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Fabrizio De André - Fabrizio De André + PFM In concerto CD (album) cover


Fabrizio De André


Prog Related

3.78 | 25 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars One of the best-kept secrets among cognoscenti of classic Italian Prog is the existence of this 1979 live recording by singer-songwriter Fabrizio De André, arranged and performed by the legendary PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI, and to these ears maybe the unrecognized pinnacle of the entire PFM catalogue. The band was performing back-up duties for the popular acoustic folk guitarist, but make no mistake: this is a PFM album in all but name, and the fact that it was never released outside Italy is a tragedy worthy of a Giuseppe Verdi libretto.

Be careful, however: the music has little relation to the more Anglo-influenced early Prog masterpieces of "Per Un Amico" or "L'Isole di Niente". PFM was at the time in the process of rediscovering its long-dormant Italian roots (after releasing the underrated, transitional "Passpartů" album), and this collaboration offered the group an ideal vehicle for their cultural rehabilitation. De André made his reputation writing songs falling (mostly) on the sunnier side of Mediterranean pop, and even after being revamped for a band once favorably compared to the first King Crimson his music remained so typically Italian you could sprinkle on a little olive oil and serve it with red wine.

PFM also boasted a new (and improved?) line-up to mark their homecoming, minus vocalist Bernardo Lanzetti but joined for the first time by Lucio "Violino" Fabbri, and with Flavio Premoli sharing keyboard duties with Roberto Columbo (an accomplished Progger himself: I recall owning one of his solo albums once upon a time). Everyone plays with an energy and enthusiasm rarely heard on even the best of the group's studio albums, from Premoli's nimble solo spot on the concert opener "Bocca di Rosa" to an absolutely ferocious and emotional electric guitar solo by Franco Mussida on "Amico Fragile", the most obviously Progressive song here and clearly the high point of the entire album.

Elsewhere the mood is set by De André's rolling acoustic guitar and romantic baritone croon. Never mind the language barrier: his voice is music enough on its own, whether in the more intimate setting of "Guigno '73" (featuring a beautiful fretless electric bass intro by Patrick Djivas) or kicking out the jams in the Italian hoedown "Zirichiltaggia", and the equally infectious "Il Pescatore". The latter has to be one of the most cheerful sing-a-longs ever written about (I was surprised to finally learn) a fugitive killer: see Andrea's previous review for more narrative details.

Purists may complain about the lack of mellotrons. But this is an indispensable album for Italian music enthusiasts in general and PFM fans in particular, and despite my conservative rating it will always be for me a 5-star sentimental favorite. Why? Because it marked the end of a fruitful decade for an influential band before they fell (for a long time) into relative obscurity and creative torpor. And because I stupidly sold my original LP after jumping on the post-Punk bandwagon in the early 1980s, only to rediscover it (maybe the same copy) almost 15 years later and 2500 miles down the road.

A second volume (from the same shows?) followed in 1980.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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