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I Califfi - Fiore di Metallo CD (album) cover


I Califfi


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.36 | 64 ratings

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3 stars Just found the early 90's Italian vinyl reissue of this album that is nearly impossible to find in its original form (for under $1k). This is a minor release in the RPI 1970's catalog from a band with roots that go deep into the 60's. (bassist Franco Boldrini, the sole surviving 60's member started professionally in Italy in 1963, and the band has its origins in1966). Like many beat bands of the 60's era, some adapted to the current times by turning prog.

Many of the beat bands who transitioned to the 70's still bear traces of the optimism and upbeat approach of their 60's origins. Opener Nel Mio Passato alternates gentle acoustic passages with a building prog riff reminiscent of early Yes-things get going and the keyboard skills of Sandro Cinotti get the full window display here-powerful hammond organ, buzzing moogs, traces of harpsichord or spinet all blend into a very peppy (and slightly poppy) introduction. Second song Fiore Finto, Fiore Di Metallo tears off with guitar and rhythm section straight from Deep Purple's Highway Star before the pop sensibilities take a bit of control. Good straight ahead rock n roll with prog touches but propelled by a furious beat from drummer Maurizio Bordini. One of the more frantic songs on the album, it has nice touches of synth over the fade out of the riff. Alleluia Gente starts with acoustic guitar and a subdued vocal with hand drum accompaniment gives us a quick contrast from the last song. Poppy? Sort of, but wouldn't be out of place on a Le Orme album, or perhaps Wind and Wuthering. Great synth work saves this one. Catchy, but might turn off some prog fans. Side one closes with the masterpiece Varius- a Triumvirat styled instrumental workout that comes out of left field in its brilliance. Thunderous Wakeman (or Virgil Fox) church organ swirls with dexterity that shows the classical skills well as an intro, before heading into a song that could have been an outtake from Spartacus. Gentle solo piano gives a tempo interlude before heading off again in a burst of energy and a piano workout that rivals Emerson's best work. The crescendo at the end is straight from several ELP songs (Triumvirat was always thought of as the German ELP anyway...) This is the best song on the album, and like other reviewers have pointed out, if more of the album sounded like this, well.......they would be viewed as one of the top Italian prog bands.

Side two kicks off with FelicitÓ, Sorriso E Pianto, more in line with typical AOR Italian radio music of the 70's-thank the gods that they didn't put this first on side one, as it would have needles pulling off and albums getting bagged up to sell without going further. Not terrible, but not terribly progressive-maybe think Dolcimissa Maria from PFM. A Piedi Scalzi picks up the pace-more a straight ahead rocker in the 1969-1970 proto prog vein. Heavy phasing on drum fills is nice, and guitarist Vincenzo Amadei gets a workout here. Again this might have too much catchiness for prog fans, but is an excellent hybrid. Madre, Domani ... is another pop tune that straddles the prog end with some quirky Gentle Giant styled mini interludes between verses. Col Vento Nei Capelli is a straight ahead rocker with some gurgling synths in counterpoint to some ripping guitar that should have been a radio hit, but in 1973 this early 1970-1 sounding song was probably too late to the rodeo. Catchy. Album closer Campane starts with church bells and tinkling piano that lead to the second best song on the album, an instrumental that shows off some nice synth and again is reminiscent of Triumvirat, very complex and beautiful. For this song and Varius alone, this album is worth investigating.

Overall, this is a very well recorded album-dynamic and clearly defined high end with deep bass. While I wouldn't say you should start here in your Italian Prog journey, this is an album that might appeal to prog fans who like the pop pastoral edges of Genesis' Wind and Wuthering. Definitely one that RPI fans should get once they got some of the bigger titles out of the way. These guys should have been huge, but it seems that they were not taken seriously as a prog band-some Italian fans often dismissed beat bands that tried to make the jump into the prog field.

3.25 stars

zeuhl1 | 3/5 |


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