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Rocky's Filj - Storie Di Uomini E Non CD (album) cover


Rocky's Filj


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.17 | 69 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars The 70s Italian prog scene was notable for its operatic style that fused classical music with contemporary rock but mostly fit in nicely in what is now deemed symphonic prog. Bands like Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM), Banco del Mutuo del Mutuo Soccorso (Banco), Quelle Vecchia Locanda and Le Orme were some of the better known bands that helped put Italy on the map in the world of progressive rock but there were a few crazy Italian bands that sorta went off in their own direction. Area and Picchio dal Pozzo are two of the more famous bands that embarked on a more jazz fueled flirtation with avant-prog but there were other examples as well with some like Il Balletto Di Bronzo actually releasing some of the best prog albums of the era.

The Parma based ROCKY'S FILJ was another such band that while firmly fitting into the greater Rock Progressivo Italiano movement was still an anomaly for its distinct stylistic approach that took the established Italian rock sound and married it with jazz and experimental touches. This quintet of four highly competent musicians was named after lead singer / saxophonist / clarinetist Roberto 'ROCKY' Rossi whose distinct vocal style went perfectly with the band's bizarre moniker however i still can't figure out what the FILJ part of the name means although a 7" single called "Ingrio" was released under the name Roky's Fily. The band also included Roby Gravlovitz (guitar, flute), Luigi Ventura (bass, trombone) and Rubino Colasante (drums, upright bass.)

More than most bands with possibly Area being the exception, ROCKY'S FILJ was a dramatic band that really fulfilled the image of rock stars and although the band was both original and technically adept only survived for a brief moment in time before the band broke up. During its short tenure, ROCKY'S FILJ managed to release its one and only album STORIE DI UOMINI E NON (Stories Of Men And Not) in 1973 but what an interesting one shot delivery of highly complex and original prog that came out by these guys! It's fair to say that it's a true shame this band didn't continue on because despite a less than perfect album, STORIE DI UOMINI E NON is an excellent album that is full of passion and originality and despite the fact that the band even opened for Banco during its heyday still succumbed to the pressures of the music biz.

STORIE DI UOMINI E NON is a dramatic and exciting album filled with twists and turns. While all five tracks have vocal parts, there are many segments of instrumental prog ecstasy particularly with the opening 13 minute track "L'Ultima Spiaggia" which not only delivers some stellar jazz-rock workouts but also cranks up the decibelage to 11 with heavy rock guitar riffs and sizzling solos in tandem with knotty prog workouts that pull out all the angular time signature deviations. In addition there are many more pastoral moments as experienced on the second track "Il Soldato" that finds ROCKY'S FILJ fitting perfectly into the less frenetic Italian prog bands of the era which unlike Area showcases the band's ability to fit in the so-called mainstream as well as standing out amongst the lunatic fringe. Rocky Rossi's vocal style sounds completely standard on this track but he was more than ready to let his normalcy off the leash when permission was granted.

After the rather mellow interlude following the lengthy opening track, the succinctly titled "E" returns to the jazz-fusion splendor with knotty time signature workouts with blissful saxophone ambitions that sound like a typical jazz band of the 60s that just inhaled an airplane cargo load of cocaine and their spirits are oh sooo high! This is probably the track that displays Rossi's most virtuosic sax squawks erupting like a flock of seagulls gathering around an overturned sushi truck on the freeway. With avant-prog detours and hard rock guitar riffs ushering the jazz-fueled composition into hysteria, this one is just is too cool to be legal but somehow has slipped through the gatekeepers' awareness!

"Io Robot" takes on yet another persona that sounds more like English renaissance music than anything remotely Italian as a baritone sax creates a Gryphon type of movement but then becomes a weirdly abstract jazz-rock track that is obstinately out of sync with the rest of the album. Probably the weakest of the lot and like the title insinuates a little too robotic for its own good. No Alan Parsons Project on this one (Italian for "I Robot") but still not bad. "Martino" ends the album in jazz-fusion land where angular time signature rich escapades meander with a sax and guitar conversation that leads to an explosive vocal delivery and probably the most dramatic explosive fiery track on the album and the second best after the amazingly cool opener. This track in particular is very daring as it invites many moods and flavors to dance side by side. It's simultaneously technically dazzling while adding elements of funk, classic RPI symphonic prog sounds as well as heavy rock, avant-prog and well i guess that covers it!

ROCKY'S FILJ's only album is a wicked ride on the wild side (for the most part) of Italian style prog however it's not quite a masterpiece despite it all. What keeps this album down are the rather ordinarily but competent sounds of "Il Soldato" and "Io Robot." These tracks which would sound great on a more reserved RPI band's repertoire just seem to dilute this album's fiery passion and water it down way too much for my liking. Of all the bands that i wish would've continued on, this is one of them, however life is what happens when we make other plans. The band did continue on long enough to record a second album that was supposed to be titled "Brivido Rock" but it was never released and i can only hope that it's out there somewhere awaiting the status of archival release for some future date. Many members continued on in other projects but sadly Rocky Rossi himself died in a car accident in 1985 which is fitting for his personality of living fast and dying young. This is definitely one of the more unique examples of 70s Italian prog and for the more adventurous crowds out there, you should not miss this one!

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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