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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - Per Un Amico CD (album) cover


Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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5 stars Without doubt, one of the most representative discs of progressive rock. A jewel that few have known how to obtain, really a marvel. The music of this disc is intelligent at each moment, full of elegance and beauty, the musicians knew how to balance their abilities to sound like a group, without leader, without egos, penetrating in their music all that is great of the Mediterranean, this is how the great dream, this is how PFM dream. Without doubt one of the best productions of the great Italy. Not to be missed.

Report this review (#15812)
Posted Saturday, February 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars . Not likely I will be the Amico mentioned here , but read me out, anyway!!

After the near-perfection of their debut album, it wasn't going to be an easy task to equal it, and according to the vast majority of their fans, they managed it; but this writer begs to differ: if SDUM is a unique and ultra flowing album, Per Un Amico is really anything but that, more like a succession of rocks scattered on a pool table stopping any pure trajectory from the Q ball. Don't get me wrong, PUA is still quite a good album, but it sounds like it's trying too hard to outdo its predecessor, it sounds a little forced, not as naturally flowing. Even the clumsy gatefold artwork tries to say something profound, but ultimately failing to say it well enough to come out as timelessly as it could have. In that regard, the inner gatefold might just give us an intrusive peak, with the musicians trying to find space between an array of keyboards, but ending up a cacophony. I know it's an image and jusrt a picture, but a picture is worth more than a thousand words doesn't it.

Opening up on the album's best track, Appena Un Poco, with delicate guitar arpeggios emerging from a mellotron layer, it continues alone at first, soon joined by a flute and a harpsichord, before the group intervenes in a fairly muscular fashion, bassist Piazza instilling much of the power. Once the group calms, the duet of singer take the track to a Genesian cloud (Foxtrot-era) partly on celestial mellotron layers, but also good songwriting. The same can't be said of the following Generale sounds more like an ELP track, where the virtuoso qualities seem to be more important and not necessarily to the service of the track, in this case a cross between ragtime jazz and a jig., then into a march and more nonsense. The title track starts out well enough: a quiet flute leading a piano, before the bass escalates the tension and the vocals come along with rest of the group. And it (PUA) seems headed into Gentle Giant territory, especially once the violin gets under way, but unfortunately halfway through the solo, the songs turns to a guitar-strumming-thing, before taking a needlessly (Nothing At All from GG) complicated finale

The flipside is made of just two tracks, the first of which Banchetto (Banquet, I think), which seems to be headed at early Crimson soundscapes, but I am less than thrilled by the Moonchild-like improv with old instruments. One could also compare Banchetto to ELP's Take A Pebble, but anyway, I am not at all convinced by its middle section improv. Generally I am a little wary of those Italian raspy singer spreading all too loudly their gob over the microphone anti-spit protection as they try to sound soooo sincere, but I never had the problem with PFM, a group with gentle unobtrusive vocals and with Banchetto, it's about as raspy as they get. Rounding up the album is the patchy Geranio, which has brilliant moments (namely its quiet start, but with its share of weaknesses: the weird ending.. Ever heard of of an outgoing panache??

A very short album (the International English version of it, Poto of Ghosts will come with two more tracks to make it acceptable), and definitely a taste of too few, but given its forced birth feel, I say that it's enough. And if I gave SDUM some 4.5 stars (it's incredible "live in the studio" excitement), it was partly due to certain kind of naiveté that you can allow on a debut album, but no further; so I will give this second flawed album only 3.5 stars (why didn't they apply the "live in the studio" process??), although still being able to recommend it to progheads, despite my legendary severity. .

Report this review (#15813)
Posted Thursday, February 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars PFM's "Per Un Amico" is a masterpiece of Progressive Rock all the way through. PFM prove their ability to deliver a complete album ranging from serene acoustic guitar passages to heavy mellotron soaked heavy breathing prog. PFM never get too dark on this release and offers a strong symphonic aspect to it. Vocals are in Italian and like most PFM releases the musicianship is very high. The songs of "Per Un Amico" are well written and performed. Once again it was hard to pick the best of their releases, but this one has a real beauty to it that needs to be heard to be understood.
Report this review (#15816)
Posted Friday, March 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A real Gem of Progressive music. I am not going to bored everybody with details, just because unless you listen, listen and listen...this album, then and only then you will start to grasp the magnitude of the work put into this Masterpice. Pionneers of the progressive rock scene in the 70', PFM developed several excellent albums; but this one is how still now you measure truly progressive music. Even now, after 30 years I fell goosebumps down my spine when I listen the acustic riff guitar in Per un Amico. An absolute MUST in every serious prog fan collector. My highest recommendation.
Report this review (#15817)
Posted Thursday, March 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Simply one of the all-time great Italian prog albums. While many people might be more familiar with the English-language conterpart, "Photos of Ghosts", to me, I think the original Italian language version is much superior, as they aren't stumbling with the English language, and it sounds more natural. This was their second album in one year (1972). This is a more complex and challenging album than their debut, "Storia di un Minuto". The album starts off with "Appena un Pň" (the label of the original LP states it as "Appena un Poco"). The song starts off with Mellotron and harp, before the acoustic guitar kicks in, played in a classical style. The music itself kicks in with violin and drums, then the band's early trademark vocal style starts. When you hear this, you know right away you're hearing one of Italy's all-time great prog albums. "Generale" is all instrumental, again going through many different changes. "Il Banchetto" is the album's epic, starting off acoustic, once again, with some extended synth experimentations, and even a piano piece that sounded like it came off ELP's "Karn Evil 9: Second Impression", although "Brain Salad Surgery", the album that song came off, didn't appear until a year after "Per Un Amico".

Apparently Greg LAKE got to hear this album and was impressed enough to sign these guys to ELP's newly-formed Manticore label. No doubt about it, "Per Un Amico" is one of the all-time greats of prog, and is a totally essential album.

Report this review (#15820)
Posted Thursday, May 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
The Prognaut
5 stars Ever since I got to listen to this album for the first time, and by that I mean entirely, I couldn't believe my ears. Before "Per Un Amico", my Italian symphonic prog rock perspective was based merely in some other well known exponents of this sub-genre such as BMS, LE ORME and MUSEO ROSENBACH, and I don't know why I haven't listened to anything regarding PFM in the first place! and the way I got to know them was quite funny. When purchasing BANCO's album "Di Terra" over this famous music website, I noticed that there was this offer about purchasing two albums and paying just for one, and the other album within the BANCO's CD pack was actually "Per Un Amico". and ever since I got this recording, I cannot picture the Italian symphonic scene without it.

Besides getting to consider this album as one of my favorites throughout the 14 years I've been listening to prog rock, I think that many other subsequent Italian or not Italian bands, whether they play symphonic prog rock, psychedelic prog or art rock, they owe most of their musical accomplishments and success to bands like PFM that due the inevitable pass of time they're still present upon the nowadays prog scene.

Thanks to this album you will get to experience several comfortable and inexplicable situations like the feeling of sorrow, happiness or even madness, and I mean all that in the progressive intended way provided by this unique masterpiece. "Appena Un Po' " explains all this by its own means, this almost 8 minute track contains way too many contrasting profiles of the style that the bands to come through the next ten, maybe fifteen years, adopted and implemented perfectly; this melody has got it all: musical arrangements resembling a renaissance époque all the way through punchy, signifying drum preludes, and most important, marvelous rhythmic guitar playing by signore Franco MUSSIDA. Also, you might as well think of "Per Un Amico" itself as one of the most representative PFM's songs, and you won't be mistaken because far beyond from what the band actually did with its first album, "Storia Di Un Minuto"; they also proved that they could be more than a single, and created some other meaningful prog pieces like "Photos of Ghosts", "Prime Impressioni" and "Passpartú" with their own representative singles as well. Simply magnificent!

Report this review (#15822)
Posted Tuesday, June 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I see nothing but 5-star reviews for this album. And rightly so. This is one of the most gorgeous, perfect attempts in the Italian prog genre. Appena un Po' is probably the group's best song. Il Banchetto is an all-time classic. What makes the album work is the effortless flow of the 5 virtuoso instrumentalists working together. Nothing is forced, the music just pours out emotionally and tranquilly. When it rocks out, it does so convincingly. The Crimson and Genesis influence can still be felt, but not as much as their first album. The band definitely had their own sound, which many other Italian bands were highly influenced by.
Report this review (#15823)
Posted Tuesday, July 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 'Appena Un Po' ' instantly grabbed my attention in 1972, and PFM has been one of my favourite bands ever since. It's not difficult to see why the band became so well known internationally - and so well loved - when you listen to this, their second album, which exhibits some inspired song writing and musicianship. PFM and Italian Progressive Rock are almost synonymous; when discussing an Italian band, people often ask "Do they sound like PFM?"

This is very melodious music with liberal use of flute, acoustic guitar, piano and violin, and with synthesizer, Mellotron and organ such an integral part of the music that you almost don't notice they're contemporary, even during the very electronic-sounding parts. If you listen to these tracks you'll realise that the band really knew how to use the flute, strings and piano to great effect. Bass and percussion are good on this album too, again melding well and supporting the other instruments. Then there are the calm, smooth Italian vocals, which only add to the enjoyment of the music. Wish I could understand the lyrics, though.

Some parts of the music are purely acoustic whilst others are very symphonic Progressive Rock. I can't really say which other bands, if any, the music reminds me of, although it does feel very Italian in style and there are definitely some reminders of classical music, perhaps baroque. OK, if you push me, the piano in 'Il Banchetto' does remind me a little of early EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER, but there the comparison very definitely ends. Later in their career PFM's music had more of a jazz and pop feel, but neither of those styles is evident on this album (far from it).

The tracks on "Per Un Amico", plus 'Č Festa' from PFM's first album "Storia Di Un Minuto", were rehashed with English lyrics (except 'Il Banchetto', which stayed in Italian) by Pete Sinfield for the PFM album "Photos Of Ghosts", released by ELP's Manticore Records and which is perhaps better known outside Italy. So if you are familiar with "Photos of Ghosts" you will recognise the music on "Per Un Amico" instantly. The original singing in Italian is very pleasant indeed.

There are many changes in melody, tempo and mood, and the music varies from the simple to the grandiose. I can't single out any one track: they're all good and I never tire of listening to them. Even though the album came out in 1972 the music does not sound at all dated. At only 34 minutes, it's over all too quickly but I get up feeling invigorated. In my opinion this album is a classic and I unreservedly recommend it to you. I cannot give this album anything other than 5 stars. Enjoy.

Report this review (#15824)
Posted Friday, July 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
Founding Moderator
4 stars This site introduced me to Italian prog, which has become my favorite subgenre after the "seminal" British prog bands. Indeed, the more I hear of it - especially early Italian prog (PFM, Museo Rosenbach, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso et al) - the more I'm convinced that it rivals British prog in every way. Composition, lyricality, textures, vocals, musicianship, etc. - the Italians are every bit as good as their British counterparts.

The band description notes early King Crimson and Genesis as influences in PFM's work. However, while it may be that Genesis influenced them later on, this is not what I hear on "Per Un Amico." (Indeed, the timing is all wrong: given that this album came out in 1972, this means it was written in 1971. Thus, PFM could not have heard either Nursery Cryme or Foxtrot, and there is little here that sounds like Trespass.) Although there is definitely some early Crimson influence (esp. the Lizard/Islands era), I hear mostly Gentle Giant and Jethro Tull. (As an aside, having listened to a great deal of non-British prog of late, especially from Italy, I am convinced that Gentle Giant had an absolutely extraordinary influence on European prog in general - far more than most people are aware.) Indeed, although PFM is in the Italian Symphonic Prog category, most of this album might be called Italian Canterbury School. Because although there are the occasionally "heavy" keyboards and textures associated with "symphonic prog," the larger influences here are classical, folk and even a bit of jazz. [N.B. I have always felt that Gentle Giant was miscategorized on ths site: they belong in Canterbury, not Symphonic prog.]

"Appena un Po'" opens the album with a very lyrical (in the literal sense of that word - "of the lyre") Baroque classical intro, moving into a more traditional "prog" composition with early Crimson, Tull and GG (especially the vocals) influences. "Generale" has even heavier GG influence, with a bit of ELP mixed in. The first three minutes, especially, bring to mind Minnear-like keyboards, Green-ish guitar, and Schulman-esque violin. The title track, "Per Un Amico," is probably the most truly original composition. Although there is a passage toward the end that is clearly an "homage" to "Nothing At All" (from Gentle Giant's first album), this composition both takes from and adds to the prog-rock lexicon in a way that none of the other pieces does. "Il Banchetto" is a very interesting composition. Opening with CSNY-like vocals and acoustic guitar (and this is by no means an insult), it moves into a mildly Genesis-like section full of texture, Banks-y keys and Hackett-like guitarwork, and then into a bizarre, disjointed GG-esque secition full of Minnear-like keyboard work. Pianist Premoli then launches into an Emerson-like keyboard solo reminiscent of the middle section of "Take A Pebble." Then its "back to the beginning" for a CSNY-type ending. "Geranio" is the weakest composition on the album, and one of the two reasons I did not give the album five stars. The piece begins in fine Tull/GG style, but then gets lost in a largely directionless keyboard-heavy section, the last four minutes of which is repetitive in the extreme. (Did they simply run out of ideas?)

Despite the few missteps here, "Per Un Amico" is an excellent, well-executed, highly listenable album with very fine musicianship throughout. (BTW, where is the drummer's credit?) As an aside, the other reason I did not give the album five stars is that, even without the few missteps, I do not believe it ranks with the true masterpieces of the genre - though it undoubtedly ranks with the early masterpieces of the subgenre of Italian prog. (We have had the "masterpiece" discussion ad nauseum in the forums; I have settled on this approach.)

All said, this is truly "an excellent addition to any prog rock collection."

Report this review (#15825)
Posted Monday, July 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An amazing album, even among the many pioneering releases of 1972. I've always valued italian prog for its deceptively simple-seeming emotive and evocative power, and "Per Un Amico" is probably one of the best examples. PFM has an extremely tasteful blend of electric rock elements, acoustic and symphonic instrumentation and sparing synthesizer and mellotron accents detailing compositions of constantly evolving beauty. Whoever was producing all these crystal-clear recordings for the italian prog arists should have given lessons to Alan Parsons and the other "muddier is better" prog producers of the early 70s.

"Appena un po'" is a great opening piece- the antique tones of the guitar, spinetta and flute weave a pastoral tapestry, but the structure is completely modern. I can definitely hear some similarities with KING CRIMSON; the way the chorus hestitates and then surges into the following section- rooted in the guitar, mellotron and distorted bass- reminds me of songs like "Starless"; the wah lead and Cross-like violin on "Generale" definitely evoke passages from the "Starless and Bible Black" album. The latter song is a bit disjointed- all the sections are well done, and the more rocking passages are just as good as the more common lighter moods, but do they add up to a cohesive song? The title track continues the exquisite classical/ jazz influence, and ably shows the band's precision and instrumental prowess. The synth is much more prominent here, and sounds much less primitive than in many 1972 releases. "Il Banchetto" is full of beautiful, understated guitar and tinkling piano riffs- an exceptional track, starting with surprisingly accesible sounds but gently evolving into more challenging textures. Although superior in mood and composition, the song reminds me of ELP's "Take a Pebble"- for the pretty piano work, but also in the structure and development. "Geranio" takes many compositional risks, but holds together very well, at least until the end. The big crescendo in the middle is engaging, if somewhat premature...

I have very few complaints; sometimes the album is so comfortable to listen to that my mind wanders, but that could just be my slippery attention span. As part of the musical texture, the vocals blend well, but lack some distinctiveness. Then again, I'm a big fan of the more gritty and dramatic italian singers (LOCANDA DELLE FATE, ALUSA FALLAX) but I readily admit that Mussida complements the softer touch of much of the album. The vocal harmonies are one of the few places where the album can seem dated ("Geranio" does this from time to time). There's a symphonic beauty here that is echoed in the works of QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA, but also a subtle playful modernism that JETHRO TULL fans (or even Canterbury types) can sink their teeth into. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#15826)
Posted Thursday, July 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars It took me a long time to discover Italian progressive rock but thanks to this web site I can now enjoy masterpieces such as Per Un Amico. It is quite simply a gorgeous album mixing romantic symphonic rock in the opening Appena un Po' with acoustic biased pieces Il Banchetto to vocal harmonies in Geranio, but never offending the listener and no weak moments that need skipping through. Fans of early Yes, in particular the Yes album should check this album out especially Geranio. There are also tones of Genesis in there but never quite straying from the quintissential Italian characteristics with its bautiful vocals. A definite 5 star effort and in my all time top ten.
Report this review (#15829)
Posted Friday, November 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars PFM is a Lombard band..... raised in Milan, my hometown...... The sound, is more related to baroque music (and classical in general), then the music played by Banco or Osanna...less mediterranean .... Like Orme and New Trolls, PFM played a kind of celtic Prog. born through the mist of Lombardy and Veneto.... yes, we come from the celts as well as English people.... The sound of PFM is the most "international" because is more related to the Canterbury style, yet National italian (mediterranean) culture is noticable throughout the songs of the band due to the interest of Mauro Pagani for that kind of music.... which comes from the greeks who conquered the south of Italy thousands of years ago.....A masterpiece of prog rock, toghether with "Felona e Sorona" by "le orme"
Report this review (#15833)
Posted Sunday, January 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Fabulous album. Its a shame albums were for the most part so short back them. Even though I reached my musical maturity in the golden days of prog of the 70s, until 2 years ago I never even knew Italian Symphonic Prog existed. I'm hooked now. When I first got this CD, i preferred Storia Di Un Minuto, but after a few months of listening to both, I now prefer Per Un Amico (though both are 5 stars). Every song is a masterpiece, but particlarly, Appena Un Po (River of Life), the title track and Il Banchetto. Wonderful stuff which I can only give the highest recommendation to.
Report this review (#15834)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Honestly, I have to tell you that PFM is not so popular here in my country i.e. Indonesia. At least if it's compared to Genesis, Pink Floyd, Yes , Marillion or even to the next generation prog bands such as Dream Theater, Flower Kings, Spock's Beard , etc. But there is no doubt at all to say that PFM is one of legendary prog bands whose albums should have to be owned by prog lovers, especially for those who loves melodic and dynamic symphonic progressive rock.

Now let's talk about their old stuff, PER UN AMICO. Frankly speaking, I don't bother at all with the use of Italian language in the lyrics for some of their albums, including this album. Even, to my ears Italian language is just another nice and exotic dialect to be sung....:-), although I don't understand Italian language.

In this album, the line up are Flavio Premoli on keyboards and vocals, Franco Mussida on guitars and vocals, Franz di Cioccio on drums and vocals, Giorgio Piazza on basses and vocals, Mauro Pagani on flute, violin and voice. You see, all players, besides their excellent musicianship in playing the instruments and composing the songs, they also have the ability to sing as good as they play the instruments and composing the songs. Some kind of perfect combination.

Ok, then let's go to the details. This album containing 5 songs, and most of hte songs were composed by Franco Mussida and Flavio Premoli and I think these 2 guys are the main composers for PFM albums, not only this album.

1st track is Appena Un Po, a melodious song and low in tempo. At the intro opened by gently acoustic guitar and flute, but soon the tension become higher for a moment, all instruments contributes its sound bit heavy for a while before the voice of Mussida flowing around. Not too long, the mood changes again and changes again.....what a beautiful song.... I also recognise Appena Un Po as The River of Life in English version.

2nd track is Generale, this is an instrumnetal song, opened with a bit heavy drumming, followed by other instruments, piano, violin and guitar and basses for about 2 minutes. Then, silent, then the music start again... the church organ start this 2nd mood and followed by other instruments together. Also good track.

3rd track is the Highlight i.e. Per Un Amico. Started with low tempo, the flute and piano opened this song like the wind whispers in our ears. But soon, again the mood changes while the voice of Mussida flowing gently. At the intro, reminding me of Genesis' song Mad Man Moon. After that all instrument get the tension of the song a bit heavy and higher, soon the mood changes again with brilliant strumming acoustic guitar. Very nice, and exciting...... I think this is the best track in this album..... This track is also well known as Photos of Ghost in English version.

4rd track Il Banchetto. Another good song in this album, yes of course theres is no complain at all about all compositions in this album ...;-) A medium tempo song, opened with acoustic strumming guitar, the voice was contributed by Franz Di Cioccio, the most attractive guy in the band if you have seen their concert containing in the PFM Live in Japan DVD.

The last track is Geranio, also opened calmly and gently with low piano and flute and then all instruments get together in a higher tension but still melodius for the ears.

What more can I say? Just buy this cd and you will enjoy the brilliant of song compositions, the virtuosity of instruments playing and beautiful moments you will have while listening to this album..... :-) Very and very recommended album.

Anto Sulistianto Jakarta - Indonesia Prog Lover

Report this review (#15836)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars After making such a great entry with their stunning debut album 'Storia di un Minuto', the amazing Italian quintet Premiata Forneria Marconi proved that they could do even better with their second effort "Per un Amico", which, after more than 30 years from its release, remains as one of the most definite masterpieces in Italian prog history. Their prog sound, based on a typically Mediterranean melodic sensitiveness exquisitely seasoned with influences from early KC and Genesis, remains quite the same, but it is obvious that the band has progressed as an ensemble and that the cleverness of the arrangements to shape their musical ideas has been improved: to put it in other words, they have become more confident performers and better writers. The opener 'Appena Un Po'' starts with a mesmeric, dreamy intro with a featured mellotron layers that expands as a vision of a distant horizon; then comes a delicate Baroque-styled motif led by the classical guitar - soon joined by flute and spinet -, then followed by a brief yet effective rocky interlude (great interplay between electric guitar and violin); finally arriving to the main section, which alternates introspective passages and majestic ones. The splendid chord progression a-la-Beethoven that comes at the ends is the properly fantastic epilogue to an outstanding song. But none of the remaining repertoire gets overshadowed by this gem. On the contrary, "Per un Amico" is, strictly speaking, a treasure chest in which each and every item is a gem that shines with a brightness of their own. The jazz-rock oriented spirit of 'Generale!' is translated into an overtly complex motif and a catchy rock variation; the joyful martial interlude is simply delicious, and so is the reprise of the opening motif. The namesake track also contains some jazzy hints, but this time, in a more folkish context: maestrissimo Mauro Pagani shows his finesse on both violin and flute to a 100 % level, but again. he does so all the time! It is true that PFM are not only a most excellent ensemble: but it is also undisputed that each individual element is pure virtuoso genius. That being said, Pagani and drummer DiCioccio are, IMHO, the most notable musicians in the fold, or at least, the ones who show their prowess and inventiveness more often. But, of course, it is Mussida's versatile efficiency (equally distributed on both his electric and acoustic guitar interventions) and Premoli's lucid orchestral vision on his use of multiple keyboards that provide the main focus for PFM's overall sound. Now, back to the repertoire. The vinyl's B-side starts with 'Il Banchetto', another folkish spirited composition that may somewhat remind us of the most bucolic side of JT, until the multi-part interlude arrives and takes the listener to unsuspected places. The 6/8 synth-and-mellotron driven interlude built on a 12-string guitar sequence, the extravagant synth fanfare and the piano solo follow one another as a surrealistic pastiche, until the folkish first motif is retaken and reprised until the song's conclusion. When the song is over, you don't know how to explain what happened, who the hell came up with the notion of putting all these diverse ideas together in one song. but it worked, it worked tremendously well (not even Peter Sinfield dared change a bit of it for the first English PFM album), like the most bizarre scenes in a Fellini movie. The closure 'Geranio' is another monster track, perhaps the most similar to the stuff comprised in the debut album. The classical guitar and the flute marry together with the keyboard serving as a master of ceremonies during the opening Renaissance-like motif. The up-tempo interlude gets things in a sort of compromise between old fashioned jazz and folk: the interlude is finished with a carnival motif, which introduces the first motif's reprise. The sinister, almost martial instrumental litany seems to conjure images of myriads of splendorous flowers bursting out from the soil of some inscrutable paradise - once again, I think of Fellini from the very moment this section kicks off headlong into its fade-out. Overall balance: an absolute masterpiece.

(Review dedicated to my friend Giorgio Murillo).

Report this review (#15840)
Posted Saturday, April 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
5 stars On the second album "Per un amico" PFM has even matured their sound: wonderful symphonic rock featuring acoustic instruments like the piano, violin, acoustic guitar and flute along electrified instruments like the Mellotron and the Minimoog synthesizer. The climates are more frequently changing including up-tempo rhyhtms with electric guitar or a surprising church-organ intermezzo. The songs are very melodic and harmonic and the vocals are powerful and expressive. ANOTHER CLASSIC AND AGAIN FIVE STARS!!
Report this review (#39526)
Posted Friday, July 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars A powerful and beautiful album that despite possessing an obvious debt to King Crimson and Genesis has a cogent identity all of its own.

An emotive Italian response to the mellotron dominated and more pastoral elements of early UK Progressive Rock, perhaps the greatest compliment Per Un Amico can be given is that it's wholly worthy of being considered alongside the likes of Nursery Cryme and In The Court Of The Crimson King.

An excellent sense of drama and dynamics, coupled with unexpected arrangements and haunting melodies, make this a classic of the unfairly underrated Italian Prog scene.

Report this review (#56249)
Posted Monday, November 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The second work released in Italy in 1972 "Per Un Amico". All tunes were adopted for "Photos Of Ghosts". The beauty of the sound of Italian is special. I think that the original arrangement is excellent. It is a wonderful work. Especially, "Appena Un Poco" is a masterpiece that their uniqueness is demonstrated. "Generale" is an original version of "Mr.9'Till 5". This is instrumental. A technical ensemble is strong. "Il Banchetto" is a perfect masterpiece. "Geranio" is an expression of feelings and mysterious work. An indifferent ensemble is impressive.
Report this review (#63494)
Posted Saturday, January 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars My absolute favorite Italian symphonic album and is, for me, the template for all others in the genre. All you need to hear when it comes to pastoral majesty is to listen to the first song, "Apena un Po'". It has everything that makes Italian symphonic prog so wonderful. Gorgeous keyboards, (especially the mighty Mellotron), whispery precious vocals, delicate guitar and bass, and understated drummin. It is a song as fragile as a thin layer of frost but oh so beautiful. About 4 minutes in you'll hear what I think is the most hauntingly sad, but beautiful melody in all of prog. It just brings me to tears. In fact, if you're a fan of the Japanese animator Hiyao Miyazaki, (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Laputa...etc) the composer on most of his films, Joe Hisaishi uses pieces of this song in a lot of the themes to the soundtracks for some of the films, (at least to these ears ;-)). Anyway, throughout this whole album, there is not one note misplaced, or out of tune. It is so meticulously recorded and performed, that when played loud you hear things you'd never hear if played on a lower volume. And yet, it's still delicate at higher volumes. It's not all pastoral, mind you. 'Generale' is a rocking instrumental with Kansas-like violin work. And the album ends on a dark note. If there is any negative I can think of for the album, its the rather short overall length. So....if you're planning on diving into the genre, I would like to recommend this album as your first. One of the greatest prog albums from any country. Bar none!!!
Report this review (#70990)
Posted Friday, March 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is one of the few italian progrock albums I have. It is almost perfect in the execution and the ideas flow so intensely on it you can tell by a distance this people were from a school of music.

Very emersonish in the sound but overall they have developed a sound more intense a nd less dramatic than their mentors.

"Appena un po" is a singular song but the finale, my friends, the finale it is superb. It is a well invested money. Look for it.

Report this review (#72509)
Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Thanks to this site, I've recently discovered Italian 70's Progressive Rock, and this cd is an example of the best of it I've heard so far. It has all the complexity of Yes or Genesis at their best without sacrificing the other (as important) aspect of '70s Prog, which was contrasting flash with subtlety, a concept seemingly lost on most of the neo- prog I've heard.

These are not extended jazz-rock jams, they are songs with clear multi-part forms, featuring your favorite vintage instruments and mine. I don't speak Italian, but it's in no way a turn-off: it's not as if we pay much attention to what Jon Anderson is actually *saying*, right?

The cd is warm, clear, and well mixed. (I have the RCA with "ND 71784" on the spine.)

Report this review (#75794)
Posted Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars I heard this album only a few days after hearing "Storia Di Un Minuto" and I've always considered both as a double output, with "Per Um Amico" acting like the disc 2 of a great symphony-like. In fact, either were released in Italy in the same year and I guess that here in Brazil, they were not only released in the same year but simultaneously (1974). Hence, to consider them as a single work, divided in two long pieces wasn't (isn't) really an absurd. We have the same band line-up, the same arrangements and production, the same song style; yes, they could fit perfectly in a kind of PFM's White Album, although a little pretentious if one takes on that those were their first real recordings.

On the other side, dividing the pieces we were able to recognize that PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI was not a single-shot band. they had much more to offer - what's true until the present days, fortunately. PFM, together with other historical Italian-prog bands helped to establish a remarkable and auspicious progressive musical sub-genre demonstrating also that Italy needn't rely only on old Tarantella-like tunes or the sometimes boring San Remo Festival style of grandiloquent songs.

There's very few to add when "Per Un Amico" is compared to the previous album, if one could randomly exchange tracks between both outputs the differences should be meaningless. Musicianship is outstanding, singing and playing are high as usually; Italian vocals give a special touch to the songs. There are great themes being developed and when it seems that all juice is extracted from the fruit, a surprising note or tune appears to stupefy us and take us to an almost dream.

'Appena un pň', the opening track, is a great piece, the calm and placid beginning, very symphonic and pastoral, with pleasant mediaeval and folk tunes gives room to a complex moment where a jazz-rock fusion brief theme takes place before vocals begin. The voices sooth softly, like a beautiful chorale only to be supplanted by an enjoyable part, very progressive, where all instruments act in a series of homogeneous airs. Near-ending the song becomes grandiose with great keyboard playing leading to a non-sense vacuum. A huge opener.

'Generale' is very catchy and easy. Now guitars dominate amidst all other intruments and there's a notorious rock atmosphere - more noticeable if one can appreciate also the live versions of this particular song.

'Per un amico', the title-track, is decorate by a delightful flute opening and soon the singing appears accompanied by marvelous and meaningful mellotron backing. Solo section is intensely shared between violin and acoustic guitar with a heavy bass presence; synths and piano do the magnificent closure: I sometimes wished to be the amico (friend) honored.

'Il banchetto' is for me the prototype of the medium-size prog-rock song; it's really one banchetto (feast) for the ears. Even the description of the theme is difficult due to the continuous changes and different signatures. The initial serenade with soft voices and guitars goes in a crescendo to a kind of ethereal, agreeable, clear, majestic tune. The middle section conveys us to a reverie unreality where the hearer literally flies away to distant and impressive worlds. Ending part is calm and sophisticated. My preferred album track.

'Geranio', the closing track, has great moments but with less power than preceding tracks. However, it's a song with the characteristic PFM trade mark: a soft and pleasant beginning, an always amazing core with great signature variations and a very surprising ending.

Once the album finishes, a sensation of 'want more' remains for the listener and the solution is to hear and hear again; it's healthy. Being a natural following to the debut album, "Per Un Amico" must be treated equally: a MASTERPIECE. Final rating: 5.

Report this review (#75853)
Posted Saturday, April 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars PFM is probably the seminal Italian symphonic band, offering the best place to start for new comers, and probably most representative of the genre.

PFM creates lush, symphonic atmospheres on Per Un Amico with the rock elements of the music being very much downplayed and even brushed aside. It bears more resemblance to a classical form than that of a rock format. The band makes very tasteful and perhaps the most effective use of flute in a very soothing way like the sonic equivalent of a mother's kiss. Also excellent use of piano, mellotron and mini-moog is present. Overall the songs are soothing but at times can drop into a surprisingly heavy instrumental section. Really the songs change their sound just as quickly as you can string words to describe it. Acoustic guitar is favored over the electric here which gives you an idea of the overall tranquility of the album. Comparisons are hard to make due to their striking originality but Gentle Giant and early King Crimson, without their overt jazz influences, serve as the best points for comparison.

The Italian vocals may be a roadblock to sum but the album wouldn't have the same effect if sang in English. It's not what these guys are saying that's important but rather the beauty with which they say it. No real standouts or weaknesses here and nothing pinpointable keeping it from being five stars. It just seems to lack that magical vibe to push it over the edge. For fans of the lighter side of prog but with an open mind fans of any genre will be able to appreciate.

Report this review (#82016)
Posted Monday, June 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album has a very modern feel to it. It's genuine prog unlike most of the bands listed on this site. The music has King Crimson elements but with a bit more charm. These Guys are not frightened to provide harmonies which sound a little middle of the road. But they also hammer you with some very hard sounds. In particular, the finale of the whole album is quite terrifying. The second track has a very fast jazzy sound.

To there credit I can't imagine any band today producing anything anywhere near as adventurous. Radiohead & U2 would probably play this kind of music if they had any talent.

You won't understand the lyrics unless you can speak Italian. For me that does'nt matter. 99% of all lyrics in most bands are rubbish anyway.

Report this review (#84168)
Posted Wednesday, July 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars With "Per un amico" the band developed the ideas of their debut album. You can still find here the influences of King Crimson and EL&P blended with classical music patterns, Italian folklore and a touch of jazz: anyhow the result is an album without weak moments, well balanced and where the music streams fluently with many changes of rhythm and mood.

The opener "Appena un po'" (Just A Little Bit) begins softly, the music is clearly classical influenced and the mood is dreamy and a little bit melancholic. "Away from here, away from here / I wish I could go away from here at once / How I wish I could go / I would leave, I would run towards another truth / If only I could believe it, that would be enough / I know I would set off. Away from here, away from here at once, away from here / I would find myself in another reality / Just to see open space in front of me / Away from here, away from here at once, away from here." Well, lyrics are about the desire to escape from reality and in my opinion they're a little bit "naďve", but they perfectly match the music and the result is good. You can find another version of this track in "Photos of Ghosts" as "River Of Life" with English lyrics written by Peter Sinfield, but I prefer by far the original version.

"Generale" is a good instrumental track where all the members of the band show their great musicianship. After a "jazzy" beginning with great drum work, a military march breaks in led by drums and flute. Then come organ, violin and the other instruments for the "finale". The version of this track on "Photos Of Ghosts" ("Mr. 9 till 5") features English lyrics provided by Peter Sinfield and weak vocals. I prefer by far the instrumental one!

"Per un amico" (For A Friend) suggests a soft way to "revolution" giving " friendly advice" about the need to come back from dreams to reality and to fight for a better world. "Don't ask me if one day it will change / Start to do something and it will change with you / It will change. You run away, you hide yourself and that is not possible / You live your compromises and that is not possible / It's no time of dreams anymore / You must fight harder, harder..." There are no screams or rumours of war here: the dreamy vocals and the romantic mood of the first part of the piece contrast with the more "struggling" instrumental closing section and the lyrics fit the music very well. In my opinion the English version called "Photos Of Ghosts" (with completely different lyrics) is not so good.

"Il banchetto" (The Banquet) is a complex and "politically engaged" song. The simple lyrics draw the imagine of a banquet in a king's court while outside the people is whining. The beginning is soft, with acoustic guitar and vocals in the forefront. "Sir, His Majesty / Reverent as always, here we are / Sir, that's us / The poet, the killer, and His Holiness / All together, your faithful friends / Ah, His Majesty. Please, my friends / You know I can't stay without you / Hurry up, take a seat! / At the banquet we were just waiting for you / As always, as every day that will come / As long as love and peace will rule." Then, there's a long and complex instrumental middle section with clear classical influences that melts back in the "reprise" of the main theme. "Everybody smiles / Only the people don't laugh, but you know / They always whine / They're never satisfied / Who knows why." A little prog gem!

The final track "Geranio" (Geranium) features almost whispered vocals and an oneiric mood. "The wind dances in the night / It dances slowly in the street / A melted dream dances / The shadow of the moon dances / Barely touching the time and the fortune / It dances softly, it dances down there." Well, in my opinion the lyrics here are non particularly inspired and the music, though not bad, is not at the same level of the other tracks. You can find an English version of this piece in "Photos Of Ghosts" as "Promenade The Puzzle" and I think that this is the only track where the lyrics of Peter Sinfield fit the music better than those of Mauro Pagani.

Though perhaps not perfect, in the whole "Per un amico" is without doubt one of the most influential albums of the Italian progressive scene of the early seventies and an essential one in every prog collection.

Report this review (#86071)
Posted Monday, August 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Per Un Amico is is an amazing album from start to finish and should not be missed by anyone who enjoys symphonic prog rock. First off, this is my first PFM album and my first Italian album. I am so glad that I got this album. At first, I thought that I would have a hard time getting into it due to the Italian lyrics. But, the Italian fits in perfectly with the music, and it all flows very nicely.

One thing about PFM is that the music is constantly changing. For instance, the title track changes to different sounds or movements about five or six times, and that is in less than six minutes! All of the changes flow nicely, and keep the music extremely interesting. In the song Generale, there is an organ solo that probably lasts about 20 seconds but is still effective and beautiful where it is placed. Appena Un Po' is probably the best song on the album. It features beautiful mellotron work. The beginning of the song is so peaceful and then goes into the heaviest part on the album. The violin also adds a lot to the whole album. The title track has to be my second favorite song, and is full of powerful guitar, drums, and keyboard. I love the whole album, but the weakest song is probably the last song, Geranio, but it is still an excellent song. It's just that the end of the song is kind of anti-climactic, but I think that is probably intentional. It gives the end of the album a kind of haunting quality.

In closing, this album probably does not have as many listeners as it should due to the Italian lyrics. If you give this album a chance you will not be disappointed. In my opinion, it is right up there with some of the most essential prog rock albums.

Report this review (#96033)
Posted Friday, October 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars If you'd heard ELP, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull and Yes before, this album will not impress you much (apart from the fact that these guys were not english, but italian... plus the lyrics are even less understandable hahaha). This is not me implying that these guys were bad, but they were not pioneers, even being almost contemporaries along the "supergroups" of the 70's. They can evoke emotions with one simple verse, without having the necessity of understanding the lyrics. The title track ("For A Friend" in italian) has a sample of very powerful melodic pop in it's verses and a very Yes-ish bridge. Appena Un Po begins and adopts the form of early chamber baroque music and then a very Gentle Giant-like segment comes in with some atonal chords thrown in, interesting drum patterns and flute, and the mellotron really evokes Genesis and early King Crimson. "Generale!" is mostly ELP-influenced with some violins in the vein of GG. "Il Banchetto" also mixes Yes with Genesis, and a very interesting Emersonesque piano break in the middle toward the end. Geranio is also Gentle Giant sounding, with vocal harmonies like the rest of the songs.

However, this is a fine example of symphonic progressive (Italian just refers to the place, in my opinion; they were symphonic progressive in the same vein as the English bands of that time), in spite of it being a mixed bag of pre-established sounds. I even dare to say that this band could outplay their contemporaries in composition at times, and that's a HIGH compliment.

In conclusion, although the song-per-song review was largely vague, each and every one of these songs are very worthwhile to listen through... and they have a very recognizable sound as a product of the styles they blend, proving that mixing is innovating as well; after all, prog comes from a mix as well. 4 stars. Excellent addition to you all.

Report this review (#97856)
Posted Thursday, November 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Forget the rubbish cover (and it IS a stinker) - here's a question. Is there another prog act who had such a dazzling start to their career? Storia and Amico are no-brainer five-star classics, bona fide musts, and given that Isola di Niente, plus the anglophonic revampings Photos of Ghosts and World Became The World are also at the excellent end of indispensable, I'd argue that NO prog act of any durability produced so much brilliance in their formative years. This one is another personal take on KC/Genesis/Yes mores with melodic Italian pop sensibility and ridiculously throwaway virtuosity usually summed up best - as in Il Banchetto - in tiny cameos rather than florid solos. Aural nectar.
Report this review (#98476)
Posted Sunday, November 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Second album by PFM. This one is maybe slightly better than their first in terms of production. The music is also more complex but as always with incredible playing. These musicians are really awesome and I don't use that word very often. Just listen to the introduction of the first track. I think this is the best sound you can get out of a mellotron... and that classical guitar on top... this is pure bliss !
Report this review (#98982)
Posted Wednesday, November 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Mindblowing!

One can actually feel this record. It has gentle textures and lots of incredible interplay beetween the musicians. The shifts in the songs make enough room in your mind, so that you never get bored while listening... It also brings in an inner peaceful feeling to both the body and mind, soothing and unique... It is perfectly arranged. It has touches of barroque music played on modern instruments, the sound balance is really perfect, every note they play haunts me... great vocal harmonies too.

The climaxes they achieve are tremendous!

What else can I say, get this record and play it loud!

Report this review (#102931)
Posted Wednesday, December 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars the albun per un amico is one of the best albuns i never listened. when i listened this albun my life change, because i never listened the progressive italian. The version in english calls PHOTOS OF GHOST are very interesting but the version in italian is the best of the world of the progressive music. Il banchetto is the best music because the solo of the grand piano is very pure ............
Report this review (#103596)
Posted Tuesday, December 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars In the golden era for progressive rock, the Italian underground movement somewhat resumed a bit the best that was being done, while adding a special romantic feeling, the Latins glamor. A sense that is specially true in "Per un Amico", in which PFM mastered symphonic rock as almost anyone at the time: from baroque to romantic, neoclassical to psychedelic and even avant-guard, in a elegantly layered cascade of flutes, violins, piano and organ, in the background energy of a rock act.

The compositions are always very dynamic, impressing by their imposing beauty and a tremendous sense of subtleness. They brilliantly change from inspiration to inspiration fueled by almost unnoticeable nuances. Like the opening track "Appena un Poco": starts with a growing thrilling spacey motive, moves from a subtle acoustic moment to a flute driven folk moment a la Jethro Tull, explodes then in a symphonic baroque which gives rise to the melody and subtleness and ends in a jazzy psychedelic ending. This track reinforces the idea of the eclectic amalgam they made of the progressive rock lived at the time. In "General" the instruments seem joyfully to dance together with a glorious military motive in the middle. In fact, glorious and marking moments are spread all over the album, from the acoustic ending of the beautiful subtle "Per un Amico" to the ethereal space landscapes created in "Il Bancheto" and the unexpected moments of "Geranio".

Not revolutionary, but a work of imposing beauty and creativeness, which still touches people 35 years later. A classic, perhaps timeless, progressive rock masterpiece.

Report this review (#121374)
Posted Wednesday, May 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What's the big deal with Italy??

If you've asked yourself that question before then I must present this album as exhibit A. What an absolute feast of symphonic progressive music. This is an album that like Close to the Edge or Dark Side needs very little commentary. Why blather on for 8 paragraphs when everyone either has the title or needs to hear it soon! It's simply essential for symphonic lovers and features everything they love: great majestic melodies, romantic vocals, violins, flutes, lush pianos and guitars grounded by a very tight rhythm section. In typical Italian style everything is most thoughtfully arranged, recorded, and produced.

The sound on the mini-lp sleeve cd is heavenly and I recommend you find a remastered version even if it costs a little more.

A very good place to start for people wanting to sample the more melodic and beautiful side of Italian prog. And even those who like much more aggressive music should hear at least one PFM album in their life. It may change your musical perspectives.

Report this review (#121903)
Posted Sunday, May 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was my first introduction to the whole Italian Symphonic Prog scene.

Let me tell you one thing. It's every bit as good as British Symphonic Prog. You might not be able to understand what they are saying because it's in Italian, but then again take bands like Yes. Do you really understand what they are singing about in a song like Roundabout? (If you do, let me know ;) To me lyrics just aren't very important in music, as long as they aren't offensive.

Musically, PFM is a very talented band. Very unique and very good. Good vocals, great guitars, drums, bass, and a multitude of other instruments. There are also a great deal of time signature changes and tempo changes. A regular feast for any prog fans ears!

I reccommend this to any fan of bands such as Yes, King Crimson, ELP, or Focus.

Report this review (#125099)
Posted Thursday, June 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I thought it would be fitting to have my first RPI (Rock Progressivo Italiano for those of you who don't know) review to be the first album I ever listened to from this sub-genre of prog.

During Christmas I was fortunate enough to be able to buy 10-15 CDs.and I had to pick ones that would cover aspects of prog I hadn't heard. Per Un Amico was the album I was recommended for RPI. I instantly became hooked and soon got my parents hooked on the album. It can be safely assumed that this album is the pinnacle of Rock Progressivo Italiano.

One aspect I noticed about this album is the significant use of keyboard instruments like mellotron, organ, piano, Moog synthesizers, etc. This is a main part of the sound of this album and is one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. The keys are an integral part of the album and if you take it away, you take away the backbone of the album. Even though the keys are a main part of the album, there are other instruments that take the limelight. The other instruments (guitar, bass, drums, flute, and violin) do a good job of layering sounds on top of this keyboard centred music to add intensity to the music. The singing in Italian is beautiful as well and even though I don't understand what is being said, the Italian words fit better than the English version of these songs.

This album (and like a lot of symphonic prog) is classically inspired. When I showed this to a friend of mine it took a lot of listening before he was convinced that is was rock music and not just classical.

Overall this album is amazing. The layering of different instruments gives this album a lush sound and a classical sound. The use of keys is the main focus of this album for me and I love listening to the soaring mellotron intro to Appena Un Po' with the acoustic guitar playing a beautiful piece on top of that. It is magnificent. 5/5 stars for being an RPI masterpiece. This is highly recommended for any fan of symphonic prog rock and keys aficionados.

Report this review (#127136)
Posted Friday, June 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars certainly our italian brothers are owners of such talent, this is the land of leonardo, michel anchel, etc etc a land full of artists. thats why a symph current from this country had to b made, from this PFM are the max exponents, until nowadays..the short mnumber of tracks fullfill entirely the beautiness of the record, every single song is nicely done, music that sets you free, give you wings-i dont know but thats what it does, such explosiveness of energy is well captured by this artists. very well done, why not a masterpiece.
Report this review (#127231)
Posted Sunday, July 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yeah, this is one of the best that Italy produced. I'm from Italy and i've listened a lot of italian prog, but not so many cds come to this fantastic level. I also would say that, in the end, this is the best PFM, even if it's easy to consider it at the same level of Storia di un minuto (5 stars to it too). "Appena un po'" is one of the best prog tracks ever, and then we have "Generale", an instrumental masterpiece (too short..). Then the title track, and then "Il banchetto" (tecnically perfect) and "Geranio". The only thing that doesn't work in PFM is the voice(/s), silly. But who cares when we have a similar work in musical arrangement? 5 stars surely...
Report this review (#128190)
Posted Thursday, July 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Per Un Amico follows the style of PFM's debut with increasing complexity and progressiveness. Melodies are still strong, arrangements are again very sophisticated, and the album has that uptempo, elegant, romantic feel once again. So why 3 stars this time? Very simple: Generale is nothing special, the album is again very short, and there are two dreadful moments in the album that makes me wonder what PFM was thinking when they wrote those parts.

Appena Un Po starts with a beautiful baroque overture and then turns into a traditional Italian progressive rock of high caliber, with good production, high quality melodies, and plenty of mellotron. Unfortunately, one of those "unbearable" moments is located in this track: a horrible piercing flute motif that is painfully twee dominating a section of a song. the odd Generale is a tight song that goes through different themes in a short period of time. It's not really my cup of tea. Thankfully, the title track is an excellent song that says a lot instrumentally despite its short duration. It begins with a great flute motif and continues as an uptempo dreamy song. The instrumental break features a great violin section, quickly-strummed acoustic guitar, and a lot of moog synthesizer work. Il Banchetto is compositionally speaking the strongest track in here. There a great use of acoustic/synthesizer/harp interplay, many changes and outstanding melodies. Unfortunately, the other "unbearable" moment spoils the song. This time, it is an absolutely horrible avant garde synthesizer symphony which not only has a repugnant sound but also seems to play completely out of tune/scale. Geranio is where Per Un Amico has an epic feel. It has it's ups and downs without losing coherence and finishes with a symphonic coda driven by a Synthesizer riff.

Recommended for Progressive Rock veterans and Italian Rock lovers, not to mention PFM fans.

1. Appena un Po' (B-) 2. Generale (C) 3. Per un Amico (A-) 4. Il Banchetto (B) 5. Geranio (B+)

Report this review (#130991)
Posted Tuesday, July 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is my first and only experience with PFM, but suffice it to say that I will certainly be purchasing more Italian prog (if only I can find it...). This album has some phenomenally high moments and relatively few low ones. I always gravitate toward creative and predominantly instrumental music, so naturally this is right up my alley.

Appena Un Poco. Quite possibly in my top 25 prog songs of all time, this piece really is remarkable. From the dreamy fade-in to the funky groove to the powerful mellotron/keyboard melody to the chaotic ending crescendo, this song oozes creativity and attention to detail. I really have no adequate benchmark to compare this to (a combination of Yes' And You and I and Genesis' Fountain of Salmacis is the best I can come up with, and that's not really close), though all proggers will appreciate this music.

Generale. Here is where I hear the Gentle Giant and Gryphon similarities: very cool and diverse instrumentation (piccolo, violin, etc), rapid fire changes between melodies, and tons of interesting fills from backing instruments (especially drums and piano here).

Per Un Amico. A nice mellow intro hints at the first "normal" song from PFM on this album, but no! Halfway through we find a great instrumental that winds through some fast strumming, leading to a spectacular crescendo, followed by a mild yet stately conclusion. Another great example of PFM's unique sound.

Il Banchetto. Here is where things start to become a bit uneven. Nice vocal harmonies lead to a mysterious and quite well-done keyboard/mellotron bit. However, we then sit through a few minutes of what sounds to me like cheesy Nintendo music before eventually winding back to the chorus. I don't mind experimenting, but I'm not going to let PFM skate by while ELP, King Crimson and others are penalized for the same thing.

Geranio. The trend toward lower quality escalates. This song revolves around a happy, catchy tune and an interesting waltzy bridge as highlights, with a lot of quiet filler and a repetitive (and uncreative) ending. Really kind of a headscratcher--maybe these musicians aren't as mature as they indicated with earlier tunes.

Some great ideas, instrumentation and creativity, but not entirely consistent; therefore this gets the same treatment that other albums that fit this description receive. Original and entertaining music? Certainly, but a masterpiece this is not.

Report this review (#136432)
Posted Wednesday, September 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the first band that I have listened to because I came across them on this site.

I ordered a few LPs (i'm a vinyl addict) from a UK supplier and invited a mate round to listen to my new discovery. By the way, no matter how you broach the subject, mentioning that you're into "italian symphonic prog" makes you sound like a pretentious git. So, my best advice for the uninitiated is just listen wihtout prejudice and introduce it as some 70s stuff I found ...

This is just an awesome album. Sort of Gentle Giant and Gryphon meet Yes with Steve Hackett (post-genesis) rather than Steve Howe, but different. Oh and the occasional interludes of Mike Oldfield. Actually there are parts of this album which you et the impression MArk Kelly form Marillion must ahve listened to (not as blatant as Grendel-Apocalypse 9/8)

Trouble is this music deserves better equipment than I've got (a nice pair of Sonus Faber Cremonas would be great).

Side One: There is an indescribable delicacy in Appena un poco. there are too many groovy riffs Generale is an interesting short instrumental. Per un amico (you can listen to on this site)

Side Two: Il banchettois my favourite track. Is there some Crosby Stills & Nash in here? If there's an influence it passes. No, this is too good, you ahve to listen to it and I have to work harder so I can afford better hi-fi. Geranio: ok now there are shades of Jethro Tull but onyl for a breif moment or two. A very Yes like riff with accompanying vocal harmony takes over. A quiet interlude (nice drumming) builds back into the riff. there is a punctuation of "scarey fairground" music before order and calmness is once more restored. There's a bit of fun going on here and no mistake.

So the verdict, well my mate who's in to Tragically Hip, Radiohead, Rush, Floyd, PT and Amplifier was gob-smacked. I have absolutely no hesitation in giving this album 5 stars. It's the sort of album which 5 stars was invented for. can you be serious about prog without it??

Report this review (#136466)
Posted Wednesday, September 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This has to be the most original and the most simply astonishing prog album ever to come out of Italy. Compared to its predecessor, STORIA DI UN MINUTO, it's an enormous leap forward. If I've awarded it four stars, not five, this is only for the following reasons:

1. On the whole, those lazy vocals still sound weak. When they get a bit more powerful (as on "Il Banchetto"), the harmonies remind me of run-of-the-mill Italian pop.

2. As other reviewers have pointed out, the final track is dreadfully repetitive. After the grand fiesta of all that came before, you'd expect the album to end on a bang, but instead you get a mess.

3. As musicians, the members of PFM are second to none (their technique is clearly superior to what Genesis, Jethro Tull and other British bands could do at the time) but PER UN AMICO does not reach the heights of the greatest prog masterpieces.

But let's be grateful for what we've got! You'll be hard-pressed to find a more breathtaking collection of virtuoso violin solos, clangy rock guitars, jolly multi-tracked recorders, spooky waltzes, Beach Boys-style vocal outbursts, exuberant mandolin-strumming, pseudo-baroque interludes, magisterial grand piano cadenzas and dreamy Moog & Mellotron climaxes - all wrapped up in quicksilver tunes with more unexpected tempo changes than you can shake a stick at.

Essential listening for symphomaniacs!

Report this review (#143429)
Posted Wednesday, October 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I remember my first feelings with this album - WOW! And it's why I had to dig more Italian.

Appena un Po' is actually rather ugly song with its vocal and mellotron cryings. It has to be played with big volume so that the those disgusting things sounds good. Still, the song is very great, atmospheric and contrastic with heavier occasions and eg some hapsicord-sounding things. 4,7*

Generale explodes. The drums and piano are my favourites at the start. I think the violin and maybe even the strangely modified guitar are stupid, but it is rocking, so that I don't mind. Marcing part. Church organ part. Quirky guitar-drum part. Drums are the salt in this song, but also the melodies are big. PS children's favourite song. 4,1*

Like the first track, maybe it's the vocals and somehow softly dramatic, maybe too long and static. However, I like it enough. The other half of the song is very symphonic and moving, I love it! 4,5*

Yes, also Il Banchetto is a bit irritating, but not so much. And at two minutes (after a little song) starts one of the best instrumentals that I've heard; longing symphonic start followed by crazy electronic-sounding experimental like ELP's and with very beautiful dramatic piano part, also like ELP's. And in the end, back to the song. 5*

Geranio has shy and clowny things in it, softly celestive, light, quirky, atmospheric. Maybe the "pappa pappa-paa" is the only thing that I don't like in it - without that the vocals are great, very gentle. And the ending of the song is GREAT, psychedelic, dramatic, very heavy!! (And it's maybe long enough) (Reminds me of Haikara's Manala, check that song (or album Haikara) out, too) 4,9*

So actually it happened that this is maybe more irritating album than L' Isola Di Niente, but let's leave the harmonic art and go with the heart. I like this is stil better, maybe there's more compact material in this.

Report this review (#143698)
Posted Thursday, October 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars After the excellent debut ''Storia di un minuto'' and its huge success,PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI enter the studio again to record its follower ''Per un Amico'' in the same year.The album was released on Numero Uno as their debut at the end of 1972.Someone would expect that the band would run out of ideas in such a short time,but that's not the case here...

Listening to ''Appena un' po'' you can know what to expect from the whole album.KING CRIMSON and GENESIS are the band's main influences but now the band presents a more original and personal sound.Mediterrenean tunes (acoustic guitars,flutes,violins) blend with soft guitars,smooth mellotron and deep bass lines in a symphonic magical arrangement.On ''Generale'' the intensity is turned on with a jazzy feeling dominating the track through the complex interplays,while the organ section thrills me every time I listen it.On the self-titled track the folk-tinged face of PFM returns.Here flutes,violins and grand piano are mixed with strong use of the moog synthesizer and the sweet vocals to offer another majestic moment.''Il banchetto'' is the most classical-oriented composition of the album,while it is also the closest one to GENESIS' style.The track opens with delicate acoustic guitars and romantic multi-vocal parts,but soon it's Premoli's moog s6nth,which takes over in a memorable solo,recalling TONY BANKS at his best,while a classical-inspired piano passage towards the end is the best tribute to classical music by a prog band.''Geranio'' closes the album in a folk/symph/pop way with some catchy sung passages leaving their place to flute-driven symphonic rock,accompanied by mellow piano parts and strong violins.Not to notice the grandiose ending section of the track with those haunting tubular bells and spacey synths.Awesome!

Two albums during a year was a rather common thing for a rock band back in the 70's...but two masterpieces during a year is so scarce like finding a button in a lake.This is your best introduction to Italian progressive rock music....and you shouldn't miss it!

Report this review (#145052)
Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars di piů, di piů, di piů...

What could I say? What could I add about this album? It's really interesting to know a not-English-version of symphonic rock. Italian people are very emotional people... I descend from Italian families. I know what I'm telling about. They are very expressive people, so their music is really 'hot-blooded' and passionate music.

'Per un amico' is one of the 'most perfect' albums that I've heard. It's an inspirated album. The musicians are very skilled. I really love the counterpoints and the atmospheres at this album. Also, the variety of sounds is outstanding. I love "Appena un po'" and "Per un amico" but the complete album is awesome.There is an important influence from the Renaissance (music from 13th, 14th, 15th Centuries).

(1) Appena un po': amazing work... spanish guitar, flute,... beatiful... and then, electric instruments, drums... and a fourious violin./(2) Generale: incredible instrumental track, very complex and inspirated work. I'd like to listen to this track by a prog-metal band!/(3) Per un amico: a lovely song. I love it. ...di piu..../(4) Il Banchetto: very nice song, the most experimental from this album... listen to the synths and their climaxes! and... what an awesome piano!!!/(5) Geranio: another experimental strange work, just listen to it.

5 stars. You have to get your own "Per un amico". Maybe, it's in my top 5 of symphonic rock.

Report this review (#146134)
Posted Saturday, October 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars An Italian prog classic

PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI are the most widely known and lauded Italian symphonic prog and with records like Per Un Amico is one of their best. The music isn't really as progressive or symphonic as the major symphonic acts like Yes that were around at the time but it is still in the same league, it's just got a different and distinct flavour to it favouring more laid back acoustic guitar style arrangements.

The first 2 songs make this album for me Appena Un Po' starts off with some swelling mellotron (one of my favourite mellotron sounds ever) before a small flute and acoustic guitar part accompanied by organ and harpsichord leading into the meat of the song in an ominous fashion. We then get lead into the laid back feel that permeates most of the album, great if you're in the mood for relaxing. 'Generale' is my favourite song on the album with a marching snare motif and a more guitar oriented approach with a creamy fuzzy tone and some great supporting bass work that seems reminiscent of Banco's 'Darwin'.

From there on the album is just nice, things fade away a bit and there isn't as much cohesion or immersion in the music and nothing really holds my attention for that long although I can still recognise there is good music there. Overall a good album but it doesn't measure up with the best from the west in my opinion and lacks a lot of memorability, it's also painfully short - all that aside a worthwhile album for any fan of symphonic prog.

Report this review (#146642)
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars My first review..And it's a 5 star. The Firefox ratings warning didn't even scare me a little because I believe this album by PFM is the ultimate Italian gem. But alas! I cannot simply state my personal taste for the album! Where are the basis?

Per Un Amico synthesizes in one record all the beautiful aspects of the Italian scene, keeping away from the disasters of the genre. There is the clear, clean and logical use of moog, acoustic and electric guitars, violin and of course bass and drums. All the instruments seem to work together without showing off and thus creating beautiful songs that rely on the interplay of the instruments first and virtuosity second.

This is progressive rock written for the instruments and not the musicians. The vocals are low and quiet adding to the majestic soundscape without eating the music away.

I say this is the ultimate Italian masterpiece because comparing it with the other gems of the genre I believe this album (when carefully heard, more than 3 times as all serious music should be heard) has no dull moment no bits of wandering into pointless playing. I truly recommend this gem to any lover of progressive music and I am sure most of you, if you invest the time needed will find a truly astounding album perhaps only rivaled by Locanda's "Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Piů".

Report this review (#150237)
Posted Sunday, November 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars Genuinely unique and beautiful, "Per Un Amico" is one of the finest examples of '70's prog around and, while certainly being influenced by their UK contemporaries, maintained a distinct style and sound all their own. Simultaneously symphonic and jazzy, "Per Un Amico" features classy, laid-back playing from all members, whose skill as composers and musicians shines throughout. The songs are universally complex and dense, heavy on melodies textures with a nice, mellow energy far different than the epic pomp and majesty of Yes/Genesis. The Italian vocals add the finishing touch, making this one an exceptional, if short, addition to anyone's classic prog library.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#150378)
Posted Monday, November 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a great album. The music flows beautifully and there is some great interplay between the performers, especially keyboards and guitar. It is clear on the first listen that there are parallels with the UK school of prog - notably Genesis, ELP, Yes - with elements of jazz and Canterbury thrown into the mix. The vocals are excellent even though I have no idea what the lyrics mean. Despite this, they inspire me. I visited Italy (Florence) several years ago and loved the place. Having only recently discovered PFM, I feel a sudden desire to go back to Italy, immerse myself in the culture and have a proper go at learning the language. That's how good this album (and its predecessor - Storia Di Un Minuto) are.

When I started writing this, I had it in mind to give this one 4 stars. However, given how it makes me feel (I'm listening to it as I type) and considering what I have just written, I've really given myself no option than to give it 5 stars. If you have yet to experience the joys of PFM then waste no more time and pick up a copy of this essential album.

Report this review (#151015)
Posted Thursday, November 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I guess that ANY symphonic prog lover will just be blown away with this album. Whether you understand Italian or not does not really matter. It is an important album for the symphonic genre. Tout court (humm, this means "period").

I discovered "PFM" a few years (three) after this album was released and this might well be one of their best album.The opener is just a magnificent piece of music. These mellotron passages, so strong, so ... sublime. It is always with great emotion that I listen to this jewel of symphonic music. The only negative comment would probably be the vocals which won't never convinced me (whoever holds them).

This album isn't a whole symphonic one. "Generale" is particularly hard to digest for me. Directionless and more improvisation style. But this is another TM from the band.

Most of this very good album holds brilliant songs as we all like. Complex music, difficult to grasp at first sight. You'll need to be patient with "Per Un Amico". It will grow on you and you'll be rewarded for sure. Take the test, really.

The best song IMO is "Il Banchetto". Mostly instrumental, it is a marvelous trip into the lush mellotron sounds. It summarizes quite well "PFM" music overall. Complexity and beauty all mixed in one of their most beautiful piece of music. Classic, jazzy, symphonic...PFM. The highlight.

The closing and very quiet "Geranio" will leave some "Trespass" marks at start but will soon turn into some sort of Italian feast as the band has been used to with "E Festa" from their debut album mixed with lots of classicism as well. Breathless at times and changing from theme several times.

I wouldn't rate this album with the masterpiece status but it is definitely worth your listening. Four stars.

Report this review (#151646)
Posted Sunday, November 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars PFM is the best Italian symphonic rock band. They are a very good symphonic rock band, but not in the same league as the likes of Yes and Genesis. Genesis has about 5 melodies in Firth of Fifth that beat the most epic PFM melody. The reason these guys are so highly rated is because they are set apart from the English and other symphonic bands. I think they should be in the same category, I wonder how people would have rated them then, as in if they weren't hyped as a great "Italian Symphonic Prog Band".

Anyway, this is a very good album. The music on it is very lush and smooth with good melodies and solos. The two best tracks are Per Un Amico and Il Banchetto in my opinion. The lyrics of course I'm not going to take into account, I have a feeling that if I knew what they were saying, I wouldn't enjoy the music as much anyway.

Report this review (#152140)
Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Not much to add here. An excellent example of the Italian scene. I have a real soft spot for "Il Banchetto". Pastoral in nature with one of the best examples of using the moog as a colour of sorts rather than a virtuoso solo a la Keith Emerson. Nice! An excellent introduction to anyone intererested in Italian Progressive Rock. Start HERE.
Report this review (#155161)
Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars.This is the third PFM album I have heard and yes it is a classic but I do prefer the debut. Part of the reason might be because the debut featured quite a bit more mellotron on it.

"Appena Un Po" has some of the most beautiful sections of music I have ever heard. It opens with the dreamy sounds of mellotron and harp before the acoustic guitar arrives a minute in. Flute follows and then a full sound. There is some surprising heaviness 2 1/2 minutes in before it gets pastoral with vocals 3 minutes in. This part is simply gorgeous especially when the mellotron comes in. Later 6 1/2 minutes in we get more waves of mellotron as the theme from earlier is repeated. Nice. This is one of my all time favourite PFM songs. "Generale" gives the impression to begin with that they are throwing everything but the kitchen sink at us. It stops and starts over again 2 minutes in with a different soundscape that is brighter and more pleasant. Heavy organ 3 minutes in as it becomes bombastic like intro with lots of piano, violin and drums.

"Per Un Amico" opens with flute and piano. Vocals before a minute. Check out the violin 3 minutes in and the strummed acoustic guitar with moog to follow. Cool. "Il Banchetto" is my second favourite tune on here. Acoustic guitar and vocals are beautiful. A fuller sound a minute in. Piano comes in followed by a flute solo before 2 minutes. The acoustic guitar returns and synths then harp joins in. Various sounds come and go after 4 minutes.The piano takes over 5 1/2 minutes in until a couple of minutes later the vocals and that wondrous melody return. Nice. "Geranio" opens with a pastoral mood as flute, acoustic guitar, piano and soft vocals fill out the sound. The song kicks into gear 2 minutes in with a vocal melody and a full sound. Lots of piano and drums. Vocals come in before 5 minutes giving us another beautiful passage. A full sound comes back to end the song.

This album should be in every prog fans collection. There are some breathtaking moments on this record that make it a must have.

Report this review (#156309)
Posted Saturday, December 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars After not hearing much Italian prog aside from Le Orme, I decided to check out PFM, after seeing all of the positive opinions on the site. I think they are slightly over-rated, but this album is a solid record, folksy and hard edged at times, soaring vocals and organ passages, delicate finger picking and well structured arrangements with quite a good mastering for its time.

I'm not an expert on Italian prog but it will sure motivate me to explore it more. I reccomend this album if you are new to italian prog because it is similar to english prog in some ways, but unique in its own right.

Report this review (#159874)
Posted Saturday, January 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, the musicians in this band P.F.M., as I wrote in other reviews for their albums, are clearly for me Classical Music trained musicians (I could be wrong), and they really used all the musical knowledge they have to create an excellent album, full of songs with melodies, with good use of musical landscapes, emotions, etc. This album is a mind trip for me, very enyojable from start to finish. The album caughts one`s attention from the first song to the last. It could be a bit unfair to said who in the band is more important than the others, but in my opinion, in this very melodic album the keyboards are the most important thing for me, because they create the musical atmospheres on which the guitars and the wind instruments / violin play very good melodies and arrangements. The bass and the drums sound very well, too. There are still some influences from the early KING CRIMSON`s albums, with the use of the mellotron, and the drums sound very influenced by Michael Giles`s playing. But of course, P.F.M. is a very original band in sound and in compositions.It is really difficult to review an album like this and said which songs are the best, but I can say that I liked ver much "Appena un PĂł" and "Per un Amico". "Geranio" has a very good finale. There are a lot of influences from Italian Folk music, I think, of course because they are Italian!

In my opinion, P.F.M. is the best Italian Prog Rock band that I have listened until now, and this is their best album that I have listened from them (but I still have not yet listened to all their albums!). I think that this album and "Cook" are their best albums from the seventies. Very recommendable.

Report this review (#160662)
Posted Sunday, February 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars My first encounter with this legendary band (and genre) from Italy, it has been very satisfactory, if not really a match made in heaven.

I don't have much else to add regarding description of the songs or music, as that has been done till exhaustion. Let me just say that I find PFM's music very, very rooted in classical music, with heavy use of wood wind instruments, interesting counterpoint and texture work, and classical-styled passages. The jazz influence is also there, evidently, and there's also rock thrown into the mix (it's prog-rock after all). I would say that, if we were to describe how each influence balances in the music, classical would outweigh jazz. There's lots of mellotron in use, too, a typical instrument of the progressive era.

I found the music classical-influenced mostly in the instrumentation and the harmonies, though, but not so in the structures. I failed to detect symphonic structures (true symphonic structures) and at times I felt like I was listening to an improvisation (very skilful one) and not a pre-conceived product. On one hand, that makes the music sound fresh, alive; on the other hand, it's easy to get lost if one doesn't hear the album at least three times before starting to grasp it.

I can't rate this album with absolute fairness. As a piece of history, in the context of 1972, but also as a piece of progressive-rock, it can't get anything else than 5 stars. It's a showcase of the art of the 70's, of the heights that some musicians were trying to reach. But that wouldn't be completely honest as I have to say that this kind of instrumental, heavily classical-influenced music is not my cup of tea. So just for subjective reasons, I'd have to give it 3 stars. In the end, it's me writing this review, isn't it?

Let's average that and give Per Un Amico 4 stars.

The album is essential and if you are new into prog, you HAVE to get it.

I'm happy I was able to hear this and know a little bit more about this marvelous art that is music. And now that I've finally met PFM, I can leave it be, and hear the music I prefer. Probably I won't touch this disc in a while.

But it's essential that every prog-lover with an open mind and anxious to know the history of the genre hears this.

Report this review (#162072)
Posted Sunday, February 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Per Un Amico is not only the greatest Italian Symphonic Album, it may be the greatest album period. It is certainly in my top 5. It hit me just the right way, and I loved it the first time I heard it, and that love only grows stronger. It's beautiful as background music, or for the deeper listening experience. It also feels complete, as if I just truly had a music listening experience and now I can go do something else. Remarkable. L'Isola Di Niente also gets five stars from me, and is also highly recommended. I don't like Storia Di Un Minuto as much, but I still give it four stars, whereas the US releases are more likely worth 3 stars.
Report this review (#163156)
Posted Tuesday, March 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars While Storia Di Un Minuta most certainly had a flair for the dramatic, slightly melancholic aspects of music, Per Un Amico is in many ways like it, yet fundamentally different. The bulk of the material isn't as in-your-face as I experienced the predecessor to be, perhaps due to the fact that it was my first encounter with the whole RPI scene.

Storia Di Un Minuto showed some clear influences, mostly in the shape of early Jethro Tull, while still maintaining a high level of originality. On Per Un Amico, these influences are in no way as notable, and I confidently state that they firmly and successfully express their own, unique sound on this release. It's more relaxed, mature and sophisticated than the emotional, atmospheric but still slightly rougher, slightly unpolished music coming out of Storia Di Un Minuto, perhaps with the exception of Generale, which in many ways resemble the cheerful E´ Festa. But even here you can hear the transition musically. More daring in compositions, the use of many ideas that, almost magically, manages to form a single harmonious unity every single time.

As for the music, it contains even more classical overtones and is clearly more complex than it was earlier the same year, but when for some bands that means a colder, more mathematical approach, not so with PFM. Because the music throughout the album is positively vibrant with warmth and richness, with often long, tranquil passages of excellent acoustic guitar and piano, intertwined with more orchestral passages and very often, flute. The few bits of really notable electric guitar still shows some relation and admiration to Robert Fripp, but in the next second they are as far from the man as possible with the smooth, warm tone one can expect for this kind of music. That same warmth is not only limited to the instrumental side of the album, the vocals are equally soothing and patoral. The greatest difference, musically, must be that of the keys. Here we're served a more modern, in the words relative meaning, sound. More electronic, bordering on sharp from time to time. If you for some reason find this bothering there's no need to be alarmed: Mellotron-soaked melody will redeem that.

This is an album covering many moods and atmospheres along the way, but the one that lingers is above all the amazing laid-back, feel-good warmth and the fact that while staying true to this, that it still manages to be such an instrumental firework. It is, simply put and taken as a whole, a happy album. One that should be enjoyed outdoors, in summertime, with pleasant company, a glass of wine and in beautiful settings. I find it hard to believe myself, but this is another excellent album from Premiata Forneria Marconi, well deserving of the high accolades it receives from around the world.

4 stars.


Report this review (#165277)
Posted Saturday, March 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
3 stars Review 43, Per Un Amico, Premiata Forneria Marconi, 1972


And though purity is maintained... it leaves us sterile

This Van Der Graaf Generator lyric is probably the best description of my 'problem' with Per Un Amico. All of the music is superb, there are no cracks in the playing, nor any problems with the flow in a conventional sense. I have difficulty with this in two ways (both entirely personal taste). I find it difficult to develop a relation or imagery for any track except the amazing opener. And, everything is too smoothly connected. It doesn't really flow and change for me so much as oscillate a little. I can't really fault anything about the album, but it is simply a nice listening experience for me, nothing more.

A searing mellotron accompanied by a beautiful harp introduce the album wonderfully. The amazing Appena Un Po' is the album's obvious highlight for me. A gentle acoustic from Mussida leads up to the flute and bursts of harpsichordy sound which are eventually supplemented by some much heavier keyboards to provide a vicious atmosphere. From this chaos the beautiful multi-vocals and soft drumming appear, with a reverent organ leading us slowly up to the gorgeous mellotron-led section. From here on, the entrancing atmospheres take us on a journey from a rural Italian mealtime to a busy city to the mystical beauty of the mellotron-induced atmospheres. 'Away from here' indeed.

Il Generalissimo is a pretty sharp contrast with a short drum solo leading to a lightning quick series of solos, violin and guitar especially. Flavio Premoli gives us some sharp piano-work, and we receive an excellent dose of guitar(could be moog, actually)-violin interplay. A humming gives way to military drumming with Mauro Pagani providing a flute solo before the keyboards, and then guitar, and then organ come in to provide a level of pomp. A twisted violin and some more of the moog/guitar from earlier leads us out. An incredible dose of ideas in only a few minutes, but I just find it difficult to go beyond the music and attach an image to it.

Per Un Amico is again a flawless piece of work, with some beautiful piano, flute and careful drumming shining throughout, as does the interplay between everything else and the stretching violin and vocal combination. Throughout, we see the players exchanging ideas without a flaw, and the Franco Mussida acoustics around the four minute mark are an absolute joy. Again, magnificent, but too smooth and musical for me.

Il Banchetto begins with an acoustic-bass-vocal combination, and the excellent Flavio Premoli throws us both carefully added piano and organ. A whimsical piano-drum-flute section and some upbeat cheerful music with slightly darker edges moves us on to a long jarring moog solo of the most moogly order with a burst of church organ and then a forceful piano solo. Some drumming and bass comes in to lead us back to the banquet theme and the reveling aristocracy. A great showcase of Premoli's skills, but it doesn't really move me in any way other than cerebrally.

Geranio is rather gentle, and somewhat harks back to the opener, with a careful vocal, and a dreamy feel given a slight edge by the taps of a piano's lower range. A delicate piano foreshadows a later singing section and builds up gradually in force and power. After the cheery vocal burst, a clever interplay between the moog, piano and others brings us to another instrumental break with a mandocello (I think) being used to full effect. A combination of haunting keys, tapped drums and tubular bells leads us out.

Basically, this album is absolutely essential to try and own, because it's musically flawless. Unfortunately, apart from the opener, it just doesn't move me. I'm not quite sure why, maybe it's just the lack of 'psychedelic' (word abuse) ideas or lyrics I can understand throughout (my snatches of Italian are unsurprisingly little help), but I would only really have missed the opener if I didn't own this album. Great stuff, you must own this, and see if you 'get' it more than I do.

Rating: Four Stars (though a personal three) Favourite Track: Appena Un Po'

Edit: Cut down to three stars for personal taste. Some people are much keener on the very smooth playing of the album than myself, so reading their reviews will probably help counter-act it. I'm seeing the lack of enjoyment more and more as a result of rather vacuous 'production' (I use the term with limited understanding). Still, I'd try it if you're not a heavily atmosphere or rock-driven person.

Report this review (#172084)
Posted Saturday, May 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of PFM'S finest album ever (although my favorite one is still L'isola di Niente).

This is a description of beauty from top to bottom: mellotron, flutes, guitar, moog's; all contribute to make this solid album a great piece of italian prog. From the beginning, Appena un Po describes such a beautiful mellotron crescendo that makes me imagine of any other beautiful dawn at my altiplane city, then it softly floods to to make it a kickass prog proper of Pfm's musicians, Pagani's flute can also be noticed not as something leading but always making a good company, that's quite beautiful, detail. My favorite sound in this piece of music is the mellotron after the fine chorus that makes a basis for the beloved moog, I just love that Mellotron's passage. Generale's a typicall contribution of action made by Franco Mussida, this march they make describes me a gentle general leading lil toy soldiers, of course it will be a crime If I forget Franz di Cioccio that makes a great appearance in this song, he shows his art and somehow reminds you that he is one of the best drummers in Italy. Per un Amico, was one of the first songs I heard from Pfm, it captivated me since the first time I heard it, and that motivated me to get this record. Per un Amico changes sceneries like a thunderstorm, the violin rocks along, moog gives that unearth touch when finally jazzy piano scratchs announce the end of the song, where moog appears again giving some feeling of mistery at the very end. Il Banchetto sounds kinda pop from pfm, anyway is a beautiful description of Premoli's art in the synthesizer, this has become one of Pfm's anthems. And we come to the end of the album with Geranio, where they retake the beauty made by Appena un po, the clasiccism made by flute and guitar becomes a whisper of Pagani's youth to my ears, something you'll probably wont find in music Nowadays.

I recommend this art jewel, it will increase your fantasy.

Report this review (#177843)
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars True progressive rock with everything you need to feel the genre.Thie album is so highly varied with gentle parts,classical moments,jazz sections and hard breaking sense.This is the band that perfectly use so different musical instruments with precise technique.You can feel the spirit of rock,jazz and classical music,because of the mixture of the instruments for the different genres.The variety and great musicianship of the album can be heard on the first and the third song - Appena un po' and Per un amico.They both possess the gentle line followed by more agressive part with clasical and then jazz moments.The second one - Generale - is absolute agressive song with harder sound,but precise,too.Il banchetto is typical long progressive song with much tempo changes and dramatical parts;included psychedelic moments.At the end of the song the piano work is of high standard.At the end of the album is situated Geranio,which contains too much instruments again and begin with extremely dramatical gentleness followed by typical harmonised vocals of the era and afterthat drama again,but without gentleness this time.I wish you good moments with this precious album!
Report this review (#184267)
Posted Wednesday, October 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the first Italian album I have ever heard. It really spurred me on to get some more albums from this scene. This scene is most definite a scene to explore further. This album is regarded as the album who sums up the whole scene. In that case, this scene seems a bit more poetic in style than the rest of the symphonic prog scene. Maybe that's the difference between the Italian Symphonic Prog and Symphonic Prog scene ? Or is it Italy vs the rest of the world ? I do not know. I do not care. I just indulge myself in both scenes.

OK....... I am supposed to write about music ? I thought this is the Playboy Magazine and you all wanted to know more about my four girlfriends. The music ! The music is both based on the usual prog rock electric instruments in addition to acoustic instruments like flute, violin and piano. Something which creates an unique sound. The opening track Appena un Po is absolute brilliant with haunting moog, flute and violins. The rest of the album too is superb. The second track Generale is in particular superb with good vocals and keys. The solo parts midway through it is sublime. I also rate the title track very highly.

The music is not easy to access. It took me a lot of time to get into this album due to it's intricate nature. The (Italian) vocals is brilliant and adds colourful textures to the music. It is an overall beautiful album and I can see myself as a fan of Italian prog in some months time when I have digested some more albums. This is a highly recommended album.

4 stars although I really mean 5 stars. But the Prog Archives rules need to be respected.

Report this review (#187715)
Posted Sunday, November 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams
5 stars One of the most beautiful and romantic Italian progressive rock albums you'll be sure.

Honestly, this Per Un Amico by PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (P.F.M.) was the first Italian progressive rock album for me. As we can say about P.F.M., their worldwide-debut album Photos Of Ghosts was produced by Pete Sinfield and, to tell the truth, Pete's production could let me know about them. However, my first P.F.M. song was, not Cerebration but Appena un Po', and that encounter should be great! What a beautiful song...Appena un Po' could do make me mercilessly weeping.

One of the most beautiful track Appena un Po', frexible-speedy-jazzy style Generale, soft and smooth album-titled song Per un Amico, avantgarde and immediately-variable petit- suite Il Banchetto, and stable but strong epilogue Geranio...each song has its own position, role and character. This product should be absolutely strict as one story.

Although this album be easy to hear even for English-prog freaks, it should be one of the most Italian and progressive works. I wanna say only...listen with your ears like Dumbo. :P

Report this review (#199139)
Posted Thursday, January 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album puzzles me.......but let me first begin with remarking the absolutely share beauty of this album......That indeed from time to time tends to come up with a bunch of absolutely fantastic melodies from several have commented that coming on like extremely romantic....I however rather tend to think that the albums sounds rather medieval...the use of folky elements constantly is placing you back to a medieval town, that is surrounded by great walls where all kinds of people are roaming on a market, that all come there for their own reasons, to sell something, to perform drama or to make music....It creates the picture of a soceity that lives much closer to nature than we that still did not loose is primitive edges.....The ones that would be praised by Rousseau.......when he stated that we should go back to nature......

The sound of this album tends too.....sound alot like the early Genesis...especially when the entire band comes out of the closet and play. It also has rather Crimson side.....especially the then suddlety and then the fully blown sound of the Mellotron are very much what we are used of King Crimson....On the other side the albums often reminds me of folky side that is so often visible on the first 2 albums of Anthony Philips..........

However this album also can tend to get quite wild or chaotic.....especially when the band is fulling out the stops....they show great technical ability in doing this and show great reseblamce with King Crimson. Personally Im more fund of the softer parts, where they use accoustic guitar, flute or this I think the album really is excelent and abble to create such a beautifull atmosphere.

All in all highly recomanded.

Report this review (#200681)
Posted Monday, January 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was the first Italian prog cd I bought. More or less all italian albums I have bought kind off grew on me. Some I didnt like at all in the beginning, others I liked it +-, but this one was love at first sight. PFM has the aspects of prog I like more: good guitar and keyboard playing, excellent vocals and beautiful quiet acoustic/piano moments.

Appena Un Poco - This track is excellent. It begans very soft with a very beautiful acoustic guitar and when the flute and clavinet starst to play it has an almost Baroque sound. Then it turns into a very dynamic instrumental passage with some very nice violin. All calms down and the vocals begin. After some minutes, and a very good keyboard playing, begins my favorite part of the whole music. The best folk-ish part I've ever heard. It begins only with the guitars and clavinet only to be soon joined by the flute and the keyboard. The it all calms down again with the same vocal part, the keyboard part repeats and the music ends. 9/10

Generale - Similar to É Festa: allot of mood changes and a very dynamic song. The highlights in this short instrumental are the guitar and the violin the last one giving a country sound to the music at some parts. For me it was the hardest song to get into on this album because I like all the parts of the song but I was rather annoyed when they ended prematurely (and I still am a bit) but ultimately its a very rewarding song. Usually people focus on the hightlights of the albums they review but because were only strong has the weakest link in the chain I also like to talk of the weakest track which on this album is, IMO, this one. When an album has this track as its weakest, that album can only be a masterpiece (unless the album would be 7 Generale's of course). 8/10

Per un Amico - This is my favorite track of the album. It stars beautifuly with the flute and soon start the vocals and the piano and drums. This track stays a little soft for a while but then the vocals end and the instruments go on playing in a crescendo ,where the violin joins in, that leads to and explosion of organ that leads to a a great acoustic-guitar section with some great drummings and then the keyboards join again and there is a great interplaying between the isntruments and the song ends with the vocal phrase played on the organ. 10/10

Il Banchetto - Had this track been shorter and it would have been my favorite. This one has my favorite vocals of the entire album, along with a very cheerfull acoustic guitar. The verse repeats once and then were left alone with the instruments for most of the song. For a while we only hear the acoustic guitar and the synth and I also like this part. Then the music begins getting stronger as more instruments join in, how I really lvoe this synth. But then it stops and the band beggins a more free-form playing which gets a little annoying for me, even when the organ stops and the piano stars playing (its more annoying initialy because I really loved the first part, but I still think most prog fans should like this part). When the piano stops the band plays the initial part again and then we hear the vocals and piano alone and discretly the guitar starts playing again and all the instruments join in again to play a variation of the verse. Even with that free-form playing in the middle of the song its still and excellent one and thus an excellent music. 9/10

Geranio - Very good track. Begins very soft with the acoustic guitar and the vocals and then begins the motiff of the song IMO, and the drums an all the musicians start to play . After a repetition of the motiff begins some sort of waltz with a very nice piano playing and after that enters the violin and the music stops. The vocals start again with the inicial part and then enters the acoustic guitar and the drums. After a crescendo the vocals stop and from now on the synth and drums and some sort of bells play the same part until it begins a diminuendo. Gotta love the mood changes in this music. 9/10

One of the best Italian Prog Cd to start with (being Storia di un Minuto the best IMO)

My rating: 9/10 = 4,5/5 = 4,5 stars rounded up to 5

Report this review (#201836)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars My renaissance into the world of progressive rock began one year ago with the discovery of Prog Archives. (Thank you all!) With it I at first concentrated on refamiliarizing myself with all of the music I purchased and loved in the 1970s, I am now beginning an adventure into all of the music I missed which reviewers have praised. I am now the VERY HAPPY owner of my first PFM disc, Per Un Amico. Just as all the reviewers have raved, it is clearly a classic, with excellent songwriting, instrumentation, musicianship, vocals, pace, melody, and very few flaws or 'misses.'

The opener, "Appena Un Po'" is so tight and full of surprises and twists with such wonderful balance of melody and superior musicianship as to win over the new listener immediately [9/10],

"Generale: is a romp through the sheer fun of Django-land [7/10],

"Per Un Amico" shows off a gentler, subtler side with more constant mood and tempo streams, and with such wonderful clarity in the sound mixing, and, of course, the wonderful presence of violin and mandoloncello. This song is especially representative of the way PFM masterfully incorporates the electronics among the wonderful acoustic. [9/10]

"Il Banchetto" opens with the wonderfully clear guitars, followed by the beautiful CS&N-like vocals and bass, before setting up the haunting moog solos, harp arpeggios, and background mellotron, before a Keith Emerson-like keyboard interlude. With the return of drums, Nash bass and vocal harmonies the group brings the song to a satisfying if sadly premature, end. [9/10]

"Geranio" [7/10] again opens with a quieter, almost medieval-then-Debussy/jazz section alternating with a Beach Boys "Pet Stories" theme, before taking us back to the twists and turns of una carnivale for a while. While the fuzzed-up bass and accompanying synth of the outgoing section get a bit annoying after the eight or twelfth measure, the album ends in a way that leaves the listener wanting so much more.

A very enjoyable and addictive listen even 37 years after its recording/release. So, I start it over again-until I can start adding the rest of PFM's classics (and maybe more) to my collection. Though my song-by-song rating system only yields an 8.5 out of ten; making it a 4-plus on the Progarchives scale, I would rate this album or perhaps its performers as an essential assets to anyone's Prog collection.

Report this review (#204715)
Posted Saturday, February 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars For [&*!#]s and giggles.. I decided to dredge up the first album review I ever wrote like 5 or 6 years ago. Just as I was getting into Italian prog. This album was one of the first RPI albums I got.

If you are looking for a place to start, this is it

Italian prog..... oh where to start. For many of us, a question that we ask of ourselves. For many of us, the Italian prog scene of the 70's is new to us. Lord knows I've been up on music for many years, and a fan of prog rock music since I was exposed to it by my parents. In the days before the internet, recommendations came from word of mouth. Nice but restricted by the area and region where you lived. Of course Yes, ELP, King Crimson, and Jethro Tull are first on everyone's minds when it comes to prog. Recently however, thanks to the internet I have been introduced to a whole literal world of prog that I really knew nothing of before. Italian prog caught my eye immediately for it's many diverse qualities. Italian prog is a diverse beast. Primary inspirations for the first generation prog groups, were ELP, and VDGG. Gentle Giant and Genesis are mentioned often as well. To state the obvious, a point to be made about Italian prog is an obvious one. It's not in English, for the most part. Some albums were issued with English vocals for export to England and America. The lyrics being unintelligible need not be a problem or a reason not to explore it however. Many of us like Prog for it's ability to take us away musically, it is a genre whose music and lyrics are open-ended and subject to interpretation. That's why Prog has often been characterized as a 'nerdy' or more accurately a 'thinking man's' genre. In order to get something out of it, you have to put something in to it. Italian prog is no different. The Italian language is so flowing and so romantic that it is a natural fit for the beautiful, and and time intense musical sections. It is a language meant to be sung, if that makes any sense. It is open-ended to the n-th degree, make what you want of what is being sung. It can adapt to nearly interpretation.

So this sounds interesting. O.K. where do I start. This my friends is the album to get. Find any list of the best, the greatest, etc. Italian albums and this will be at the very top of any list. This album much like English counterparts like Close to the Edge, or Dark Side of the Moon. Is for all intents and purposes the 'flawless' album. Per Un Amico was the 2nd album released by PFM. A close mirror, yet more mature than their first album. It caught the 'ears' of a certain group of musical visionaries with the initials E..L...and...P, who promptly signed them to their label Manticore Records. From there on, PFM took Italian prog worldwide. Tours of England, American, and Japan followed. Prog immortality resulted.

The album itself starts with a stellar lead off. The intro to Appena un Po, is breathtaking, a mellotron intro similar to 'Watcher of the Skies' accompanied by a plucked harp. After such atmospheric intro, some classical guitar 'noodling', with the various instruments falling in. The flute, a harpsichord, the Rickenbacker bass (yes a 1/2 point addition on the ranking thank you), finally the guitar and drums enter to an aggressive stomping main theme... to suddenly drop to bring us to the main section. Very nice vocal section. Love the Doo Do do doo.

Two other standouts for me happen to be the next two on the album. Generale begins with a Soundchaser style fury, with some wild violin throw in. However just when you are ready for them to break out the Cha Cha Cha, you get sucked in by the main theme of the instrumental with the harsh violin contrasts being the ingredient that makes the whole song in my eyes. The third song, the title track is just a PERFECT song. Great melody, great singing, love the Grand Piano just below the mix. Not upfront, but just adds the right touch to the song.

In short if at all interested in exploring Italian Prog, this is the album to start with. The greatest from the greatest. Highly recommended, a 10 in my book. All five songs are high quality and will suck you in. Trust me on that.

edit.. for the site and for me 5 stars.. you're nuts.. not to mention wasting your time with prog if you don't have this.

Micky (aka Michael)

Report this review (#204867)
Posted Monday, March 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Per Un Amico is the second album by Premiata Forneria Marconi, one of the most well known bands from the Italian prog scene. I would recommend this album for anyone just starting with the genre of Italian prog or anyone who already likes Italian prog and doesn't own it. This is a beautiful album with excellent instrumentation and I really enjoy the Italian vocals. I would most compare this to symphonic prog, so if you like symphonic prog you will like this album, but they definitely have a unique style so it will not sound just like yes or genesis. This is the album that got me to start listening to Italian prog and it is probably still my favorite from the genre. It is a masterpiece of progressive music and I highly recommend it.
Report this review (#207596)
Posted Tuesday, March 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Per un amico is a pure and simple (?) Masterpiece. The first thing to say is that, compared with influences that PFM is credited to have received from the british way of sound, I do not know something about Genesis or Yes, but only a pinch of GG and KC. The rest is pure Italian soul, I say "padana" music, if anyone of you knows what is the Pianura Padana and the fog and the history of Italy and the farmhouses and even the music in those medieval times in Italy. Just to say that this is popular lombard music, moist and warm at the same time, with a very little of Mediterranean sound and much more in terms of interior atmospheres. Many people are surprised regarding Italians have such a great closeness with music. They are the same people who were born yesterday and do not know the History nor the history of music. Please, where they were born Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Paganini, Verdi, Rossini, Puccini and some others. Reading here it seems that music has been invented in England. One last thing: there are jazz advances in this disc or fusion music that just a more informed musician can hope to feel . PS: musicianship here is much more better than the other english successful amateurs who learned to know their instrumentsl while trying to play them (and that's said with respect and admiration).
Report this review (#211721)
Posted Sunday, April 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Second ( and I think one of most popular) album of the gods of Italian Progresive (RPI) PFM is all you wanna find in that kind of music: melodism, perfect arrangements, strong scent of classical music and baroque.

Compared with their debut, this album is much more better. More focused and well balanced, it contains of real mix of sympho-elements and rock structures and drives. For a first time in group's music you can hear not how few classicaly trained young musicians trying to play their beloved clasical music in a manner of rock-band. No, there is real melted sound, no one of two components is dominating. So, result is realy very attractive: less sweet, more rhythm, complex structures, pulsation of ideas and sounds. Right here I start to believe,that they are leading team of period's Italian Progresive.

I can recommend this album to anyone interested in searching Italian Progresive of 70-th as very strong and representative example.

Report this review (#239336)
Posted Tuesday, September 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
5 stars You can guess this is masterpiece by many traits, many symptoms this album bears. People talk about it a lot, thus, it is quite well known in prog circles. And also, most of us have weak spot for Italiano Progressivo Rock. And another reason, it's number eleven in top albums chart here. It have to mean something, so many people can't be wrong.

Or can they ? Of course they can, but they are not. I can feel it from first sounds in Appena Un Po', that something magical has been crafted here, soft, tender, coming not through your ear, but skipping whole hearing system and going right into your brain, where it blows in wonderful explosion.

Of sounds. You know this feeling, when you simply know that every sound has its place in (well, we can call it) grand design. That you understand this composition almost instantly, no mystery for years, it's here, nice and clear to heard. But I admit that it took some time. This is music, which grabs you and attract mostly on first song and its beauty I think. On first listen I mean. But to take this as whole, talking about it's quality, one eye won't remain dry.

5(-), because last two songs quite hangs on first three ones. And hell yeah, walking on rush street, seeing all these people and wondering, what they could listen, I must say, little bit in vain, that for sure it's not as good as my PFM-PUA.

Report this review (#243049)
Posted Monday, October 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars You know what this album is for me and many others. Its like the 2nd wave of discovery.

When we first get into classic Prog, its the standard great stuff. You know, various albums from the Big Six of Prog (KC, PF, Genesis, Yes, JT & ELP). And then you discover various other highly regarded Prog bands. But with varying degrees of success. Always itching for that same level of brilliance you heard on Foxtrot or Wish You Were Here. You scrape around further, hoping to find something as amazing as the very best in Prog.

Then you find PFMs first two albums!! Do your ears deceive you? Is this stuff really sounding as great as your favorite King Crimson album? Does this truly have the dexterity and flash of ELP? Yet are they really as unique sounding as any of the other bands in the Big Six? YES! Thank God! Your Prog collection has just grown with another true classic!

Well thats my PFM experience at any rate, but I suspect its similar for many of you. We all discovered the big prog acts early on, and we all love Prog for all the reasons you already know. But we want "more, more, more." And like any genre, there's always a dirge of average albums, that people try to pretend (or actually think) are very good to great. But in the case of PFMs first two, its the real deal. And the fact that so many members of this board rank it so high, just makes me feel that much better about the collective taste of this community.

If you're checking out ProgArchives all time Prog albums list, you're seeing that this album is ranked in or near the top 10. If you have most of the other albums in the top 20, and you're wondering if you'll love this album? Yes you will. I absolutely guarantee it!

Report this review (#245793)
Posted Friday, October 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I first tried Per un Amico, after seeing that it was one of the top 10 rated albums on all of PA, I decided to listen to some songs, and I was disappointed; it seemed like just another boring, instrument-driven prog album. After a few months, I returned- and wow, my opinion was turned around 180 degrees! After many, many listens, Per un Amico grew on me much like Hybris did later, and I began to experience the true beauty of this excellent album.

Appena Un Po begins in a beautiful, field of mellotrons that sends shivers down my spine. Then, slow acoustic guitar comes in with a little bass, and flute joins thereafter, followed by harpsichord, and the music keeps building until at 2:17, it tumbles into a mix of instruments playing together. After about 4 minutes, the mellotron takes over, resulting in a beautiful solo. This then morphs into a medieval march, and the song concludes with more vocals and another mellotron solo. Next is Generale, an energetic rocker reminiscent of ELP, featuring some excellent drumming, guitar and violin work in the first half. Around halfway through, the music fades away, only to return with drums and flute, and it soon turns into an amorphous mix of constant style changes, darting from one sound to another, before returning to it's beginning sound to end the track. After Generale is the title track, possibly the best from the album. It begins with flute, then moves into a somewhat sad, possibly nostalgic ballad. However, it reaches its peak after the lyrical parts, as instruments twist and turn in a frantic dance, and I must mention an excellent use of synths around 4:07. Next is Il Banchetto, a pretty upbeat, acoustic guitar driven tune. At least, that's how it starts. Soon, everything but the acoustic guitar falls out, and synth takes the lead in yet another eclectic dance of various instruments. This is best seen around 4:08ish, when the band seems to develop ADD, bouncing around with the synth in a fashion reminiscent of King Crimson's weirder moments, though more its certainly more... playful, or fun, than most of King Crimson's output. This then goes into a bit of piano, and soon the upbeat ballad returns to finish the song. Geranio begins with some delicate instrumentation, before blooming around 2 minutes in and turning into... well, you may have noticed that they like to make constantly moving instrumental passages, and Geranio does just that. Overall, the album is an amorphous, always changing mass of an album, and every style change results in a new and exciting success. However, you must approach with an open mind and a developed love of prog- recommended to any prog fan who's heard the more well-known stuff and wants something new and stunning. Though I wouldn't call it essential, I think it's even better than excellent- thus, I'll give it (roughly) a 9.25/10, which can be rounded up to five stars.

Report this review (#247730)
Posted Sunday, November 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars A review 6 months in the making...

When I started to settle on planet PA, I thought it would be a good idea to go through the site's favourite titles and challenge my taste a bit. After all, a new scope and perspective would do me good after being stuck in barren metal lands for the last couple of years. Per Un Amico was my first bite of RPI and it left me in complete disbelief. That was easily the worst prog I had heard in ages.

Highly disappointed, I retreated back to my black dungeon, bawling curses at the appalling taste of Prog Archives and writing a flaming first draft of this review. I didn't post it as I avoid reviewing music I don't understand. It contained nice play of words though, such as 'Retarded Prog Indigestion' and similar curses. Too bad I deleted it!

And so on went my life, happy and pretty much RPI-less. If it wasn't for Snobb's persistent inquiries when I would do my first RPI review, I would have given up on it entirely (thanks mate!). Based on his suggestion I picked up some Area albums and a bit later also Banco. I was sold on the spot, this is what I wanted to discover! Since then I've dabbed my toes further and further into the Mediterranean sea and have now come to a point where I can't see the shore anymore. This scene is huge!

As can be deducted from the rating, it has grown on me, but some of my initial criticisms still stand. In order to try and place this particular album in a context, I chose to review it together with a similar, but in my ears more accomplished album, Le Orme's Uomo Di Pezza.

Being new to the RPI scene, I hear this music for the first time with 2009/2010 ears. A first logical question is whether this almost 40 year old album has withstood the test of time successfully. I must say that, contrary to the other prominent RPI bands, Per Un Amico hasn't aged well at all to my ears. Particularly due to the primitive synths and the faint mellow vocals. Even though melancholic keys prevail, there's lightness in their sound that makes everything very sweet, too sweet and innocent really. I regularly feel tempted to play this at half speed to get a bit more oomph from the vocals. You might denote this argumentation to merely a matter of taste, but this is the second PFM album I review and I have praised the previous one, Storia Di Un Minuto, for its better cohesion and less ELP-indebted style.

Anyway, there's a second point of criticism and it is with the songwriting. While mostly excellent it isn't consistent throughout. Appena Un Po and Geranio and to a lesser extent Per Un Amico are simply marvellous. But on a song like Il Banchetto, PFM adds a folksy pop flavour in the first half, and some experimentation in the second half. None of both can impress me much really. Especially the pointless keyboard folly halfway in doesn't seem to come natural to PFM. It doesn't sound arty but artificial and disjointed. Their contemporaries Banco and Area got away much more successfully with such wild experimentations. Still this piece has some lovely sections, like the instrumental bit between minute 2 and 4 and also the piano near the end. The album ends as great as it began. Geranio is a strong composition, featuring lovely soft vocals and a fine dramatic ending.

Depending on your background this might indeed be a recommended start, but it might also be the exact opposite as it turned out for me. Anyway, if all songs had been on the same level as the opening and closing tracks, I would probably have opted for 4 or even 5 stars. Maybe I might have loved this album more if I had come into RPI earlier. 3.5 stars for now.

Report this review (#266853)
Posted Thursday, February 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hello, Prog Archives, this is my first review, and I must say, I'm a little nervous many reviewers here are older (and therefore, more experienced) than I -- an image of myself as a little ten-year-old boy giving a report on "Why Rock is Awesome", hoping that the thin, fragile confidence he has in this report isn't smashed by the glaring disapproval of his peers, comes to mind as I contemplate these words' place amongst the memories of listening to P.F.M. in the seventies for the very first time (memories of which I'm quite envious), or even the recent discovery of this album after years of being a seasoned prog enthusiast. That being said, however, I plan to confidently review this album to the best of my ability, an amateur though I may be in the rich world of prog rock. It is my duty to represent the ears, mind, and voice of the verdant youth! Well, perhaps not such a grave task as that, but still a youthful (albeit rare) perspective nonetheless. Now the first-time jitters and ramblings have ended, and so begins the review.

Per Un Amico was the first RPI group I listened to; when I decided that this was to be my first experience of RPI (ahem...about a week ago, heh heh....) it was a complete shot in the dark; being a newbie, I picked it because I saw that it was the highest rated RPI album on this site, and figured it would be a good representation of the genre. What followed was a most exquisite mind-blowing.

Appena Un Po' starts with an beautiful ambient soundscape, which fades away as a single acoustic guitar plays its somewhat plaintive song. Then enters the flute, along with the multitude of other instruments, and now things a a tad more upbeat. And then an abrupt switch to a little harder sound as the electric guitar comes in. For me, the best part of this song (and maybe the entire album) is roughly three minutes and forty seconds into the song. A few instruments play softly while the group sings in an equally light and airy manner -- and then the synth organ fades in. The vocals sustain a note at the end of a phrase, and the instruments become more prominent. Together they start to ascend -- a rather uplifting, ethereal sound as they get higher and higher, until the vocals stay on the same note while the other instruments continue to ascend, producing a hauntingly mellow turbulence, with much more gravity than before. Easily my favorite.

Generale is an energetic, percussion driven piece with a nice, fuzzy guitar distortion.

Per Un Amico: Features a very nice violin solo. At parts, a little frenetic. At others, very delicate. A very nice, varied track.

Il Banchetto: Very nice vocals here, beautiful and interesting chords. The synth section starts off as a smooth melodic line, then veers off completely in the opposite direction, a somewhat experimental showcase of the synth's capability, and a momentary lapse from P.F.M.'s melodicism. It's pretty amazing. The piano solo seems to draw from both jazz and classical music.

Geranio: A great build up to a somewhat repetitive ending. Especially the exceedingly long fade out. A solid track nonetheless.

My mind was blown, but I feel the band gave it all away in the beginning, and then ran out of steam towards the end (much like this review, I fear!).

For this, 4/5.

Report this review (#267368)
Posted Sunday, February 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars PFM's 'Per Un Amico' is an Italian Prog delicacy of varied time sig changes and virtuoso musicianship.

PFM were the first of many Italian prog groups I have become attached to over the years. I was a little wary of listening to an Italian band due to not knowing the language but I needed have worried. The Italian prog genre showcases an incredible range of talented groups that have stood the test of time and their albums have become legendary.

PFM are masters of prog and each album offers something totally new and unexpected. This album 'Per Un Amico' is certainly one of the best alongside 'Photos of Ghosts' and 'Storia Di Un Minuto'. I can't pick out a favourite track in particular because it blends so well as a total experience. 'Il Banchetto' is the first track I heard from the group and still remains my favourite. So check that to give you an idea of the style of music. This album is one I urge you to listen to at your nearest opportunity. ****

Report this review (#272676)
Posted Thursday, March 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars A truely beautiful album, 'Per Un Amico' pretty much stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of the British prog albums, rivalling the likes of 'Close To The Edge' by Yes, King Crimson's debut and Genesis's 'Nursery Cryme' for sheer scope and innovation. Premiata Forneria Marconi(a.k.a. PFM) were one of Italy's top progressive acts during the early seventies. The nation of pasta and Roberto Baggio produced a number of exciting groups back then, and the country had a strong prog-rock scene, with PFM probably the most internationally recognised thanks to a deal with Emerson, Lake & Palmer's management company Manticore Records. The deal gave the group the exposure they needed, they stopped Singing in Italian and success followed across the globe. PFM were a bit hit in Japan, enjoyed several successful US tours and had a strong-and-loyal fambase throughout Western Europe Released in 1972 - a golden year for Prog - 'Per Un Amico' remains PFM's defining musical statement and their finest to album to date, coming as it does from the clutch of three-or-four beautifully-wrought Italian language albums that makes up the beginning of their 35-year-plus long discography. Many critics agree that PFM are as valuable to the history of prog as their British cousins despite their relative anonimity amongst the rest of the classic rock spectrum. For some, the idea of Italian lyrics is a turn-off, with the argument for this some being that music without the weight of the meaning of the words is surely no way to understand the artistic statement being made. For others, the actual sounds and melodies are what it's really all about, and the words are an extra, the cherry on top of the cake. The strength of PFM's music transcends this argument. The music is precise, symphonic and highly-organic, a flowing plethora of deliberately lush sounds that flows and then peaks into moments of spine-tingling sonic wonder. There is no way to know what the lyrics mean if you don't speak the language, but in actual fact it doesn't matter. The style and language of the vocals fits perfectly with the music, and the idea of forcing the words into English feels like a wrong move somehow. As for the musicagain, 'Per Un Amico' starts slowly and blooms carefully and delicately into moments of lush beauty. Occasionally the serene harmonics are interrupted by a stirring gallup, as in the jazz-rock of 'Generale!', which features thundering bass and clattering drums, but the bulk of the rather brief 35-minute running time is taken up by more mellow sounds. The album does hint towards an almost neo-Genesis sound, with folk-and-classical trimmings adorning the group's bucolic candour and warm acoustic glow, but PFM do very much have a uniquely warm style of their own. Once you, the listener, is past the language barrier, the superb Progressive Rock of PFM's 'Per Un Amico' will hit you just like Pink Floyd or Van Der Graaf Generator did when you first realised you loved them. The music rarely repeats itself, sticking to the idea of experimenting with shape and - first true ideology of prog-rock - yet is also hummable and catchy. However, what is most striking about PFM is just how beautiful the music is. Lush and ethereal, 'Per Un Amico' is the perfect introduction to both this great band and the extraordinary sounds of European Progressive Rock. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

Post this deal, the group sang in English, and produced a couple of excellent albums, including the majestic 'Chocolate Kings'. However, 'Per Un Amico' was written-and-produced when the four-strong group were still a national act, with all the lyrics sung in beautiful Italian; it proved to be their breakthrough.

Report this review (#273816)
Posted Wednesday, March 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Per Un Amico has become the breakthrough album for Premiata Forneria Marconi and a centerpiece of their career for years to come. It's difficult to explain what makes this release so much better than what this Italian band has or will achieve with any simple answer, but I will try my best.

I consider the material here only slightly better than the other albums although there is a definite improvement in the sound recording department compared to Storia Di Un Minuto. I guess that the success of this record has to do with a combination of solid material, its early release date and the sound quality. At the same time this description implies that if you enjoy the music featured here then you still have quite a few other great Premiata Forneria Marconi albums just waiting to be discovered. And you'll probably be fine picking any of them as long as you stay away from their '80s and '90s material!

If I may use the previous proclamation of this album being the centerpiece of Premiata Forneria Marconi's career then it would make Appena Un Po' the centerpiece of this album! The song features an acoustic build up of the highest RPI-caliber which then goes into a completely unexpected hard rock territory. (Un)Fortunately this section doesn't stay around for too long and the rest of the album doesn't feature another trace of this direction. This type of surprises are rare and it's definitely something that I would have loved to hear more often on studio albums!

Il Banchetto is this album's second highlight and it starts with a very familiar-sounding guitar intro from that same year. The middle section will also probably ring a bell with most ELP fans and especially their album Trilogy but I'm not mentioning all this in order to bash the band for any lack of creativity. On contrary, I believe that there are just not enough albums with this distinct 1972 flavor out there and I cherish everyone I can find. Instead I use these comparisons as mere points of reference for anyone not familiar with Premiata Forneria Marconi and their music. This 9 minute composition goes in many different directions but ultimately maintained an excellent flow throughout all of the section.

The rest of the album has its share of highlights but these two compositions are the ones that I immediately think about whenever Per Un Amico is mentioned. It would have been nice to give this album the highest possible rating but I feel that the excellent material overweights the essential pieces and therefore I'll settle for a strong excellent addition recommendation.

***** star songs: Appena Un Po' (7:44) Il Banchetto (8:39)

**** star songs: Generale (4:18) Per Un Amico (5:24) Geranio (8:04)

Report this review (#274397)
Posted Friday, March 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Fantastic display from Premiata Forneria Marconi! This was my second plate of PFM after "Storia di un Minuto" and this plate is better than the first. Impressive music that definitely deserves to be compared to the likes of VDGG, Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson. I'm still fairly new to the Italian Progressive Rock genre but I am really liking it. "Per un Amico" is a somewhat unknown masterpiece of prog, at least it was to me before I discovered ProgArchives. I really recommend this album to those new to Italian prog. It will not disappoint and will leave you wanting more, I'm very sure. PFM must not be missed! Ethereal album, but to be listened to sparingly.

1. "Appena Un Po" - 10/10

2. "Generale" - 9/10

3. "Per un Amico" - 9/10

4. "Il Banchetto" - 9/10

5. "Geranio" ' 9/10

46/5 = 92% = 5 stars!

Report this review (#284966)
Posted Friday, June 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars For an RPI album, this one is unique. Many claim it stands as the elite sign of what the genre is, I say it stands out because it goes in other directions (beautifully, I might add) while bringing in all the familiar Italian elements the make the genre so nice.

Most RPI is very dramatic. Even though I can't understand any Italian, I still feel and understand that the music has a very important storytelling aspect. This is even more obvious in albums such as Le Orme's Felona e Sorona, which ais essentially a sort of Italian mini-opera. This album, however, in many instances put aside that quality for the sake of musical development, in many unexpected ways. The second track, for instance ("Generale") is in fact instrumental, and contains bizarre elements such as fife and drum/violin descants. The effect of all this is quite pleasant, as the music flows from one light airy idea into another, like a snapshot of life in Italy, each section different yet mingling into one great, lively culture.

This album is highly recommended. If you want a taste of Italy, all rolled up into a nice progressive package?look no further! Violins, tasty synth, great guitar tones, wonderfully pleasant singers, and a whole slew of other beautiful instruments will not let you down.

A round of applause, please, for the next five-star recipient!

Report this review (#292850)
Posted Saturday, July 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's pretty obvious that 1972 was the peak of the band with 2 masterpieces made in this running year. Well, masterpiece according to many followers that is because that's actually not what I am myself. I'm even a bit of a non fan of RPI so I decided to take the plunge into the really greatest releases of this subgenre. And what better choice could there be than no.11 of our top 100 of all times and probably the best RPI-album of all times or at least one of them.

And I have to say this is a very interesting album indeed. The opener Appena un Po' was a favorite song of mine from first listening really. Very enchanting and varied as well, no doubt a song to fall in love with. Next up is the energetic Generale, much more up tempo and even when I have no problem with that on itself, I feel this song is far less captivating. Still pretty good though. Third is the title track and with this one we return to the style of the opening track. Again a lovely and dreamy tune, for sure one of the songs people fell in love with and decided to call this a masterpiece. Il Banchetto is my personal winner of this album and this is mainly thanks to the brilliant first half of the song with a shining Flavio Premoli. Sheer magic what he does here on his keys. After this the weird part makes the song even more special. A wonderful classical piano piece makes this track indeed of masterpiece level before a collective performance rounds things off in great style. Truly wonderful stuff ! Last track Geranio is again laid back in the starting moments with for instance pretty flute. After 2,5 minutes the song gets more swinging and rocky but in nice style, halfway followed by great alternation in styles.

A worthy closer of indeed a great album. Probably a masterpiece objectively and I'm glad I gave it a shot. Just a bit too far away from my personal taste preventing me from giving the full score but an admirable achievement and a must for just about any progger to explore. Four big stars for Per un Amico and a great album to start with for newbies in the Italian prog scene.

Report this review (#298894)
Posted Sunday, September 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Let me first say that I enjoy this album immensely. The technical abilities and creativity of the band are exceptional. But at the same time, I get a feeling that many here get when listening to albums by The Flower Kings. There appears to be a little too much emphasis on sounding like the British prog bands of the era (this album was released in 1972). It sounds like the members of PFM were listing intensely to King Crimson (Appena un Po' ), Genesis (Generale), Gentle Giant (Per un Amico) and Emerson Lake & Palmer (Il Banchetto). This isn't to say that the songs are clones of the above mentioned bands, just that there appears to be a conscious effort to capture the spirit of the bands in in compositions.

Otherwise, the album is spectacular. And the group does manage to add enough of it's own style to make the album it's own.

Report this review (#320662)
Posted Monday, November 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the excellent debut album "Storia Un Minuto" The PFM has improved even more with their second album, "Per un Amico", which is great! It starts with one of the best songs I've ever heard in my life, "Appena Un Po. "This is music is fantastic, scary since its inception, a potent introduction-the mellltron which gradually reveals a song full of layers: acoustic guitar,flaute, harpsichord, organ, bass, all these instruments play in harmony, contributing to the perfection of music.The next track,"Generale", seemed confused him at first but it grew in me.It is a song quite varied, and only 4 minutes long! .Soon then comes the title track, really great music.In the 3m30s, when a wonderful guitar appears and is aided by a great keyboard. "Il Blanchetto" is the largest and strangest track on the album, it begins in fine form, the guitars, guitar, vocals and keyboards and finally give a great start for music until 4 minutes, but then a strange and experimental music dominates the keyboard, ruining things, fortunately, a piano comes next, before returning to the theme song inicial.The last song, "Genario" is not so bright as the others, but it's really cool.I like for the presence of the violin here, it is possible as the band is influenced by classical music, incorporating it to the good old progressive rock.

(10/10) -Appena Un Po (1000, actually!) -Per Un Amico -Il Blanchetto -Generale -Geranio


5 stars well deserved!

Report this review (#334179)
Posted Thursday, November 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
3 stars PFM may be the most popular Italian prog group, but I don't think they are one of the best. This was my first experience with Italian prog a few years ago; it made me ignore Italian prog for awhile. Eventually, I got into Banco and Le Orme and liked them a lot more than PFM. Later on I discovered Goblin and Area, two bands who I really enjoyed. So, in general, I'm not much for the more popular symphonic stuff from Italy. I still have not bothered to hear another PFM album, but I am interested to see if they do have anything else I would like.

On this album, at least, there is a strong influence from the British prog bands of the time. Of course, there is a purely Italian element as well. "Appena un Po'" fades in with some gorgeous Mellotron and some harp plucking. After some acoustic guitar, flute and harpsichord. Full band comes in sounding like Gentle Giant. Then a folky part with early Crimson style drumming. Later an almost medieval sounding section. Goes back to the previous section. "Generale" starts with great jazzy drumming. Then goes into fusion territory with some violin. Love the guitar sound here. The music stops and then you hear marching drums and flute. It's like the American revolution or something! Later some church organ before it goes back to the fusion part. Probably my favourite song on the album.

The title track almost sounds like early '70s pop/rock till it gets halfway. Then it's a nice instrumental section that's both jazzy and symphonic. The violin playing here is good. Great drumming and Moog playing near the end. It finishes with the melody from the start of the song. "Il Banchetto" starts as a poppy folk song. Good flute playing. Later goes into a more classical sounding section with good Moog playing. Halfway changes to a bunch of different sections, all of them with the Moog prominent. Later just piano, eventually going back to the folky part. The harmony vocals at the end are nice.

"Geranio" begins very mellow with flute, acoustic guitar and vocals. Later a repeated piano figure leads to the group going into Beach Boys mode, with some Jethro Tull-like interludes. The music changes to different sections before reprising the beginning section. A long, repetative section with bells to end it. That part goes on too long, methinks.

Don't understand the popularity of this album. I've heard a lot more interesting and enjoyable RPI. Not bad music at all, just not very original or memorable. The later association with ELP and Pete Sinfield must have something to do with this band's popularity. This almost scared me off of Italian prog, but thankfully I found other artists more to my liking. I give this 3 stars.

Report this review (#383737)
Posted Thursday, January 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's not easy talk about Premiata... and not feeling yourself as a fool, actually there's no way to talk about any record and not seeing the voids after any reflection. But there are many other prog lovers who by sure has said much more than I and much better. It's just this need to add a little bit of cajolement.

What I like the most about this album (and frankly is where I consider the musical connection is) is the percussion. That boost of strength and desire to play through the various drums textures, connecting tempo and musical complexity of the resting instruments into a single sonorous explosion. Apparently disjointed, the album walks an instrumental line instead narrative, in which the feeling of a bucolic trip accompanies the listener until an almost ruthless farewell...

Apenna un Po' (Just a Little Bit) starts such trip awakening from a dream, the sunrise warming the air to open the door in a trice and breath thus fresh air of a new trip among long grasslands. The violin and guitar strings lean each other in a chordophone play followed by the others instruments behind the percussion's sedulous step.

Generale (General) redoubles step in a half battle half festive march with percussion marking time, the texturized rhythm from the begging to ending without overshadow the guitar riff 's leadership or the violin's strokes. The mellotron close connecting the track both sides and fades with the guitar's wah-wah.

Per un Amico (For a Friend) breaks the silence with shy and sweet mellotron followed by the guitar, then piano, then bass then drums and finally enters pace with the voice. A little melancholic, like longing other times youth spirit, a little dismal and sober demanding the listener to wake up and being. The instrumental section its sublime starting from the lyrical sobriety, keeps growing and growing in pace and spirit to exploit into a blissful rock fanfare full of rush and goodwill.

Il Banchetto (The Banquet) invites us to serenate after the "frantic" conclusion. To enjoy the company and moment where the important diners meet, establishing a clear break among classes, in subtle but plain reddish lyrics. Then an interlude full of classical passages uses various influences from diverse musical periods to illustrate the stage from the aristocracy to the rustic and their mere styles. Once the character's core debating the feast is put on the table, reprise the rock theme with the guitar winking the listener coquettishly and concludes among soft detached and bragging breaths.

Geranio (Geranium) closures the record with a clearly psychedelic as well oneiric tune, dreams intoxicated, whispering nonsense with minstrel air and close the eyes through romantic strings submerging us almost instantly in the fantastic acid dream's vertigo dancing at night round a flower's petals. Within inspired and disinterested rhythms they jump from dust mote to mote dreaming flying out of the atmosphere until the trip ends with a turbulent back to reality with a firm persistent drum step.

With the joint share from Peter Sinfield, Premiata... rewrote this jewel for an english speaking audience via "Photos of Ghost". However this never reached the magic of original italian. Music possesses a mythical force that is better expressed when it flows.

Report this review (#432994)
Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Per Un Amico' - Premiata Forneria Marconi (8/10)

Here it is; the template for Italian symphonic rock, Premiata Forneria Marconi's 'Per Un Amico'. Although it has been forty years since the album was released, the popularity of this legendary Italian progressive band's second album still rides high. This was the album that got Premiata Forneria Marconi out into the world, and for good reason too; it is a thirty five minute journey of warm and charming music. While I may not be able to agree that 'Per Un Amico' is the masterpiece it was brought to my attention as, I can testify to its beauty and strength. Simply put, PFM's 'Per Un Amico' is an excellent album.

With a handful of other Italian progressive rock bands from the early '70s, Premiata Forneria Marconi laid down much of the groundwork for the world famous progressive music scene that was to grow there. Many of the sub-genre's staples are here in full; the Italian lyrics, theatrical flair, and ties with symphonic prog rock are represented here in full. Musically, a close comparison I could draw would be to some of Genesis' earlier work, for it's heavy focus on keyboard textures, as well as its generally playful mood. However, while much of PFM's music here is generally kept fairly optimistic in mood, some of the album's best moments come when they decide to take a more melancholic voice to their music. This is best demonstrated by the climax of the opener (and highlight of the album) 'Appena Un Po', where the song shifts from being rather light, to an incredibly dramatic build that could have easily been the soundtrack to some intense film.

The music here is mellow for the grand majority, only gaining momentum and real energy for the few climaxes over the course of the album. This could have made 'Per Un Amico' a very difficult listen to get through, but PFM pulls through simply based on how well they are able to work with the quieter end of dynamic. Like virtually everything else in 'Per Un Amico', the vocals are also quite laid back and subtle; not an approach that much coincides with the bombastic Italian prog rock I'm used to hearing. I do wish that there had been more dramatic pay-offs here, but PFM do get their flair for theatrics across magically when it comes time for it.

An excellent album, and while I may have wished for some greater consistency and excitement along this journey, Premiata Forneria Marconi's 'Per Un Amico' does not disappoint.

Report this review (#446806)
Posted Thursday, May 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Overall, this strikes me as pretty good stuff, but nothing really essential. It comes off to me as decent background music more than anything. I know some will think that sounds crazy, but to me, that mark of great music is something that makes me want to listen to a lot, and this album has had very little replay value for me. If something doesn't scream, "Play me over and over and over...," than I can't call it great based on my personal tastes. Yes, it sounds very progressive for its time, so I will give it props for that, but unless you are someone who wants to dive into any and everything that is 70s progressive rock, this is something I would advise most to pass on. Pretty good, but not essential by any means.
Report this review (#478798)
Posted Friday, July 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Fully embracing the pastoral, acoustic guitar-led sound that Genesis had, by this point, gone a long way towards abandoning, PFM's second album is a tour de force of gentle, tranquil progressive rock. With the occasional keyboard interjection to prevent things getting too placid, the album's standout performer has to be Franco Mussida, who must on the basis of this album be a strong contender with Anthony Phillips for the best acoustic guitar player in prog. I hardly need to delve any deeper into the album's virtues - everyone else has done a great job already - but I did want to submit this review both to echo the general support for this album and to highlight Mussida's guitar playing specifically - I think the album owes most of its success to it. The fact that he's also a great singer is just the icing on the cake.
Report this review (#501968)
Posted Friday, August 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Within just a matter of months after their stunning debut, Premiata Forneria Marconi had already released another progressive rock classic in the form of Per Un Amico. This album took the unique sound and beautiful songwriting of Storia Di Un Minuto and turned the level of quality up yet another notch - Per Un Amico is a one of the most lovely albums I've ever heard, and it still stands today as one of the finest progressive rock albums ever to come from Italy. The strength of the compositions alone is enough to consider Per Un Amico a masterpiece, but the way they are perfectly arranged with diverse instrumentation and masterfully executed is still arguably one of the album's greatest assets. It's difficult to find any faults in Per Un Amico, and I'd recommend this in a heartbeat to anybody with even a slight curiosity in early seventies' Italian symphonic prog. As a matter of fact, I've yet to find an Italian prog album that betters this one. Labeling Per Un Amico as 'essential' wouldn't at all be out of the question.

Per Un Amico is, stylistically, a very similar album to Storia Di Un Minuto. This is best described as very emotional and pastoral progressive rock somewhere inbetween Genesis, King Crimson, and ELP. Premiata Forneria Marconi has always had a more classically-influenced edge, though, and in addition to bold grand piano sections, you should also expect an abundance of instruments like violin, flute, piccolo, and mellotron. Although the complexity of the music and arrangements may seem a bit inaccessible, I found myself loving Per Un Amico after my first listen; and, fortunately, my appreciation only grew with each succeeding spin. Even though the album is just thirty four minutes, there's so much to discover with each new listen. Every time I hear Per Un Amico I find myself discovering something I hadn't noticed before - that's extremely indicative of a masterpiece in my book.

"Appena Un Po'" opens up the album with one of Premiata Forneria Marconi's finest efforts - the sheer emotion contained within this song is breathtaking, with its precise arrangements and chilling melodies remaining absolutely unforgettable even after literally dozens of listens. "Generale" is a more complex instrumental tune, with lots of great time signature changes and complex portions keeping the listener on their toes. On the title track, the band plays a slightly more upbeat style complete with a fascinating instrumental portion about halfway through. I especially love the lush piano parts in this song. "Il Banchetto" is the longest track on Per Un Amico, and the pastoral acoustic guitars matched with haunting synthesizer melodies build fantastically into a bombastic symphonic prog climax. This is one of the album's highlights for sure. "Geranio" opens with a soft, pastoral acoustic guitar and flute passage, and continues in this mellow style before building into deeply emotional symphonic prog. The song ends with a dark, repetitive melody that closes up the album on a rather bombastic note.

Just like on Storia Di Un Minuto, the musicianship is absolutely impeccable on Per Un Amico. The arrangements feel a bit more detailed this time, though, and that's perfectly alright by me. The production is also very warm, organic, and pleasing. Everything is clearly audible, and I especially love the way the mix is perfectly balanced - this is one of the best seventies' productions out there.

Per Un Amico is a virtually flawless album in my eyes, and it's also one of my all-time favorites. Italian prog simply doesn't get any better than this, and anybody curious about the scene should make sure that this is one of the first albums you investigate. This essential masterpiece deserves no less than 5 stars from me. Premiata Forneria Marconi are often regarded as the 'definitive' Italian symphonic prog band; Per Un Amico is pretty good evidence why.

Report this review (#563555)
Posted Sunday, November 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I really start liking Italian a lot. It IS a very musical language and Italian medieval and renaissance music are truly worth listening to.

Back in the 1970 I mainly knew the British bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Tull Gryphon and Yes . We didn't have that many Italian prog albums back then. Fortunately I am now with speed making up for that lack of knowledge with some truly fine vinyl.

Per un Amico is an album that is rightfully highly regarded. I must admit that side 1 is the better one. Appena un Po' had one of the finest mellotron intros ever and the track develops well. Generale is a bit of a folie with changing ritms and some folky flute. Per un Amico is a great track too. Side 2 is a bit weaker. Il banchetto and Genario do not sound bad the a bit less inspired.

Often nice artwork and sleeve design has a good album inside. Clearly the case here. I would give it a 3,5 stars but let's go for 4 full stars!

Report this review (#597594)
Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars One Gem in a Fine Jewelry Store

PFM's Per Un Amico currently sits atop the RPI charts, and it is only in my recent return to the genre that I finally sunk my teeth into this classic. To be sure, this is a monumental album deserving of careful listening. The band jams so much wonderful music into 34 minutes that it's almost too much. Actually, it is too much. With the exception of the superb title tune, the pieces on this album try too hard, jump around too often, and suffer from "kitchen sink syndrome." Individual sections are often beautifully conceived and marvelously executed. However, they don't always cohere.

Adding to the ELP / KC influenced sound of the debut, PFM has clearly listened to some Gentle Giant in the meantime. An already eclectic mix of styles now has complex contrapuntal ideas thrown in. When it works, it's great. (Says this GG devotee). But juxtaposed with soaring mellotron and almost discoish vocals at parts, this new twist is an expression of a band still finding its identity. The opening and closing songs are the strongest examples of this. With breathtaking passages that don't quite relate, both "Appena un Po" and "Geranio" give us wonderful flavors but not a full conceived dish.

"Per Un Amico" the song is an exception. Here we have some melodic motifs that tie the song together throughout a slowing building and emotionally evocative contour. Despite the simple acoustic guitar following monumental synths, time changes, and wide dynamic range, the song is just that. A song. In fact, I might place it as my favorite in RPI, the most memorable. No matter how grand your ambitions in music, the human mind will grab onto a melodic theme. It can be harsh, wierd, complex, or beautifully simple. But that's what remains when the instruments quiet. "Per Un Amico" has this while the other tracks don't.

In contrast, "Il Banchetto" starts beautifully in a very Genesis-like pastoral manner but then midway turns into an ELP key fest that certainly isn't as indulgent as the famous trio, but still diverges from the musical point. Fun, to be sure. Again, I return to the term "ear candy." One part has an almost video-game like quality (long before they existed).

Overall, I think the band has certainly pushed themselves after their debut and have produced an album that has something new to say. It's certainly an excellent part of any prog collection. Just not a masterpiece to this pair of ears.

Report this review (#651668)
Posted Friday, March 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars An amazing assimilation of styles, songs, and textures, Per Un Amico sets the bar by which all Italian prog should be judged. The flow and melody here is delightful and all of the pieces fall into place. The band set the stage with their debut, then they burst throught the doors of genius with Per Un Amico. Lovely lyrical passages give way to dynamic progressivism throughout the short trip. All of the first three PFM releases are classics--this is my favorite due to the strong beginning, the stronger middle, and a killer finale. All in all, a classic among classics.
Report this review (#755331)
Posted Saturday, May 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars How could one possibly follow up to what is perhaps the perfect debut album? With Per Un Amico, PFM definitely solidified their position as one of the greats in the prog world. Musically this is very similar to their first release; many of the instruments that made that record so great are back, including the classic flute and mellotron. But this album sees a bit more synthezier use, which is put to great use throughout to create a symphonic feel. Furthermore, the general style is the same in which they flawlessly combine complex and heavier passages with more subdued and atmospheric ones with a perfect interconnecting of instruments.

'Appena Un Poco' kicks off the album with an extended mellotron passage similar to Watcher of the Skies by Genesis. The rest of the song is classic PFM with a tight interweaving of bass, guitar, and gentle Italian vocals, especially at around four and a half minutes where the band slowly builds-up a very exquisite sounding melody.

'Generale!' is a fast, hectic, hard-rocking piece with great interplay between guitar and piano, which is only interrupted briefly for a short drum roll, flute, and keyboard interlude.

The title track, in its rather short five minute duration hits you with great melody after another. The synth is put to great use here, especially the solo at around four minutes, which has a phenomenal build-up right before it.

The first two minutes of 'Il Banchetto' are easy-going with acoustic guitar, piano and vocals. What occurs after though is perhaps one of the bands greatest moments; A beautiful atmosphere of soaring synth to create a serene two minutes before being interrupted with a crazy Gentle Giant-esque section. Some piano work and a reprise of the beginning serve out the rest of the song.

The ending song, 'Geranio' has an upbeat and happy vibe throughout. The piano work is the highlight here, especially in the waltz-like middle and in the final two minutes. Simply put this is one of the best prog albums in any language, but again, is too short. Nevertheless, this is certainly top ten material for me.


Report this review (#840416)
Posted Friday, October 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
1 stars PER UN AMICO is a typical Premiata Forneria Marconi album. All composition are on the same level, quite technical and wel played. However, I wouldn't dare to compare this album with the other prog rock classic offering of Genesis, Yes, Van Der Graaf or King Crimson. PFM is too much second hand, comparing to them, like a derivative, clearly a lower grade. I don't find one really enjoyable song on the album. It is too much main stream, too much average sound and too little actually enjoyable tunes. I think, this is more for the collectors and funs of Italian progressive.
Report this review (#880295)
Posted Saturday, December 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Musical truth on a record served by "Premiata Forneria Marconi" on their second studio album "Per Un Amico" is what I have experienced the last days. The 1972 year record with the little childish cover is a deeply coherent piece of music. For being PFM I think these songs are unusually calm and soft. The precursor "Storia di un minuto" or later "L'Isola di niente" or "Chocolate kings" are more powerful and energic. The last one is perhaps too energic for many, even I if thas grown in my ears. I like the jolly cover on "Per un amico" too. You'll become full of joy when you look at it. It isn't the most fantastic cover though.

The musicians are Franco Mussida(guitar and vocals etc.),Franz Di Cioccio(drums), Mauro Pagani(flute, violin, etc), Giorgio Piazza(bass, vocals) and Flavio Premoli(keys, organ, vocals, etc).

This music is very coherent. It's a perfect mixture of calm, almost quiet passages and high symphonic tendencies with sweeping lines. To only thing I could complain about is that they seemed to act a little bit too gently. But that is also the strength of this music. It is modest music even if the feelings are wide. I think every track is worth as many stars they could get because all the instruments cooperation is so extraordinary. "Il Banchetto" though is my favourite track, I think it's more wide than the others. "Generale" is the most experimental that both is a crazy progressive jazz bit and a march. Also "Appena un Po'", "Per un Amico" and "Geranio" is so complete musical worlds with both smooth, mild and classical bombastic passages. I like the strings, the flute, the bass, the guitar and the vocals parts.

This is not my favourite Premiata Forneria Marconi record but it is absolutely a complete prog rock record with as good music as the most known bands and records are. Thank you PFM for bringing us light!

Report this review (#1106894)
Posted Saturday, January 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars What a masterpiece of music. Rarely have I ever seen an album with such a perfect balance and variety of songs. PFM have proved themselves expert musicians and masterful song writers. What always gets to me is the beginning of the first track, Appena Un Poco. If ever there were to be an example of what progressive rock is, I would choose this segment in a heartbeat. From the graceful mellotron and harp duet to the climaxing harpsichord, this introduction shows just how serious PFM is this time around. Each track in this album offers something unique and different, which gives the album a distinctive balance (as mentioned earlier). If you've never cared for the Italians or music in general, I'd still recommend this album because it is too perfect to ignore. It goes down in my book as one of the greatest musical accomplishments I have ever heard, and therefore deserves to be awarded five stars. If I could, I'd give it six.
Report this review (#1133211)
Posted Monday, February 17, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Appena un Po'" (8.5-9.0 / 10) - An epic that almost feels years ahead of its time. Everything's in place here. The mellotron, the expressive drumming, the dissonant sections, the dramatic sections, flute, harpsichord, but this is a track which has its own sound. A great opener that's really fresh, while holding many Progressive elements that its English counterparts established, there is its own sense of style with the guitar playing and lyrics (obviously). The timbre aspects don't prohibit it from being its own stand-alone sound. Great tune.

"Generale" (7.5-8.0 / 10) - A more hectic piece, more electric guitar, violin, and piano feature. Many passing and arpeggiated rhythms in a driving jam that make up this song. Many different sounds to be heard and followed. It's an exciting tune full of fast melodies and soloing until being taken over by a piccolo playing a fanfare and organ playing blocked chords in a transitional few segments concluding with an almost confused-sounding guitar-violin-piano segment before returning to the more hectic playing from the beginning of the tune to finish out. Not a bad piece.

"Per un Amico" (8.0-8.5 / 10) - So far one weight carrying through the album is tight, but expressive drumming. This piece even has a more ballady feel for some of its first half, and the performances are still interesting, almost even exciting! Again there is the impression of many textures creating a wall of sound through multiple instruments playing 16th notes. This song, much like the rest of the album, has a really good pace with some explosive, exciting moments. This piece flies by with many drum fills, melodies on acoustic, electic guitars, keyboard, and with a rocking rhythm section, it's just a very full tune. Big wall of sound created. Great, great sounding band.

"Il Banchetto" (8.0 / 10) - Most of my comments will remain the same with this tune as the previous ones. The musicians just all have great, balanced sounds. This piece features some acoustic interludes with some tension building in the first half of the song. Good melodies once again. The contrasting keyboard versus the acoustic sounds work effectively. The song pulls down into more confusion lead by the keys player in a random, unwarning transition. But the following piano section is luscious and flows despite being atypical with some unusual intervals between odd chord movements. The playing picks up, the sound thickens with tension before the rest of the band come in with the earlier verses and finishes out nicely.

"Geranio" (7.5-8.0 / 10) - A more relaxed tune at the start. Though the previous few tunes were very showy of the capabilities of the musicianship of the band, this song has a two-minute soft more soothing feel before the big swing rhythm comes in to set the tone for the rest of the piece. Some other sections are explored before terracing down to a dynamic low, where the build starts up to reach another section that serves as the actual buildup to the climax of the pie-wait, no. It actually just starts to fade out from there. Interesting choice for final track on the album.

This is a classic, and it is one of my favorite Italian Prog albums. It's overall very exciting and solid, very very thickly textured! "Appena un Po'" is, in my opinion, the best track, but do not stop listening right after it, cause the rest of the tracks are solid, too!

Report this review (#1158930)
Posted Tuesday, April 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
2 stars (5/10)

As a disclaimer I should just say that I'm pretty new to all this 'Rock Progressivo Italiano', and this is really my first time properly listening to an album from this subgenre. I chose Premiata Forneria Marconi's "Per Un Amico" because it's the highest rated RPI album and started there, as it seems to be pretty much acclaimed by most of this site. As you can see this is not quite the experience I have had, but I'm still exploring, so don't lose hope for me yet RPI fans!

A quick point before I talk about the actual music: given that PFM released two albums in 1972, they clearly weren't short of material. Why then is this album only 34 minutes long? That's an EP not an album! Still, it seems PFM is second to Le Orme in this regard (Uomo Di Pezza clocking in at a mere 31 minutes - about the same as your average Transatlantic ditty).

Anyway, the music. Immediately from the first song, "Appena Un Po", it calls to mind early King Crimson, Genesis, and Jethro Tull, as well as secondarily the rest of the general canon of British prog bands from around the same time. It's nicely familiar sounding, with a bit more of a pronounced classical influence, which I enjoy. I also liked how the flutes and violins were used. The singing is a bit dull though, and doesn't help with how the album sort of just plods along merrily for long sections without too much concern. There are a few more exciting sections though, which do stop the album from being overwhelmingly samey.

There are some quite catchy parts strung together in these songs, and it is all very pleasant to listen to. A lot of that has to do with the gentle acoustic and wind instruments, and the way the keyboards/synthesisers/etc. are handled. After quite a few listens though, I must admit, I cannot attain the enthusiasm for this album I was expecting, and my mind tends to wander quite easily from the music even with the short running time. I think the disjointed nature of some of the songs doesn't help with this. "Il Banchetto", for example, pretty much kills all of its momentum half way through and gets lost in some self-indulgent instrumental mess for the rest of the song before the brief conclusion. Possibly not enough thought was put into transitioning between the different segments of the songs.

So overall I'm pretty disappointed. I was told the RPI subgenre had a very distinctive sound, and I can't spot much here that wasn't already present in Britain around the same time. I was also told to expect extravagant expressive Italian vocals, but these are really quite standard to my ears. Supposedly other RPI bands are where the vocals are meant to get interesting, which seems to be the case from the little I've heard of Banco. Maybe this wasn't the best choice as an RPI gateway for me, so I'm looking at Banco and Il Balletto Di Bronzo soon, and possibly some more PFM eventually after that.

Still, as the top rated RPI album on this site I was expecting a lot more from "Per Un Amico". It was supposed to be some sort of gateway drug for me, and all I can say is that I can find absolutely nothing special about this at all, other than that fact that it's in Italian being a bit of a novelty that quickly wears off. It just sounds like lower tier standard 70s prog fare (with maybe a slightly different balance between the main prog influences than the other music I've heard from that era), but with little else to recommend it beyond that, and certainly nothing to get at all excited by. My apologies to all the many who obviously consider this some sort of flawless masterpiece, but I can't honestly call this a good album myself.

Report this review (#1171805)
Posted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Much has been said and written of this mind-blowing album. Throughout the album the musicianship is perfect. This is a masterpiece and really is one of the best examples of Rock Progressivo Italiano you may ever find. Each song on this album has impressive strengths. This is very beautiful and melodious music with use of flute, acoustic guitar, piano, violin, synthesizer, Mellotron and organ. Italian vocals give a special touch to the songs.

This is the album that got me to start listening to Italian prog. This is a very thorough album and remains today one of my favorites. As to the rating, such an important work could only merit 5 stars, and it should be in every Prog fan's collection.

Report this review (#1299755)
Posted Sunday, November 2, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Premiata Forneria Marconi's (PFM) highly popular full-length "Per Un Amico" ("to a friend") released in 1972 played a role as a manifesto of Prog-Rock subgenre, Rock Progressivo Italiano. It neither the first album of PFM nor of the subgenre; but, it is essentially the most influential album of the whole Prog-Rock culture in Italy. Along with 50s-60s 'booms' in the US and the UK, Italy has experienced an economic boom during 60s. Economic growth also comes up with several developments in civil rights (acts and passed laws about worker's rights, women's rights, and family life) which are both libertarian and profound. Also together with the musical movements in the UK, Italian high-skilled well-educated musicians were extensively influenced by psychedelia and ongoing (mostly left-wing) political movements of the time. They combined psychedelic sounds and classical music components melted into the august local traditional music pot of Italy. Interestingly, almost all of the Rock Progressivo Italiano bands and artists such as PFM, Museo Rosenbach, Il Balletto di Bronzo have used Italian lyrics instead of English lyrics. This characteristic also reoccur in Scandinavian and French Prog-Rock lyrics.

The sense of pastoral romanticism with dominant symphonic themes is the most remarkable feature of Rock Progressivo Italiano. PFM used these elements also in their grabby album "Per Un Amico". Tranquil vocals of Franco Mussida often goes hand-in-hand with choir vocals of the other group members throughout the album and nourish the romantic timber. ELP-style keyboard partitions in both independent ways and collaboration with the ongoing riff are notable. Unlike the other critics, rather than "Il Banchetto", I figured out the Keith Emerson style in "Generale" especially in introduction part. Ethnic-inspired Mellotron melodies feel a never-ending musical feast, even the songs last less than ten minutes, and the whole album is thirty four minutes. Jerky rhythmic arrangements and funny dissonant melodies in the album, so to speak, display Gentle Giant influences on the PFM. And "Il Banchetto" from King Crimson atmospheres (Starless/Lizard) presents us one typical and prominent examples of experimental rock of PFM.

"Per Un Amico", after 40+ years, still remained as Progressive Rock classic and the pioneer of the further works in both Italy and rest of the world. Flavio Permoli presented us one of the best illustrations of Prog-Rock keyboards with his contemporaries Rick Wakeman and K. Emerson. Mauro Pagani's ethereal flutes influenced various European musicians such as Camel. I essentially recommend this album to all Rock, Jazz, and classical Folk listeners. Starting with "Per Un Amico", the whole Rock Progressivo Italiano scene should be re-promoted in a way to reconsider current Prog scene.

Report this review (#1359699)
Posted Monday, February 2, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was my second foray into the exciting world of Rock Progressivo Italiano after Le Orme's "Felona E Sorona" and I have to say that I was impressed with this classic album by Premiata Forneria Marconi. It contains just about everything you could want or expect from an early seventies full-on prog album only with the Mediterranean flair that separates RPI from English prog.

These five tracks here present a good range of sounds and music thanks to a variety of instruments and the free crossing of rock, classical and folk music. PFM wisely stay within certain limits, however, and the music never gets too heavy or weird, though there is some playful fuzz-toned guitar on "Generale!" and some synthesizer experimentation on "Il banchetto" which really sounds like what some musicians were toying with back in the day.

I noticed a formula that is true for four of the five tracks. There is a main theme at the beginning, a different theme carried out over the instrumental section in the middle, and a brief return to the main theme before the piece wraps up. "Generale!" is an instrumental but follows this pattern. The final track, "Geranio" deviates from this formula as it spends over a minute slowly fading with a dark musical motif played out on piano, synthesizer, and bass to a steady thumping of the drums. It's an unanticipated ending to an album that mostly played out with gentle acoustic guitar, violin, and piano or shifted gears into more lively and active music with more electric sounds.

One thing I found though was that for every track there will be some abrupt change in the music and each track has some pleasant surprises. My favourites are the title track for its mandolin-like strummed guitar and synthesizer solo part and "Appena un Po'" which is a great introduction to this beautiful album.

The only part that doesn't appeal to me is the synthesizer experimentation part in "Il banchetto". The song itself is a beautiful piece of work; however, the synthesizer sounds seem harsh and intrusive. They get replaced by a piano solo before the song returns but it doesn't make up for it. Still, you can't blame them for trying out the equipment. I just wish they had done it without interrupting the fine flow of music that had come thus far.

This is a wonderful work of classic prog and a great album to hear as an intro to Italian prog. The lyrics are all in Italian and I like it that way. The vocals are soft and smooth and go well with the acoustic parts of the music. Recommended!

Report this review (#1360774)
Posted Monday, February 2, 2015 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars After only ten months in 1972 after the January release of their debut "Storia Di Un Minuto," Italy's most revered progressive rock band PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (or PFM for us multisyllabic slackers) released their second outstanding release PER UN AMICO (For A Friend). While the big bang of progressive rock was only a few years old, it is astonishing how so many bands diversified their sounds and perfected them in such a short span of time. While King Crimson went more in the direction of jazz influenced rock with avant-garde composing techniques, Pink Floyd went the space rock direction, Jethro Tull into the progressive arenas of folk and others like Genesis opting for a more vocally led theatrical style, PFM whole heartedly went into the classical music direction and i have to say that although other bands like Yes and Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso would also incorporate a lot of classical ideas, no other band seemed quite as dedicated to a historical classical feel that married the best aspects of early 70s progressive rock so perfectly including rocking percussion, bass and guitars, gossamer flute and piccolo and even a touch of jazz-fusion with the violins and of course the huge palette of themes, complex arrangements and bursts of the energetic avant-garde with swaths of tempos and torrents of musical tones.

This masterpiece begins with a beautiful and instantly addictive Bach-esque Baroque melody on flute and piccolo by the master of his game Mauro Pagani. Once this little ear worm is properly lodged in your ear drums, the progressive rock kicks in with aggressive guitars, energetic percussion and spastic time signatures that obfuscates the leading melody but is clearly buried under the mix as the layers of complexity that build and evolve can suddenly drop reverting back to the recognizable piano melody. Whereas Italian prog artists rarely became popular outside of their homeland mostly due to their recalcitrance of adopting English for their lyrics, PFM found success around the whole continent of Europe with PER UN AMICO which attracted the attention of Greg Lake of ELP who would not only arrange PFM to be signed onto their label Manticore Records but were invited to go on tour with them. The result is that PFM were one of the few Rock Progressive Italiano bands to actually become known worldwide and universally revered as one of the most intricately complex and interesting bands to emerge from that scene.

PER UN AMICO is simply a perfect album. It has an uncanny balance of ingredients where every progressive idea under the early 70s sun is represented in perfect doses. The melodies develop but never become too sickening sweet, the avant-garde elements present themselves likewise and never outstay their welcome. Everything added to the worktable is careful sorted out as how to perfectly fit into the giant progressive puzzle and the respective members of this band are so utterly brilliant on their chosen instruments that they pull of the most jaw dropping musical acrobatics with ease not ever losing the pace of a sophisticated graceful poetic dance of sounds. Flavio Premoli's keyboard playing is amongst the best ever to grace any album that is in the rock world. His playing is every bit as sophisticated and complex as Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman and effortlessly changes styles, tempos, chromatic complexities and shades of sonic colors.

As with many Italian prog bands, PFM was very adept at mastering the pastural acoustic parts with the harder rocking segments and the passionate vocals of Franco Mussida perfectly fit in with the music at hand. Mauro Pagani's ethereal flutes and piccolo runs are the perfect contradicting sound effect for the heavy distorted guitars, steady rock percussion and spastic organ runs often soaked with layers of Mellotron, tubular bells and also with the occasional unfretted fingerboard abuse of the violin. The rhythm section that incorporates Franz Di Cioccio's outstanding drumming abilities with Girogio Piazza's bass skills alternates daring musical twists and turns that are perfectly pulled off. Just listen to the second track "Generale" and be floored by how tight this band is creating simultaneously some of the most chaotic- while-being-mathematical and gentle-in-the-midst-of-turbulence music i've ever heard. PFM took the ideas of their debut and just went to town! PER UN AMICO is a testament to some of the most bold and adventurous early 70s prog that has ever been laid down to tape all the while being highly addictively accessible. This is one of those albums that i never tire of and has deservingly become one of the most beloved examples of progressive rock's early years. Mega-masterpiece to the max.

Report this review (#1475293)
Posted Sunday, October 11, 2015 | Review Permalink
Magnum Vaeltaja
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Contrary to most reviewers, I wouldn't say that this second classic PFM album is an improvement over their brilliant debut, "Storia Di Un Minuto". On the other hand, I actually consider it a slight dip in quality. That said, it's still a pretty darn phenomenal collection of music, and when you're sitting head and shoulders above most other bands of the era, a slight dip doesn't mean an awful lot.

From the get-go, it's clear that PFM has changed their sound on this follow-up album. While "Storia Di Un Minuto" plays off of an eclectic combination of pastoral charm, jazz and rock energy, and classical romanticism, which makes it a sort of well-rounded, quintessential RPI album, "Per Un Amico" is more focused, refined, and precise. This is made clear right in the opener, "Appena Un Po", which is an absolutely gorgeous, moving ballad that truly lives and breathes like many pieces of music strive to, but never quite manage. Layered mellotrons create a dim, cloudy haze that gives way to very classically-arranged harpsichord before evolving further into a wild and chaotic instrumental palette. Then, once the vocals enter, the song truly ascends into a higher emotional realm. The song's finale, with its ever-so-simple melody, played with an air of dignity and sophistication, is a truly haunting musical moment and is exactly the kind of thing that makes prog so awesome in the first place. In fact, I may go so far as to say that "Appena Un Po" is the single best song in the entire PFM catalog, if not just for the last minute alone. "Generale" follows the opener with an abrupt change of pace, presenting a wild and jazzy feel and a scrambled mix of ideas. While very strange, it's a very exciting piece. The album's first side is then rounded out by the title track, which expands on the sort of elegant, overtly classical, and tastefully embellished, approach to composition that defines this album. In all, "Per Un Amico" boasts an all-too-rare perfect first side that's exciting, invigorating, and uniquely Italian.

The album's "dip" (and the reason why I gave it only 3 stars in my original review) comes in the form of its second side, which lies firmly in the realm of symphonic RPI. Unfortunately, when writing music with more delicate and careful arrangements, the ever-present danger of feeling lifeless and sterile can find itself creeping in. "Il Banchetto" avoids this quite well, but the more repetitive coda of "Geranio" can feel as though it drags on quite a bit, which is quite noticeable on an album so short in the first place. In general these two tracks are growers, but even though their subtleties become more apparent with multiple listens, they never quite match the sheer beauty of the musical triptych on side one. So, although not quite as good as "Storia Di Un Minuto", I'll still give "Per Un Amico" 5 stars, if not for "Appena Un Po" alone, which is a piece of music I cannot recommend strongly enough.

Report this review (#1586046)
Posted Friday, July 8, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars PFM's second-best album.

While this is the album that many fans point to as their best, I think their first album (Storia Di Un Minuto) is far superior. However, this is still their second-best album, and is highly recommended. This one is more rock than their first album, and while still quite diverse is not as sensitive, nor consistently-musical as their first album. The album gets off to an excellent start with the fantastic "Appena Un Poco", one of their best tracks. However, the other tracks are not up to the same standard. "Generale" in particular is not very musical (yes, it is definitely complex progressive rock, but this does not always mean musical), and interrupts the flow of the album. "Ill Banchetto" and "Geranio" are good, and have some excellent sections, but are not as consistently-excellent as the music on their debut. Nonetheless, take altogether, the album deserves four stars. I give this 8.3 out of 10 on my 10-point scale.

Report this review (#1702488)
Posted Thursday, March 16, 2017 | Review Permalink


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