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Franco Maria Giannini - Affresco CD (album) cover


Franco Maria Giannini


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.05 | 19 ratings

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2 stars Time and time again I am reminded of just how incredible the depth of range of Italian Progressive Rock. This album is a good case in point. I made reference on time in the forums to the staggering number of artists and bands listed in a book on Italian Prog. The numbers would surprise you it is eye-opening, it is like every musician, or group tried their hand at Prog during the early 70's. A phenomena not seen in any any time. This is another album that was lost for years before finally being reissued in the 90's. Giannini like many before him tried his hand at progressive rock..was he sucessful? Ehhh.. commercially of course he was not but often quality had nothing to do with that. There is a reason Italy has such a high number of 'one and done' prog groups. The market.. a limited one like Italy could not sustain the shear number of artists and albums that came out in the early to mid 70's. Much better groups and albums than this album made absolutely no impact sales-wise thus receded into the pages of history. Only to be rediscovered with the incredible surge of re-interest in Italian prog due to the internet, that led to many out of print albums to be reissued.

Giannini's album enlisted some heavy hitters musically. Quella Vecchia Locanda's violinist Claudio Filice and guitarist Nicola Di Staso from Libra. Unfortunately their major contributions are limited to a couple of tracks, that not surprisingly sound like they could have been on a QVL album. Musically..the album is a bit of a mixed bag. The opening title track has strong traces of I Pooh which for those who don't particularly like the saccharine vocals of Pooh.. you might want to skip that one. Decent instrumental work with e-guitar, mandolin, mellotron and moog, but in a genre of incredible album opening tracks, it does come up a bit short. The musical coda is good stuff though. Lo Stracciarolo follows that with a nice violin introduction and a swirling rhythm propelled by the drums. Nice little stops and starts and musical twists, musically definitely a bit more interesting than the opening track. The Pooh-ish vocals from the opening track are gone though and here we get Franco's voice on their own here. His voice is rather pleasant. Not particularly dramatic or operatic like many out of RPI...but sort of indicative of the singer-songwriter background he came from. A decent musically interesting track. Il Cane Duc is a nice mandolin driven song with nice mellotron accompaniment, then the pace picks up with the drums and guitar coming in, slows again to a nice mellotron section. Not overpowering.. sort of supporting Franco's lyrical verses. Nice stuff. One thing that is a must in prog is dynamic and harmonic variety. Again.. this stuff is not in the league of the heavy hitters of prog, but it is a good listen. L'Eroe Di Cartone is next..and this is BY FAR my favorite on the album. The song started with a horn section that sound vaguely Spanish, then a solo piano section with Franco singing over it. Then a spanish horn section heralds a severe musical shift where the drums bring a military-life stridency to the song. Fabulous mellotron and piano work take us through a hypnotic section with passionately delivered vocals and great horn work with interesting synth work. A song that hooked me from the first listen. Good stuff.

Side 2 opens with Per La Tua Strada where the synths come up from the last song... and with them come the Poohish vocals. The vocal chorus on this song is irritating as hell. No idea what they are singing.. and never bothered to ask Raff to take the cotton from her eyes and tell me what it is that is being sung. Skip this track... I do. Vecchio Uomo is next.. and ooohh.. talk about repenting for musical sins. A wonderful journey if all too short, all the tracks on the album are under six minutes, a great melodynailed by Giannini vocally led by again by piano and the 'tron. Nice guitar and violin play supporting parts on this. Not hammer of the Gods kind of prog, but musically..very interesting. Un Sognatore is up next. This track is the one that sounds like it stepped right off an QVL album and on to a Giannini album. A bruising piece that starts with a sweet acoustic section then explodes into that Hammer of the Gods fury of passionately delivered vocals and stinging guitars and heavy and passionately delivered flute. The track that fans of prog will naturally gravitate to. Great track. Il Barbone (hahaha.. foreboding indeed for our dear Giannini) finishes the album with a tasteful violin introduction. Again.. well song. The horns in the spanish vein reappear and is a nice... if sedate way to close the album.

Rating the album. Hmmm. This is not by any stretch of the imagination the best album I have heard come out of Italy. However what it is though... is a very good album. Not the fire and brimstone of Osanna.. yet not the whimped out prog of Genesis inspired acts. It is a musically diverse ride and an interesting listen. For me... 3 stars.. I do enjoy the album. Enough so I felt like I needed to get off my ass and review it. For the site. 2 stars. I like it... but the explorer to Italian prog has a ways to go before you should be looking at adding this album to your collection.

Micky (aka The Big Icky...aka Michael)

micky | 2/5 |


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