Review Summary: When progressive rock meets pizzas and spaghettis.
A few years ago, my father told me that if a band wanted to succeed in the 70's they needed lyrics in english, and, in some way, it's true, who knows how many bands remain unknown to society just because they sang in their own language. However there's a bunch of bands that managed to gain international recognition without lyrics in english, one of them is the italian Premiata Forneria Marconi
(Award-winning Marconi Bakery) or PFM
, and thank god they managed to succeeded because it would've been a shame if they remained unknown in the world of prog-rock because they were awesome.
was formed in Milan in 1970 by the members of a band of backup musicians named I quelli
and launched in 1972 their first album Storia di un minuto
(Story of a minute) , the album impressed with a mediterran fusion of progressive and symphonic rock and expressed a very warmth atmosphere to the listener. The members of the band, who knew that their debut, unlike most of the debut albums by other prog-rock bands, was an excellent album, didn't lost time and launched in the same year Per un Amico
(For a friend).
In 1972 the Premiata Forneria Marconi
: Vocals, 12 String guitar, Theorbo, Mandocello, Guitar
Franz Di Cioccio
: Drums, Percussion, Vocals
: Flute, Piccolo, Violin, Vocals
: Bass, Vocals
: Spinet, Keyboards, Organ, Mellotron, Piano, Vocals
Per un Amico
, just like Storia di un Minuto
is a prog-rock record that uses the beautiful sound of the typical italian music with a lot of acoustic guitars, violins, pianos and of course, harpsichords, achieving a unique sound that differentiates it from most of the prog albums of the time.
This album hasn't relaxed nor heavy songs, because each song has relaxed and acoustic moments and also some parts that are pure hard-rock, and that's the best characteristic of the album, in most cases fusing so many styles would sound very chaotic but these guys managed to suddenly change the style in every song without losing the cohesion of the music.
It's hard to talk about the songs separately because as any progressive album, Per un Amico
was made as a "whole" not as a lot of different songs that have nothing to do with each other and are there just to fill space, however, if we talk about the highlights of the album, we can name Appena un Pò
(easily the best track on the album) and how awesome's the sound of those violins playing together with an amazing keyboard work or how excellent (and heavy) is the cooperation between the guitar and the violin in Generale!
or maybe the beautiful sound of the piano in the second half of Il Banchetto
which is very jazzy influenced.
Even when prog-fans that are used to Comfortably Numb-esque
solos or that kind of instrumental work, won't find Per un Amico
very attractive because it's more focused on acoustic and/or symphonic sounds it will sound very interesting to fans of bands like Jethro Tull
for its awesome work with flutes and keyboards, however it's important to remember that PFM
is similar just in SOME WAYS to these bands but their style in general is very different and can only be found in other bands from the north of the mediterrean, and that are sadly, unknown for most of the prog-society.
In conclusion, Per un Amico
has a very different sound to most of the important records, it manages to create, with a beautiful acoustic, typically italian sound, its own, "warm" atmosphere that will definetely be loved by the listener, something that other bands that at some moments sounded very "distant" never did, like for example, Pink Floyd. Per un Amico
is an essential album and every prog-rock fan should give it a try, it is very different to what most of the people are used to, so maybe you will need a time to get into it, but even if at the end you didn't liked its sound you will appreciate to have listened to something different, fresh, that differs from most of the typical sound in the genre.
-The atmosphere, warm and relaxing (even in the heavy moments) that will give a different perspective of how prog-rock is.
-Very innovative for the genre, adding new instruments and applying the typical ones in a very different way.
-The fusion of very different styles, symphonic, hard-rock, jazz, etc...
-Appena un Pò, it's an awesome song.
-A bit short for a prog album.
-Even when it's very innovative for prog, it isn't that much for the band, because it sounds very similar to Storia di un Minuto
-Its style won't like to everyone.