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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - A Celebration Live  CD (album) cover


Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.38 | 15 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars After releasing a comprehensive 4-CD box set of bootleg concert tapes in 1996 ("10 Anni Live 1971-1981"), the ace Italian proggers of PFM compiled this two-disc abbreviation, but even for those of us on a tight budget it's hardly a worthwhile bargain. The shorter version is still a generous collection, with 36-total cuts spanning the band's golden years from their earliest Italian tours in 1971 to their cultural homecoming circa 1978 (I count only 8 anni in this reduced set, but as their former lyricist Peter Sinfield might have said, "that's life"¯).

And the performances are, as any fan would expect, never less than agile and inventive. Perhaps too much disc space is devoted to sometimes aimless jamming, a habit with PFM that always compared poorly to the more adventurous collective improvisation of the group's most obvious role model, early KING CRIMSON. But there's a worthwhile cross-section of genuine songs as well, including (from the oldest gigs) some fascinating covers of CRIMSON and TULL material, sung as always in somewhat fractured phonetic English.

No, the biggest hurdle here, even for confirmed fans, is the inconsistent amateur production. The original box set was sold as an "official bootleg series", so be forewarned: the sound quality ranges from merely adequate to almost completely unlistenable. The few welcome exceptions are the tracks from the band's 1973-1974 American tour (using the same tapes from their excellent live album "Cook"¯), and some of the jazzier selections from the "Jet Lag"¯ / "Passpartł"¯ years.

The latter tracks in particular offer a rare showcase for fiddler Gregory Bloch, who appeared on only one PFM album (the fusion influenced "Jet Lag"¯, in 1977) and disappeared just as quickly. The Jazz Rock flavor of that music left a sour taste to many longtime fans, but it's interesting to hear Bloch's interpretation of older PFM favorites (such as "Dove...Quando"¯), performed in a style more bluegrass than classical.

Elsewhere this collection (actually, a compilation of a compilation) is strictly for diehard Premiata Forneria Fanatics who can't afford the four-disc box, and dedicated Prog archeologists unafraid to scrape the bottom of the sonic barrel.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |


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