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Angelo Branduardi - Angelo Branduardi CD (album) cover

ANGELO BRANDUARDI

Angelo Branduardi

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.54 | 21 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

rupert
3 stars I was wondering to find Angelo Branduardi here on "Progarchives". In my ears he is rather a "re-constructor" of historical music, sometimes experimenting with sounds of "our time" and taking his branch of classical- and folk-influenced music into pop, but mainly staying true to old values of eclectic singing and song-writing in the footsteps of role-models like Donovan Leitch and Cat Stevens. Adapting traditional melodies from all over the world and the huge usage of historic instruments for arranging them sometimes makes him look like a medieval minstrel who coincidentally is living with us in present time, and "rock-music" is something that doesn't come to mind if ever his name gets dropped !

During his early years he refused being a "poet", even to call himself an "artist", saying he was nothing but a craftsman adapting, developing and arranging melodies. And for sure there's a lot of songs that should not blatantly be credited to him as their "composer" - as they usually are - and would put him into a better light if they had been signed as "trad. arr. by AB" - this would not take away any of the merit that his devoted work and own creativity deserves, as ( imo ) he distinctively manages to make all of those pieces his own, original or not. "Il Ladro" ? Well, if this man is a thief then he is a very clever one and anyone who became his victim can only be proud of what he's done to what was theirs and many can be thankful because Branduardi kept this music of old alive and introduced lots of listeners to it who may never ever have heard it without him.

His first album, though, is an exception ( and perhaps the best explanation I can get for this artist to be found on this site ). It's less medieval and sounds like an excursion of a young man stretching his muscles and allowing the ensemble of musicians to improvise and take his song-ideas elsewhere. I think that this has a lot to do with Paul Buckmaster who finally enabled Branduardi to release an album - and, as the spirit of the moment inspired him, with Branduardi himself trying to achieve something special together rather than expressing his very own personality in music. As strange ( and contrary ) as it appears in the end, this means that here we have Branduardi at his most "original", simply because he didn't supply a pattern on which the musicians had to follow, he didn't play the leading-role, rather watching things develop from his original ideas into what would satisfy the whole team with Paul Buckmaster at the helm, and Paul being the real progressive force here.

Acoustically based and with many ingredients of what was to follow but far more Jazz than on any other, this "beginning" doesn't come across as polished or formulaic as many albums Branduardi was to release during his most successful period, with Buckmaster's arrangements leaving far more space for improvisation. It's like Branduardi was just exploring whatever fields and styles may suit him before defining his very identity as an artist, trusting Buckmaster more than himself. The result is a very pleasant listen with lots of charm, the songs, though, weren't the strongest he had and it was a bit like Branduardi "had to" make this album before he felt confident enough to release his "real" debut with his second one. This may be due to those songs having been turned down by the record companies first, I don't know, but I think that Branduardi saved the best for "La Luna", which is a far more distinctive statement of what he himself as an artist is about and appears to be his strongest collection of songs to this day ( okay, my collection, by now ending with "Domenica e Lunedi", is not complete, but I have heard the whole "Francesco"-thing in concert and, good as it was, it still couldn't match that early masterpiece ).

This exception, though, may delight the prog-lover more than any other because of the rather free-form pace it was given, but I still wouldn't call it essential, not even a really good place to start with if you want to get familiar with the artist. It's rather "the album" to check out still if you don't really like the "classic" Branduardi-stuff and think it's too folky, too kitschy, too poppy or whatever, cause this album is different in spite of all the many things connecting it to the others still. If you don't know Branduardi I'd recommend you to start with "Cercando L'Oro" which is a very typical album and, in spite of its slickness, belongs to his best, if you want to hear the artist at his most beautiful you're best off with intimate recordings such as "Branduardi canta Yeats" and "Gulliver, La Luna e altri disegni" ( the re-vamped 2nd album in its 1980-edition featuring one more song - arranged by Paul Buckmaster ! ).

A solid 3 stars.

rupert | 3/5 |

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