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Quella Vecchia Locanda - Quella Vecchia Locanda  CD (album) cover

QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA

Quella Vecchia Locanda

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.05 | 225 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

coasterzombie
4 stars I would place this landmark release somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars. Quella Vecchia Locanda's excellent debut left an important mark on the RPI scene, although it wasn't recognized at the time. Even the band's record label, HELP! (a subsidiary of RCA) did not realize the group's potential, and they folded after only two albums. The second, Il Tempo Della Gioia, is my favorite of the two but the debut is probably more highly regarded; you just didn't hear stuff like this in 1972, let alone today. Besides Banco and maybe PFM, no other group successfully fused classical music with rock better than QVL, without sounding like a pastiche or gimmick as in the case of New Trolls. Yet the album is accessible enough and similar to the work of Jethro Tull and early Genesis that it would be a good entry point for anyone adventurous enough to start an Italian Prog collection.

If there was ever an ultimate attention-grabbing song to start an album, it would be "Prologo." Immediately, piano and violin announce the melody before guitar, bass and drums quickly join. QVL doesn't need an orchestra to make their point; they ARE the orchestra. The vocal and flute work of Giorgio Giorgi is tasteful and competent. Three minutes in, we have our first taste of the classic QVL sound; it is best described as a pastoral, dreamy soundscape without bass or drums. This doesn't last too long however, as the piano figure is recapitulated and joined en masse. The end reminds me a bit of Osanna so if you like L'Uomo you will probably like this. American violinist Donald Lax leads the pack on "Un Villaggio, Un' Illusione" which is a jammy, jazzy tune. Lax has a charismatic style similar to Jean-Luc Ponty or Sugarcane Harris, but with the virtuosic skill of Jerry Goodman. It's too bad he wouldn't stick around for the next album, but Claudio Gilice would fill in nicely. "Realta" echoes early Led Zeppelin with its arpeggiated acoustic guitar and reverb-laden vocal. The short "Immagini Sfocate" acts as an interlude/transition piece to the second side.

"Il Cieco" allows drummer Patrick Traina to stretch out a bit and lead a somewhat awkward introduction - luckily that classic QVL sound is back after a minute in, before the romantic middle part is interrupted by the rhythm section. If I have one complaint about Quella Vecchia Locanda's debut, it's that the songs are just too short and everything feels crammed in. "Dialogo" demonstrates this, as disparate influences all fight for attention; one minute you have a psych dirge, the next a jazzy solo section, all before finally settling on what the group does best...classically-inspired solo keyboards and vocals with embellishments of other instruments. This is most evident on the last ten minutes of the album. "Verso la Locanda" hints at the brilliance of Il Tempo Della Gioia, but "Sogno, Risveglio E..." defines it. This final song sounds like it was dropped out of that album and inserted into this one. "Sogno, Risveglio E..." is a showstopping conclusion, and one that must be heard to be appreciated. This song alone bumps the rating from three stars to four, and is one of my all-time favorite RPI moments. Quella Vecchia Locanda's eponymous album is an excellent representation of the early Italian Prog movement, and a tempting appetizer for what is to come.

coasterzombie | 4/5 |

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