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The Trip - Caronte CD (album) cover


The Trip


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.75 | 115 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nº 563

The Trip was an Italian progressive rock band, one of the first bands in the Italian prog rock scene. Working and living in Italy, the band eventually became made up of a majority of Italian members although that was not how things started. The band was formed originally in England in 1966 as Maiocchi & The Trip. It was formed as a support band for the beat-pop singer Ricky Maiocchi. It was originally a psychedelic rock band with Riki Maiocchi (voice), Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), William Gray (voice and guitar), Arvid Andersen (voice and bass) and Ian Broad (drums). Like many British bands, The Trip traveled to Italy in search of shows and stayed. Soon after, in 1967, the two founders, Maiocchi and Blackmore, and Broad left the band and returned to England. The band stayed in Italy and reformed in the same year as The Trip with Gray tooking over the guitar duties playing much in the style of Blackmore and with two new members, the Italians Joe Vescovi (keyboards) and Pino Sinnone (drums). When Vescovi was recruited he soon assumed the leadership and began to move to more progressive sounds working with the influence of bands such as Vanilla Fudge, The Nice and Quatermass, which were worshiped in Italy. In this vein with four members, they produced two albums the eponymous debut "The Trip" in 1970 and "Caronte" in 1971. "Caronte" is in general considered their best work, really.

"Caronte" is a conceptual album based on the Charon character from Dante's "Divine Comedy", recast as a metaphor of the conformism. It's also based in the Italian culture and the dreams of the "American Way Of Life". It was also inspired by the memory of some dead rock heroes. Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix are mentioned, respectively in songs "Little Janie" and "L'Ultima Ora E Ode A J. Hendrix" (The Last hour and ode to Jimi Hendrix), as victims of a conformist society. The cover art from the album include drawings by Gustave Doré of Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy" re-elaborated with a kind of a pop-art style depicting a part painted, the sky and the scarf, and a small picture below with the image of the four members of the band in the flower-power style. Somehow it depicts the content of the all album.

While their debut finds The Trip mixing blues rock with heavy organ and rich harmonies, and some classical influences, their sophomore release finds their music moving toward the realm of the British prog rock. Vescovi, with his self-proclaimed influence of Keith Emerson, is up to task. But, while the influence is obvious, there's still originality in The Trip's take on the progressive. Yet they never lose their heavy blues-rock roots. This can clearly see all over the album.

The first track "Caronte 1" is a nice instrumental. There's a fine interplay between Vescovi's organ and Gray's guitar playing. Massive organ riffs together with a hard rock tuned guitar create a dynamic proto-prog, a blitz of the late 60's psychedelic rock rhythms with touches of The Nice. It brings a 60's vibe into the new decade. With "Two Brothers" a snappy rock groove emerges in catchy vocal interludes. In its unbridled dynamics, the vocal performance is briefly a reminiscent of "21st Century Schizoid Man" of King Crimson. Later, the keyboard's weight is given a psychedelic finish and moves away from the bombastic keynote. In contrast, "Little Janie" with its lively The Beatles style, looks like a relic from the 60's. It's a nice pop song featuring piano and Mellotron together. Gray's guitar is pleasantly understated, and Vescovi's vocals are nice here too. This is a nice number to listen to but that seems rather misplaced compared to the rest of the concept. The lengthiest track "L'Ultima Ora E Ode A J. Hendrix" is the undisputed climax on the album. It combines a great keyboard work, nice guitar lines and good vocal harmonies. The echoed vocals are just another confirmation of the musical style of that era. This musical bow to the genius of the guitar virtuoso Jimi Hendrix, who died a year earlier, is performed with solemn pathos. The brilliant church organ sound and the remote strings let this track be full of a great emotional brilliance. With the last track "Caronte 2", it's time to take up the main theme. It takes us back to the beginning with a promising organ with a percussive intro supported by a guitar work. But, this is nothing more than a keyboard workout. You have to remain silent for a moment to catch your breath from the previous track.

Conclusion: Even if "Caronte" sounds indisputably out of date after more than 30 years and in 1971 were still a band on the threshold of actual prog rock, these historical recordings from a rock historical point of view can convince. The Trip injected into the sound of the 60's some new codes, not only to overcome the limits of their culture and their time, but to create a new sound. Certainly, the path to be taken to create a "new Italian prog" was still long, but in this sense "Caronte" was certainly an essential catalyst. Later, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, Premiata Forneria Marconi and Le Orme moved to another level. But, we must consider that when The Trip released "Caronte" in 1971, nothing had ever been heard in Italy of so extraordinarily "prog". So, The Trip have defined and anticipated groove of a generation who will remain faithful to the end. It's true that many others have had most success. Well, but that is another story, indeed.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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