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Osage Tribe - Arrow Head CD (album) cover

ARROW HEAD

Osage Tribe

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.09 | 44 ratings

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zeuhl1
5 stars Honestly I feel like this album is hampered by a common reaction on progarchives: "Is it prog enough?" I think a far better question is: "Is it a good album or not?"

Osage Tribe is definitely a little noticed masterpiece in the RPI canon. It seems to get some lower marks due to it being mostly a guitar trio, but what a trio it is. Light on keyboards (they are occasional) , but heavy on skills and exuberance, led by guitarist Marco Zoccheddu from Nuova Idea, (founder and lead singer Franco Battiato had departed by the time they recorded this) and bassist Bob Caballero supported by nimble drummer Nunzio Fabia, Osage Tribe created a wonderful rambling guitar heavy album that is not afraid of jamming. (jamming being a no-no for many RPI fans, as is a lack of heavy keyboards). Marco leads the band through five songs that are fairly unique in the RPI scene. Native American themed (like Capitolo 6), though the flamboyant and striking stereotyped album cover and inner gatefold come from a glass backing to an old vintage pinball game of the era (seen hanging on the wall in the background of the band photo on the back of the album cover).

Opening song Hajenhanhowa is pretty representative of the spiritual vibe of the album, washes of cymbals and piano with harmonica give way to an acoustic guitar and bass figure-the faux syncopated Indian chant is actually Italian: 'Dio della vita dei luce alle menti' and 'dona la forza a tutto il mondo, di vedere ed arrivare' roughly ' God of life of the light to the minds' and "give me the strength of the whole world to see and 'arrive' " (apologies for bad Italian). It plows along like some Mediterranean version of Witchi Tai-To, awkwardly catchy. This sets up the theme for the record, native American warriors in a struggle for their lands in the face of US expansion in a situation where it is already too late. From the opening track, we swerve to a hard rock take on prog. Anger and frustration are accurately conveyed through the jams that veer from Cream-esque to jazz to proto metal to flickers of RPI. Front to back this is an exhilarating and take no prisoners attack that would likely frighten fans of more laid back symphonic and keyboard oriented traditional Italian prog rock.

Not many rambling wandering solos here, but a guitar heavy and cohesive rollercoaster ride of an RPI gem for fans of the heavy end of not only RPI, but rock n roll. (Zoccheddu and Caballero would go on to form the somewhat pedestrian Duello Madre jazz rock band by the end of 1972). Best seen in its striking and distinctive cover in full size on lp (on the original rare bla-bla label), it doesn't win any reader polls for 'best high quality studio recording of 1972", but plenty good enough to get the point across. The garage vibe works in the arrangements and a sparse lineup like this. Zero weak points to find here really.

Reference points would be Cream and some early Fly by Night or Caress of Steel era live Rush (some of this really reminded me of parts of the All the Worlds a Stage album). Complicated arrangements bump heads with simple guitar/bass/drums instrumentation, no frills or mellotrons. Great stuff, not for the faint of heart. I took a flyer on this and it turned out to be one of my favorite RPI albums of the 100 or so I have heard.

5 stars for creativity, palpable electric ambience and sheer originality. A diamond in the rough, a masterpiece of guitar rock.

zeuhl1 | 5/5 |

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