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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - Photos Of Ghosts CD (album) cover


Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.07 | 490 ratings

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4 stars Photos Of Ghosts, released in 1973 is not strictly speaking the third album from PFM as in reality it is more or less a revamp of their excellent 1972 release Per Un Amico. In an attempt to achieve an audience outside their native Italy they enlisted the services of King Crimson lyricist Pete Sinfield to produce the album and provide English lyrics. The exception being Il Banchetto, which for reasons unknown to me retains its Italian vocals. Of course Per Un Amico only had five tracks and there are seven here. The other two are Celebration, a track originally on their debut Storia Di Un Minuto where it appeared as E' Festa. The only piece to have not appeared in another version somewhere else is Old Rain.

Most true RPI lovers will tell you that these releases should be left untouched, with original Italian vocals intact. As I've delved more and more into this world of wonderful music over the last few years I've come to the same conclusion myself and while Photos Of Ghosts is an excellent album, while not sounding exactly disjointed with the Italian vocals on one song and English on the rest, it does lose something of its charm.

However, whatever your opinion might be on the vocals there's no denying the sheer quality of the music which is an attractive blend of acoustic and electric instrumentation; flute, violin, acoustic guitar, piano and drums alongside the electric instruments of guitar, bass and classic seventies keyboards like the Hammond organ, Moog and Mellotron. Not surprisingly a dynamic sound is produced, with mellow pastoral restraint alongside more powerful sections, perfectly illustrated in opener River of Life which after an acoustic guitar and flute dominated intro leads into a short but storming full band instrumental workout, until calm is restored for the vocals. Like most of the album the music is fairly complex moving through many changes and moods, never less than captivating.

A simpler approach can be heard in Celebration, though not bad is probably the weakest song on the album, which is the nearest we get to a straightforward rock riff and lacking the musical diversity of most other pieces. Old Rain, a short instrumental is also a relatively simpler and largely acoustic piece, making up for in restrained beauty for what it lacks in diversity.

It's on the more complex pieces though, which is most of the rest that PFM really enthral where symphonic splendour sits alongside acoustic beauty, masterfully crafted together.

Photos Of Ghosts is not surprisingly an excellent album, however rather than recommend it I'd say go and get Per Un Amico instead to hear most of these songs as they should be heard.

Nightfly | 4/5 |


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