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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - Cook [Aka: Live in the USA] CD (album) cover


Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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5 stars PFM's first visit to America. My introduction to the band (1976) Excellent live recording. I was very impressed with the musicianship and arrangemnets. Especially liked the Rossini ending, and the crowd chanting PFM.....PFM.....PFM
Report this review (#16956)
Posted Monday, December 22, 2003 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This excellent live recording served as my introduction to the wonderful Italian-flavoured progressive rock of PFM back in '74. The songs represented are all superlative, and the musicianship is amazing. I would have loved to have been at the concert, but, barring time-travel, this disc is the second-best way to experience the beauty and energy that characterized "The Best Bread in Town" (that's the band's name, in English) in the mid-Seventies. Judging by the track listing, I assume "Live in the USA" to be the same recording in a later format. Check out this great disc!
Report this review (#16958)
Posted Saturday, January 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent example regarding the "The World Became The World Tour", witnessed on such US Tour in the course of year 1974, which contains the English versions of "L'Isola di Niente". Moreover the stunning executions of M. Pagani at the violin (listen to the splendid arrangement from Rossini's "Overture by Guglielmo Tell", which is fantastic!!) and also the excellent bass guitar lines by Djvas, alone make this album well worth checking out!!
Report this review (#16948)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars First italian live album to be recorded abroad. It surely deseves a remastering but, anyway, few groups at the time could offer such a selection of songs. Symphonic rock at its best. Check this one out without esitation (after having purchased Storia di un minuto, Per un amico, Photos of ghosts ecc, of course).
Report this review (#16949)
Posted Thursday, May 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Recipe: put one apple on your son's head

A live album recorded in North America, and released around the peak of the band's popularity, in the UK at least. The tracks are almost exclusively from "Photo's of ghosts" and "The world became the world", both released on ELP's Manticore label.

Side one has four reasonably faithful recitations of some of their most familiar pieces, including "Celebration", the closest they ever came to a straight pop song, and reminiscent of Focus' "Hocus Pocus". "Just look away" is as beautiful as ever, but it does seem wrong not to hear "The world became the world" immediately afterwards ("TWBTW" theme does appear uncredited at the end of "Celebration").

Side two consists of "Mr Nine to five" followed by an extended improvisation on that piece, which manages to stray into the "William Tell overture" at one point.

In all, a well recorded, well performed live album, which offers interesting adaptions of the band's more accessible works.

Report this review (#16959)
Posted Friday, June 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is exactly what they sounded like live at the time. I saw them in San Antonio, opening for Dave Mason(!?)....My friends and I were cheering wildly after each song, while everyone else looked perplexed. They played "Celebration" first, and then ended the show with an even longer version (I guess playing it twice was a good move, since the Dave Mason crowd got into it the second time). When Dave came on, my friends and I got up and left.
Report this review (#16951)
Posted Friday, December 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
5 stars PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM for short) is one of the legendary Italian prog rock bands, they made a sery of beautiful albums in the Seventies. This CD is a registration of a concert from 1974 while touring in the USA, to me it's a perfect compilation of their best work and showcases the band at its pinnacle. PFM starts with "Four Holes In The Ground": a propulsive rhythm and a catchy melody, delivering fat Minimoog synthesizer runs, some fiery electric guitar and impressive Hammond organ and majestic Mellotron waves in the mellow interludes. The English vocals sound warm and the interplay between the skill full musicians is great. Next is "Dove ... Quando" with a classical/jazzy intro on the Fender Rhodes electric piano, turning into a duet from sparkling piano and beautiful Italian vocals. "Just Look Away" has a splendid acoustic guitar intro (featuring elements like tremolo - and sensational rhythm guitar), followed by twanging acoustic guitar, soft Minimoog flights and warm English vocals. The build-up is great with Hammond and flute and a closing section with again tremolo guitar. The 'crowd-pleaser' "Celebration" is a cheerful and catchy composition, delivering spectacular Minimoog runs and swirling interplay. The 'grand finale' includes the moving final part of "The World Became The World", enjoy the Mellotron floods! Then "Mr. Nine Till Five", a track with PFM at their best with the distinctive interplay between flute, Moog and violin. The final song "Alta Loma Five Till Nine" includes a long and bluesy guitar solo with a strong build-up, supported by violin- Mellotron, featuring howling and biting licks, superb! The second part has a moving violin soli, culminating in a version of Rossini's piece "William Tell Overture" with virtuosic play on the Moog synthesizer and violin, what a way to say good by. This is my favourite PFM CD!
Report this review (#16960)
Posted Monday, December 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Live in Usa" is one of the best concerts that I have ever listened. PFM's music, geniality and musicianship makes their live exibitions amazing under all points of view. This album is really a masterpiece, but I've to give it only 4 stars (Di Cioccio, Mussida, Premoli, Djivas and Pagani, forgive me!) because of the sound quality. The quality is not perfect and the volume of the record is down (I have this album in LP and CD). Whatever is an album that anyone who likes italian prog (and generally prog) must have.
Report this review (#16954)
Posted Thursday, May 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This CD was a result of the 1974-5 tour of the Untied States being undercards for the most part. The result is an average sound sometimes lacking bass and mid tones but that is a minor complaint. The music is fantastic and well played. I kick myself everytime I hear this that I did not see them. Four Holes in the Ground, Celebration and 5-9 stand out for me here. It is a good CD to start with if you haven't heard this band before. Great Symphonic overtones on a rockin' platform. This band can lift it's head among the greats of the 70's
Report this review (#37930)
Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars If Focus are called the "Dutch Masters" (as a compilation album of their music was called in the seventies), P.F.M. are IMO the "Italian Masters" of Progressive Rock music. This is a very enjoyable album, from start to finish. Even if the quality of the recording of this album is not very good (it was recorded in August 1974), this band shines. They play with energy and feeling. Their music is very original, with their very particular "Italian taste".Even if Progressive Rock was created in the U.K., bands from Holland (Focus), Germany (Triumvirat), France (Ange), etc., took this style of music, and they added their own sound and style influences from their respective cultures.

This album, IMO, was predominantly recorded and released to promote P.F.M.`s International version albums with lyrics written and sung in English ("Photos of Ghosts" and "The World Became the World"), even if "Dove...Quando" was sung in Italian and "Celebration" too. I have read that one of the weak things of this band were the vocals, but I think that the main lead singers (Franco Mussida and Flavio Premoli, I think) do a very good job despite not being "purely lead singers".

This live album starts with "Four Holes in the Ground", the English lyrics version of the song "La Luna Nova". Every member of the band shines in this song, particularly drummer Franz Di Cioccio and keyboard player Flavio Premoli. This song has several changes of tempo, and hard time signatures. It is a good start song for this album.

"Dove...Quando" is a more "quiet" song without drums, but with a bit of percussion. It is played in a Fender Rhodes piano. It also has a very good flute arrangement.A very good "Prog ballad" in the Italian style.

"Just Look Away" is the English lyrics version of the song "Dolcissima Maria". It stars with a an acoustic guitar improvisation. Drummer Di Cioccio plays very good drums in the final part of the song. This song also has a very good flute arrangement. It is very melodical.

The song "Celebration" is really the English lyrics version of the song "╔ Festa", but the version included in this live album is really the Italian version because it has Italian lyrics. This song also includes a brief keyboard melody taken from the song "The World Became the World" (the original song with Italian lyrics is called "Impressioni di Settembre").The mix of both songs sounds very good.

"Mr. 9 till Five" is the English lyrics version of the song "Generalle" (which didn`t have lyrics in the original version released in Italy). This is also a very good song, with hard time signatures and even with some Jazz influences.

"Alta Loma 5 till 9" is a song which was included for the first time in this album, not being released in their previous studio albums.It is really a very "Jam" song, which starts with a very Bluesy guitar.It has several guitar, keyboards and violin solos, and it is the "heaviest" song in this album. It also includes an arrangement of Rossini`s "William Tell Overture", which closes this long instrumental piece.

IMO, if one Prog Rock music fan wants to listen for the first time to this band, this album is very representative of their music of the seventies. The band was, IMO, at their peak then.

Report this review (#42978)
Posted Monday, August 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first in group and live board announced in 1975 "Cook". After "L'isola di niente" is announced, the United States and it operates a tour. Collection from live done in New York on August 31 and live done in Toronto August 21, 1974. The mix is done in London. It is a wonderful exactly record of the group that exists in the hight period.
Report this review (#45550)
Posted Monday, September 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars If not pits for the sound... This masterpiece puts in stand out not only the immense Franz Di Cioccio, immense in all of the CD, but an immense band. If "Dove... Quando..." and "Celebration" are two masterpieces, experiences to listen to the pure crazy technique of "Alta Loma Five Till Nine" and you will understand where the technique has house! This live give back full justice to a simply immense band!
Report this review (#57604)
Posted Wednesday, November 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars One of the best by PFM! The lp is entitled COOK and that is what it does!More hard driven guitar rock(with lots of prog elements added for extra texture),than you can shake two sticks at! A high energy,high octane album that is full of twists and turns that should please both the prog fan and the harder rockers out there!Stand out cuts include side one opener FOUR HOLES IN THE GROUND and MR. 9 TILL 5. This may have been released on cd by now,but I'm not really sure about that. Worth finding and hearing!
Report this review (#74133)
Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's amazing to me that after 3 decades, I am still hearing PFM played now on internet radio (radioio 70s channel to name one). It is certainly a testament to the staying power of progressive rock music. At the ripe old age of 15, I bought this album new (released on the Numero Uno label) while living in Rome. PFM was music my friends and I were listening to at the time. Even by today's standards, this music is still rich, complex and faithful to the genre. As someone else posted earlier, the band really tried hard to sing in english and this is really the only shortcoming for me. When I moved back to the states, I had my cousin buy the sister version of this album named Cook. Those fortunate enough to have Live in the U.S.A. on vinyl will have a photo of the Shaeffer Music Festival bandshell where the band performed in Central Park! While by the late 70s and into the 80s they pulled a "Genesis" and changed their music to better suit the italian market, all of their albums up through Passpartu are excellent recordings IMO of their progressive rock era with the 70-75 era representing the "golden age" of the progressive rock genre.
Report this review (#87771)
Posted Sunday, August 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The album that introduced me to PFM and almost certainly one I would choose to take to a desert island. Although the sound quality may not match modern recording standards what really comes through is the fun these guys were having when they recorded it. Superb, tight musicanship plus (IMO) at least 3 of the finest musicans around in the form of Franco Mussida on guitar, Flavio Premoli on keysand the inexhaustible Franz Do Coccio hammering hell out of the drums. It brings a smile to my face every time I listen to it thanks to the exuberance of the performance, particularly on tracks like 4 Holes in The Ground, Celebration, Mr 9 til 5, Alta Loma 5 til 9. Probably the best live album I;ve ever heard. 5 stars from me without doubt!
Report this review (#95826)
Posted Thursday, October 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The RPI (and related) live reviews series vol.1

The first Italian live album recoded in other country "Live In USA" (AKA "Cook") is a great classic. If the sound is poor the music is gold music. 6 song plus 2 interludes. Only "Dove... Quando" is in Italian. But all the songs represents the high pick of Italian Prog. Because in 1974 the Italian Prog is one of the more considerated Prog style in the World. Speaking in musical field all the songs and interludes are extreme good with high power and technique. In this Sense I think that this live is on of the firsts five Prog albums. The stage service is improve from this poor mixage since the magic of the concert is all here.The best song are, clear, "Celebration" because have more power that the original Italian version and because "Funiculý FunicolÓ" is great ghost interlude. But Franz Di Cioccio is possessed and does singer the drums. Also the keyboards of Premoli are good and other winning element of this live. And for me the best Italian live is born.

Report this review (#129473)
Posted Friday, July 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Thanks to their Manticore signature, "PFM" were charting in the US in 1974. This recording is a remembrance of these times.

Sound recording is excellent for this US tour and the band is at their "Celebration" peak on this continent. This live performance from their Northern American touring leg is just a (too) short live instantaneous. Fifty minutes of passionate music.

Some songs will be over-extended but if you take "Just Look Away" which will be almost doubled in length, it will be due to a very peaceful and quiet introductory part. An old time favourite is featured : "E Festa", converted into "Celebration" for the international market is combined on this occasion with the closing part of "Impressioni Di Settembre/The World Became the World". I would have liked to get a full version of this fantastic track instead of a cut-down one.

I was quite disturbed with this live recording and its set list. Of course, the long and jamming "Alta Loma 9 Till 5" is a great showcase for the band. The great guitar solo is even furiously sounding as a "Santana" one!

The performance is excellent of course but frankly, most of their anthems are skipped. I can only be disappointed with this short summary. A casting mistake probably. The "PFM" fans will have to wait quite a long time to get a true live (best of?) album from the band.

Three stars for this good but dramatically short live recording. It only provides a very thin part of their great catalogue.

Report this review (#152749)
Posted Sunday, November 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Recorded when the band was in the peak of their international fame, PFM Cook is one of those great live albums of the 70┬┤s. I remember it was one of the first italian prog LPs I ever heard and I had a cassette recording of this album that I used to play it non stop until the tape was almost useless. Old times good times... I just couldn┬┤t get enough of those classic bands and surely PFM was one of them.

It is only a pity that cook was such a short record. Certainly Italy┬┤s most influential prog band of all time deserved a lot more. Most of their material came from their english classic LPs Photos Of Ghosts and The World Became The World, but the group also included a great rendition of the beautiful ballad Dove... Quando... and an extended jam called Alta Loma Nine till Five (it included an interesting version of Rossini┬┤s William Tell Overture by the track┬┤s end).

Sound quality is very good and the band is in fine form. It was very nice to find out they were as good live as in the studio, with a truly original form of symphonic prog rock. If you┬┤re into Italian Prog music this is a must have. If you┬┤re not, then PFM Cook is a good starting point.

Report this review (#199305)
Posted Friday, January 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This was PFM's first tour of the USA, unfortunately they were always opening up for another band so their sets weren't too long. What surprised me the most about this album was how raw and aggressive it is at times. When I think of PFM I think beauty, class and elegance, thankfully we do get that on this recording as well.

Things get started with "Four Holes In The Ground" which is pretty faithful to the studio version.This is an uptempo track with pulsating organ and energetic drumming.The guitar makes some noise before 1 1/2 minutes and we get some mellotron before 3 minutes. It then calms right down with reserved vocals after 3 1/2 minutes, this is a dreamy section. It then kicks back in. I really like the guitar before 5 minutes. Themes are repeated. "Dove...Quando" features lots of keys.This is a pastoral track with reserved vocals coming in at 2 minutes and flute to follow.

"Just Look Away" opens with guitar and bass in a melancholic intro.The acoustic guitar gets aggressive then it settles down again. An applause after 3 1/2 minutes when it ends. Acoustic guitar and synths as tender vocals arrive after 4 minutes. Beautiful. This is so moving here. I like the vocal melody with flute and organ that follows. Fantastic song ! "Celebration" (including "The World Became The World") is uptempo as the crowd claps along. Vocals before 3 minutes. It changes before 3 1/2 minutes and the mellotron rolls in. It kicks back in quickly. "The World Became The World" arrives before 6 minutes. Gulp. Some great organ to end it. "Mr.Nine Till Five" opens with drums and piano. This is impressive in fact it sounds a lot like AREA right here until the vocals come in. Not a big fan of the vocals here, would have prefered the instrumental. The last minute of the song is like the beginning thankfully.

"Alta Lome Five Till Nine" is worth the price of admission all by itself. An over 15 minute ride through paradise. Just a gorgeous start with the guitar, piano, bass and drums as mellotron comes and goes.This is fairly laid back and guitar led. The tempo picks up 3 minutes in and check out the drums and guitar ! It settles before 6 minutes with violin coming in at 6 1/2 minutes. Check out the instrumental display 9 minutes in as they rip it up. It ends after 10 minutes. A good rhythm with scorching violin follows. Amazing ! Some powerful organ 12 minutes in. My God there are no words to justify this. "The William Tell Overture" ends it as it comes in before 14 minutes.

That last song is one of the best live tracks i've ever heard. It's too bad they didn't record a live album in Italy in 1974 and make it longer, even a double. Anyway this is an excellent historical sample of how well these guys could play live.

Report this review (#209130)
Posted Saturday, March 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars PFM - Cook (live) (1974)

A great-but-not-perfect live album of a great band.

PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI is often mentioned as one of the best groups from the Italian prog movement. Their influences are clearly visible during their prime period. Some King Crimson-like songwriting, add some Yes virtuosity and some of Geneses' symphonic landscapes and you'll get PFM. Most of the vocals are in Italian, but some material was released in English too. On this live set PFM sings both English and Italian.

The sound of the recording is good enough for a '74 recording. All instruments are amplified nicely and the overall experience of the concert with it's enthusiastic crowd is good. The vocals aren't as good as on the album, but overall they sound alright.

The material presented is taken from the first four albums of PFM. The opener is an up-tempo sympho prog track (from The world became the world), the second track is a devoted ballad with some great melodic guitar solo section and the third track, They Just Look Away, is another balled with an impressive ending-section. On side two we have more jam parts and the great guitar and keysolo's are truly a good contribution of making this a worthwhile purchase. It's not just the album material.

Throughout the album I'm impressed by the high quality compositions being played very accurate. With a better recording this might have sounded even better.

Conclusion. If you're a fan of PFM there isn't a good excuse for not owning this live album. For people interested in high quality symphonic prog this also a good addition to their collections. I do recommend to listen to some of their studio albums first. Three and a halve stars.

Report this review (#273843)
Posted Wednesday, March 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Manticore album that was recorded live in Ontario is the copy reviewed.

This album had very good energy to it similar to the dance clubs in the present era. The combined electric accordion and fusion style drumming is a welcome reward to the usual sounding.

There is a break to a flute and acoustic that is hard to miss. The song celebration is a very good end to the album. The vocals were/not sung in English yet the emphasis was on how this carried. The problem is the members I think were taken advantage of by the record label since they were not island lineages yet the Manticore label is from an island lineage. And so it is very difficult to rate such an album when knowing the label is island based.

Overall the album is the best I have heard in the open environment setting (70's). The sound engineers are 5 stars-- I have written about Rush's Live in Rio and is near the same professionalism in recording sound to and from a large audience--Once more this is a performance distanced recording and is non-essential.

Report this review (#306396)
Posted Sunday, October 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This album, along with "Chocolate Kings" was my introduction to the music of Premiata Forneria Marconi. After finding both albums together in a used record store, it would be years before I located any other albums by this fantastic band.

This album does a nice job of showcasing the talents of PFM, who appeared to use a foundation built primarily on the music of Yes and Genesis, and use that to crate a style of their own.

Every musician plays excellently, but I am particularly impressed when Mauro Pagani plays a violin solo that rivals Jean-Luc Ponty. The best tracks are Four Holes In The Ground, and Alta Loma Nine Till Five, which turns into a nice rendition of Rossini's William Tell Overture.

As it was for me, I recommend this as an introduction to PFM.

Report this review (#314287)
Posted Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Now THIS is how a live album should be done! At the peak of their powers, PFM released this concert recording just before the addition of singer Bernardo Lanzetti on Chocolate Kings. An essential live sampling of the band, right up there with YesSongs and King Crimson's USA, Cook just misses 5 stars due to the somewhat lackluster sound quality and set list heavily biased toward an English speaking audience.

An incendiary version of "Four Holes in the Ground" starts the set, and the energy never lets up from here. "Dove...Quando" will slow the pace a bit, and other than part of "Celebration," is the only track sung in its native language. Mauro Pagani delivers some achingly beautiful flute passages here, supplemented perfectly by minimal electric piano and bass guitar. One minor quibble is the absence of "Dove...Quando (Parte II)," as a somewhat awkward fade to "Just Look Away" announces an extended intro from Mussida. His classical guitar technique is simply brilliant. A riotous crowd cheers on as "Celebration" roars like a freight train running off the tracks...and transitions into the coda of "World Became the World."

"Mr. Nine Till Five" starts the second side, and there's no sign of the band letting up yet. The sound quality does seem to suffer here somewhat; I'm not sure if they changed tape reels on the mobile truck for this tune or what, but there is a marked difference between it and the rest of the program. "Alta Loma Five Till Nine...," a staple of their live shows during this era, is a jammy, bluesy number; there is plenty of Mellotron goodness to keep it rooted in the symphonic tradition, though. Expect several mood and tempo changes, the most famous of which is the rendition of the William Tell Overture, prog-style. The extended version of Cook is available domestically for $8-10, and features the Central Park concert in its entirety, so there is really no excuse to not go download it right now.

Report this review (#857695)
Posted Monday, November 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is my first meeting with PFM, which is - together with Banco and La Orme - often seen as the top of the Italian symphonic prog. In first instance I thought this was not as good as Banco, mainly because of the weaker vocal parts. The instrumental handling is obviously great however and this record became one of my favourites after all. As I said I have a vinyl copy, so this record consists of a small 50 minutes instead of the 90 minutes cd duration.

Premiata Forneria Marconi shows a nice blend of classical, jazz and folkrock and uses the "standard" symphonic prog equipment (bass, electric guitar, mellotron and other key instruments and drums) with a violin addition, which gives the folky sound to the band. I always heard that PFM had clear influences from the British symphonic prog scene, but on this live recording this seems not to be the case. No long progressive epics like Yes or Genesis or jazzrock like King Crimson. In fact I thought that this live recording has a distinctive sound.The composition are far more fragmentated then I am used to and it took me a while to "create" songs out of it because of some great changes in style within the songs or compositions. I guess this is one of the characteristics of PFM or the RPI as a genre.

There is some good team play and also room for the individual skills. One of the best parts is a quiet complex guitar tune which is played faster and faster and finishing with an intriguing speed. The violin shows many rhythm of folk and other styles in the last composition and finishes this record.

Enough ingredients in this "Cooking pan" for a nice listen. The instrumental skills are of a very high level and the only big disadvantage are the vocals, which are sometimes mediocre. This live recording makes me interested in the studio recordings of PFM. The recording is good for a live recording, but I expect the studio recordings to be better.

Report this review (#928597)
Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Today's only review will be of a live record. I don't use to listen to live recordings but this was so interesting I didn't doubt to buy the vinyl when I say it for a decent price. Perhaps I should listen to more live one's - this one is the ultimate live record for me.It gives me some of the best moments of Premiata Forneria Marconi and a "live only" prog jam of marvelous forms. The cover's front page is so bright and colourful with the pot of snakes over the fire with cosmos around it and a mythological man runs with the PFM Cook sign in a corner. The record was recorded live in Canada and USA the autumn 1974 and features Jan Patrick Djivas on bass, Franz di Cioccio on drums and vocals, Franco Mussida on guitars and vocals, Mauro Pagani on flute, violin and vocals and Flavio Premoli on Hammond organ, piano, mellotron, moog and vocals.

I was happy the LP was so long, such as I got eight bonus minutes of wonderful music. I really feel this music is so perfect. If I could decide, I would have made clearer vocals but that is just a detail. Otherwise this record is so perfect. Premiata Forneria Marconi's music is powerful and hard rock(sometimes) and shows great example of acustic guitar, flute and violin passages. The first side contains four excellent tracks and all those have space for surprises. In between we can hear the group and the audience which makes it even more authentic. "Celebration" is such a wonderful symphony and "Dove...Quando...." is poetry in its best musical form. On the B-side we have the impressing "Alta Loma Five till Nine" which is a progressive jam, showing what rocker's PFM was and in the end they praise Rossini with the Wilhelm Tell-overture. The track is long but the listener is never bored. This is a record you want to listen to with a high volume and spread through the ether. "Cook" is a record that deserves an equal place in PFM's discography. You must hear it!

Report this review (#1068587)
Posted Tuesday, October 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI or simply PFM for those of us who are multisyllabophobes, was at the height of their success in Europe, Japan and North America around 1974 after having been discovered by ELP and added to their Manticore Records and allowing ex-King Crimson lyricist Peter Sinfield rewrite their lyrics in the English language to garner international attention. It all paid off, of course and PFM released albums in both English and their native Italian but most of all were the first act of the burgeoning Italian progressive rock scene to have huge success in touring North America and beyond. This album is the only testament of that mid-70s peak of PFM and captures them at full musical form with all those intricate mind blowing instrumental workouts and the full force of their progressive compositions pleasing huge crowds of hungry fans.

The album came out in 1974 and was released as both "LIVE IN USA" in Europe with the totally cheesy light blue album cover with a blurry photo of the band on stage and also as "COOK" in North America which displays a much cooler album cover depicting snakes in a pot over the sun with the planet Saturn in the top right hand corner. The original release contains performances from the Convocation Hall at Toronto Univerity, Ontario, Canada on the 22nd of August 1974 and from the Schaefer Central Park Music Festival in Central Park, New York City, NY, USA on the 31st of August 1974. So why did they call it LIVE IN USA when part of it was recorded in Canada? I guess they realized this faux pas and changed the title to COOK.

This is a difficult review for me because i'm only now coming to this from the perspective of the 2010 remastered Expanded Deluxe Edition that improves all the poor production flaws of the original release but more importantly expands it to a 3 disc CD boxed set that includes the entirety of the Central Park performance in NYC. Truth be told, the two additional discs are a lot better than Disc 1 which is the original release of the album. While the original disc finds the band in their prime, it does have some sloppiness attached including poor vocals, out-of-sync instrumental disasters and just doesn't capture the overall perfection of the albums. It does however prove that there are no overdubs and is the real deal totally unedited and the flaws are hardly enough to bring down the extreme exuberance and professional musicianship on board here.

DISC ONE: the original album that was basically the only thing fans knew of as LIVE IN USA aka COOK for 35 years. My main complaint on this one is basically the track selections. After hearing all three discs of the 2010 triple disker, i'm asking myself why they went with the ones that they did? The versions on the other discs are better. It contains "Four Holes In The Ground" from "The World Became The World," "Dove? Qunado?" from the debut "Storia Di Un Minuto," "Mr 9 Till 5" from "Photos Of Ghosts" and the medley finale "Alta Loma Nine Till Five" which incorporates different riffs from various tracks and includes a virtuosic workout of the "William Tell Overature" which was composed by Italian classical opera writer Gioachino Rossini around the year of 1829. Now i'm not saying anything on this original roster of track choices is bad by any means, i'm just saying that i find that Discs 2 and 3 are just BETTER! Take for example the band's most popular track of their career "Celebration." It is on the original but also on Disc 3 of the remastered and it is the latter where it just blows the roof off the house. It's simply a better performance IMHO. Of course, i admit i have not heard the original album and its purported sound quality so there were obviously issues beyond my comprehension that went into play regarding track selection.

My point is simple. If you are going to invest in this album DO get the 2010 remastered Expanded Deluxe Edition. The production is great and the performances of the NYC concert are without doubt superior to those of Toronto. On the bonus discs we not only get more classics like "River Of Life" and "Is My Face On Straight" but the duplicates are more interesting IMHO with the band's chemistry gelling and unleashing all the prog yumminess that they are famous for as well as tasty guitar and drum solos that are lengthy but not flashy in any way (not that there's anything wrong with that but does turn some off.) I can only recommend this fine collection of live performances in the manner it should have been released in the first place and that is a complete collection of the NYC venue. Simple music magic going on here with the few flaws only serving as a reminder that this is a real band of talented musicians subject to the limitations of being human doing the best they can and in this case the best really means a lot.

4 stars for the original album. 4.5 stars for the remastered Expanded Deluxe Edition. This is simply a must for PFM fans

Report this review (#1566026)
Posted Monday, May 16, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars My review # 100 is a celebration with PFM.

PFM was my first musical encounter with Italian progrock, when I stumbled upon the LP The World Became The World in the late Seventies. It was the start of a long and captivating journey through the prolific world of the Italian progressive rock, from Formula Tre, The Trip and New Trolls to Nuova Era, La Maschera Di Cera and Pandora, etc. etc. an endless source! A few years ago a dream came true when PFM visited The Netherlands for a gig. I was blown away by their skills, variety, inspiration and live sound (more powerful and adventurous than the studio versions). And the fact that PFM played all their 'classic' compositions, including most of the Live In USA tracks, one of my favourite Classic Italian Prog albums. Full circle!

Four Holes In The Ground (7.22) : This Pete Sinfield song starts with swinging progressive rock featuring a lush instrumentation with fat Minimoog synthesizer flights, biting wah-wah guitar and folky flute. The interplay and the rhythm-section are awesome, these are very skillful and creative musicians. Then the music slows down to a dreamy atmosphere with majestic Mellotron violins, tender vocals and delicate work on the flute. Finally again that swinging rhythm and great interplay, the Minimoog shines!

Dove ... Quando (4.30) : This short but wonderful composition delivers a dreamy climate with the distinctive electric piano, blended with romantic Italian vocals and beautiful flute.

Just Look Away (8.05) : The long intro features acoustic guitar, ranging from dreamy with twanging and tremolo to propulsive rhythm guitar. Then a mellow Hammond organ joins, followe by the sound of the Minimoog and flute. The music turns into a beautiful ballad, with twanging acoustic guitar and flute, in the end a bombastic eruption in which the flute dominates.

Celebration (8.55) : This is PFM their 'stage favourite', even the most shy proghead start dancing, what a cheerfull and catch atmosphere. There is huge crowd participation, accompanied by drum beats and then the legendary fat Minimoog synthesizer runs, along vocal harmonies in English. Halfway a mellow part with wonderful Mellotron violins and then a dynamic rhythm-section and flashy Minimoog flights, culminating in the sumptuous eruption of the The World Became The World, I am carried away by the fat Moog and glorious Mellotron, this is Prog Heaven.

Mr. Nine Till Five (4.25) : This is a very varied track (with jazzrock overtones), delivering swirling electric piano, biting wah-wah guitar and powerful vocals, blending rock, jazz and classical. The interplay is awesome and we can enjoy lots of shifting moods and exciting soli.

Alta Loma Five Till Nine (15.20) : This extended version features a long and moving guitar solo that starts bluesy but gradually turns into an eclectic sound with howling runs, reminding me of Steve Howe his varied style. The guitar is accompanied by Mellotron violins, a compelling combination, emphasizing PFM their variety. Halfway Pagani his violin joins, then great interplay between the guitar, violin and Minimoog. This culminates into a bombastic grand finale with the catchy William Tell Overture, the swirling violin and Minimoog dominate, goose bumps!

Huge variety (from rock and blues to jazz and symphonic), outstanding musicians, awesome soli on a wide range of instruments, exciting breaks and shifting moods, this is top notch Classic Italian Prog!

More interesting Italian Prog bands to discover: Museo Rosenbach, Corte Dei Miracoli, Rustichelli & Bordini, Sensitiva Immagine, Germinale, The RedZen, Ubi Maior, Obscura, Hostsonaten, Aries, VIII Strada and Notabene, to name a few.

Report this review (#1931272)
Posted Sunday, May 13, 2018 | Review Permalink
3 stars Recorded on the band's American tour, Cook finds PFM getting a warm welcome thanks in part to the greater prominence they gained in the English-speaking world as a result of their releases via ELP's Manticore label. This has plus sides and downsides; the vocals are predominantly in English (save for Dove... Quando..., due to that not having been translated for any of their English releases), and unfortunately to my ears seem a little weak (a common pitfall when singers try to perform in a second language they aren't entirely comfortable in).

That said, maybe the issue isn't with the vocal performances so much as it's with the mix - the vocals are a little overwhelmed at points, and Flavio Premoli's keyboards are given a lot of prominence. The band seem to be leaning into the ELP association here, presenting the material in a somewhat more brash manner than on their studio albums and with the keyboards of Premoli and Franz Di Cioccio's frantic drumming given a lot of prominence, and there's hints of the more jazz-oriented direction they'd evolve in after this.

With the recording quality being serviceable but not stellar, I'm left feeling that PFM weren't especially well-served by this live release; it comes across as being hastily recorded and knocked out in a hurry (and the artwork doesn't exactly contradict that impression). The raw ingredients here are good, but deserved perhaps a more pristine presentation than it gets.

Report this review (#2980938)
Posted Tuesday, January 9, 2024 | Review Permalink

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