Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Jasun Martz - 1978 - The Pillory

Jasun Martz
The Pillory

01. The Pillory
02. In Light In Dark In Between (Movements 1 to 4)

    Acoustic Bass – Dave King (tracks: 1)
    Acoustic Bass, Percussion [Main], Timpani, Vocals – Wylliam Carruthers (tracks: 1)
    Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Vocals – Brian Floyd (tracks: 1)
    Arranged By, Conductor – Jasun Martz (tracks: 1)
    Artwork [Cover Drawing] – Jean Dubuffet
    Bassoon, Vocals – Greg Brown (4) (tracks: 1)
    Cello – William Bottrell* (tracks: 1)
    Clarinet, Recorder, Electric Piano, Synthesizer – John Luttrelle
    Cymbal [Bowed], Percussion – Paul Whitehead (4) (tracks: 1)
    Engineer [Additional] – Adam Skeaping (tracks: 1), Jasun Martz (tracks: 1), Ross Pallone (tracks: 1)
    Engineer, Remastered By – William Bottrell*
    Flute – Francie Delle Fave (tracks: 1)
    Flute [Glass], Recorder – Bob Mills (tracks: 1)
    Flute, Soprano Saxophone – Bill Swanson (tracks: 1)
    Gong, Recorder – Suzan Vasquez (tracks: 1)
    Liner Notes [Interview] – Wolfgang Fenchel
    Marimba, Bells [Concert], Percussion – Ruth Underwood (tracks: 1)
    Mastered By – Jeff Peters
    Percussion [Implemental] – Heidi Feldstein (tracks: 1), Mary Owen (tracks: 1)
    Percussion [Main], Snare – Don Swanson (tracks: 1)
    Percussion, Percussion [Thunder Sheet] – Danna Rosenthal (tracks: 1)
    Photography By – Barry Koeb, Danna Rosenthal, Marc Shelton, Mark Simmons (4), Melanie Winter, Rebecca Palmer (2), Robert Landau, Shelley Lake, Sunny Wood
    Recorder – Eric Vasquez (tracks: 1), Michelle Vasquez (tracks: 1)
    Synthesizer, Mellotron, Organ, Vocals, Grand Piano, Cymbal [Zil], Saxophone, Flute, Recorder, Wind [Wind Hoses], Gong, Electronics, Percussion [Implemental], Producer – Jasun Martz
    Tenor Saxophone, Vocals – Barry Silva (tracks: 1)
    Trombone, Vocals – Jon Boyer (tracks: 1)
    Trumpet – Bill Bourg (tracks: 1)
    Violin – Karen Delle Fave (tracks: 1), Nicky Foyer (tracks: 1), Terri Delle Fave (tracks: 1)
    Violin [Solo], Synthesizer – Eddie Jobson
    Violin, Vocals, Performer [Wind Hoses] – Pat Flynn (2) (tracks: 1)
    Vocals – Bill New (tracks: 1), Carole Anderson (tracks: 1), Chris Farmer (3) (tracks: 1), Cinde Martz (tracks: 1), Daniel Esteras (tracks: 1), Gail Murphy (tracks: 1), Jeffery Taylor (2) (tracks: 1), Luana Norman (tracks: 1), Margaux Whiting (tracks: 1), Susan Reed (tracks: 1), Timothy Carruthers (tracks: 1), Warren Ormsby (tracks: 1), Wayne Hargrave (tracks: 1)
    Vocals, Cymbal [Zil] – Liza Carbe (tracks: 1)

Track 1 recorded at California Recording Studios Hollywood, Riverside Recordings London and Neoteric Recording Studios Los Angeles. Mixed at California Recording Studios.

Bonus track 2 recorded at California Recording Studios, Hollywood. A shorter version was originally released on the Eurock LP "An American Music Compilation" released in 1982.

Note: this is first edition of 500 numbered copies that came with an A4 booklet featuring articles, press cuttings, adverts for other APM releases, etc. It also has the details for the bonus tracks (not given on the CD cover itself).

This is simply one of the most unbelievable pieces of music I have ever heard!

It's not your everyday prog rock, and the music leans much closer to avant garde classical. Fans of avant garde and prog rock fans who need something more "out there" should not go without this album!

Jasun Martz is an American who released this completely unreal album in 1978 called The Pillory on the All Ears label (a short-lived Los Angeles-based label), on clear vinyl. It was later reissued in 1981 on some small label, and it first made its CD debut on the defunct Swedish label Ad Perpetuam Memoriam. Of course if you didn't get your copy when APM was in business, never fear, an American label, Under the Asphalt (apparently Jasun Martz's label, which is great, he would know his own work better than anyone else) made this available again, with the same bonus track, "In Light In Dark In Between". The Neoteric Orchestra features himself, with Ruth Underwood (Zappa, I believe this was her final musical adventure, as she pretty much retired from music since), Eddie Jobson (Curved Air, Roxy Music, Zappa, UK, and later Jethro Tull), and Paul Whitehead (the Genesis and Van der Graaf Generator album cover artist), and tons more, with choir, strings, as well as an assortment of keyboards, including none other the Mellotron! Jasun Martz is no stranger to the mainstream, including some real atrocities, he was said to help arrange the music to Starship's "We Built This City" (yikes!), and played for Michael Jackson (he provided keyboards on "Black and White") (he ended up having to apologize for "We Built This City", which I don't blame him for doing so, it's awful, and the ultra-slick production, the commercial approach, and synthesizers are simply appalling, it's what gave the 1980s a bad name for mainstream music). At least he also played for Zappa (hence the inclusion of Ruth Underwood on The Pillory). Nothing even remotely mainstream here, not when the influences here are the likes of King Crimson and Stravinsky. You won't mistake this for lite classical, and you won't mistake this for the Moody Blues that's for sure. The album starts off really sinister, so much so it would give King Crimson a run for their money! Then you hear this weird chanting, then some extended unaccompanied Mellotron certainly to blow you away. You'll hear some wailing sounds that were created from a bendable plastic tube you twirl around (they called it a "wind hose" in the credits, in which Jasun Martz himself is credited, along with his usual array of keyboards and percussion). Some really experimental percussion, then some grand organ, and some really majestic Mellotron passages (strings, brass, flute, choir). There's also this grandiose pipe organ passage that's truly out of this world. Actually this pipe organ actually turns out to be the seldom used pipe organ tron tapes! The GForce M-Tron has the tron pipe organ as part of their package and it sounds exactly like what I hear on this album. Cathedral (the '70s American band, that is) used a little tron pipe organ on their Stained Glass Stories album from around the same time period (you'll hear it on "Introspect"). There are times the Mellotron will reminds you of Crimson's "Devil's Triangle", but with an even more sinister feel. I really love how the music can be extremely sinister, and at other times peaceful (but you know that doomy sound is always lurking). The bonus cut is from an early '80s recording with a couple of Neoteric Orchestra members. This one has a more conventional chamber feel to it, lacking the Mellotron, although it still gets highly experimental.

In 2004, Jason Martz recorded a sequel called The Pillory/The Battle, which was released in 2005, which is even more ambitious than ever before, with a 115 piece orchestra (but the only familiar face helping out here would be Mark Shreeve, one of Britain's top electronic/New Age musicians). You'll have reminders of the original, but also explorations of world music, industrial, noise, ambient, and so on. Unfortunately the Mellotron this time around is a virtual Mellotron (like the M-Tron) (Andy Thompson, who runs the Planet Mellotron website was to lend a hand in the album, but he didn't have the time, if he did, a real Mellotron would be used on that sequel). But it's nice to see the 1978 original is available once again, and I really suggest you get this if you never got to hear this odd album before.

This is simply one of the most unbelievable pieces of music I have ever heard! It's not your everyday prog rock, and the music leans much closer to avant garde classical. Fans of avant garde and prog rock fans who need something more out there should not go without this album!

Osanna and David Jackson - 2009 - Prog Family

Osanna and David Jackson
Prog Family

01. Tema (1:14)
02. Animale senza respiro (5:33)
03. Mirror Train (7:14)
04. L'uomo (3:53)
05. 'A zingara (5:37)
06. Ce vulesse ce vulesse (5:52)
07. Fuje 'a chistu paese (6:37)
08. Il castello dell'Es (7 :06)
  Formentera Medley :
09. Oro caldo (2:34)
10. My Mind Flies (1:26)
11. L'amore vincerà di nuovo (1:47)
12. Everybody's Gonna See You Die (4:23)
  Blue Sky Medley:
13. In un vecchio cieco (1:56)
14. Vado verso una meta (3:07)
15. Solo uniti (3:31)
16. Theme One (3:58)
17. There Will Be Time (3:55)

- David Jackson / saxophones, flute
- Lino Vairetti / lead vocals, guitar, blues harp
- Gennaro Barba / drums
- Fabrizio Fedele / electric and acoustic guitar
- Nello D'Anna / bass
- Sasà Priore / kayboards, organ, synth, vocals
- Irvin Vairetti / synth, pad, vocals, mellotron

Guest musicians
- Lello Brandi / bass
- David Cross / electric violin
- Gianni Leone / organ, vocals
- Tim Stevens / bass
- Sophya Baccini / vocals
- Mariano Barba / drums
- Gabry Borrelli / percussion
- Oderigi Lusi / Fender Rhodes
- Alfonso La Verghetta / organ
- Gianluca Falasca / violin
- Roberto Petrella / acoustic guitar
- Solis String Quartet / strings

The present incarnation of Osanna took off on the initiative of founder member Lino Vairetti, who gathered around him a bunch skilful young musicians like Gennaro Barba (drums), Fabrizio Fedele (guitar), Nello D'Anna (bass), Sasà Priore keyboards) and Lino's son Irvin Vairetti (synth). In 2008 they were in tour, with David Jackson as an additional member, performing new versions of their best pieces. I had the chance to attend one of their shows and I was struck by the vitality and the enthusiasm of all the musicians on stage. Osanna could have tried to capture the energy of their performances in a live album, instead...

They chose to record the new versions in studio looking for the best sound quality available and the precious help of friends such as David Cross, Tim Stevens, Gianni Leone, Oderigi Lusi, Sophya Baccini and others... Well, this album is not a simple collection of old stuff and the result is absolutely good (far better than their previous work "Uomini e miti"). Osanna's family tree has got deep roots and the "hot gold" of their music still glitters, although melted and reshaped with a modern taste. All the tracks are linked as in a long suite and every track merge imperceptibly into something else...

The opener and classical inspired "Tema", from the OST of "Milano Calibro 9", melts into a fiery "Animale senza respiro" (from Palepoli) that ends into a nervous "Mirror Train" from the debut album "L'uomo"... Osanna and David Jackson perfectly work together giving new life to pieces of music that are part of the history of Italian progressive rock, the music flows for more than seventy minutes without weak moments and the sound is perfect. Less known episodes like "'A zingara" and "Ce vulesse ce vulesse" from the album "Suddance" or "Il castello dell'Es" from "Landscapes Of Life" here are brilliant and convincing like the tracks coming out from "Palepoli" or "L'uomo". There are many changes of atmosphere and rhythm, from classical to traditional "canzone napoletana" (you can even find quotes of "Funicolì Funicolà" and "O sole mio"), from the bluesy and Mediterranean "Neapolitan Power" to the British prog of VDGG's "Theme One" it's like a long run "without a breath" from the start to the finish line, where you won't stop!

The packaging is very good as well, featuring a funny art cover design by Lino Vairetti and a booklet with many pictures and all the lyrics. I'm sure that this album will be an excellent addition for every Italianprog lover collection!

Osanna - 2012 - Rosso Rock

Rosso Rock (Live in Japan)

01. Preludio (4:10)
02. Tema (4:56)
03. Dialogo (2:24)
04. Spunti Dallo Spartito (2:17)
05. To Plinius (2:11)
06. My Mind Flies (4:50)
07. Tempo-Tredicesimo Cortile (1:52)
08. Posizione Raggiunta (1:30)
09. There Will Be Time (5:00)
10. Preludio Reprise (1:26)
11. Fiume (4:26)
12. O Culore E' Napule (3:38)
13. Rosso Rock (4:30)

- Lino Vairetti / vocals, guitars
- Gennaro Barba / drums
- Nello D'Anna / bass
- Pako Capobianco / guitars
- Sasa Priore / piano, organ, keyboards
- Irvin Vairetti / Mellotron, synths, vocals
- Tokyo Vielle Ensemble / strings
- Robert Petrella / guitars
- Stefano Longobardi / keyboards, vocals
- Gianni Biondi / vocals

Osanna - 2001 - Taka Boom

Taka Boom

01. L'Uomo
02. Ce vulesse, ce vulesse
03. Meddley acustico
  Oro caldo
  My mind flies
  L'amore vincera' di nuovo
04. Taka Boom
05. In un vecchio cieco
06. Vado verso una meta
07. There will be time
08. Meddley elettrico
  Mirror Train
  Treno senza stazione
09. 'A zingara
10. Oro caldo (Fuje 'a chistu paese)
11. Everybody's gonna see you die
12. Non sei vissuto mai
13. Colpi di tosse

- Lino Vairetti / vocals, guitar
- Danilo Rustici / electric and acoustic guitar
- Enzo Petrone / electric bass
- Gennaro Barca / drums & percussion
- Luca Urciuolo / keyboards, piano & mellotron
- Vito Ranucci / tenor & soprano sax

 If you ever want to hear how a band can screw some of their early tracks, this album is highly recommended and definitely deserves five stars (or even more). If you were looking to some great album by a legendary band, you might well skipped this work.

Two original band members revived the ''Osanna'' band out of the ashes of the forgotten darkness and they decided to release a ''new'' album. Actually, this work consists of early tracks revisited in a new format (and sound) for the majority of the tracks.

Most of their debut album is featured here (seven songs out of nine). To me, it is obvious that the band had nothing new to tell and opted to re-arrange their earlier repertoire. They will of course manage to integrate some new material to get some $ or £ or ? from the pocket of the devoted fans.

If some of them are not too badly re-worked there are some crimes committed here like the opener (''L'Uomo''). This version has nothing to do with the great original song from their good debut album. Even if I haven't been a real fan of this band, I have to say that they released quite decent albums in the early seventies. Their last one ''Suddance'' (released in '78) was already much less convincing. But to listen to such a massacre is VERY painful.

On the contrary, the VDGG oriented ''Ce Vulesse, Ce Vulesse''' is more than satisfactory I quite like the addition of this heavy sax all around here. It conveys a really powerful feeling. It is a mighty track and THE highlight here.

Osanna - 1978 - Suddance


01. Ce Vulesse
02. 'A Zingara
03. 'O Napulitano
04. Suddance
05. Chiuso qui
06. Saraceno
07. Naples in the World

- Enzo Petrone / Bass
- Danilo Rustici / Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
- Massimo Guarino / Drums, Percussion
- Fabrizio D'Angelo Lancellotti / Piano, Electric Piano, Synthesizer
- Lino Vairetti / Vocals, Electric Guitar


- Benni Caiazzo / Soprano, Tenor and Alto Saxophones
- Antonio Spagnolo / Violin [Electric]

In 1977, after the negative experiences of Uno and Città Frontale, founder members Lino Vairetti, Danilo Rustici and Massimo Guarino reformed Osanna with a new line up featuring Enzo Petrone on bass and Fabrizio D'Angelo Lancellotti on keyboards and synthesizers. "Suddance" was released in 1978, when the Halcyon Days of prog were coming to an end... This album could be very disappointing for old fans since Osanna here were trying to find a new musical direction blending rock, soul and jazz with the traditions of Naples, but in my opinion the result is not bad at all...

"Suddance" is very different from Osanna's early works (the album features also some guest musicians like Benni Caiazzo on sax and Antonio Spagnolo on electric violin), nonetheless here you can find at least one outstanding track, the suggestive and melancholic "A zingara" (The Gipsy woman) featuring a mysterious mood... Lyrics are sung in the dialect of Naples and describe the desperate life of gipsy woman with "music and hope in her heart" who is rejected by the society... "She's a gipsy and she causes fear / That's why everybody avoids her in the street / She is so desperate to bang her head against the wall / But every time she asks for help people pretend they don't see her..."...

There are other good tracks, like the opener "Ce vulesse" and the instrumental title track, more in a jazz rock vein, or the long and desperate "Chiuso qui" (the only one sung in Italian and featuring "claustrophobic" lyrics that describe the feelings of an inmate)... However, the overall sound is closer to the genre that is known as "Neapolitan Power" (very successful in the early Eighties and spearheaded by Pino Daniele) than to the peculiar prog of the early Osanna albums...

Although it is not an essential album, at length "Suddance" is a good work released by an excellent group of musicians who were trying to explore new musical paths to go further... It's a pity that they had to stop!

Osanna - 1974 - Landscape Of Life

Landscape Of Life

01. Il castello dell'es (8:55)
02. Landscape Of Life (6:00)
03. Two Boys (3:43)
04. Fog In My Mind (7:45)
05. Promised Land (1:32)
06. Fiume (4:05)
07. Somehow, Somewhere, Sometime (4:15)

- Danilo Rustici / guitars, organ, synthesizer, vocals
- Elio d'Anna / sax, flute, piccolo, vocals
- Lello Brandi / bass,
- Lino Vairetti / vocals, 12 string guitar, mellotron, synthesizer
- Massimo Guarino / drums, percussion, vibraphone, bell, vocals

- Corrado Rustici / vocals (5), acoustic guitar (5), 12 strings guitar (6)
- Enzo Vallicelli / percussions (4, 5)

Osanna's fourth album, "Landscape Of Life", was released in 1974 and is the last album recorded by the original line up featuring Lino Vairetti (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Danilo Rustici (guitars), Elio D'Anna (sax, flute), Lello Brandi (bass) and Massimo Guarino (drums, percussion) although during the recording sessions they were helped by Corrado Rustici, Danilo's younger brother and Cervello's guitarist, and by percussionist Enzo Vallicelli. At the time there were contrasts inside the band about the musical directions to follow and as soon as "Landscape For A Land" was released, Osanna disbanded: Danilo Rustici and Elio D'Anna joined forces with drummer Enzo Vallicelli and went to England forming a new band called Uno, while Lino Vairetti and Massimo Guarino reformed their old band called Città Frontale with new musicians. In some way the music and lyrics capture the spirit of doubt and incertitude hanging over the recording sessions...

The long, complex opener "Il castello dell'Es" (The castle of Es) begins softly, then turns into a wild jazzy finale expressing doubts and fears about life and future and a strong need for freedom, freedom to love, freedom to dream, freedom to live and to believe in God... "I am fire / I am Time / I am water / Perhaps I am nothing...".

Next come the title track, an acoustic ballad featuring English lyrics and a nice flute work... "The long road before me / Lie ragged watchin' my body die / Feel like dying / My mind is overcrowded with fat thoughts...". Well, I think that this could be a wonderful track but the vocals and lyrics do not match the beautiful music. Well, this album was conceived for the foreign markets but in my opinion Osanna seem not at ease when they sing in English and I prefer by far here the two tracks sung in Italian.

The following "Two Boys" is a hard rock track with English vocals and a strange flute and sax work and in my opinion it's not completely convincing. The lyrics are about diversity and tell of two twins who painted their faces to differentiate one from each other. One of them painted his face in green, the other in yellow and as time passed by the colour of their skin changed too... "Two boys, they lived in the garden of the world / One day they were playing...".

The long, complex "Fog In My Mind" begins with just organ and English vocals in "Motown style", then the rhythm rises and turns first into "hard jazz-rock", then into samba with a great percussion work and finally back into hard rock... "I hate my hands / I hate my voice / I hate everything / That has created / Fog in my mind...". The following "Promised Land", features Corrado Rustici on vocals and guitar and is a short, weak acoustic ballad with English lyrics describing the hope for a happier world where children can grow up in peace and everyone can sing. In my opinion this is the weakest moment of the album.

Then comes "Fiume" (River), a wonderful, dreamy ballad with vocals in Italian and a great flute work... "Cathedrals of rocks / Horizons of lights and sounds / A landscape of white snow / Spaces without limits, smell of grass / Colours of hope: joy...". The music melts in the instrumental conclusive track "Somehow, Somewhere, Sometime", featuring a guitar sound that reminds me a little bit of Carlos Santana.

Well, on the whole I think that "Landscape of Life", though not at the same level of Osanna's previous album "Palepoli", is a good work and could be an excellent addition to any Italian prog collection. Not only is it worth listening to but it features a remarkable art work as well. The album cover was painted by Massimo Guarino and the inner gatefold drawing by Lino Vairetti.

Osanna - 1973 - Palepoli


01. Oro Caldo (18:30)
02. Stanza Città (1:45)
03. Animale Senza Respiro (21:36)

- Danilo Rustici / guitars, vox organ, electric piano, vocals
- Lino Vairetti / lead vocals, rhythm guitars, ARP 2600, Mellotron
- Elio D'Anna / tenor and soprano sax, flute, vocals
- Massimo Guarino / drums, vibraphone, percussion
- Lello Brandi / bass

 'Palepoli' is Osanna's crowning achievement, and a definite cornerstone in the hard wave of Italian prog - the band members themselves describe it as the first Italian opera rock ever (in their offcial website). The album consists basically of two sidelong suites, plus a brief reprise of 'Oro Caldo' intro that serves as an individual interlude. From the very beginning of the first suite 'Oro Caldo', you can anticipate that this is going to be a very special experience: the North African Muslim intro, with those hand drums, and those evocative, exuberant flute lines, with street sounds laid in the background... until an incendiary heavy bluesy rock section surfaces and contaminates the ambience with its infectuous red heat. The constant riffing of two guitars, the burning solos on guitar, flute and sax, the solid rhythm section, all of these elements are handled with finesse and attitude, while the softer side of Osanna's music is managed in the shape of acoustic- driven interludes between the heavier sections. The presence of layers of keyboards (mostly mellotron, but you can also hear some occasional organ chords, as well as weird synth effects) gives the overall sound an epic dimension. But the album's leit-motiv is not the power or rock per se, but the adventurous management of the diverse consecutive musical ideas: what you find here is a well crafted, lunatic collage of heavy rock, Mediterranean folk, psychodelia, electric blues, exotic Arabic colours, Wagnerian pomp and circumstance. The influences of JT, VdGG, Led Zep, and 69-70 KC are obvious, but not overwhelming. The musicians handle their inheritances with an inspired sense of originality, as well as skillful musicianship and devoted enthusiasm - particularly, D'Anna on saxes and flutes, and Guarino on drums and percussion, but the ensemble as a whole is simply terrific. Once you're finished with 'Oro Caldo', you're prepared to receive the other tout-de- force 'Animale senza Respiro': personally, I find this one less achieved in comparison, since it gets lost in meandering at times. But it is not without its brilliant moments: a few examples, the opening martial tune, the fiery drum solo near the end, and then, the symphonic closure, where the combination of organ and mellotron shines like a tower of gold. Maybe the sound production is a little "primitive", but it shouldn't distract us from teh fact that the music contained in this recording is amazing beyond words - who knows, maybe a more polished production work would have spoiled some of the essential fire of 'Palepoli'... A masterpiece!

Osanna - 1972 - Milano Calibro 9

Milano Calibro 9

01. Prelude (4:10)
02. Tema (4:50)
03. Variatione 1 (2:15)
04. Variatione 2 (4:58)
05. Variatione 3 (1:38)
06. Variatione 4 (1:31)
07. Variatione 5 (2:10)
08. Variatione 6 (2:49)
09. Variatione 7 (1:28)
10. Canzona (4:54)

- Elio D'anna / flute, piccolo, tenor sax, baritone sax
- Lino Vairetti / vocals, 12 string guitar, harmonica, hammond organ,synthesizer
- Danilo Rusici / guitar, 12 string guitar, pipe organ, electronics
- Lello Brandi / bass
- Massimo Guarino / drums

In my opinion you can't really appreciate this album (also known as "Tema, Preludio, Variazioni e Canzona") without watching the film and it would be unfair to define this work just as a sequel of the collaboration between Bacalov and New Trolls... Director Fernando Di Leo was very impressed by the album "Concerto Grosso per i New Trolls" and asked Luis Bacalov to compose the soundtrack for his film "Milano Calibro 9": Osanna were chosen to perform the soundtrack interacting with an orchestra and, according to an interview with Lino Vairetti, they recorded the music while watching the film and for them this was a new exciting experience... "Preludio" and "Tema" were composed by Luis Bacalov and seem to come out from "Concerto grosso"... The seven short variations, featuring a more aggressive mood, were composed by the band and arranged with Luis Bacalov. Then they re-recorded the whole soundtrack for the discographical market adding a composition of Luis Bacalov based upon a poem of Thomas Elliot, "There Will Be Time" (that can't be found on the original soundtrack)...

The film "Milano Calibro 9" (Milan Calibre 9) is a "noir" inspired by some short stories of the writer Giorgio Scerbanenco (Kiev, 28 Jul. 1911 - Milan, 27 Oct. 1969) and it was conceived by Fernando Di Leo as a kind of "vehicle to express his sociological, anthropological and philosophical point of view" about the world of crime and the turmoil of Italy in the early Seventies. This film is the first chapter of a trilogy that includes also "La mala ordina" (Manhunt) and "Il boss" (The boss) and it features an excellent cast of actors like Gastone Moschin, Mario Adorf, Philippe Leroy, Barbara Bouchet and Lionel Stander. During the movie you can listen to some delicate and very suggestive themes like "Preludio" and "Tema", while on the screen images of an almost surrealistic violence flow with Milan in the background...

The blending of baroque music and progressive-rock commenting the crucial passages of the plot contributed to the successful final result of the film and only having watched it you can associate the music to the "shaking and dancing" images of the cruel and beautiful character interpreted by Barbara Bouchet or to a merciless killing (it's the case of "Variazione VI", a fiery "tarantella rock")...

Well, although this work is probably not an essential one in a prog collection, it's a really good one and it is worth listening to... Recently the film "Milan Calibre 9" has been released on DVD (restored, remastered and with "bonus stuff" including an interview with Luis Bacalov) in Original Italian version with removable English subtitles and English version... Don't miss it!

Osanna - 1971 - L'Uomo


01. Introduzione (3:26)
02. L'uomo (3:34)
03. Mirror Train (4:56)
04. Non sei vissuto mai (6:00)
05. Vado verso una meta (3:15)
06. In un vecchio cieco (3:31)
07. L'amore vincerà di nuovo (6:13)
08. Everybody's Gonna See You Die (3:04)
09. Lady Power (3:56)

- Elio D'anna / flute, piccolo, tenor sax, baritone sax
- Lino Vairetti / vocals, 12 string guitar, harmonica, Hammond organ, synthesizer
- Danilo Rustici / lead guitar, 12 string guitar, pipe organ, electronics
- Lello Brandi / bass
- Massimo Guarino / drums, percussion

In their first album Osanna try to blend many different influences (from Jethro Tull to Jimi Hendrix, from classical music to Italian folklore) in a "theatrical way" (they used to perform their music on stage with painted faces and peculiar costumes, as shown on the album cover). All the tracks are bound together as in a suite with continuous changes of rhythm and mood.

The instrumental "Introduzione" starts with a gentle acoustic guitar and syntesizers, then come in bass, electric guitar, flute, drums and harmonica in an aggressive crescendo that leads to the title track "L'uomo" (The man). "The man, the earth, the sky and the sea / To create, to create, to create everywhere / The sun, the light, the cold and the heat / The love, the love, the love everywhere ." vocals on a carpet of acoustic guitars lead to an "explosion", then to harmony vocals chanting "Osanna". Suddenly breaks in the "steamy" rhythm of the "Mirror train" and the singing turns from Italian to English. after some bluesy passages "Mirror train" ends on the notes of the communist anthem "Bandiera Rossa" played by a distorted guitar (that reminds a little bit of Jimi Hendrix). "Mind where you're going / If you want to do it / Never look back." The album goes on with the rocky and complex "Non sei vissuto mai" (You never lived) that fades out with an instrumental reprise of "L'uomo". Well, the first side of this album is almost a "manifesto" of Osanna musical and political "credo"!

"I'm going towards a goal / That is more distant than me / It is always one step beyond / I can see it but I know that it doesn't exist." Side two starts with the energetic "Vado verso una meta" (I'm going towards a goal") and goes on with the engaged "In un vecchio cieco" that end ends with a jazzy sax introducing the delicate and dreamy "L'amore vincerà di nuovo" (Love will win again), with singing half in Italian and half in English and remarkable harmony vocals. The last two tracks, "Everybody's Gonna See You Die" and "Lady Power", though good, are not at the same level (personally I don't like too much Osanna when they sing in English) .

Although "L'uomo" is not a perfect album (sometimes its "conceptual thread" seems to get lost - especially because of the singing swaying from Italian to English and vice-versa - and sometimes the music is not completely defined and too heterogeneous) it is historically important and it contributed to develop the Italian- prog style. So, in my opinion, it is an excellent addition to any prog collection.

Cervello - 1973 - Melos


01. Canto Del Capro (6:30)
02. Trittico (7:14)
03. Euterpe (4:27)
04. Scinsicne (T.R.M) (5:39)
05. Melos (4:55)
06. Galassia (5:45)
07. Affresco (1:11)

- Antonio Spagnolo / 6 & 12 string acoustic guitar, bass, pedal, recorder, vocals
- Giulio D'Ambrosio / electric sax (contralto & tenor), flute, vocals
- Corrado Rustici / guitar, recorder, flute, vibraphone, vocals
- Gianluigi Di Franco / lead vocals, flute, small percussion
- Remigio Esposito / drums, vibraphone

CERVELLO are another example of a seventies Italian prog band who only managed to release one album. They formed in Naples in 1972 and quickly appeared at a number of festivals including the Palermo Pop Festival. The line-up consisted of Gianluigi Di Franco on vocals and flute, Corrado Rustici on guitar and flute, Remigio Esposito on drums and vibes, Antonio Spagnolo on bass and violin and Giulio D'Ambrosio on sax and flute. They had a connection with OSANNA as Rustici was the brother of Danilo Rustici, their guitarist.

As well as family ties CERVELLO also occupied similar musical territory to OSANNA. A high standard of musicianship is present on Melos and they should appeal to fans that enjoy the wilder excesses of RPI, not only OSANNA but the likes IL BALETTO DI BRONZO and RACCOMANDATA CON RICEVUTA DI RITORNO. They combine a fairly eclectic blend of musical styles ranging from acoustic folk, occasional avant moments to more bombastic instrumental workouts. The excellent guitar work of Rustici display's a John McLaughlin influence at times. Notable is the absence of keyboards, in their place sax and flute playing a more prominent role.

Unfortunately the band was short lived and split up in 1974 with Rustici joining OSANNA and then NOVA before embarking on a solo career including production work. Vocalist Gianluigi Di Franco, who sadly died in 2005, collaborated with Toni Esposito on Kalimba De Luna and As You As before embarking on music therapy work.

Melos remains essential listening for anyone seriously exploring the Italian prog scene and is rated highly by many fans of the genre.

Oh how I was looking forward to this album being a huge Osanna fan. Cervello was a band from Naples like Osanna, and each band had a brother in it. Corrado Rustici played with Cervello (later with Osanna as well) and his older brother, Danilo played for Osanna. I had read of the comparisions between the two and first listened to this with eager anticipation.

This album unlike Palepoli consists of more traditonal, in a prog sense, song structure. Songs are a nice length. Not too long or too short. The vocals are standard for me. Nothing that really stood out outside of the first song, yet nothing that left you cringing either. This album is also not as 'heavy' for lack lack of a better word as Palepoli. The album begins with Canto Del Capro with it's flighty flutes and chanted vocals during an extended intro. The song really hits a peak with the loud distorted vocals jarring you out of the stupor you may have been in. Very effective arrangement, came out of nowhere and just grabs your attention. The next song, Trittico is a mini epic of sorts in 3 distinct parts. The first part features some nice vibraphone work and some lovely flute, whic is a hallmark of the album. The first section ends with a high energy drums and sax section right out of Osanna. The second section is memorable for a nice flute and accoustic guitar melody with some high pitched vocal harmonies. The third section brings back the sax and the e-guitar before fading out in a chorus of la-la's. Very nice piece of music. Euterpe features a nice flute/accoustic melody over a a simple quarter note bass pattern, then the tempo picks up with a sax solo then a fiery yet tasteful guitar solo.

Scinsicne features a nice descending guitar pattern joined by the flute before the drums kick in and your toes have a life of their own and are tapping away hahah. I thought to end of this song was rather crafty, with almost metallic guitar figures that hint of yet in the end only tease you of all out guitar shredding. The title track Melos comes next. A nice cymbal and vibraphone intro is followed by warm inviting vocals. A nice flute break with a harmonized flute section that was unexpected and very catchy. The hamronized trick is pulled out later with the saxophone which again is unexpected and welcome. Galassia an interesting intro with cymbals and guitars panning across the channels. The vocals are a nice change, sounding a bit distant as if recorded in another room. Nice high energy bass and drums part during a final guitar break. The last song is Affresco is a nice close to the album led by some flighty sounding flute.

This album, I must admit disappointed me at first. I expected and was looking for another visceral masterpiece like Palepoli. I would have given this album 3 stars based on that, however this album has really grown on me plus the realization that Cervello were on their own path.. not meerly being an Osanna clone. This album while not as complex as Palepoli is in a way... a more thoughtfully considered album.

Citta Frontale - 1975 - El Tor

Citta Frontale
El Tor

01. Alba Di Una Citta – 3:03
02. Solo Uniti.. – 4:57
03. El Tor – 6:30
04. Duro Lavoro – 8:23
05. Mutazione – 6:52
06. La Casa Del Mercante ‘sun’ – 4:06
07. Milioni Di Persone – 3:39
08. Equilibrio Divino – 6:36

- Enzo Avitabile / flute, sax, vocals
- Massimo Guarino / percussion, vocals
- Gianni Guarracino / guitars, Moog, vocals
- Paolo Raffone / keyboards
- Lino Viaretti / keyboards, lead vocals
- Rino Zurzulo / bass

After first Osanna’s split up in 1974, Lino Vairetti and Massimo Guarino reformed a band called Citta Frontale. The band offer a peculiar mix between gentle folk and pastoral tunes within some jazzy incursions and melodic vocals winking at the left wing tradition.

Their only album, “El Tor” is a very easy album to assimilate and enjoy right out of the box, much less complex and crazy than Osanna or some other heavy Italian bands. The mood is mostly light and happy and the songs feature high quality vocals, musicianship, and melodies. Classic keyboards, good electric guitar, acoustic guitars, flutes, sax, there’s a bit of everything thrown into the mix here.

“Alba” features lovely acoustic, hand percussion and flutes soon joined by angelic choir vocals. It is a very lovely and relaxing opening song that puts you in a good mood. “Solo Uniti” then flys out of the gate as a jazzy number with some fiery guitars and nice vocals. The lead singer(s) on this album do a fantastic job and all have pleasing voices. The song veers to pop-rock before bringing back the jazzy flourishes at the end. The title song “El Tor” is next beginning with lovely classical guitar. Pure romantic Italian here as the warm vocals are joined by the choral voices again. Around 3 minutes a nice sax burst gives the mellow tune a kick in the rear and it gets more active with some nice soloing. “Duro Lavoro” is a very good track with more complexity and development. It seems a bit darker and more serious with nice bridges leading to different sections. There is great flute, bass, and guitars. A real Italian epic.

Side two kicks off with “Mutazione” which is a jazzy instrumental, nice playing throughout. “La Casa Del Mercant” is a nice folksy acoustic number with lots of nice vocal harmonies. True it sounds a little pop but still pleasant. “Milioni di Persone” has some harmonica with acoustic and sax, again a light pop song. “Equilibrio Divino” closes the album with a good light symphonic number that sounds more ambitious again like “Mutazione”.

Uno - 1974 - Uno


01. Right Place (5:40)
02. Popular Girl (4:34)
03. I Cani E La Volpe (4:01)
04. Stay With Me (4:11)
05. Uomo Come Gli Altri (1:28)
06. Uno Nel Tutto (10:12)
07. Goodbye Friend (5:55)

- Danilo Rustici / vocals, electric & acoustic guitar, bass pedal, strings pedal, moog, piano
- Elio D'Anna / tenor & baritone & alto & soprano saxophone, flute, strings pedal
- Enzo Vallicelli / drums, bell, musical box

Uno's unique release was only the in-between step of the Osanna's evolution. During the recording sessions of Landscapes of Life it was quite evident that the bands' members had so different opinions on what it should be their music in the future and on their political visions itselves! So Elio D'Anna and Enzo Vallicelli decided undergo together their separate way joined by Danilo Rustici from other classic band from Neaples, Cervello. Later, the band changed the name into Nova and the prog tendencies rapidly decreased.

Italian music press of that period was very curious and interested in this new 1974 project and the Fonit boss decided to send the neo-formed Uno in London at the Trident Studios, the same where Pink Floyd registered their magnum opus Darck Side of the Moon. And this is not the only tie with the famous space-rock band. Vocalist Liza Strike also appears in the closer track of this album and the Hypgnosis studio created the cover of the album english version (completely sung in english).

Similarities stop here. There is no comparisong that can be found in music or in melodies. Uno continue exactly where Osanna left and, in my opinion, this is not a lack! Acoustic guitars, flutes and saxophones all drenched with moog and pianos. The track- format, as in the Landscape of Life album has a more concise and short structure but it holds high level of prog hidden, as a jewel, in almost every track.

Lyrics are half sung in english half in italian. Generally the italian ones are the most proggy track. Just listen for example to I Cani e la Volpe (Dogs and Fox, 4,01 mns): moog and distorted sax paint together a quasi-spacey interlude. Uno nel Tutto (One in All, is the longest track about 10,11 mns) is a very complex track with distorted vocals and strong and eclectic saxophone. Fiery electric guitar. After all, Osanna's spirit was not dead!

Another interesting track is the second titled "Popular Girl". This is a strange song, at least for the firs half 'cause is structure as a pure rock'n'roll old classic. But after the two minutes, drums start the fights! It reminds me of some interludes of Jethro Tull. Very good!

What I could say? Despite the critics and bad comments, I feel this album is made of excellent prog music. At least for half of its running time. The rest, is a good soft- melodic-prog with some a commercial tendency. It never loose its artistic form, though. I admit I enjoy very much to listen to it.

Nova - 1978 - Sun City

Sun City

01. Morning Flight (6:04)
02. Modern Living (4:09)
03. Illusion (3:30)
04. Light were my Years (4:51)
05. Sailors (3:45)
06. Fantaisies (3:33)
07. Lean on Me (4:00)
08. All you have (Is what you are) (3:00)
09. Starchild (4:00)

- Corrado Rustici / guitars, vocals
- Elio D'Anna / saxes, flutes, lyricon
- Renato Rosset / keyboards
- Ric Parnell / drums, percussion
- Barry (Sunjon) Johnson / bass, backing vocals

Nova's fourth and last LP, Sun City was recorded in the Sound City Studios in L.A in 1978 and showed a harder, funkier sound with the magic guitar of Corrado Rustici (one of the most talented guitarists from that era) being a highlight as usual. However, the album seems to lack the magic displayed in their previous albums, perhaps a consequence of their producer Narada Michael Walden having left for a solo career, leaving John Ryan to produce the album.
Best tracks for me are definitely found on Side A while those on Side B just don't seem to compare, with maybe "sailors" being an exception.
The only real plus in this album is a predominance of Barry Sunjon's lead vocals which I feel are stronger than Rustici's. "Morning Light" is definitely the standout track on this album with some awesome guitar and saxophone work by Rustici and D'Anna respectively.
I must admit when I first heard this album, I was a little disappointed as it wasn't up to the standard of their previous releases, however, after repeated plays most tracks grow on you. Needless to say, the band called it a day not long after the release of 'Sun City', with Rustici moving onto the Afro-American music scene and guitar technique of Allan Holdsworth, deciding to accept an offer by Walden to play with him in San Francisco. D'Anna moved back from America to Italy to start a career as a producer. Which seems never to have come off the ground and he was not much later disappeared from the music. Interestingly enough, Ric Parnell went on to drum for Spinal Tap !

Nova - 1977 - Wings of Love

Wings of Love

01. You Are Light
02. Marshall Dillion
03. Blue Lake
04. Beauty Dream-Beauty Flame
05. Golden Sky Boat
06. Loveliness About You
07. Inner Star
08. Last Silence

- Elio D'Anna / saxes, flutes
- Corrado Rustici / guitars, lead vocals, percussion
- Renato Rosset / keyboards
- Barry Johnson / bass, vocals
- Ric Parnell / drums, percussion

Who would expect Wings of Love to parallel the brilliance of "Vimana" ? The core remains : the Santanesque Corrado Rustici, Elio D'Anna's suave sax and woodwinds and Renato Rosset's liberal use of Fender Rhodes among other keys. This is less Brand X , a lot funkier at times and dreamier at others with breathlessly beautiful vocals. "You are Light" is a superb opener which just stays solidly on track providing a series of memorable tunes , with tons of oboe, flute and sax , crossing swords with Rustici's incredible fretwork. There is a slight Mahavishnu/Santana vibe here , this record would partner well with Borboletta/ Welcome/Caravanserai or Visions of Emerald Beyond/ Birds of Fire. Extremely original recording , very dissimilar from the previous "Vimana" or the following and disappointing "Sun City" . A unique prog gem that deserves more attention and errr ...a CD edition, please. Is there anyone out there who agrees with me ?

Nova - 1976 - Vimana


01. Vimana (7:18)
02. Night Games (9:37)
03. Poesia (To a Brother gone) (5:11)
04. Thru the Silence (5:43)
05. Driftw3ood (10:03)
06. Princess and the Frog (7:44)

- Corrado Rustici / lead guitar, 6 & 12 strings & acoustic guitar, marimba, lead vocals
- Elio D'Anna / Tenor & Soprano saxes, flute, synthesized flute (6)
- Renato Rosset / Fender Rhodes piano, acoustic piano, Mini-Moog, strings ensemble, clavinet

- Percy Jones (Brand-X) / bass guitar
- Narrada Micheal Walden / drums & Fender Rhodes piano (end of 6)
- Phil Collins(Genesis) / percussion
- Zakir Hussain / congas (6)

This is fairly light Jazz with some aggressive guitar once and a while. This truly is an all-star cast with D'Anna (sax&flute) and Rustici (guitar) from OSSANA, as well as Rosset( piano) from NEW TROLLS ATOMIC SYSTEM as the core. Interesting that both Phil Collins (percussion) and Percy Jones (bass) would guest on this Italian offering as well. These two guys would also be part of BRAND X who would release "Unorthodox Behaviour" the same year as this was released. Michael Walden from MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA would play the drums on this record.

"Vimana" opens with acoustic guitar and drums before we get some flute melodies that come and go. An outburst of sound 1 1/2 minutes in quickly departs as a pastoral section comes in.These drastic tempo and mood changes continue. Jones and Walden are prominant 3 1/2 minutes in before a killer guitar solo from Rustici. Some smooth sax late. "Night Games" doesn't have much in the way of a melody for 2 minutes, until the sax and drums start to lead the way. The vocals before 4 minutes are pretty good. He kind of quivers at the end of his vocal lines, probably on purpose. I like the line "Killing the time before it kills you." The guitar is again fantastic after 7 minutes and check out the drumming before 9 minutes.

"Poesia (To A Brother Gone)" is made up of piano, guitar and flute throughout. "Thru The Silence" opens with guitar and drums as the vocals arrive.The instrumental interlude includes some screaming sax and crazy percussion work. "Driftw3ood" takes a while to get going just like "Night Games" did. Vocals after 3 1/2 minutes as liquid keys and sax come and go. More great guitar 6 1/2 minutes in, as well as acoustic guitar that can be heard throughout. "Princess And The Frog" features some catchy guitar melodies while the drumming is so crisp and upfront. The percussion joins in as the guitar starts to show off a little. A change 2 1/2 minutes in as keys come in and guitar and drums leave. The birds are chirping 5 1/2 minutes in as the melody has stopped. Keys and synthesized flute end the song and the album.

Nova - 1975 - Blink


01. Tailor made - Part 1 & Part 2 (5:09)
02. Something inside keeps you down - Part 1 & Part 2 (6:11)
03. Nova - Part 1 & Part 2 (7:10)
04. Used to be easy - Part 1 & Part 2 (5:12)
05. Toy - Part 1 & Part 2 (4:21)
06. Stroll on - Part 1 & Part 2 (10:33)

- Elio D'Anna / alto (2-3-6), soprano (1-3-4) & tenor (5-6) saxes, flute (2)
- Franco Loprevite / drums
- Luciano Milanese / bass
- Corrado Rustici / lead vocals (1-2-4-6), acoustic (2) & electric guitars
- Danilo Rustici / electric guitar
+ Morris Pert / percussion

Initially named UNO, the band was created in London in the mid-70's by ex-members of CERVELLO and OSANNA, namely guitarist Corrado Rustici, guitarist Danilo Rustici and sax & flute player Elio D'Anna. The roster of permanent and guest musicians spread over their four albums is impressive: Morris Pert, Phil Collins, Ric Parnell (IBIS, ATOMIC ROOSTER), Narrada Michael Walden (SANTANA) and Franco Lo Previte (CIRCUS 2000, DUELLO MADRE) f{ and that only covers the drums & percussion department. Other contributors include keyboard player Renato Rosset (NEW TROLLS ATOMIC SYSTEM), classical conga virtuoso Zakir Hussain and three bassists: Percy Jones, Barry Johnson (Lenny White's band TWENNYNINE) and Luciano Milanese. As you will have guessed by now, their sound a lot like BRAND X (note that NOVA are not totally instrumental but their vocals are kept to a minimum).

They released four albums between 1976 and 1978. Blink¨, being the first, is not as polished as the others but still offers lengthy jams with sumptuous guitar/sax dialogues. The more mature "Vimana", a Robert Lumley production, focuses on compositions rather than technical wizardry and is considered their best; among other goodies, it showcases bassist Percy Jones¡¦ pleasantly fluid fretless style as well as guitarist Danilo Rustici who truly shines throughout (echoes of John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola, John Goodsall and Larry Coryell come to the mind). With "Wings of Love", the band seemed to take a new direction, what with the shorter track format and in particular bassist Barry Johnson¡¦s funky style, so different from Percy Jones¡¦. Their final release, "Sun City", features still shorter tracks and an even funkier edge, the overall feel approaching mainstream jazz rock. No matter which one you pick, however, all albums are packed with tension, rhythmic energy and technical brilliance. A treat for all fusion enthusiasts.

First album by an Osana-Cervello offshoot and a much more worthy affair than the horrible Uno experience, even if only the two Osana members will stay beyond this first album. And unlike what you'd expect, Nova developed a wild jazz-rock in this opus. Formed in London, under Pete Townsend (Who?) and recorded in his private studios (Eel Pie), Nova presented as a quintet (standard prog quartet plus Elio D'Ana on sax and flute) and gave us plenty of excellent mid-70's fusion in their debut, sung in English (quite well) with lyrics provided by an outside Sedgwick. With an average artwork evoking a slow motion blink (with a changing iris color in the third photo), the album is probably what comes best from Italy in this JR/F style, along with Perigeo and some Area.

Six tracks all divided into two parts all giving high-energy and enthralling jazz-rock, they can be associated with the future Brand X (many members will guest in the following three albums), but also with the second stable Nucleus era (the Sutton years) and even a bit of the first Colosseum (partly due to the vocals). Obviously well coached by the production team, the four sung tracks are in very good English (all things considered), but really, this is a minor aspect as all five musos are dishing out impressive 200 MPH fusion with impressive technical abilities. But I would not actually make you believe they reach Mahavishnu or RTF's technical and virtuosic level, but they match at least the first in feeling.

Nova - 1976 - Atlantis


01. Se Vuosi (15:00)
02. Kaupungin Naiset (3:14)
03. Atlantis (9:17)
04. Vanha Surullinen Laulu (10:19)

- Antti Ortamo / keyboards, vocals
- Micca Vasenius / guitar
- Jouko Helatie / guitar
- Petri Peltola / bass
- Jukka Marjala / drums

NOVA was formed in early 1975 in Helsinki. Most of the band members had played together earlier in a band called ISOJAKO, which apparently played more pop-orientated music. From the start, NOVA's main figure was Antti Ortamo who was the main composer, lyricist and also played keyboards and sang for the band. In february 1976 NOVA started recording their debut "Atlantis" in Stockholm, Sweden. The music on this album will probably remind you of PINK FLOYD, PROCOL HARUM, WIGWAM, perhaps even ELOY and YES at times. It's not the most innovative album to walk the earth, but it's a nice effort full of warm keyboard sounds and atmospheres.

Unfortunately, the decline of prog had already started and "Atlantis" didn't sell very well. The band had difficulties getting gigs, which ultimately lead do the destruction of the group. They disbanded after making only one album. Recommended, if you enjoy the bands mentioned earlier

Electric Frankenstein - 1975 - What Me Worry

Electric Frankenstein 
What Me Worry

01. Waiting  4:28
02. Feeling  7:07
03. Moon Walk  2:58
04. Why Don't You Understand  3:24
05. The Land Of The Magic Wizard  2:52
06. Get Together  5:17
07. Somebody Help Me  7:18
08. Music Man  4:50
09. If She's Still Mine  3:35

Paolo Tofani, guitarist extraordinaire from Florence and a member of Area , also released some records for Cramps as Electric Frankenstein and under his real name.

He started his professional career in the early 60's with Samurai, also playing abroad with them, then he joined I Califfi, leaving them probably around the end of 1970 to move to London, where he played as a solo artist and recorded some tracks in his home studio. He was then offered to join Area and relocated to Italy in 1973.

The chance to release a solo album came in 1975, when Cramps offered him to issue an LP with his London 1971 recordings under the name Electric Frankenstein. The LP, a guitar extravaganza with long spacey guitar solos by Tofani and all the instruments played by himself, the album will appeal to acid-psych lovers rather than prog fans. Mostly instrumental with vocal parts in English, the album contained some reworkings of his previous works with I Califfi and also had two tracks released as a single.

Tofani also released another solo album in 1977, Indicazioni, a more experimental work based on guitar with large use of electronics, before entering a Hare Krishna community. With another Krishna devotee Claudio Rocchi, he has released an album in 1980, Un gusto superiore, on the Iskcon label.

The Complete Florence/London sessions 1966/73 CD, issued in 2007, contains rare and unreleased recordings by Tofani, starting with some 1966 songs (issued by the Net label under the nickname Danny), and including then his later home-studio tapes from Florence and London.

"Hiding under the name of Electric Frankenstein was Paolo Tofani, guitarist extraordinaire with Area and 60's groups Noi Tre and Califfi before them.
With this name he released a solo album in 1975, on Cramps label, that's more a guitar extravaganza than a serious album.

With long spacey guitar solos by Tofani and all the instruments played by himself, the album will appeal to acid-psych lovers rather than prog fans. Mostly instrumental with vocal parts in English, the album contained some reworkings of his previous works with I Califfi and also had two tracks released as a single.

Area - 1989 - 1979 il concerto (Ommaggio Demetrio Stratos)

1979 il concerto
Ommaggio Demetrio Stratos

101. Kaos Rock - Basta, Basta 4:00
102. Area - Danz(a)nello 4:48
103. Francesco Guccini - Per Un Amico 4:00
104. Eugenio Finardi - Hold On 4:30
105. Roberto Ciotti - Shake It 2:00
106. Venegoni &Co - Coesione 4:20
107. Angelo Branduardi - Il Funerale 2:39
108. Carnascialia - Europa Minor 8:10
109. Adriano Bassi e Italo Lo Venere - Nero Sul Bianco 3:42

201. Antonello Venditti - Bomba o Non Bomba - 5:25
202. Skiantos - Ehi Sbarbo/Ehi Buba Loris/Come Faccio A Farmi Fare 4:38
203. Gaetano Liguori e Tullio De Piscopo - Tarantella Del Vibrione 4:35
204. Giancarlo Cardini - Novelletta 2:55
205. Giancarlo Cardini - "Cardini" Solfeggio Parlante Per Voce Sola 2:30
206. Roberto Vecchioni - Figlia 5:08
207. Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - E Mi Viene Da Pensare 4:10
208. Area - L'Internazionale 6:10

Just few weeks after Demetrio Stratos passing away, a huge number of artists of the "alternative area", those left-winged and more politically involved of that time, arranged this big "tribute event". I think that a DVD has been released but I'm not confident about the quality of the material recorded by the Italian national TV that was not famous for the ability to record live rock events.

Kaos Rock was one of the first Italian Punk Bands. I think we can speak of PRI(Punk Rock Italiano) as a separate genre as I think they were playing punk without understanding exactly what it was. "Basta Basta" (translatable as Stop, or Quit) is totally forgettable. Demential lyrics over a Sex Pistols imitation. This band and Skiantos, also present at the event started what was later called "Demential Rock". Not for prog tastes.

Area pley this "Danz(a)nello" a joke on the words "Danza(Dance)" and "Anello(Ring)". Of course it's an instrumental. It's jazzy with some Avant moments. Forget the first minute and wait for the "good" part to come. As one can expect, it one of the reasons forhaving this album.

Francesco Guccini is a singer-sogwriter who has worked as author for "I Nomadi", a band musically too pop to be included into RPI. He's more famous for his poetry than for his music. This is one of his most famous songs from his debut album released in 1966, one that he still plays live also today and is about a girl died in a car crash. The Title "Per Un'Amica" (for a friend - female) has been transcribed as "Per Un Amico" (for a friend - male) a discutible choice of the editor.

Eugenio Finardi is another singer-songwriter, more rock oriented, grown in the USA and here presenting a gospel. A good moment but of course nothing prog here.

Roberto Ciotti is a bluesman that I had the pleasure to play a jam session with so many years ago that he likely doesn't remember. He's the author of the soundtrack of a movie called "Marrakech Express" that's one of his things closer to prog that he has done. Here he plays a blues that's also on his live "Bluesman". Not a prog thing but check out his guitar playing.

"Venegoni & Co" is the band formed by "Gigi Venegoni" after leaving the RPI band "Arti e Mestieri". The band had a short life, disbanding after just one year, but unexpectedly resurrected and still releasing albums up to now. They are in the JR/F section and the track thay play explains why.

Then comes Branduardi. I'm currently reviewing all his albums. He plays one of his most beautiful songs "Il Funerale" (The Funeral), very appropriate for this event.

Carnascialia was a side project of Pasquale Minieri, Giorgio Vivaldi e Mauro Pagani (Canzoniere del Lazio and PFM members). on PA as prog-folk, I would see them more appropriate in the JR/F. Listen to this track and to the great drums solo.

Adriano Bassi and Italo Lo Vetere are a different thing. I don't know much of Adriano Bassi, while the second is a classically trained pianist formerly in the "Trio Classico Italiano". What they play has a true RIO/Avant flavor IMO, but it's their only track that I know and I don't know if this track has had any follow-up. It deserves some attention.

Antonello Venditti is another singer-songwriter, today totally converted to mainstream-pop and in my opinion rewriting always the same song in the last 25 years. The one that he sings here is a ballad. The story behind this song is too long and too few interesting to be told on this page. His piano execution is everything but perfect, too.

Skip the Skiantos. This Demential Punk band is not totally bad usually, and the guy speaking has recently written a couple of books. Unfortunately here they just declaim three short "poetries" about farting and dirty people while somebody is testing the microphones for the following artist. Few interesting even for Italian speaking people.

Gaetano Liguori is a jazz pianist and Tullio De Piscopo was drummer and percussionist in "Napoli Centrale". He also played with Alberto Radius (Formula 3) before converting to mainstream pop in the 80s. They play a jazzy "Tarantella" about the cholera epidemic which affected Naples in the 70s for some months. Suitable for JR/F if only they had released anything else. A good listen anyway.

Giancarlo Cardini is and avant-garde artist classically trained on symphonic and chamber music pianist that is often compared to John Cage, but his principal activity is writer, poet and theathre author. He has released only one album together with other artists and without a band's name entitled "Suono Segno Gesto Visione a Firenze 2". Listen to the two tracks that he plays. He may deserve a place on PA.

Back to singer-songwriters. Roberto Vecchioni, as well as Guccini and Venditti belongs to those Italian artists that were poorly skilled as instrumentists. Like Guccini he puts a lot of attention to the lyrics even if he's famous also for the soundtrack of the cartoon "Barbapapa"! He has teached Latin and Literature in the secondary school for a lifetime (now he's retired). His song could be considered remotely prog-related.

I won't tell you what "Banco del Mutuo Soccorso" is, of course. "E Mi Viene Da Pensare" is a good song in their classic style. They are currently in the top 20 PA ratings list with two albums.

The album is closed by Area with their interpretation of "L'Internazionale" (The International) that's the anthem of the Socialist International founded by Lenin at the end of the XIX century and still the most famous communist anthem. It can be intended as the couterpart of Jimi Hendrix's American Anthem in Woodstock, but it's mainly a jazzy/avant track.

Demetrio Stratos - 1980 - Recitarcantando

Demetrio Stratos
(with Lucio Fabbri)
(cremona 21 settembre 1978)

01. Flautofonie ed altro (4:45)
02. Passaggi (2:05)
03. Cometa Rossa (9:19)
04. Le sirene (5:02)
05. Flautofonie ed altro (8:10)
06. Investigazioni (diplofonie triplofonie) (7:05)
07. Mirologhi I (5:30)
08. Investigazioni (1:35)

- Demetrio Stratos / voice
- Lucio Fabbri / violin

Demetrio Stratos live in 1979 with Lucio "Violino" Fabbri (PFM violin player).The amazing research of Stratos brings many suggestions of unexplored fields of research that are still to be studied such as the particularly stimulating and innovative pre-eminence of the meaning over the meant, and the ritual value of the voice. His research into the field of phonetics (Articulatory phonetics, Acoustic phonetics, and Auditory phonetics), and experimental poetry led to him freeing his voice of every naturalistic restraint, restoring its depth and dimension.

Demetrio Stratos - 1979 - Le Milleuna

Demetrio Stratos
Le Milleuna (Piece per danza di Valeria Magli)

1. Le Milleuna
Pièce per danza di Valeria Magli

Nanni Balestrini
Valeria Magli
Demetrio Stratos

Anna Gemma Lascari


1979 Le Milleuna Text written by Nanni Balestrini.
Originally released in vinyl LP format and published in Italy by Cramps, 7243 8 57442 2 8; re-released in 1990 in CD format and published in Italy by Cramps, CRSCD 034; re-released in 2007 in CD Sized Album Replica, Limited Edition format and published in Japan by Strange Days, POCE-1170

Demetrio Stratos - 1995 - Concerto all'Elfo

Demetrio Stratos
Concerto all'Elfo

01. Diplofonia, Triplofonia, Investigazioni (18.32)
02. O Tzitzeras O Mitzeras (5.47)
03. Cowboys And Indians (1.42)
04. Flautologia Ed Altro (5.59)
05. Tema Pololare (7.26)
06. Canto Dei Pastori (4.08)

 Demetrio Stratos / voice

Demetrio Stratos is well known as the front man of the fiery Italian prog group Area. Outside of Area he released a series of solo albums. I picked this album up a couple of days ago on one of my search and destroy missions in Rome looking for RPI gems. I had recently really got the bug for Area and found this album and immediately scarfed it up. I was hoping to find a another incendiary mixing of jazz, rock, electronic, and mediterranean music. Whoa.. was I surprised when I put this in.

This review is a warning...yet still a recommendation.

As I found out later after an interesting first listen hahahha, and as is noted in Stratos' bio. He was student of Fluxus and John Cage. His solo albums are very avant and are explorations into the use of the human voice as an instrument. Be warned.. again... THIS IS NOT EASY LISTENING. But it a funny way.. this ties into RPI quite well. As I noted this morning in a thread, I am a non-speaker of Italian, so an overall portion of the albums is lost upon me. The literal meaning of what the group is trying to say. What that in fact has done has prepared me for an album like this. The voice in Italian prog for became not a vehicle for literal meaning but rather a instrument in itself. Full of emotion and expression like any instrument. That is exactly what Stratos was intending to explore.

To review this album track by track is sort of pointless. Before reviewing this I read some reviews of his solo album on other sites.. I was curious just how you would review something like this. Most reviews, while entertaining in their lofty language, really say little about the music. This is an album that to me is beyond a standard review, it is indeed like trying to 'review' a painting. What you get out of this will be highly personal. There are no instruments to rave over the quality.. no way to contrast the dynamics between the way the instruments play off of each other. This is just an experience between you and Stratos. If you feel like taking a walk down the Fluxus side of life. I strongly recommend you check this out. It intriqued me to check out other of his albums, which as some of you who know my musical tastes.. should probably say more about this album that any song by song analysis could.

Demetrio Stratos - 1978 - Cantare la Voce

Demetrio Stratos
Cantare la Voce (nova musicha n. 19)

01 Investigazioni (Diplofonie E Triplofonie) (14:41)
02 Passaggi 1, 2 (5:16)
03 Criptomelodie Infantili (6:23)
04 Flautofonie Ed Altro (6:17)
05 Le Sirene (6:19)

- Demetrio Stratos / voice

One to annoy the neighbours with. Stratos uses his voice as an instrument, as the cliche goes, with hardly any conventional singing; he uses various unusual effects, some of them very striking. I can think of a few women who've used their voice in a similar way (Ami Yoshida, Joan La Barbara and Meredith Monk come to mind), but no other men; not sure why this should be, not sure it's at all significant, might just be my own ignorance, but there it is.

For the most part, these vocals are presented barely, without a conventional musical backdrop, and without any particularly obvious attempt to make them into pieces of music with a shape. They're just held up as examples of this technique or that, studies in what the voice can do. The effect is like a catalogue or a sample book rather than a novel. Only on the last couple of tracks are overdubs employed to create something more layered, more normally musical (the earlier stuff prepares the ground for this development, I suppose). You might find this entirely unsatisfying, or you might find the concentration on the vocal technique to be fascinating (I'm in the latter camp). The difference between the earlier, balder tracks and the later, more developed ones is perhaps comparable to the difference between an early Steve Reich work like "Come Out" and a later one like "The Desert Music".

Demetrio Stratos - 1976 - Metradora

Demetrio Stratos

01 Segmenti Uno (3:36)
02 Segmenti Due (4:04)
03 Segmenti Tre (4:01)
04 Segmenti Quattro (4:31)
05 Mirologhi 1 (Lamento D'Epiro) (4:23)
06 Metrodora (8:55)
07 Mirologhi 2 (Lamento D'Epiro) (4:10)

- Demetio Stratos / voice

Demetrio Stratos was born in Alexandria, Egypt on 22 April 1945. In 1962, he moved to Italy, where he enrolled in the Architecture Faculty at the Politecnico di Milano. In 1967, he joined the "Ribelli" as keyboard player; he soon adandoned this to dedicate his activities to voice research. He started to experiment on vocal phenomena.

In 1972, he founded the group Area, together with Giulio Capiozzo on drums: the original line-up included Victor Eduard Busnello, Giulio Capiozzo, Yan Patrick Erard Djivas, Patrizio Fariselli, Demetrio Stratos and Gianpaolo Tofam. Later, Busnello left the group and Djivas joined Premiata Forneria Marconi, and his place was taken by Ares Tavolazzi. He recorded with the group and together with Gianni Sassi, for his research work on the Cramps.Records label.

In 1973, he took part in the eight Biennale in Paris. In 1974, he toured festivals in France, Portugal, Switzerland and Cuba. In Cuba he was invited by the Ministry of Culture to meet a delegation of musicians from Mongolia and to participate in discussion on vocal methods in the Far East.

Stratos gradually became more and more deeply involved in the mysterious world of sounds, rewriting and extending ap immense work on the importance of the voice in Eastern and Middle-Eastern civilizations.

In Milan, he worked together with GianniEmilio Simonetti and Juan Hidalgo and Walter Marchetti, founders of the group Zaj, and in the context of the Fluxus experience, he became involved with John Cage's music. In 1974, he recorded Cage's "Mesostics" in a version for a solo voice and subsequently performed it at numerous festivals in front of large audiences of young peple.

In 1976, he spoke at several seminars held at the Istituto di Glottologia at the University of Padua, and in Padua, worked together with the Centro di Foniatria, on research into limits of language. Stratos underlined the link between language and the psyche and highlighted their connection with the sounds made by the vocal chords, which he considered as musical instruments.

In 1978, his international fame grew when he took part in concerts given at the Roundabout Tbeatre in New York. This was the time of "Event" with Merce Cunningham and the Dance Company performed under the artistic direction of Jasper Johns, Cage's musical contribution, with Andy Warhol's costume designs.

His research into the field of phonetic and experimental poetry led to his freeing his voice every naturalistic restraint, restoring its depth and dimension. The result of this van be heard in the two recordings of his compositions "Metrodora" and "Cantare la Voce" where what sounds like an instrument is in fact his voice.

Daniel Charles has described him as the person who decimated monody by the demultiplication of the acoustic spectrum: he achieved a diplophony which is triplophonic, even quadrophonic. His vocalisation became microorchestrations (voiceinstrument) without any technological amplification.

He died in June 1979 at the New York Memorial Hospital. He was admitted the evening before a concert held on his behalf at the Milan Area. Over 100 musicians played in front of an audience of 100,000.

ell what can you add, regarding of the best Italian vocalist ever, with his incredible vocal range, plus his fantastic voice intensity of 6000-7000 Hz frequency as well!! (Note: I was between a few lucky guys fond of prog and other new listeners, able to participate in his last concert in Parco Lambro- Milan, performed on 1980, as I live near Milan of course...) I know that it seems more like a vocal exercise, where He could produce in a single emission of breath two or three or even four sounds, in a double and triple "phonic" emission of main tones and more...simply incredible, but it's a music "testament", cause I don't know any vocalist like him today, able to leave an indelible mark!!

Of course it's difficult to judge so many "segments", without losing the music direction, cause it's not naturally as in his sessions with Area (these latter as you know such an organized and methodic ensemble of progressive/experimental jazz!!). Anyway the present album, often reminding me of the most experimental side of zehul music, especially in the mood, by means of the improvisational aspects composing the ensemble taken to the extreme, is well worth checking out at least...but it's clear to all of us that if you evaluate this "Metrodora" as a normal prog album, you will erase one or two stars from the final score; instead if you regard this as a theatrical effort, exploring all the possibilities of the human vocal range, this album could be also a 5 stars...make your personal choices, according to your mood!!

Area - 2012 - Live 2012

Live 2012

101. La mela di Odessa (5:15)
102. Cometa rossa (9:04)
103. Luglio, agosto, settembre (nero) (5:35)
104. Nervi scoperti (10:47)
105. Gerontocrazia - L'elefante bianco (8:08)
106. Arbeit Macht Frei (9:12)
107. Sedimentazioni (2:50)

201. Encounter #1 (5:42)
202. Encounter #2 (Skindapsos) (7:00)
203. Trikanta Veena Suite (8:42)
204. Encounter #3 (7:32)
205. Canzone di Seikilos (4:31)
206. Aten (Variazioni su Nefertiti di W. Shorter) (3:42)

- Patrizio Fariselli / piano, synthesizer
- Paolo Tofani / electric guitar, santoor, electronics, vocals
- Ares Tavolazzi / electric bass, double bass, electronics
- Walter Paoli / drums

Special guest:
- Maria Pia De Vito / vocals on "Cometa rossa"

Recorded during Reunion Tour 2011/2012

This is the current lineup of Italian Prog rock band Area. The band's influences were always diverse, and this album highlights that diversity with the use of Eastern sounds mixed up with piano driven jazz/fusion and progressive rock. It's a double CD, but doesn't feel like it. Really quite excellent.

Area - 2005 - Live In Torino 1977

Live In Torino 1977

101. Il massacro di Brandeburgo numero tre in sol Maggiore (12:01)
102. Gerontocrazia (6:48)
103. Scum (7:27)
104. Giro, giro, tondo (6:49)
105. Cometa rossa (9:10)

201. La mela di Odessa (16:13)
202. Luglio, Agosto, Settembre (nero) (6:21)
203. L'Internazionale (5:41)
204. Improvvisazione (16:40)

- Demetrios Stratos / Hammond organ, vocals
- Paolo Tofani / guitar
- Patrizio Fariselli / synthesizers
- Ares Tavolazzi / bass
- Giulio Capiozzo / drums & percussion

A double CD live in Torino 1977 but release in 2005. The performance is wild! but the sound of it is of bootleg quality :( So if your a fan of Area, it's definit CD to have because, like i said previously, the performance of the band is way too good!!! So 3 and a half star. Since there is no possibility of giving half star, and beacuse the band play so good on this one, i've decide to put 4 star. So in the end, if your a fan of Area, don't be offenced by the sound of it, just enjoy the music and the good performance Area give on this release.

Area - 1996 - Parigi - Lisbona

Parigi - Lisbona

01. L'Elefante Bianco
02. Megalopoli
03. La Mela di Odessa
04. Lobotomia
05. Presentation Concerts Lisboa
06. Arbeit Macht Frei
07. Cometa Rossa
08. Luglio, agosto, settembre (nero)
09. L'Internazionale

Recorded in 1976, Have you ever heard an Area studio album? Ok, now, to know thw powerfull explosivity of the band you must know how the play live. The result is surely a masterpiece! The power of Capiozzo and Tavolazzi, twins of free and prog music, the incredible voice, and beurk, of Stratos, the infinite mastery of Tavolazzi and Tofani makes this live an only and irripetible concert, like every concert of Area. Higly recommended!