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Angelo Branduardi - Cogli la prima mela CD (album) cover

COGLI LA PRIMA MELA

Angelo Branduardi

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Angelo Branduardi blows a gentle goodbye kiss to the 1970s with his musical integrity intact. Whether this is tastefully orchestrated soft rock with heavy folk accents, or perhaps folk oriented rock with orchestral flourishes, it is an utterly guileless work of honour.

The album opens with arguably its best track, the lively Latin spiced title cut with Branduardi's voice and violin taking hold of a delightful melody flawlessly arranged. From there it is barely a step down to the magical balladry of "Se tu sei cielo", the Battiato-like "La Strega", the timeless lullaby-styled tune conveyed by "La Raccolta", and the airily bouncy "Colori".

The only truly weak spot is the ineffectual pop of "Il Gufo E Il Pavone", although the traditionally Celtic "Donna Ti Voglio Cantare" does not add a whole lot to either the disk or the legacy, and "Il Signore Di Baux" is a bit too soundtrack-y, the warmth of Branduardi's strings overruled by a military rigidity. The closing cut is a bit drawn out but does conclude with sweet acoustic guitar re-iteration of the main theme.

All in all, another top shelf contribution by this Italian talent, awaiting discovery by those not bound to peer pressure in prog folk and RPI circles and beyond.

Report this review (#284519)
Posted Tuesday, June 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars This album was announced in Italy by a lot of advertising. After the success of "La Fiera Dell'Est" and "La Pulce D'Acqua" the RCA label company decided to invest some money on the "minstrel" as Angelo was actually called, so he had a better production, too.

Fans of Blackmore's Nights will surely like the mixture of British and Andine music of the title track on which instruments like chitarrone and bandurria and oud add an esotic touch to a song that otherwise would have been everything but a highlight.

"Se Tu Sei Cielo"(If You Were Sky) is a ballad in the usual Branduardi's style, but the rich production with a string orchestra canceled the usual medieval mood so that the result is more pop than folk.

"La Strega"(The Witch) has an odd signature and sounds like the "old" Branduardi. Harp and Dulcimer are well inserted into the pop arrangement. The attempt by the label to make Angelo appetible for the mainstream public is evident. The song is not bad but it sounds less spontaneous than usual.

The usual Branduardi and his medieval leids are back with "Donna Ti Voglio Cantare" (Woman I want to sing you). A hymn to the concept of "woman" as a medieval minstrel could have composed it.

"La Raccolta"(The Harvest) is a slow song about the time of wheat harvest and summer inspired to the imagine of a young girl. This is the true Branduardi.

"Colori" (Colors) seems influenced by the "Inti Illimani". They were a Chilean folk band escaped to Italy after the Pinochet's putsch. Like the title track it has a south american flavor.

"Il Signore Di Baux" (The Lord of Baux) is a medieval ballad. I don't know if it's a trditional or just like a traditional, but this is surely what fans of prog-folk can look for. If you like Blackmore's Night or also Alan Stivell this is your pot.

"Il Gufo E Il Pavone" (The Owl and the Peacock) misses its target. It's nothing special from both the music and the lyrics side. Forgettable.

"Ninnananna" (Lullaby) closes the album with a strings introduction after which Angelo's dreamy voice sings of a girl abandoning her infant in his cradle to the sea. Lyrically and musically speaking is probably the best song.

Not a bad album at all, but it's the one since which I started loosing my interest in this artist. The rich production and maybe the advertising, too, gave me the impression that Angelo was loosing his spontaneity as author. It's good enough for the three stars but surely not something to start with if you want to discover this artist.

Report this review (#451250)
Posted Monday, May 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars The follow-up to the ( magnificent ) "La Pulce d'Acqua" has been produced in Germany and, having been another huge success, ranks amongst Branduardi's "Classics". Songwise, "Cogli la prima mela" surely does belong to his very best, with the title track being one of his best remembered tunes, beautifully crafted melodic ballads like "Colori", "La Raccolta" and cleverly arranged ear-wigs such as "Il Signore di Baux" or "Donna ti Voglio Cantare"... but the album fails to be as good as its predecessors, still.

With the success of "Alla Fiera dell' Est" and "La Pulce D'Acqua" and the money available, Branduardi and his team decided to go for a "big" and heavily orchestrated production. This is not necessarily a mistake when the music is a marriage of classical influences and folklore while both have a distinct medieval flavor, but here they simply went too far and did too much, there's a lack of space and spontaneity with especially the "faster" tracks ( actually rather mid-tempo with the exception of "Donna" ) sounding overloaded and hastened.

The "Hit" was a deserved one but every time I'm listening to this original version I simply wish for it to be just a little slower and more emotional, and a sparser arrangement would not have been a loss, same for "Donna ti voglio Cantare" that sounds as if the orchestra was in a hurry too, trying hard to hit every note in time, it's been performed too strictly.

The low points are "La Strega" and "Il Gufo e il Pavone", two songs that, though performed in perfect tempo, fail to be the uplifting, funny tracks they were supposed to be ( you can hear the intention - in the footsteps of f.e. "Sotto il Tiglio" and "Il Poeta di Corte" ! ), because they sound too formulaic, unspooled with the aim to make them as perfect as possible and therefore losing their life.

"Se tu se Cielo" is a good example of a very beautiful ballad that has been over-produced as well. So much going on at one time - even electric guitar - and the whole thing gets drowned in strings, with Branduardi's voice padded inside - it simply doesn't deliver the emotion that's in there ! Those songs are close to being wasted no matter how good they are, and that's close to being a tragedy - this album would at least be as good as its predecessor if only the musicians wouldn't have been caged in a corset, allowed to relax and perform just as free as the bits of electric guitar sometimes are pointing at: improvising free, even jazzy.

Having said that, the album benefits from the orchestration on the other songs, "Il Signore di Baux" is very impressive and remains my favourite track, and "Colori" as well as "La Raccolta" are being taken into ballad-heaven, their melodies sounding on and on. The closing track starts out a wonderful meditation that finally makes up for the hastened moments, evolving into a "finale grande", superb.

Another plus is: although we really hear a formula - no other Branduardi-Album does sound like this. It's special for its great moments as well as its flaws and it's not emotionless, it's only over-produced and sounding strained at times. I don't see this as a sign of "prog - influence", though. It's typically Branduardi. It's traditional music, only with a few jazzy colours from electric piano and electric guitar added ( very beautiful: the ending of "Colori" ), flavours, not inventions - there's far more of it on the first album. And it's been a strictly commercial move in order to deliver some more entertainment as was expected - not an artistic adventure - you know, classical orchestration doesn't make things progressive, it's fitting like a glove and is rather easy listening.

No problem. Shortly afterwards Branduardi himself admitted that the album was over-produced. He promised to "make the next one more intimate and lively". The next ( studio ) one was an old one with one new song... but it really kept the promise to me cause I did not know "La Luna". It was all new to me and I was positively surprised with it. It became my favourite Album of the artist. I still like "Cogli la prima mela" but I can't give it more than three stars on this site - and personally it's 3.5, really. The albums that were to follow weren't as succesful as this - and I think that it has something to do with the straining effects that this album can have. A formula doesn't have to be wrong. But being treated like this it can wear out fast, in spite of all the qualities. The "real new ( studio ) album" that was to come is an underrated one, though.

Report this review (#634866)
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2012 | Review Permalink

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