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Formula 3 - La Grande Casa CD (album) cover

LA GRANDE CASA

Formula 3

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.02 | 43 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars The last of four albums released in the early 1970s by one of Italy's most Italian bands is by any definition only marginally Progressive, and suffers from both its amateur, unpolished production and skimpy length: only thirty minutes, hardly long enough to even qualify as a complete album. But for armchair travelers who can't afford the airfare it's the next best thing to a Mediterranean vacation, the musical equivalent to a plate of linguini con pesto at the local trattoria.

The half dozen short songs (none of them even approaching the six-minute mark) are closer to mild psychedelic pop than traditional Prog. But the best selections, including the evocative title track and the oddly self-titled "Rhapsodia di Radius" (named after its author, the band's guitarist) build to moments of room-filling quasi-symphonic grandeur, all the more impressive coming from a mere trio.

"Liberta' per Quest' Uomo" is another imaginary movie soundtrack (with political overtones?), again featuring lots of ominous acoustic guitars and grand choral effects, complete with melodramatic kettle drum fills. But "La Ciliegia non e' di Plastica" (any English translation of such a colorful title would only ruin it) is a prime slice of slightly skewed Neapolitan pop, probably intended as comic relief.

That leaves only the final two songs: a sentimental ballad smothered in faux-orchestral effects ("Cara Giovanna"), and the album closer "Bambina Sbagliata", close enough in style to be the same tune, slightly rearranged. Neither would sound out of place blaring from a cheap transistor radio in downtown Salerno, and like the entire album show hardly any influence from emerging musical trends outside the country. This is Italian music for Italian listeners, and needs a forgiving pair of ears to hear it in any other context.

A personal postscript: before discovering the South Korean CD re-issue (on the Si-Wan label), the last time I heard the album was in a used record shop on Grant Street in San Francisco's North Beach district, a few addresses away from one of the best Italian bakeries in the city. The music of Formula 3 and the smell of fresh focaccia bread: now that's a perfect combination.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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