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Nuova Idea - In The Beginning CD (album) cover

IN THE BEGINNING

Nuova Idea

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

2.77 | 27 ratings

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zeuhl1
4 stars Been away for a bit, but have a backlog of Italian vinyl accumulated in lockdown to get through. First up is Nuova Idea, their debut lp from 1971, In the Beginning. I must admit--acquiring a very hard to find original Ariston 1971 copy unexpectedly was like a bolt of lightning. I'd always heard of the side long song, Come Come Come being something that resonated with the kids and pushed some change in the Italian live scene (most important being them introducing the phenomenon of the side long song), but many reviews pushed the whole lp into the 'post psych-proto prog' bin, and advised going for Clowns for the full effect. I sensed something different in this crackly album, an object that had spent the last 49 years of its life in Italy and suddenly found itself it North America and spun some magic from past eras into an American living room. What has it seen? What parties was it at? Decades of weird hippie vibes are in the well worn grooves here. I digress...

(It's odd that the band supposedly didn't even know it was released until they'd seen it in a store (!)

Ok, maybe I am turning in to an Italian proto prog guy. Because my thoughts published previously for example on Delirium posit the idea that the original band really got it right-and when drastic changes happened, the spirit of the band somehow dissipated-- however prog the band vectored. Jesahel? Part of Italian culture revolved around this tune for a while in '72 as the 1971 early prog wave (Le Orme-Collage and New Trolls-Concerto Grosso per i New Trolls being the best examples) plowed psych and beat bands into the furrows like last years harvest. The early stuff by these bands got it right, the mission that many of these early Italian bands had been on-to reinvent popular music in a sea change for the pop world was concentrated very intensely in many bands debut work. (for convenience sake, Concerto Grosso and Collage get lumped into 'debut album' group). Many groups grew more complex and intricate as they developed but somehow shed a layer of their specialness as a consequence. This album contains the essential essence of Nuova Idea, and in a way, is perhaps their definitive release.

Part of this is due to their guitarist, Marco Zoccheddu. I'd initially discovered this guy in his next project, Osage Tribe, and was seriously impressed with his wild abandon attack on his guitar. Kind of Hendrix (not as overt as the Garybaldi guy), kind of early Clapton, definitely original, Marco created a masterpiece in the Osage album. I suspected that he would be a bit more subdued in his original big label prog band, and it is true, less pure guitar meltdown is on display. But something more interesting is going on here, a full band approach.

(note I followed him further into his next band Duello Madre, a jazz rock affair, and they don't create, well...a masterpiece. Highly disappointing denouement for one of my favorite Italian guitarists.)

Come, Come, Come is an amazing song. Some friends said 'it has the spirit of Delirium's Jesahel, kind of spontaneous melodies and planned harmonics that create some magic' It is definitely catchy, memorable magic. Several sections cleave and heal rifts in reality/song arrangement to fuse wide ranging Deep Purple circa their best prog 1970-71 arrangements with some Uriah Heep's better moments with an Italian twist. (Some might notice that the drum and vocal improv near the end of the side long song are similar in arrangement to the epic drum solo on the 1976 Yes live album Yesshows during the song Ritual. Likely that Moraz in Switzerland had his finger on the pulse of some obscure Italian rock than his Brit bandmates glomming this, and 'put it in the library' til it was needed). In final retrospect, it is clear this is one of the more important early Italian prog songs-this is somewhat akin to their Space Truckin (even though it predates that opus), in a more commercial clothing.

ELP also dips into the mix near the end-remember, this is 1971: ELP had Tarkus out, Crimson had their first two statements, Yes had the Yes Album, Aqualung was just out....Nuova Idea were on top of their international game early. One reason might be their two side projects, Underground Set and Psycheground Group-three albums from 1970 and 1971 that were instrumental albums with no information on members that were released in the UK and most of Europe in the post psych wave. Both lps are extremely rare in original release, and many do not know that both of these bands are Nuova Idea acting under contractual obligation. (many Italian bands would dep into other fake 'created by the label' ghost group bands designed to generate album sales as a different band.) This is a phenomenon not unknown in the UK, but really was pushed to the hilt in Italia. This also probably explains why they were surprised when their album under their own name came out. (an Ariston promo lp with Nuova Idea, i Top Four and Stormy Six was the first release of Come Come Come, so they had some confusing irons in the fire) <.p>

Side two is a mix of their original singles with one new song, and although a bit poppier, they are infused with the spirit of early Italian prog: like a slug of aqua vitae, will bring you out of cerebral clouds that sometimes...do...not...rock... into a range of bands that can pull your skullcap off and rewire you. To be fair, this album will only rewire you lightly, but it will be important to the next steps.

This album is essential to any early RPI collection, especially if one seeks any 1970-1971 early Italian bands that ended up defining a genre.

Some Colosseum and Deep Purple pre 1971 are good reference points.

four stars for RPI fans, 2.75 for prog fans.

zeuhl1 | 4/5 |

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