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Napoli Centrale - Napoli Centrale CD (album) cover

NAPOLI CENTRALE

Napoli Centrale

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.71 | 36 ratings

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andrea
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Napoli Centrale were formed in Naples in 1974 on the initiative of James Senese (sax, vocals) and Franco Del Prete (drums) after their experience in another band called the Showmen 2. They joined forces with American keyboardist Mark Harris and British bassist Tony Walmsley and in 1975 released an eponymous debut album blending in an original way Mediterranean roots and jazz rock. James Senese's father was an American soldier who had been working in the base of Naples and his mother was a Neapolitan girl, perhaps that's why the fusion between Afro-American music and Neapolitan folklore sounds so natural and authentic in the band's output. Franco Del Prete committed lyrics in Neapolitan dialect add a touch of colour contributing to express what's an almost a tribal rage. They perfectly fit the music composed by James Senese where you can find influences ranging from Weather Report and Miles Davis to Osanna.

The opener "Campagna" (Countryside) begins softly with a short intro featuring shy flutes notes... Then the rhythm section starts pulsing while vocals describe in a caustic way how "beautiful" is the countryside. Lyrics depicts the miserable life of the farm labourers, exploited by their greedy employers... "Countryside / How beautiful is the country... But it is more beautiful for the landlord!". The rhythm is full of energy and James Senese's draws fiery sax passages under a midday sun. This track was released also as a single and was quite successful in Italy. An absolutely unexpected result for such kind of song!

"'A gente 'e Bucciano" (The people from Bucciano) is a long track featuring jazz and funky influences and obstinate drum patterns. Bucciano is a village in the province of Caserta and the song is about the workers that had to emigrate from the countryside of South Italy to the industrial cities of the North. "Hunger is stronger than the love for the countryside... And now the people of Bucciano live in the North and work in the factories / Where they throw away blood and health...Why? Why? Why?". Well, the answer is rather venomous and caustic... "Because the Pope is not the King!".

The instrumental "Pensione Floridiana" (Guest-house Floridiana) is the shortest track on the album. It's more relaxed, almost dreamy. It leads to evocative "Viecchie, mugliere, muorte e criaturi" (Old women, wives, dead and little children), another excellent long track dealing with the issue of emigration. Music and lyrics depicts a village where all the men are gone to work elsewhere, far away. What's left is a desolated place where you can't find no one but old women, wives, dead, little children, crippled men or skinny and hungry dogs. The atmosphere is dark and the rhythm almost hypnotic but the result is intense and dramatic. The instrumental "Vico Primo Parise n. 8" is lighter. It features a powerful jazz rock veined of funky where keyboards and sax perfectly interact with the rhythm section. Vocals here are used as an instrument adding touches of colour all along the way. According to some sources, the title is the address of the house where Napoli Centrale's leader James Senese was born, in the district of Miano in Naples .

The last track "'O lupo s'ha mangiato 'a pecurella" (The wolf has eaten the little sheep) features a strong folkloric flavour. It seems to have been conceived as the soundtrack of a film. It begins softly, you have to shut your eyes and try to guess what's going on... Narrow streets, shadows moving along the walls... Then you can hear someone who is laughing, some other sarcastically comments that the wolf has eaten the little sheep... Many voices of men and women, the sounds of a market... "Don't worry / Take it easy and sleep in peace...".

This album has been extremely influential on the music scene of Naples and should be considered as essential in an Italianprog collection. It is usually considered the cornerstone of a whole new music subgenre very popular during the eighties and called "Neapolitan Power", featuring artists like Pino Daniele, Tullio De Piscopo, Enzo Avitabile and others. A kind of world music mixing blues and Mediterranean roots...

andrea | 5/5 |

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