogriff's bridles, Astolfo / And fly wildly where man's work is more brisk / But don't deceive me with false images / And let me see the truth / So that I can touch what's fair". The short opener "In volo" features sounds effects, choirs and flute giving it a kind of "Middle-age flavour" while the melody and the recitative vocals seem to come out from the "streams of time". Well, actually the lyrics are vaguely inspired by the work of the Italian poet Lodovico Ariosto and not by Tolkien, but in my opinion it doesn't matter very much whether they come from the "Middle-age" or from the "Middle- earth". "From here, sir, we overlook the valley / What you can see is real / But if the picture is thin to your eyes / Let's go down to look at it from a lower point / And we'll glide down in a winged gallop / Into the crater where time gurgles". An amazing prelude for the following track!

With "R.I.P. (Requiescant In Pace)" rhythm goes up bringing echoes of war, while the lyrics and the peculiar vocals of Francesco Di Giacomo draw the gloomy landscape of a battle field. "Horses, bodies and broken spears are getting red / Laments of dying people without a Christ nearby / Huge pupils turned up to the sun / Dust and thirst / In every moment you can feel the death's breath on you / But you'll never know why. Rest in peace!". The music is powerful with keyboards and piano in the forefront. "On heaps of dead corpses you built up your glory / But the blood you spilt has felt back on you / Your war has came to an end, old soldier". Then the storm calm down giving way to a delicate piano part that leads to a struggling and melodic elegy. "Now the wind sit down / Your glance is still hanging from the sky / Your eyes lay in the sun / In your chest there's still a dagger / And you'll never shoot your spear anymore, trying to wound the horizon / To push yourself further / To discover what God only knows / Nothing will be left of you but the pain and the cry that you gave / To push yourself further / To discover what God only knows". "A living vision", a bitter reflection about the inhumanity and uselessness of war and glory, "present and yet remote".

A sound of steps, a man approaching an old harpsichord, the sound of the instrument and the voice of the man drawing a melody. This is "Passaggio", just a short bridge that leads to "Metamorfosi", a long track, almost completely instrumental, with many changes of rhythm and mood melting in the short conclusive singing part where "opera like" vocals seem to claim the need of a never ending change. "Man, I don't know if I resemble to you / I don't know, nevertheless I feel that I wouldn't like / To mark my days with yours".

"Il giardino del mago" (The wizard's garden) is a long and complex suite, dark and dreamy. "When I was a child I used to ride the horse with the head bent down / I used to gallop without a noise / The wooden hoofs that flew over the flowers didn't waste the colours". Lyrics are about the contrast between dreams and reality and the music seems to underline this contrast. Who is the wizard? Well, maybe the wizard is Atlante, another Ariosto's character but that doesn't really matter; here the wizard's garden is just a place in your mind where reality has no room and where you can find a shelter. "With my hair blowing in the wind / I rule the time, my time / There, in the spaces where death has no power / Where love crosses the borders / And the servant dances with the king / Crown without vanity / The road that goes is never-ending". The final track "Traccia" is clearly classical inspired. Hints of Bach and Beethoven blended with progressive rock with an astounding result.

"Present and yet remote, a living vision of that which has already been left far behind by the flowing streams of Time". One of the milestones of Italian-prog and a must- have for every prog collector.