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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - Cook (aka Live in the USA) CD (album) cover

COOK (AKA LIVE IN THE USA)

Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.13 | 164 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
4 stars PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI or simply PFM for those of us who are multisyllabophobes, was at the height of their success in Europe, Japan and North America around 1974 after having been discovered by ELP and added to their Manticore Records and allowing ex-King Crimson lyricist Peter Sinfield rewrite their lyrics in the English language to garner international attention. It all paid off, of course and PFM released albums in both English and their native Italian but most of all were the first act of the burgeoning Italian progressive rock scene to have huge success in touring North America and beyond. This album is the only testament of that mid-70s peak of PFM and captures them at full musical form with all those intricate mind blowing instrumental workouts and the full force of their progressive compositions pleasing huge crowds of hungry fans.

The album came out in 1974 and was released as both "LIVE IN USA" in Europe with the totally cheesy light blue album cover with a blurry photo of the band on stage and also as "COOK" in North America which displays a much cooler album cover depicting snakes in a pot over the sun with the planet Saturn in the top right hand corner. The original release contains performances from the Convocation Hall at Toronto Univerity, Ontario, Canada on the 22nd of August 1974 and from the Schaefer Central Park Music Festival in Central Park, New York City, NY, USA on the 31st of August 1974. So why did they call it LIVE IN USA when part of it was recorded in Canada? I guess they realized this faux pas and changed the title to COOK.

This is a difficult review for me because i'm only now coming to this from the perspective of the 2010 remastered Expanded Deluxe Edition that improves all the poor production flaws of the original release but more importantly expands it to a 3 disc CD boxed set that includes the entirety of the Central Park performance in NYC. Truth be told, the two additional discs are a lot better than Disc 1 which is the original release of the album. While the original disc finds the band in their prime, it does have some sloppiness attached including poor vocals, out-of-sync instrumental disasters and just doesn't capture the overall perfection of the albums. It does however prove that there are no overdubs and is the real deal totally unedited and the flaws are hardly enough to bring down the extreme exuberance and professional musicianship on board here.

DISC ONE: the original album that was basically the only thing fans knew of as LIVE IN USA aka COOK for 35 years. My main complaint on this one is basically the track selections. After hearing all three discs of the 2010 triple disker, i'm asking myself why they went with the ones that they did? The versions on the other discs are better. It contains "Four Holes In The Ground" from "The World Became The World," "Dove? Qunado?" from the debut "Storia Di Un Minuto," "Mr 9 Till 5" from "Photos Of Ghosts" and the medley finale "Alta Loma Nine Till Five" which incorporates different riffs from various tracks and includes a virtuosic workout of the "William Tell Overature" which was composed by Italian classical opera writer Gioachino Rossini around the year of 1829. Now i'm not saying anything on this original roster of track choices is bad by any means, i'm just saying that i find that Discs 2 and 3 are just BETTER! Take for example the band's most popular track of their career "Celebration." It is on the original but also on Disc 3 of the remastered and it is the latter where it just blows the roof off the house. It's simply a better performance IMHO. Of course, i admit i have not heard the original album and its purported sound quality so there were obviously issues beyond my comprehension that went into play regarding track selection.

My point is simple. If you are going to invest in this album DO get the 2010 remastered Expanded Deluxe Edition. The production is great and the performances of the NYC concert are without doubt superior to those of Toronto. On the bonus discs we not only get more classics like "River Of Life" and "Is My Face On Straight" but the duplicates are more interesting IMHO with the band's chemistry gelling and unleashing all the prog yumminess that they are famous for as well as tasty guitar and drum solos that are lengthy but not flashy in any way (not that there's anything wrong with that but does turn some off.) I can only recommend this fine collection of live performances in the manner it should have been released in the first place and that is a complete collection of the NYC venue. Simple music magic going on here with the few flaws only serving as a reminder that this is a real band of talented musicians subject to the limitations of being human doing the best they can and in this case the best really means a lot.

4 stars for the original album. 4.5 stars for the remastered Expanded Deluxe Edition. This is simply a must for PFM fans

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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