Friday, October 26, 2012

40 Year Itch: Italian Prog Rock in 1972 Part 1

                                                Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso hanging out

 When prog rock started taking over FM Radio and filling record store bins in the 1970's you had to expect the Italians would come knocking down the doors. Adding vocals to symphonic music with lots of tempo changes, key changes and lyrics? Shit! The Italians invented opera. At the end of the 16th century. And not just opera. They also invented waterbeds.  And condoms. Anyway, 1972 was a big year for Italians prog rockers.


We've already discussed the first Premiate Forneria Macaroni album--the chart topping Storia Di Un Minuto--which came out in January of 1972. Recorded on 16 tracks,  Per Un Amico is another symphonic rock album of great beauty ( especially the title track) and great complexity, and the last to feature only Italian lyrics. A few too many flourishes for my ears but a hell of a lot easier to listen to than Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso.


We have also already discussed the first Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso album. Darwin, released later in 1972, is said to be the band's masterpiece. To these ears, Banco can sound too clever for its own good. But I would never sit down with a Gentle Giant album either. Even alone in my car. In traffic. "Miserere Alla Storia" means "Wretched Story" which might explain the devilish over-the-top vocals half way through.

Here's the winner out of this bunch. Le Orme ( The Footprints) topped the charts with their 1972 album Uomo Di Pezza. (Rag Doll Man). Keyboardist Tony Pagliuca got introduced to synthesizers and yet the band plays a comparatively restrained form of prog rock. And Aldo Tagliapietra has the best, most soulful voice of the the bands featured in this post. And the album cover is pretty cool too.

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