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Cherry Five - Il Pozzo Dei Giganti CD (album) cover


Cherry Five


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.95 | 54 ratings

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4 stars With several variations of RPI/horror soundtrack group Goblin currently active - a new version of the original Goblin, Goblin Rebirth, Claudio Simonetti's Goblin - why shouldn't the pre-Goblin band that started it all, Cherry Five, get a look in as well? The sole self-titled Cherry Five album from 1975 is often considered by some Italian prog fans as a bit of a minor classic, an energetic Yes- influenced English language work easy to enjoy and constantly return to. While Claudio Simonetti, Massimo Morante and Fabio Pignatelli are busy elsewhere, the original vocalist Tony Tartarini and drummer Carlo Bordini from the Seventies have now reformed in 2015 with three additional talented new players to offer a superb return in the form of their adaption of Dante's La Divina Commedia entitled `Il Pozzo dei Giganti' (`The Well of the Giants'), and this version of the group have not only released a vital new work, but one that stands strongly on its own merits, not some mere uninspired or desperate `comeback' album! It's a tough and heavy symphonic work far more ambitious than the charming previous work, and it just might be one of the best and most surprising Italian releases of 2015!

There's a lot of talent, both vintage and modern, on display throughout `Il Pozzo dei Giganti', a fine coming together of two eras of Italian progressive music. Original vocalist Tartarini also sung on the Seventies RPI self-titled classic `L'Uovo di Colombo', and his voice these days has taken on a groaning, raspy crooning quality, while drummer Bordini teamed up with keyboard player Paolo Rustichelli on the rough-as-guts grand classic `Opera Prima', both from 1973. Here they've recruited fresh blood with talented jazz musician Pino Sallusti, whose bass playing is thick, fluid and upfront as expected of progressive releases, and heavy guitarist Ludovico Piccinini, who comes from a more metal background. But the real standout is keyboard player Gianluca De Rossi, whose own project Taproban released a minor dark symphonic Italian classic with 2013's `Strigma', and he dominates the arrangements here with vintage sophistication and bombast.

Reverting to singing in Italian (can you imagine what that first album would have sounded like sung in Italian?!), the twenty-five minute title track kicks the album off with one almighty powerful statement of intent. `Il Pozzo dei Giganti' is a gutsy and relentless side-long slog of heavy symphonic with traces of unease and great intensity. The piece launches headfirst into Gianluca's manic and relentless church organ grinding, a coarse vocal from Tony, Carlo's maddening and busy drums, Pino's slinking bass and Ludovico's snarling electric guitar wailing (although very rarely if ever actually sounding like heavy metal), the group overwhelming with a hair-tearing madness. Everything from jazz-fusion runs, droning stormy ambience, gothic Mellotron choirs, delicate piano ruminations, pleading vocal cries, fretless bass eruptions, loopy and dazzling keyboard colours and theatrical and classical bombast are all worked in, and it's a showcase to the supreme talent of the musicians here.

Covering about sixteen minutes, the second side's `Manfredi' suite is a collection of four separate pieces that are not quite as brash and overwhelming as the first epic, but they do bring back some of the chiming, upbeat and even playful sounds of the original album in balance with the modern harder style presented here. Piano and twisting guitars are urgent throughout the snappy `La Forza del Guerriero', humming Hammond organ, jazzy guitar licks and seductive bass flirt through hard-groover `Terra Rossa' ('Red Earth'), and both `Il Tempo del Destino' (`The Time of Destiny') and the classy `Un Mondo tra Noi Due' (`A World Between Us') have emotional and powerful ballad passages that are deeply moving and reflective. The album then closes on the eight minute `Dentro la Cerchia Antica' (`Inside the Ancient Circle') that opens as a lush and sprightly acoustic madrigal folk ballad with flute and harpsichord-like synths before taking off into P.F.M-like galloping races of whirling Moog and charging guitars.

Released on the heavy Italian specialists Black Widow label, housed in gorgeous dark artwork (no-one does the mix of erotic and infernal quite like Daniela Ventrone), this vinyl-length return is a fine way to not only get reacquainted with Cherry Five, but witness the birth of a brand new version of the band with so much to offer. With `Il Pozzo dei Giganti' they've delivered a confident, intelligent and lavish work that will equally appeal to vintage and modern RPI listeners, up there with the best Italian releases of 2015 from both modern and established older acts. Hopefully the band is inspired to continue on with more new works in the near future and we won't have to wait another forty years for a follow-up!

Four and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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