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I Numi - Alpha Rapha Boulevard CD (album) cover

ALPHA RAPHA BOULEVARD

I Numi

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

2.58 | 14 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Early transitional band mostly for RPI enthusiasts

I Numi were a 5-piece band formed near Rome from various beat bands and are considered a minor player on the Italian prog scene, probably a third tier band to many people. As is generally the case, when you actually check out these lesser acclaimed bands the low expectations you have allow you to be pleasantly surprised. Numi is far from a progressive rock powerhouse even for '71. But you will find good moments here in the pop-rock vein with psych and prog influences. The tracks were composed not by the band members but by Italian singer-songwriter Guido Bolzoni from Pavia and was originally released on the Polaris label. The late Bolzoni (who died in 1995) was an inspirational person to the band and seemed larger than life, very bright and social. He would have large parties and hold court discussing music, art, books, etc. When the band got the deal with Polaris they needed to begin recording in about a months time. They panicked a bit only to be told by Bolzoni to relax, that he had plenty of ideas. The album was recorded in a very short time of course and a very funny story was told by drummer Furio Sollazzi to Augusto Croce. Sollazzi claimed the original acetate of the album sounded so ridiculously poor that the band actually drove back to the studio and barricaded themselves into a studio without reservation, and refused to come out until they had the thing remixed to something more acceptable. The second try turned out much better but still not exactly what they hoped for. When they heard what PFM had accomplished with regard to sound quality they were disappointed they didn't achieve a similar production. The band had a good schedule playing live and there were other short-lived projects with different line-ups throughout the 70s.

In describing the Numi sound on Alpha Ralpha, Scented Gardens mentions The Zombies and Procol Harum, while the band themselves claim English influences of the Beatles, Crimson, Yes, and Cream among many others. In terms of Italian bands, they share the same melodic, romantic and even psychish tendencies as Capricorn College, but with the ability to occasionally rock that you'll find with Buon Vecchio Charlie, Fabio Celi, or Il Mucchio. Immediately I was smitten with the title track's strong bass guitar presence and the urgent drumming contrasted with gentle, melancholic vocals and guitar leads, and varied keyboards. Piano and spinet/celesta are employed. All of the musicians are quite good but it is important to remember that Numi stop short of heading down explorative symphonic avenues, this is fairly straight ahead rock music in most cases and simply has proggy flavorings. The songs have fade-out endings and feature pretty typical rock rhythms and structures. It is the beauty and lovely arrangements typical of the romantic Italian approach that sell the music on ARB. Tracks like "Luce e gloria per te" feature some pretty dated wah-wah and psych keyboard treatments that are not particularly impressive, other bands were more interesting even at this early date. There are wind and water sound effects throughout but they sound more an afterthought than any kind of seamless part of the songwriting. There is a lovely flute over bass guitar and harpsichord over "Furma" that is a highlight. "325" is a long, laid back serenade of sentimentality and sunshine, with some nice change-ups and breaks in pacing and mood. I'm going to quote my friend Damo here because he nailed this album in his closing sentences-here is the bottom line: "Only the first track Alpha Ralpha Boulevard has great progressive flavour. The other songs have exactly Italian atmosphere but not progressive, I feel. Bluesy and lazy, early 70s' comfort if you love."

ARB is certainly a decent album with some nice moments but it is unquestionably a title for RPI enthusiasts only, and one that they need not check out before getting many dozens of the more important titles. Even when getting down to the less important bands from the progressive perspective, I would choose a band like Capricorn College over Numi for what they attempted versus what was achieved: a pleasant melodic pop-rock with catchiness first and serious considerations left to more experimental bands. The Numi CD reissue from AMS is another nice gatefold mini, the sound is good for bass and keys, but there is an annoying hiss on the vocal "s" that detracts. Not bad, but not quite enough for a 3 star rating for me. 5/10

Finnforest | 2/5 |

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