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Fabrizio De André - La Buona Novella CD (album) cover


Fabrizio De André

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars I have seen that this album has 2 reviews only, so I might be able to add something. This is one of the first Italian concept albums, but the reason why I suggest it to proggers is in the use of gregorian-style choirs and orchestral parts that make it a prog album of a non-prog singer-songwriter. The concept is based on the apocryphal medieval gospels, from the Announcement to Christ's death (no resurrection). When it was released, the Vatican condemned it as anti-catholic, giving this album the same fate of Jethro Tull's Aqualung: banned from Italian radio.

The start is Laudate dominem (latin: Bless God), that's counterbalanced by the final Laudate Hominem (Bless Man), that gives Christ a human nature instead of divine. Both are like gregorian choirs.

The real start is L'infanzia di Maria (Mary's childhood). This Brassens-like song, with a base of classic guitar and the strong baritonal voice of Fabrizio tells what was probably the true story, basing on hystorical knowledges of the rites in 1st century. It's highly dramatic, but it's where the problems start. If you are not Italian speaking, or you don't have a translation of the very poetic lyrics, you are missing the 75% of the album. It's the same for all the other pieces.

The story proceeds and Ave Maria (track 4) is a very religiuosly inspired song, very unusual for an atheistic and anti-catholic writer. The following track Maria nella bottega del falegname is a song about war, murder and death penalty.

The story progresses quickly to the crucifixion, and Il testamento di Tito (Titus' willings), is an invective about the hypocrisy of every church, catholic and not. Each of the Moses' commandements is criticised by a thief while he's dying on the cross. The sound is a bit country-western, but Bob Dylan has been one of the most influent artists for Fabrizio, as well as the French. This angry song finishes with an unexpected positive message.

To be noticed, all the characters tell about the story, but Christ is never speaking and barely mentioned.

From a musical point of view, the songs are very well arranged, and the influence of traditional and medieval music are what in my opinion make it a prog album. Get a translation before giving it a spin.

Report this review (#196424)
Posted Tuesday, December 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
3 stars A few days ago I wrote a 5 stars review about "AD 2010 - La Buona Novella" by PFM, so decided to review the album by FABRIZIO DE ANDRÉ (La Buona Novella) that originated this masterpiece and honestly after years of not listening this release, found it dated and a bit disappointing in comparison with the 2010 release.

Lets start with the fact that FABRIZIO DE ANDRÉ is a "cantautori" (singer songwriter) more than a Prog performer and composer, so whoever expects a Progressive Rock masterpiece, will find instead some sort of revolutionary troubadour with a fantastic voice that reminds me of the Russian bard "Vladimir Vysotsky".

One of the reasons I bought this album back in the late 70's was because I found PFM performed it, but their role is secondary, because the album is written by and for FABRIZIO DE ANDRÃ?'S glory, and that's a shame, being that the concept is brilliant but sadly the band is underused and most of the songs except "Il Sogno di Maria" are undeveloped.

The atmosphere is a nice blend of Medieval and Folk music with an incredibly poetic lyrics, but seems empty because the voice and guitar of "De André" are not enough to get the brilliance this conceptual album deserved.

Still enjoyed " from start to end, specially "Maria nella Bottega del Falegname" (Mary at a Carpenter's Workshop) a song that has everything a Prog fanatic will expect, from beautiful melodies top nice orchestration and chorals.

Probably if "2010 AD - La Buona Novella" wasn't so fresh in my head, would had rated "La Buona Novella" with 4 stars, but my opinion is that PFM took an extremely beautiful album and turned into an almost perfect masterpiece, so I will give 3 stars to "FABRIZIO DE ANDRE" release, that should be 3.5.

Report this review (#376107)
Posted Friday, January 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Although I am a long standing fan of Fabrizio de Andre', I gained knowledge of this album thirty years after, just during his last concert, dated on 1999 at the Brancaccio theatre.

Fabrizio is not a proper prog artist, his roots are strongly deep inside the traditional Italian singer-songwriter's genre, which is largely even far from the traditional rock's genre, but "La buona Novella", with the subsequent albums "Non al denaro non all'amore nè al cielo" and "Storia di un impiegato", represents a significant prog digression in the artist's career.

"La buona novella" is an exquisite concept album and, if we consider that it is almost contemporary of "In the wake of Poseidon", "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other" and "Trespass" among the others, and two years in advance of "Storia di un minuto", and "Banco del Mutuo Soccorso" it is among if not even the first real Italian prog record ever, and one of the most important oeuvre of the "Rock Progressivo Italiano".

Fabrizio, a professed atheist, tells the story of the Virgin Mary from a different point of view, generated by his deep studies of the so-called "Apocryphal Gospel". Jesus Christ is the third most important prophet of the Muslim religion, and there are several anecdotes regarding his life within the Koran too, that are not reported within the catholic Gospel. The artist through these anecdotes develops a poignant story, composed with highly poetic metaphors, in order to highlight the problems of the society of his time too, such as war, woman's condition, power politics, hypocrisy etc...

The first five songs tell the story of the Virgin Mary's childhood, apparently raised from the age of three to the age of twelve in a temple until the coming of her first period. Won by Joseph, in market's raffle prize, she become the child-bride of a man (Joseph) too old to be a husband and unwilling to be a father. War. Joseph, a carpenter, is sent to the front in order to use is skill to fix the injured limps of the soldiers, and he will be away for four years. During this period, Mary has a love's affair with an "Angel (?)", and when Joseph is back she is pregnant. I like the best this first part, which is the most progressive part of the album too, the five songs unfold like a real suite in five movements with a proper intro and a "Gran Finale", of course Fabrizio, an excellent musician, is even a better poet, and the knowledge of the Italian language not only help to appreciate his works at the best, but it accentuate this impression of listening a proper suite, too.

The rest of the album carries on a more appropriate way to the traditional Italian songs. "Via della Croce" is a very beautiful ballad with a powerful and forceful pace, worthy of a Leonard Cohen. It tells of the last walk of Jesus Christ to his execution carrying the cross on his back, through the hostile and hypocrite crowds.

"Tre Madri" literally three mothers, describe, in a poignant song, the pain of the Virgin Mary and the mothers of the two thieves, for the execution of their sons.

"Il testament di Tito" among the most popular songs of de Andre' ever, is a sort of "Ten Commandments" the other way around and it is a blast to the hypocrisy of the power and in particular of the Catholic Church.

The symphonic "Laudate Homini" is a progressive "Gran Finale", including of string quartet and choir.

I rate this album 5 star, first of all because it is an historical landmark of the Italian popular music and also because it is one of the first important step into the beginning of the "Rock Progressivo Italiano".

Report this review (#444924)
Posted Monday, May 9, 2011 | Review Permalink

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