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Osanna - L'Uomo CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.64 | 143 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars Emerging in the shadow of Mt Vesuvius in the southern Italian city of Napoli (Naples), one of Italy's premiere progressive rocking bands OSANNA set the stage for many others to follow. The band consisted of Lino Vairetti (vocals, 12-string guitar, harmonica, organ, synth), Danilo Rustici (guitar, organ), Massimo Guarino (drums), Elio D'anna (flute, piccolo, saxes) and Lello Brandi (bass) and although they would only delivery three albums before the band members began ruffling each others feathers and the friction would smother the creative juices, none of that appears on their debut L'UOMO (The man or mankind.) Right from the start OSANNA were attention getters in their live setting by wearing long cult leader like vests and were amongst the very first rock acts to don face paint and engage in theatrical stage antics. Rumor has it that Genesis who chose them to open up for them in those early days very well may have taken some of these influential performance tricks with them once the bands went their own ways.

While it is almost universally accepted that OSANNA's creative peak was with the grandiose and masterful "Palepoli," it would be a mistake to write off the earlier albums as mere warm-ups for that shining moment of Rock Progressivo Italiano. All their trademark elements are already fully functional on this debut. Lino Vairetti lures you in with his signature rock vocal style while Danilo Rustici nailed it with his best heavy psych / blues rock meets Neopolitan and Mediterranean riffing styles. Add in the 60s acid flashbacks of psychedelic effects, high-powered heavy rock attacks from out of the blue interspersed with soft and sensual acoustic segments often decorated with the jazzy touches of a sax, the sensuousness of folky flute and down-home country feel of a harmonica and you will realize that OSANNA mastered a great number of musical moods, timbres and genres and mixed them so well that you can hardly tell that they're not supposed to be there!

For a progressive rock album, L'UOMO is very much a collection of shorter tracks that despite having progressive touches was still in that transition phase of straight forward heavy rock and full-blown progressive rock pomp and awe. This album was designed to be accessible and awe-inspiring simultaneously and achieves the marriage of both aspects of rock quite successfully. The beauty of early OSANNA is how they can nurture the most addictive melodies and manage to pass the baton from musician to musician as they can manage to fit acoustic guitar, flute solos, harmonica wailing and heavy filthy rock augmented by sax and psychedelia often within the same track! After some careful examination it would appear that the classic "Palepoli" merely sews all the elements laid out here albeit in a more sophisticated fashion under the guise of single tracks whereas on L'UOMO it's a tad more disjointed and displays the freneticism of a passionate energetic band getting their feet wet.

While the Italian rock scene stalwartly incorporated their native Italian language to their music, OSANNA was testing the ground with three tracks in English most likely observing the huge success of the British invasion and other neighboring European nations jumping on the English language bandwagon. These three tracks are certainly the most hard rocking numbers of the album however i feel they detract from the overall continuity of the album a bit and i would definitely prefer that L'UOMO would have been exclusively in the beautiful Italian language. Despite the ability to put L'UOMO under the microscope for decades and reveal its flaws, this debut album remains a steadfast place marker in Italian progressive rock history where the 60s and 70s were getting all cozy with each other and ultimately spawning new offspring and not to mention that this is a damn good listen to boot! Yeah, "Palepoli" wins the progressive rock wars but L'UOMO remains a more light-hearted collection of instantly addictive tracks that elevate this one to the ranking as my second favorite OSANNA album!

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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