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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - Per Un Amico CD (album) cover

PER UN AMICO

Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.42 | 1094 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

maani
Special Collaborator
Founding Moderator
4 stars This site introduced me to Italian prog, which has become my favorite subgenre after the "seminal" British prog bands. Indeed, the more I hear of it - especially early Italian prog (PFM, Museo Rosenbach, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso et al) - the more I'm convinced that it rivals British prog in every way. Composition, lyricality, textures, vocals, musicianship, etc. - the Italians are every bit as good as their British counterparts.

The band description notes early King Crimson and Genesis as influences in PFM's work. However, while it may be that Genesis influenced them later on, this is not what I hear on "Per Un Amico." (Indeed, the timing is all wrong: given that this album came out in 1972, this means it was written in 1971. Thus, PFM could not have heard either Nursery Cryme or Foxtrot, and there is little here that sounds like Trespass.) Although there is definitely some early Crimson influence (esp. the Lizard/Islands era), I hear mostly Gentle Giant and Jethro Tull. (As an aside, having listened to a great deal of non-British prog of late, especially from Italy, I am convinced that Gentle Giant had an absolutely extraordinary influence on European prog in general - far more than most people are aware.) Indeed, although PFM is in the Italian Symphonic Prog category, most of this album might be called Italian Canterbury School. Because although there are the occasionally "heavy" keyboards and textures associated with "symphonic prog," the larger influences here are classical, folk and even a bit of jazz. [N.B. I have always felt that Gentle Giant was miscategorized on ths site: they belong in Canterbury, not Symphonic prog.]

"Appena un Po'" opens the album with a very lyrical (in the literal sense of that word - "of the lyre") Baroque classical intro, moving into a more traditional "prog" composition with early Crimson, Tull and GG (especially the vocals) influences. "Generale" has even heavier GG influence, with a bit of ELP mixed in. The first three minutes, especially, bring to mind Minnear-like keyboards, Green-ish guitar, and Schulman-esque violin. The title track, "Per Un Amico," is probably the most truly original composition. Although there is a passage toward the end that is clearly an "homage" to "Nothing At All" (from Gentle Giant's first album), this composition both takes from and adds to the prog-rock lexicon in a way that none of the other pieces does. "Il Banchetto" is a very interesting composition. Opening with CSNY-like vocals and acoustic guitar (and this is by no means an insult), it moves into a mildly Genesis-like section full of texture, Banks-y keys and Hackett-like guitarwork, and then into a bizarre, disjointed GG-esque secition full of Minnear-like keyboard work. Pianist Premoli then launches into an Emerson-like keyboard solo reminiscent of the middle section of "Take A Pebble." Then its "back to the beginning" for a CSNY-type ending. "Geranio" is the weakest composition on the album, and one of the two reasons I did not give the album five stars. The piece begins in fine Tull/GG style, but then gets lost in a largely directionless keyboard-heavy section, the last four minutes of which is repetitive in the extreme. (Did they simply run out of ideas?)

Despite the few missteps here, "Per Un Amico" is an excellent, well-executed, highly listenable album with very fine musicianship throughout. (BTW, where is the drummer's credit?) As an aside, the other reason I did not give the album five stars is that, even without the few missteps, I do not believe it ranks with the true masterpieces of the genre - though it undoubtedly ranks with the early masterpieces of the subgenre of Italian prog. (We have had the "masterpiece" discussion ad nauseum in the forums; I have settled on this approach.)

All said, this is truly "an excellent addition to any prog rock collection."

maani | 4/5 |

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