Monday, May 2, 2016

Living Force - 1977 - Living Force

Living Force
Living Force

01. Changes
02. Matter Monster
03. Jaya
04. Only You
05. Sweet Inspiration
06. Baja Sri
07. Hello Friend
08. Sail this Boat
09. Hari Bol

Guitar, Bass – Eddie Hansen, Harvey Mann
Congas, Percussion – Mike Fisher
Drums – Glen Absolum
Keyboards – John Pepper

Additional credits:
B4, "Sail This Boat"
Backing Vocals – The Girls
B5, "Hari Bol"
Vocals – Our Friends From The North Shore

The origins of Living Force can be traced back to 1973, when both Ticket and Space Farm were in disarray. Harvey Mann and Eddie Hansen had been friends for a long while, and had both tired of the hippie-drugs lifestyle. Along with Glen Absolum, they moved into an Auckland flat and began playing together, whilst cleansing their bodies of all the harmful products they had been used to consuming. They were also searching for spiritual happiness.

After six months, Eddie Hansen went back to Christchurch, where he formed a short lived group called Rock Squad. But by the end of 1974, he was in Sydney playing with Phil Key's Band Of Light, with Billy Williams and Danny Davidson. In mid 1975, Hansen, Williams and Davidson had left Phil and returned to Christchurch, adding Trevor Tombleson to their line-up they formed Sky Pilot, a three month venture.

While this was happening with Eddie, Harvey and Glen had continued practising with a variety of Auckland musicians. By mid 1975 they had settled on a line-up, adding Murray Partridge, Ivan Thompson and Gary Clarke, and calling themselves Living Force, they debuted at Maurice Greer's Auckland club, Croft's. Murray Partridge had been with Freshwater, Gary Clarke was from Carson and Ivan Thompson had been an original member of Dragon.

They had only been going for a few months when Murray Partridge was replaced by Eddie Hansen. There were not many groups in New Zealand who could boast a guitar line-up equal to Harvey and Eddie, but it soon became evident that they were not into the style of music that fans had previously been accustomed. The lyrical content of Living Force was more concerned almost exclusively with spiritual matters, a joyous celebration of Krishna beliefs. Long, drawn out and mostly extraneous solos were the order of the day.

Radio Hauraki had organised a concert in Auckland's Albert Park. One of the bands to play was Living Force, and after they had meandered along for over half an hour on one song, 90% of the 2000 strong crowd decided to leave. All that was left were the jubilant Krishna devotees. The boys in the band didn't seem to notice. Thirty minutes after the scheduled completion time for the concert, they showed no signs of finishing, so the power was cut off. Imagine doing that to Mann and Hansen in their hey-day.

Living Force had a cult following, mainly made up of middle-aged hippies and Krishna followers. With this support, they managed to stay around until 1979, recording a self-titled album along the way in 1977 and releasing a single from it on the Atlantic label, "Jaya"/"Matter Monster".

The group did have a number of personnel changes during their time. Ivan was replaced by John Pepper and when Gary left he was replaced by Matt Matepi. The other important change occurred when Eddie left mid-way through the album sessions, but was back with them by November 1977.

In July 1978, they all flew to San Francisco, where they recorded an album's worth of material with Santana engineer Glen Kalatkin. Unfortunately nothing was to ever come from this material and they returned home in December with an additional member in tow. She was American vocalist Mona Hollguin. At this time Glen Absolum left and he was replaced by Mike Fisher. Hollguin soon returned to the States and in February 1979 Harvey Mann left and teamed up with Absolum to form Appaloosa. Before the end of the year, Living Force had disbanded.

Stormy Six - Singles and Rare Tracks 1967-1981

Stormy Six
Singles and Rare Tracks 

01.  Oggi piango (lato A, 1967 - inedito su album)
02.  Il mondo è pieno di gente (lato B, 1967 - inedito su album)

03.  Lui verrà (lato A, 1967)
04.  L'amico e il fico (lato B, 1967)

05.  La luna è stanca (lato A, 1970 - inedito su album - cover CCR)
06.  Lodi (lato B, 1970 - inedito su album - cover CCR)

07.  Alice nel vento (lato A, 1970 - inedito su album)
08.  Il venditore di fumo (lato B, 1970 - inedito su album)

09.  Rossella (lato A, 1971 - inedito su album)
10.  Leone (lato B, 1971 - inedito su album)

11.  Garibaldi (lato A, 1972)
12.  Tre fratelli contadini di Venosa (lato B, 1972)

13.  Sotto il bam-bù (lato A, 1972 - inedito su album)
14.  Nicola fa il maestro di scuola (lato B, 1972 - inedito su album)

15.  1789 (lato A, 1976)
16.  Carmine (lato B, 1976)

17.  Cosa danno (lato A, 1981)
18.  Reparto novità (lato B, 1981)

19.  La manifestazione (demo extended version, pubblicata sulla compilation "Al Festival Pop Viareggio 1971) - vedi post sulla Stratosfera

PCI promo EP 1972 (distribuito in occasione delle Feste dell'Unità)
20.  Anna Identici - Era bello il mio ragazzo
21.  Stormy Six - La Birindelleide
22.  Stormy Six - Quando s'era diplomato
23.  Stormy Six - La ballata della DC

Stormy Six - 2013 - Benvenuti Nel Ghetto

Stormy Six 
Benvenuti Nel Ghetto

01. Canzone Del Tempo E Della Memoria 5:26
02. Canto Dei Sarti Ebrei Della Wermacht3:12
03. Devarim 3:48
04. Umshlagplatz 2:58
05. Benvenuti Nel Ghetto 2:58
06. Mordechai Anielewicz 4:33
07. Mein Name Ist Troop 3:17
08. Viene Un Giorno 2:53
09. Il Sole Sottoterra 4:17
10. Es Gibt 3:35
11. Invocazione 2:55

Line-up / Musicians
Archimede De Martini - Bass, Violin
Carlo De Martini - Violin, Background Vocals
Umberto Fiori - Vocals, Guitar
Salvatore Garau - Drums
Tommaso Leddi - Mandolin, Guitar, Bass, Background Vocals
Francesco Zago - Guitars
Moni Ovadia - Speech, Background Vocals

Well. Was not expecting this! A completely new work by the Italian contribution to the original Rock In Opposition movement! Most of the original members are here: Tomasso Leddi, Carlo de Martini, Salvatore Garau, Umberto Fiori, with Giorgio Albani, Archimede de Martini and Francesco Zago. Stylistically this is probably closest to L'Apprendista/Un Biglietto del Tram.

"Benvenuti nel ghetto (Welcome to the ghetto), the new work by the cult band Stormy Six made in collaboration with the artist Moni Ovadia,is more than merely a new record. It is actually the commemoration of the events that occurred from April 19, 1943 within the Warsaw ghetto: it was the first collective rebellion act against the Nazi oppression, a strong protest that lasted about a month, before being violently suppressed by German soldiers and officers.

The work comes in a special deluxe format, consisting of an 8-page booklet with cardboard cover, all housed in a horizontal slipcase measuring 15x25cm. Inside we have a CD with 11 new songs and a DVD that, in addition to the same tracks, contains an entire filmed performance from the ones played by Stormy Six during spring 2013, for a total duration of more than an hour and a half. Between songs, Moni Ovadia reads the testimonies of those who lived seventy and more years ago about the horrors of Nazism. This work is dedicated to them.

This is a unique product in its shape and content from an essential, historic band. "Benvenuti nel ghetto", as stated by the band themselves, ideally continues what had already been expressed in the unforgettable masterpiece "Un biglietto del tram", and gives us back a group that hasn't lost yet the strength and creativity of the old days."

Stormy Six - 1998 - Megafono

Stormy Six

01. 8 settembre
02. Buon lavoro
03. L'apprendista
04. Il barbiere
05. Controsoggetto
06. Tico tico
07. L'orchestra dei fischietti
08. Megafono
09. Madonina
10. La voce
11. Al volo
12. Verbale
13. Chissà se ora
14. Abissi
15. Arrivano gli Americani
16. Scenario infuocato
17. Sweet mama hurry home
18. Rifritto
19. Pensa a suonare
20. Tris tes
21. Revival
22. I wanna be loved by you
23. Branden boogie woogie
24. The sound of Philadelphia
25. Disco
26. Tabughisc
27. Momento sensitivo
28. Batterista americano
29. E allora ciao
30. Strangers in the night
31. The voice
32. Stars and stripes forever
33. Rullone
34. Enzo
35. Ritardi
36. Una volta
37. La mazurka di periferia
38. Passion flower

Line-up / Musicians
- Franco Fabbri / guitar, vocals
- Umberto Fiori / guitar, vocals
- Carlo De Martini / saxophone, violin
- Tommaso Leddi / violin, mandolin, balalajka, guitar
- Pino Martini / bass
- Salvatore Garau / drums
- Georgie Born / cello

Very raw and rough-around-the edges.  It seems like most of these recordings were never intended to be released, but here they are anyway.  Decent sound quality, but the performances are very hit-or-miss.  I suspect there were a lot of visual and social things going on that made attending the shows a lot more fun than these CDs indicate.

Stormy Six - 1995 - Un concerto

Stormy Six
Un concerto

01. Un quartetto del tram
02. 8 Settembre
03. Nuvole a Vinca
04. Dante Di Nanni
05. Un biglietto del tram
06. La sepoltura dei morti
07. Stalingrado
08. La fabbrica
09. Arrivano gli Americani
10. Pinocchio Bazaa Overture
11. Rgionamenti
12. Panorama
13. Piazza degli Affari
14. Roma
15. Parole grosse
16. Goal
17. Quintetto Carmine

- Umberto Fiori / vocals
- Franco Fabbri / guitar, synthesizer guitar, vocals
- Carlo De Martini / violin
- Tommaso Leddi / keyboards, violin, balalajka, guitar
- Pino Martini / bass
- Salvatore Garau / drums

It's my favourite album of the band. It contains the live version of 'Un Biglietto del Tram' and almost full 'Al Volo'. Highly recommended!

Stormy Six - 1982 - Al Volo

Stormy Six
Al Volo

01. Non si sa dove stare (4:55)
02. Reparto Novità (4:35)
03. Piazza degli Affari (3:57)
04. Ragionamenti (5:17)
05. Panorama (4:38)
06. Roma (4:44)
07. Parole grosse (4:08)
08. Denti (2:12)
09. Cosa danno (3:34)

Line-up / Musicians
- Franco Fabbri / guitars (electric, synthesizer, acoustic), vibraphone, rhythm box, rings
- Salvatore Garau / drums
- Umberto Fiori / vocals
- Tommaso Leddi / organs, synthesizers, piano, clavinet, electric guitar
- Pino Martini / bass, acoustic guitar

Even a RIO artist sometimes must go to the supermarket to buy food, soaps and this kind of things. If you are already in the 80s when having a vibraphone instead of a fairlight is considered excessively experimental you can have an idea of why Stormy Six made an album like this.
The style is still Avant, IMO, the lyrics have completely lost the political connotations and even if still clearly left-winged they are more concentrated on "society" and "individuals". A sort of Italian Roger Waters, but there's an evident change in the musical direction: no more violin or clarinet. It's like in the 80s only keyboards are allowed.

There's a lot of melody even inside unusual passages. The choir in "alpine" style on "Ragionamenti" is very original, but this album seems to be a turn back to the more classical RPI and this is maybe one of the reasons of their disbanding. You can't produce pure art and eat steaks at the same time. Even one sixth of the Stormies may have a family at home...

So being them true innovative artists they have probably taken the right decision in disbanding after this release that I think they may have disliked.

I don't dislike it anyway. The fact that it's less avant or more approachable than the two previous releases doesn't mean that it's bad. There are unusual passages and sounds as well as melodic moments of RPI flavor. Don't forget that they're Italians.

Of course if you expect to be eating chocolate and find marmite you will be disappointed, but you can realize that marmite is not too bad in its own.

The bad with this album is that remains in the middle, not completely RIO and not completely RPI but the musicians are the same high skilled guys of Macchina Maccheronica.

Stormy Six - 1980 - Macchina Maccheronica

Stormy Six 
Macchina Maccheronica

01. Macchina Maccheronica (5:39)
02. Le Lucciole (7:37)
03. Madonina (0:51)
04. Megafono (5:52)
05. Madonina (0:39)
06. Banca (2:39)
07. Pianeta (5:40)
08. Rumba Sugli Alberi (2:56)
09. Enzo (2:16)
10. Verbale (8:38)
11. Madonina (0:55)
12. Somario (3:55)
13. Madonina (0:14)

- Umberto Fiori / vocals
- Franco Fabbri / guitar, vibraphone, trombone, vocals
- Carlo De Martini / violin
- Tommaso Leddi / violin, mandolin, guitar, alto saxophone
- Renato Rivolta / soprano saxophone
- Pino Martini / bass
- Salvatore Garau / drums
- Leonardo Schiavone / clarinet
- Georgie Born / cello on recordings and selected tours

Stormy Six took an instrumental from Cliche, added to it lyrics, made some arrangements and named all the album after it. This is "Macchina Maccheronica" (Macaronic Machine). This song is a grotesque tango for the first 3 minutes, then turns into waltz then polka...almost all the popular dancing rhythms of the old Europe, like a precursor on Weird Al Yankovic.
The intro of "Le Lucciole" is enough to make ckear thatthe first track is just a joke. The album is made of something different. If you have an idea of how an experimental band has to sound, this gives exactly this idea. The first RIO festival is an old story and this album is a follow-up, more experimental than anything else previously released by this band, with a fusion between folk and classic contemporary that can remind also to Zeuhl. The lyrics are experimental, too. The clear political statements that were still present on the previous album are now hidden if not disappeared behind words that sound well with the music but not necessarily meaningful. On "Le Lucciole" the role of main instrument that's usually played by the violin is now given to the clarinet. it's only after 6 minutes that the ensemble plays more orchestral making the track less challenging. Following there's another joke. A sort of "shake" version of "Madonina". This song, written in the 30s by Giovanni D'Anzi has become the anthem of the city of Milan where Stormy Six are from. Played in this way in just 50 seconds can be irritating for some of their most traditionalists-right-winged citizens. The "Madonina" is the statue of the Virgin Mary on the top of Milan's Cathedral.

"Megafono" (Megaphone) is a grotesque and very 'avant' song. A Megaphone is an essential device for protesters, and the joke is about the fact that the way it distorces a voice makes the speaker anonymous. There's a long "eclectic" interlude made of disconnected sounds, passages between violin, clarinet, bass and drums. At minute 3:40 there's a short rock section leading to another part with vocals. If you read the definition of this subgenre on PA, this song fits perfectly there.

30 more seconds of irriverent "Madonina" then a female speaker with an Eastern Europe accent introduces what she calls "a moment of relax". "Banca" (Bank) is an instrumental crazyness "Since when you're gone my life is empty...I can't live anymore, what will be of me? I have close this feeling in the bank!".

"Pianeta" (Planet) is even more challenging. If I think to what this band was doing just five years before... The lyrics are as hermetic as the music. A very challenging album that the Madonina interludes try to make a little lighter but it's very difficult and totally non-suitable for the Italian market of 1980. The clarinet makes a great work.

"Rumba Sugli Alberi" (Rumba over the trees) is a brasses and clarinet thing with vocals. two minutes of the most "melodic" stuff that can be found on the album even including the second half when bass and drums make it very chaotic.

I'm now thinking that what I'm writing can be interpreted as "very good and artistic music" by fans of Rio and Avant, and like an "Avoid it absolutely" by fans of more melodic and strustured things like symphonic prog.....

"Enzo" is a vocal choir totally out of what we can call "song" or "melody". It's an experiment about voice, not too dissimilar from what Demetrio Stratos made in his "Concerto all'Elfo". It appears to be recorded live but the applauses may be just added, I don't know.

"Verbale" (Report, intended in legal or bureaucratic sense) is in some way reminding of the political/social period of the band, but the lyrics are very hermetic. The good is that even if one can sometimes catch a sort of melody, this track is totally unstructured and unpredictable both in terms of notes and rhythm. Who makes a great work here is the bass that keeps a jazzy profile.

Another interpratation of "Madonina" and the last "regular" track of the album: "Somario". As Macchina Maccheronica also this track is taken from Cliche'/Pinocchio suite and "Somario" is a joke between "Sommario" (summary) and "Somaro" (donkey), so it's clearly related to Pinocchio. The track is recorded live.

The last 15 seconds of "Madonina" closes the album.

A challenging listen but also rewarding for the listener. Of course it's not an album to be listened while driving by car. Take your time and the right moment to dig into the various moments. A must have for the fans of the genre also because it's the first Stormy Six album of the RIO era.

Stormy Six - 1977 - L'Apprendista

Stormy Six 

01. Buon Lavoro! (5:12)
02. L'Apprendista (5:39)
03. Carmine (5:53)
04. Il Barbiere (7:39)
05. Cuore (5:51)
06. Il Labirinto (8:25)
07. Rosso (3:02)
08. L'Orchestra dei Fischietti (6:29)

Line-up / Musicians
- Franco Fabbri / vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, vibraphone, xylophone
- Umberto Fiori / vocals, acoustic guitar
- Carlo de Martini / violin, viola, mandolin, acoustic guitar, vocals
- Tommaso Leddi / mandolin, violin, acoustic & electric guitars, piano
- Luca Piscicelli / bass, vocals
- Salvatore Garau / drums

- Gianfranco Gagliardi / keyboards
- Renato Rivolta / saxophone
- Leo Dosso / bassoon
- Pino Martini / bass (3,4)
- Bruno Fraimini / percussion (5)
- Cristina Pederiva / viola (7)
- Andrea Vicario / cello

Stormy Six were the italian wing of the original RIO movement with a tendency to noticeably change style between records. Before one even scratches the surface of this album there is an obvious sense of pastoral folk about it, yet this belies the true depth of composition and thought put into each of these songs.
There is no obvious "lead" musician here and the songs lend themselves towards ensemble play, like a certain more popular english band this reviewer won't mention or make comparisons to - this music makes good account of itself and as this is a five-star review, Stormy Six are the only band allowed on the stage. ;)

L'Apprendista is recorded in such a way as to make it sound entirely acoustic - the bass guitar sounds more like a plucked double-bass and electric guitar is used sparingly throughout. The vocals are clear and not overpowering and the balance of the music is impressive with much the same clarity of a live record, although perhaps that is only because the music is so energetic - one can imagine oneself witnessing this in person. (if one were prone to flights of fancy, in a rustic kind of situation - although Stormy Six's music would make for very psychedelic barn dances.)

Each of these compositions is slightly longer than your average pop song but none feel extended - solos last appropriate lengths of time and repetition is not too evident; besides, there are so many configurations of instruments within this band that verses can be varied creatively and endlessly.

There are awkward moments to be found on "L'Apprendista" - there are prolonged moments of calmness (not to be confused with periods of inactivity) and progressions rarely follow the path of least resistance. All this demands a little suspense of musical rationality from the listener (the band aren't listed under avant-garde for no reason) but these efforts are rewarded each time. In summation, listen to this album before you die

Stormy Six - 1976 - Cliché + Pinocchio Bazaar

Stormy Six
Cliché + Pinocchio Bazaar

01. 1789
02. Carmine
03. Dibattito
04. Riflusso
05. Comizio
06. Picnic
07. Leader
08. Comizio B
09. Tafferuglio
10. L'escluso
11. Banchetto e rissa
12. Comizio
13. Salotto
14. Inchiesta TV
15. Tutta una serie di questioni
16. Il nostro tempo è scaduto /
17. Pinocchio bazaar: Ouverture
18. Parade
19. Corale di Mister Cherry
20. Ballata della balena
21. La canzone della fata dai capelli turchini
22. Fuga di Pinocchio
23. Macchina maccheronica
24. Christmas now
25. Hula hoop

- Franco Fabbri / guitar, vocals
- Umberto Fiori / guitar, vocals
- Carlo De Martini / sax, violin
- Tommaso Leddi / violin, mandolin, balalajka, guitar
- Luca Piscicelli / bass, vocals
- Antonio Zanuso / drums
- Salvatore Garau / drums

Finally the beginning of RIO. The Stormy six have still a lot of acoustics. A mandolin in general sounds folky but in tracks like the opener "1789" (the year of the French revolution) it sounds grotesque. The final fade-out is a pity, but the track is very interesting. Then the piano comes to "Carmine". This piece of piano and violin sounds like classic contemporary. Who could have imagined a change of this kind in the band's music? Not that I dislike the previous efforts, but this is totally different and came actually unexpected.
The story of this album is quite unusual. It's the reprint of two different albums one of them unreleased, but the mood of the two albums is so similar that it's not easy to vcatch if you don't look at the track list.

The first two tracks are two previously unreleased, extraneous to both the albums.

Starting from the third track until track 16 we have a suite inspired by the Shalkespeare's tragedy "Titus Andronicus". It's pure avant-garde, with the same violinist that once was playing country/bluegrass that's now making classic contemporary. The use of mandolin, contrabass and acoustic guitar makes it even more avant-garde. It's not too challenging anyway. Some parts like "Picnic" are easy enough even for those who are not familiar with this genre. Even neo-prog fans could enjoy it.

The remaining tracks are inspired to "Pinocchio" (The album title would have been "Pinocchio Bazaar"). This is more oriented to chamber music and has more melodic moments. I find it easier than the Shakespeare's thing even if on similar chords and mood.

An enjoyable album that can also be used as starting point for people who wants to approach the genre.

Stormy Six - 1975 - Un Biglietto Del Tram

Stormy Six 
Un Biglietto Del Tram

01. Stalingrado
02. La fabbrica
03. Arrivano gli americani
04. 8 settembre
05. Nuvole a Vinca
06. Dante Di Nanni
07. Gianfranco Mattei
08. La sepoltura dei morti
09. Un biglietto del tram

- Franco Fabbri / guitar, vocals
- Umberto Fiori / guitar, vocals
- Carlo De Martini / sax, violin
- Tommaso Leddi / violin, mandolin, balalajka, guitar
- Luca Piscicelli / bass, vocals
- Antonio Zanuso / drums

 Stormy Six were formed in Milan in the mid sixties and began their career as a "beat" band. Later their music turned to folk and West Coast and finally to progressive rock. In 1975 Stormy Six released their fourth album, "Un biglietto del tram", on the independent label L'Orchestra that they contributed to found. The line up featured Franco Fabbri (guitar, vocals), Umberto Fiori (guitar, vocals), Carlo De Martini (sax, violin), Tommaso Leddi (violin, mandolin, balalajka, guitar), Luca Piscicelli (bass, vocals) and Antonio Zanuso (drums). The overall sound on this album is acoustic and well refined featuring an original blend of folk, classical and progressive rock influences. In the early seventies the band got involved in politics and kept tight links with the left-wing protest movements and lyrics on this work reflect the commitment of the band. "Un biglietto del tram" is, in fact, a concept album based on some events of the last period of World War II and celebrates the Italian Resistance movement against the Nazi-Fascists.
The opener "Stalingrado" (Stalingrad) is an epic track about the battle of Stalingrad that was fought between 17th July 1942 and 2nd February 1943 and marked a turning of the tide of war in favour of the Allies (this battle is also the subject of a good film directed by Joseph Vilsmaier in 1993). Old waltzes and Cossack dances clash while lyrics describe hunger, debris, bombardments and roads paved with blood while the city resists like iron. Hope rises as the news of the Nazi-Fascist defeat spreads out and some workers celebrate the victory drinking a toast... "On its frozen way the swastika knows it / From now on it will find Stalingrad in every city...".

"La fabbrica" (The factory) is a lively track about the strikes that started on 5th March 1943, after the news of Stalingrad victory reached Northern Italy. While the Italian "betrayed" troops are dying in the mud in Russia along Don river, in some Italian factories blue collar workers begin their fight against the regime... "As in Stalingrad the Nazis crumbled / At the red Breda factory on strike the Fascists rushed away...".

Next comes the ironic, almost caustic "Arrivano gli americani" (The Americans are coming). It describes the arrivals of the American troops... "Statues sweat blood, they talk inside the churches / They announce a big miracle from the hereafter... The Americans are coming as Garibaldi's troops from Mars...". There was a strong anti-Americanism feeling in the left wings movements during the seventies (and in the extreme right wing as well) and here Americans are depicted in words and music almost as looney tunes characters, as bringers of consumerism and capitalism, as "Chocolate Kings" giving away "bars of freedom" as if they were bars of chocolate...

"8 settembre" (September, 8) is sad and dark. After a delicate acoustic intro, lyrics describe a man walking along the rail-road singing a song to sooth his tension. He has thrown away his uniform and now he tries to go home. All is lost, the Italian army melted and the country is broken. The north is under the control of the Germans, from the south the allies are coming and the king has fled. It's 8th September 1943, a gloomy day for Italy that marks the beginning of a bloody civil war between Fascists and Anti-Fascists. "In a village the Death has come wearing the uniform... In the square a smothered scream rises / They were killed like dogs with a sign hanging on their neck: Partisans!".

"Nuvole a Vinca" (Clouds in Vinca) is another beautiful and melancholic track about a Nazi- Fascists massacre of helpless civilians suspected to support the partisans. In Vinca, a village in the Alpi Apuane mountains, in Tuscany, on 24th August 1944, Nazi troops and Fascists brigades killed 174 inhabitants, most of them were just women and children. Lyrics describe a breathtaking landscape, in the sky there are black and white clouds, old peasants are able to look at them and predict the weather... Then a black cloud comes up the bends of the mountain and it brings nothing but pain... "They do the shooting, damned butchers! / What a good aim, they never miss the target!".

The evocative "Dante di Nanni" is a kind of haunting ghost dance. Dante Di Nanni was a partisan who died as a hero, fighting as a lion against the Nazi-Fascists who surrounded the house where he was sheltered. But his ghost is still walking around in the city, untamed... "I met him one morning on the subway / He was bleeding hard and smiling... Thirty years have passed since the day he was killed / It took hundred men to have him... And they can't feel safe yet / Because they know he's still strolling around, Dante Di Nanni". "Gianfranco Mattei" is tense and proud and features strong classical influences. Gianfranco Mattei was an university professor who contributed to the partisans attacks by making bombing devices. He was arrested by the Nazi-Fascists thanks to a spy and committed suicide in his cell to avoid revealing the names of his companions under the pressure of tortures... "Gianfranco Mattei, your science went too far / Gianfranco Mattei, you will never go back on your teaching post... Gianfranco Mattei, your tribune is always there / Gianfranco Mattei, your lesson won't get lost".

"La sepoltura dei morti" (The burial of the dead) is a melancholic ballad dealing with fading memories... "April is really cruel / Lilac flowers blossom upon the dead / Winter has buried their souvenir leaving nothing but pity / And now a life is just a yellowed face, just a photograph / Death doesn't worth even the price of the newspaper / That you read and then throw away...".

Last track "Un biglietto del tram" (A tram ticket) is a kind of ghastly waltz where some ghosts of victims of the Nazi-Fascists still asking for justice seem to move through the indifference of busy people. One of them makes you a present, a tram ticket to go back in Piazzale Loreto, a place full of dark memories. In 1944 the Nazi-Fascists killed there fifteen partisans and exposed their corpses on the square. In 1945 in Piazzale Loreto were exposed the corpses of Benito Mussolini, his lover Claretta Petacci and other members of the National Fascist Party...

On the whole an excellent album and an interesting way to explore obscure memories coming out from recent Italian history. In my opinion this is the best Stormy Six's album. At the end of the 70's the band had prolific collaboration with foreign artists and Stormy Six were one of the five founder members of the RIO-Rock In Opposition international movement, that gave them the opportunity to play all over Europe and their music became more experimental but in recent reunions they went back to their roots and "Un biglietto del tram" still represents the band at their best.

Stormy Six - 1974 - Guarda Giù Dalla Pianura

Stormy Six 
Guarda Giù Dalla Pianura

01. Guarda Giu' Dalla Pianura (1:28)
02. Union Maid (3:03)
03. Otan Xtupesis Duo Fores (3:02)
04. Cuba Si', Yanquis No (2:44)
05. The Ballad Of Ho Chi Minh (3:33)
06. Leaving Belfast Town (3:18)
07. Cancion Del Poder Popular (2:39)
08. Do Re Mi (3:05)
09. Brother, Did You Weep? (1:49)
10. Per I Morti Di Reggio Emilia (3:27)

- Franco Fabbri / guitar, vocals
- Umberto Fiori / guitar, vocals
- Carlo De Martini / sax, violin
- Tommaso Leddi / violin, mandolin, balalajka, guitar
- Luca Piscicelli / bass, vocals
- Antonio Zanuso / drums

This is a short folk album and the reason why Stormy six have made an album like this has to be explained.
It's Italy in 1974. The Communist party has reached his maximum success ever in the elections, mainly caused by a sentiment of rebellion against the establishment that was unable to catch the changes that the '68 has brought to people's mind. Italy is still ruled by right-winged catholics.

In this social environment there's a rediscovery of the folk music that's seen as opposed to the mainstream represented by the Sanremo festival or by the "Bel Canto".

So the left-winged Stormy Six make an album with left-winged contents, including a mention of the Italian Communist Party anthem (Avanti Popolo) on the first track.

"Union Maid" is I think a traditional American, but it could have been written by Woody Guthrie. Probably it is, and it's another anthem, of course country/bluegrass.

"Otan Xtupesis Duo Fores" is a mistery for me. I don't know which language is. It's not Russian even though the music seems coming from there.

"Cuba Si, Yanquis No" is of course a celebration of the Cuban Revolution and of Fidel Castro. One sentence says "They speak of communists but they don't say that Batista killed 20000 Cubans". The music is Salsa. How could it be different?

"The Ballad Of Ho Chi Minh" sounds like a traditional country song with Irish influences, but I don't think the lyrics are "American folk" as Ho Chi Minh was the chairman of the North Vietnam. In 1974 the war was just ended (or close to end, it was many time ago).

Naturally "Leaving Belfast Town" is a song of the I.R.A. (Irish Republican Army). I think this is really an Irish song.

"Cancion Del Poder Popular" has a story. After the bloody putsch of Pinochet in Chile a folk band, the "Inti Illimani" escaped to Italy making the Chilean popular music very famous and appreciated. This is one of their songs. (Song of the Popular Power)

"Do Re Mi" (not De Re Mi) are the first notes (C, D, E) in the Italian musical notation. It looks like an American traditional. The band was in favor of Cuba, against the Vietnam War and they probably hated Nixon, but this doesn't mean being anti-Americans. I'm sure that not Cuba, but a lot of Americans were sharing the same feelings about Vietnam and Nixon.

"Brother Did You Weep?" looks like another traditional.

Finally a popular song written after the death of six protesters killed by the police at the end of the 50s.

Stormy Six - 1972 - L'Unita

Stormy Six

01. Garibaldi
02. Tre fratelli contadini di Venosa
03. Pontelandolfo
04. Sciopero!
05. Suite per F. & F.
06. La manifestazione
07. Fratello

- Franco Fabbri / guitar, vocals
- Luca Piscicelli / guitar, bass, vocals
- Antonio Zanuso / drums
- Massimo Villa / bass

If one looks for classic RPI and doesn't know anything about the concept and doesn't care of the lyrics this album is surely a disappointment.

For a band like this, the lyrics are an important element. It's where you first see the "Opposition", then imagine an American band making a concept album which tells the non- official story of Lincoln or Washington, in which they are everything but heroes. I don't know if a similar story exist, but "Garibaldi" is the most acclaimed national hero in Italy, and telling a story of murders and war crimes, as probably it really was, as probably all the wars are, is really "In Opposition".

Then it's also a true concept album. The story of the Italian independence wars seen with the eyes of people. The country-western theme of "Garibaldi", seen like a sort of cowboy is grotesque.

"Tre Fratelli Contadini di Venosa" (Three farmer brothers from Venosa) is another slow ballad about three brothers who refuse to join the new nation's army and become bandits to be killed and their bodies exposed in a place. Musically it's trivial, but the triviality of the musical theme and the drama of the story create a suggestive contrast.

"Pontelandolfo" is a town close to Naples remembered as the location, along with Casalduni, of a massacre of largely innocent population by the Piedmontese occupation troops in 1861. This is one of the episodes that are not teached in the Italian schools. Musically it's surely more prog than the previous two songs and there's the first true guitar solo of the album.

"Sciopero!" (Strike!) Is about a strike in a factory in Naples which is repressed by the police in a massacre. Again the music is full of joy while the story is dramatic. It's another episode of the "Unity", but it's a kind of things quite frequent in the early 70s in Italy.

"Suite Per F & F" (Suite for F & F) is a sort of epic for its length, clearly reminding to CSN&Y. It's about the student's movement of the late 60/early 70s. This track contains many instrumental parts that may come from "4Way Steet". For fans of Neil Young.

"La Manifestazione" starts with a guitar that seem to have inspired "Hot River" of Carla Bley and Nick Mason. It's almost identical. The song is very in line with the italian beat, mainly "I Nomadi", or also the "Moody Blues", a band that I Nomadi were highly inspired from. It's another song about a bloody repression.

"Fratello" (Brother) is an acoustic ballad with almost no music

Stormy Six - 1969 - Le Idee Di Oggi Per La Musica Di Domani

Stormy Six
Le Idee Di Oggi Per La Musica Di Domani

01. Fiori per sempre
02. Un'altra come te
03. La sorte più bella del mondo
04. Una più felice di te
05. C'è qualcosa nella vita
06. Schallplattengesellschaftmbh
07. Forse
08. Lui verrà
09. Le stagioni
10. Ramo
11. I tuoi occhi sono tristi
12. Monna Cristina
13. Sotto i portici di marmo

- Maurizio Masla / vocals
- Franco Fabbri / guitar, vocals
- Luca Piscicelli / guitar, vocals
- Fausto Martinetti / keyboards
- Alberto Santagostino / bass
- Antonio Zanuso / drums

STORMY SIX from Milan, Italy was one of the original bands in the RIO movement and appeared in the famous on March 12th 1978 in the New London Theatre in London. However, as opposed to the other bands appearing with them, they did not start out their musical career as a RIO sounding band.

STORMY SIX began its life in the mid 60's as a folk group with psych influences and left wing tendencies, composing protest songs. This has been the case in their first 3 albums, "Le idee di oggi per la musica di domani" (1969), "L'unità" (1972) and "Guarda giù dalla pianura" (1974). In their 4th album, "Un biglietto del tram" from 1975 the complexity and experimentalism start to show. It was to be only in their 6th album, "L'apprendista" from 1977, that the RIO sound would reach its climax. The following "Macchina Maccheronica" (1980) is even a more complex and continues in the pathway of its predecessor. Both these albums are what won this band a place in the RIO genre. With the next final studio album, "Al Volo" from 1982 they introduced an electronic and poppish sound in their music.

Too early recording. The band's music is very influenced by the 60s country-rock as almost all the less commercial Italian music of that period. They sound like "I Giganti" or "I Nomadi". There are symptoms of the experimentalism to come, in some lyrics and in some musical moments like the flut eat the end of "La Storia Piu' Bella Del Mondo".
There's a bit of rock, also a little acid, on "Schallplattengesellschaftmbh" that's the best track of the album and the one surely of interest for proggers. We have to take into account that in 1969 in Italy a band had to obtain a contract with a major and follow the market's rules. This track is an excellent exception and tells us where the band actually wanted to go.

The rest is pop. Often good pop, but it has just a documentary value. Only "Ramo" has a psychedelic/indian mood given by the acoustic 12 strings guitar that sounds like a sitar (or is it a true sitar? It looks more like a 12-strings).

Another good track is the closer "Sotto I Ponti Di Marmo" that has also good lyrics.

Three good tracks oncluded in the middle of forgettable stuff are not enough for the third star, but I suggest this album anyway, because the three mentioned tracks are good and deserve a listen.