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Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso CD (album) cover


Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.29 | 923 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

I'm wondering if it's not pointless to review such a widely known album this late in the creation of the site, as there must be between 50 and 150 reviews of all kinds, which means that almost everything to be said and its exact opposite have been said at least a few times. I must say that I avoided these Italian bands (especially the big three) early on, because I was not a major fan, and thought I'd better wait some day, where I'll have time to... And it never came until.. now. So I'll start with a few generalities, like BMS is the one I respect most of the big 3 Italian band, even if PFM hits higher chords in my brains. And from what I gather among the big three, BMS remained the most constant, avoiding constant line-up changes, which might be salutary for some, but destructive for others.

BMS's debut album comes in one of the ugliest gimmick artwork ever, an ugly orange tit-piggybank complete with cut-outs to make it fragile and hard to store in its vinyl form. But this side issue shouldn't distract us from taking a look at the keyboard-driven quintet with the Nocenzi brothers acting like twin barrels carburetors each one keyboards and sometimes on wind instruments. This piano-organ attack is nothing new in prog and was pioneered by Procol Harum in 67, so 5 years later BMS uses it flawlessly in their 72 debut album. This twin kb is not overpowering either, even allowing their Todaro guitarist some very large moments to Shine On Brightly, even if he's no Robin. Of course let's not forget Di Giacomo's unusual vocals, often called operatic, which I find a bit abusive as this was also said of Freddy Mercury, but next to Montserat Cabale in Barcelona in 92, the latter was nowhere.

The album consist of two short tracks bookending the album, the narrative and cosmic In Volo and the Bach-inspired Traccia and the un-announced (on the cover antyway) Renaissance harpsichord Passagio provide some sort of glue between and around the three "pièces de résistance". Whether these three interludes are meant to encapsulate the album into a "concept", there is no clear evidence for or against, but probably that BMS needed more time and mastery to achieve it. This concept mastery would come to them soon. The opening piece is an okay prologue, while Traccia is a fitting epilogue, while the baroque Passagio seems a useless transition piece, serving like a shot of grappa between the courses.

The with the "In Volo" zakouskis (that is amuse-gueule in Russian) gone, the antipasti of RIP come out firing on all cylinders with the guitar and organ and vocals up front, while the piano comes in when the flute is resting. RIP is the textbook case of an overblown Italian rock track with all of the usual Italian excesses that goes down well (if not extremely well) with progheads, but would sound completely cheesy if done by any other non-Italian group. Onto the primi piatti, the almost instrumental Metamorphosi, a very keyboard-dominated track where the organ and the piano duel each on their own channel of the stereo. This track depends maybe a bit too much on XVIIIth century classical music for my tastes, often borderline Emersonian fonduesque (I'm up on cheese humour here), but again it's fairly successful, only because it's Italian-styled overblown. A rather weaker course, leaving us a bit hungry, really! The secundi piatti Giardino is not as magic as it would lead you to believe (while it doesn't pretend to be sliced raw-milk Mozzarella Di Buffala either), but it quenches whatever hunger you might still have with its four ingredients. However the succession of all four ingredients is not quite a fine-tuned recipe, as the sauce lacks the necessary binds to make smooth transitions between the ingredients, although you can hear the opening theme brought back later once or twice after its overlong development early on in Passo dopo. From far the most interesting movement is the very vocal second and uptempoed Chi Ride e Chi Geme.

Hardly perfect, yet quite impressive debut album, BMS is one of those albums setting the Italian legend and certainly a healthy base to set your second effort upon its foundations. Hopefully I've brought in my review something slightly different than my fellow reviewer's, and hopefully its digestion will go down mascarpone in a tiramisu, should you ever venture down the page so far as to reach it.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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