Tuesday, October 1, 2013

40 Year Itch: 1973 in Spaghetti Prog

1973 may have belonged to British prog rockers like Pink Floyd ( Dark Side of the Moon) , Genesis (Selling England By the Pound), ELP ( Brain Salad Surgery) and King Crimson ( Lark's Tongue in Aspic) but the Italians were very much on a continuous roll from 1972. The topic of 1973 in Spaghetti Prog could easily take up a week of posts so I apologize in advance for all the bands I missed. 

One advance warning: these albums tend to be melodramatic. Subtlety is in short supply.

Le Orme's 1973 symphonic prog masterpiece, Felona e Sorona is a concept album about a dark and sad planet called Felona and a light and happy planet called Sorona and what happens when The Creator tries to disrupt the balance in Felona's favor. Brilliant musicianship ( Michi Dei Rossini is one of the 70's most criminally underrated drummers) and listenable tunes make this album a great way to introduce yourself to Italian prog.  At 33:39, surprisingly short for a prog rock concept album. Re-recorded in English a year later.

Palepoli is a breath-taking, ambitious tour de force from Osanna, the Neopolitan band who opened for Genesis on that band's legendary 1972 tour of Italy. Like Genesis's front man, Osanna wore costumes and make up on stage. Here's an earlier video just to give you a sense of the epic eccentricities of the musicians involved. 

On Palepoli there's perhaps less Genesis to be heard;  more early King Crimson. Every few minutes Osanna sounds like it could be a completely different band as they move from sweet vocals to Jethro Tull like flute break downs straight into stunning punk guitar riffing. Great for short attention spans!

One of the cornerstones of Italian prog rock, Museo Rosenbach's Zarathustra is considered in some quarters to be one of the best prog albums of all time ...with one of the worst album covers of all time. In fact the artist who made the collage slipped in a photo of Mussolini which led to a boycott by Italy's nationally owned radio stations. Their loss. Cinematic!

Though not as highly rated as the Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso two albums from 1972, Io Sono Nato Libero ( I Was Born Free) deserves attention for its 16 minute opening track "Canto Nomade Per Un Prigionier Politico", one of the all time great progressive rock tracks.

This is the Premiata Forneria Marconi album that actually crept into the Billboard 200 albums chart thanks to Greg Lake, of Emerson Lake and Palmer, who not only championed the band but convinced them to re-record the best songs from  previous albums with English lyrics written by King Crimson's Pete Sinfield.

Inspired more by Zappa than Genesis, Area--led by future PFM bass player Patrick Djivas--just might freak you out or make you hungry for a burnt weeny sandwich. Celebrated singer Demetrio Stratos is an interplanetary god. 

A mind blowing trip into the great unknown!

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