Wow. Can I just say… wow. If you love Italian Prog like I do, you must get this seven CD/4 DVD Box Set. Even if you don’t love Italian Prog as much as I do, you have to get this box set! You will perhaps never need to buy another Italian Prog record again, seeing as almost all the major players are here and then some!
Represented here are Italian Prog giants PFM, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, and members of Le Orme. There are second tier (but no less talented) progsters from the seventies like The Trip, Osanna with Balletto di Bronzo’s Gianni Leone, and Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti playing with members of Raccomandata Ricevuta di Retorno. Newer bands that challenge the aforementioned hierarchy like Abash, Sinestesia, and Periferia del Mondo. Plus you have prog luminaries such as King Crimson’s David Cross, Focus’ Thijs van Leer, Van der Graaf Generator’s David Jackson, and Ian Anderson guesting on sets by many of these artists. I mean, do you need more? (The answer is yes, but I digress…)
My opinion is the Italians took the Symphonic Prog genre ball and ran with it in the seventies. Heavily influenced by the more pastoral stylings of Genesis, Jethro Tull and King Crimson’s quieter moments, mixed with classical pastiches from Bach to Vivaldi, they often have a strong sense of melody and a real feel for dynamics. Seriously, I’m going to have to start making up superlatives to describe the way I feel about progressive rock from Italy.
Some random thoughts: There are two discs of PFM totaling over 90 minutes and of course, this is awesome. Sinestesia gave me an impression of a more aggressive Saga. Fabio Zuffanti’s projects never fail to impress, here it’s Maschera di Cera, who turn in an amazing performance. Older artists I had not heard before really impressed me too, like ELP/King Crimson influenced The Trip and the singer with the Phantom of the Opera mask (Luciano Regoli) from Raccomandata Ricevuta di Retorno. That boy sure can sing! And speaking of boys who can sing, Banco is always magical in a live setting.
This massive box set is expertly filmed and impeccably recorded. It features the best of Italian bands from yesterday and today. If you would like a sampler of Rock Progressivo Italiano seek no further. I warn you though, if you start on this journey to Italy, you may not be able to stop. Your music collection just might start growing a little faster. Recorded live on 5 and 6 November 2010 at Teatro Tendastrisce, Rome, Italy, I find only one problem with this entire concert. I wish I could’ve have been there.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on March 18th, 2012