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Locanda delle Fate - The Missing Fireflies... CD (album) cover

THE MISSING FIREFLIES...

Locanda delle Fate

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.29 | 25 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Return from summer evenings past...

While LDF are widely hailed as one of the great Italian prog bands that is by no means a unanimous opinion. Many Italian prog fans who prefer the grittier side of the scene scoff at the prestige afforded Locanda, Maxophone, or Corte dei Miracoli. Locanda's late 1970s debut makes many personal favorite lists, an incredibly rich and luxurious symphonic prog treat. While many RPI bands are tagged with the Genesis-influenced label it really wasn't as prevalent as it was made to seem: my own experience after hundreds of albums is that Van Der Graff and Deep Purple styled hard rock were just as important if not more so. But Locanda were one band who surely appreciated Genesis and Yes, along with stalwarts of the Italian scene like PFM and Orme. Many people mention Banco as well but LDF were no where near as adventurous as the Darwin legends. They were a band about beauty and melody and for those who wanted an impeccably produced mix of symphonic and pastoral, their debut is pretty much essential. My own opinion was that the album was lovely but hardly what I reach for when I want core-RPI. I never found them all that representative of the scene.

So here we are decades later and the fireflies have returned for a summer evening just off the woodlands. The moon is large and spirits high, a warm fragrant breeze from the south. LDF is again a working band and participating in festival performances in and out of Italy. This album is a concoction of new recordings and old live performances designed to put them in the prog public eye. For that purpose it is a very successful return indeed. However, if the band truly desires a legacy with the RPI bands they are often compared to, they will need a new collection of originals more convincing than their last comeback attempt in the 90s, which was not well received by prog fans. Listening to this album I believe they have the potential to pull it off.

The first four tracks are recent recordings of material written years ago. To their credit, not only is the material good but they managed to produce it in a fashion complimentary to the songs and the period. It has that warm and mellow vibe, even during the punchier sections, which could fool one into thinking these were outtakes from the Forse sessions. It sounds clear and vibrant but not overly loud and sterile like many of today's albums. (Keith Richards recently lamented how he wishes he could rescue today's music from the supposed benefit of modern production, I hear him loud and clear.) The songs are upbeat and melodic as you'd expect from LDF, with those juicy guitar leads that scream cross between Howe and Hackett to the point of being comical at times. 'Crescendo' is this gorgeous and jubilant classic that sounds like a cross between Hackett-era Genesis and Basso's 'Voci.' Fantastic marriage of keyboard and guitar melody, with Sasso's smooth, reassuring vocal. It percolates with energy, detailed drumming, and warring factions of guitar and bold piano runs. 'Sequenza Circolare' is a most appreciated (by me) classical piano solo which should again thrill fans of Luciano Basso. 'La Giostra' is next, another stellar long track in similar territory as 'Crescendo' and sadly the last new firefly we meet in this outing, as the fourth 'new' song is a re-record of a 'Forse' track.

The rest of the album consists of three live songs recorded in 1977 during their 'Forse' days. It's always a gift for RPI fans to get a chance to hear quality live recordings from the 1970s, as they tend to be rare and sometimes of very spotty sound quality. While these three songs are obviously far from today's standards of live recording quality, they are certainly adequate for this listener to enjoy. They are sadly brief, in fact two are just excerpts, but the glory comes through in a live cut of 'Vendesi saggezza' from the 'Forse' album. While it will be hard for some to accept the sound quality, if one sets aside our learned prejudice for 'perfect' sound, we can clearly hear the power of LDF as a live act at the time. These guys were firing on all cylinders and their hybrid of romantic symphonic is indeed fitting with their representative lovely cover art. They made a big mistake by cutting off these three tracks however, they are almost more like teasers. Clocking in at just 36 minutes there was plenty of room for more songs and complete versions of songs.

While I enjoyed this very much and was tempted to give it four stars, three is probably most appropriate. It contains two essential new LDF cuts (Crescendo and Giostra) along with a bunch of other good stuff that suffers a bit from the convoluted, cut and paste feel of the album. I'll say it again guys....get in the studio and make a true prog-rock epic follow-up to Forse. Your fans are there, and it sounds like the band is still in top form despite the years.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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