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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - Passpart¨  CD (album) cover

PASSPART┘

Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.06 | 122 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Probably the most underrated album from arguably the most famous band in Italy sounds like a long overdue homecoming, and completes what might almost be an otherwise unrelated trilogy. It was the last of three consecutive albums to feature the distinctive voice of Bernardo Lanzetti (after "Chocolate Kings" and "Jet Lag"), closing a circle that brought the group finally back to their native shores after finding success as global Prog superstars.

It was, significantly, also the first PFM album not released outside Italy. A deliberate effort was made to shrug off the lucrative Anglo-American mantle they had shouldered for so long: no more awkward English lyrics or symphonic rock stylings borrowed from pre-existing (English) role models, chiefly early GENESIS and KING CRIMSON.

The decision must have been liberating, and here was the result. In its all-too brief 36-minutes this album glows like a warm ray of Adriatic sunshine, sounding more authentically Italian and showing perhaps more genuine vitality than in all their earlier studio albums combined. The music is noticeably more acoustic, with Franco Mussida's electric guitar better integrated into the larger group setting (the core quintet was joined by five additional musicians), and the many synthesizers are used more for color and texture rather than indiscriminate soloing.

Some fans dismiss the album as lightweight Mediterranean pop, an understandable knee-jerk reaction maybe prompted by the cartoon cover art and lack of any textbook Prog dynamics. But the intuitive virtuosity of all the best PFM albums is still clearly audible: listen to the unstoppable drive and pinpoint precision of "Viene il Santo", surely one of the brightest songs in the entire PFM catalogue, or the deft synchronicity evident in the upbeat instrumental title track and the energetic "Le Trame Bl¨". The haunting ballad "Su Una Mosca e Sui Dolci" measures up well against any early PFM classic (allowing room for some tasteful Mussida soloing, too), and the album closer "FantalitÓ" wouldn't sound out of place at a Cosa Nostra wedding reception.

The long journey home for the band would end with a series of concerts the following year alongside Genovese troubadour FABRIZIO DE ANDR╔ (qv), for which this 1978 album was something of an unofficial rehearsal. But if they couldn't sustain whatever creative spell had befallen them during this recording session (and subsequent albums over the next decade seem to prove they didn't), at least the band managed to conjure a little home-brewed magic before their fire went out.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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