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Buon Vecchio Charlie - Buon Vecchio Charlie CD (album) cover

BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE

Buon Vecchio Charlie

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.71 | 71 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Fine, energetic early entry

Buon Vecchio Charlie is not the greatest Italian prog album ever but it is an important one that pre-dates most of the heavy hitters from the classic scene. Formed in Rome in 1970, their album was recorded in either '71 or '72 depending on which source you believe which puts in on the early side of the classic period. It features a varied and downright spunky assortment of heavy rockiness and more subtle moments with the feel of Midnight Sun, Tull, or to a lesser extent Marsupilami. "Recorded in the Spring of 1971, it contains simply superb progressive rock with three prolonged pieces elegantly balanced between classical, jazz, folk and heavy progressive. Their adaption of Edvard Grieg's In The Hall Of Mountain King combined with their own melodic material is a 12-minute delight, far better than any adaptations The Nice ever made." [italicized from Scented Gardens]

The album ranges from a heavy guitar rock sound with bluesy and jazzy variations to the second track which has a more romantic, pastoral feel. Flute is ever present on both the rock and pastoral stuff, saxophone is the other heavily featured accompaniment. The bass foundation is solid and to the fore with animated drumming (lots of fills!) and good lead guitar. There is much here for the organ rock fan as well, lots of heavy runs and trade-offs with the flute. I admit to being more swayed by the middle track with its beautiful pastoral Italian feel: the warm, big-hearted vocals with the summer day flute melody that keeps coming back. Less exciting perhaps than the two big jam tracks that bookend it but really special to me, sort of leading to where PFM would soon arrive and get credit for being.but I believe BVC was right there with "evviva la contea di lane" even if not as sparkling with their production. But even in this track they never get too pretentious: they throw a wailing sax solo right in the middle of their mellower track and then get back wide open jamming for the long third track. And that's the main selling point of BVC: they can jam. Don't look to them for mind blowing, way-out concepts and pretentiousness (in either the good or bad sense.) Look for a jamming rock band with a bit of the Italian prog flair on the side. Every time they stop for a more introspective interlude like a quiet acoustic guitar meditation, they soon burst back into the energetic jamming. They almost make me think of a kid sitting at the piano practicing his classical exercises, meantime his foot is nervously twitching as he can't wait to get back to the basement and strap on his guitar!

While one can take issue with the less-than-perfect production and occasionally loose playing I think that BVC is something that Italian fans will need to hear, and many '70s prog fans in general would greatly enjoy. Much of it is instrumental so don't be put off by the Italian vocals thing. The Akarma digipak features no booklet or information, but does tack on a couple of short bonus tracks, neither of which match the quality of the three main tracks. I have noted that some claim the Akarma version sounds better, but I haven't heard the other version. 7/10

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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