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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - A Celebration Live  CD (album) cover


Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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4 stars PFM fans will love this 2 CD set featuring many of their beloved melodies for the 70's. Many songs are nicely improvised on giving a pure progressive live feel to the recordings. I love the cross section of tunes they plopped on here ("21st Century Schzoid Man" to "Passpartu"). A few tracks do show their age a bit but do not sound tired for your ears. Many magical moments are preserved here for your enjoyment with the extended jam on "Alta Loma 5 Till 9" being perhaps my fav. Moog/Mellotron passages carry throughout the live album and make this a highly acclaimed recording. Italian prog heads will love this and need to own it.
Report this review (#17021)
Posted Sunday, March 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars What is an active reviewing day without a legendary Italian progrock band? So here is a 2- CD live set with recordings between 1971 and 1978. CD-1 (75 minutes) opens with great covers: King Crimson's 21st Century Schizoid Man (an extra dimension by the Hammond organ and flute traverse) and Picture Of The City and My God by Jethro Tull (very popular in Italy). Then the long composition Bollate Keyboard Jam featuring a long ... guitar solo, accompanied by fiery drums. The rest of CD-1 and CD-2 (68 minutes) is loaded with their best work from the era 1972-1978 (I only miss The World Became The World) featuring lots of varied vintage keyboard work on the Hammond organ, Moog synthesizer (splendid runs during Celebration/Impressioni Di Settembre and Four Holes In The Ground), Fender Rhodes electric piano (wonderful solo in Spanish Jam) and Mellotron. It's remarkable how captivating and dynamic this music still sounds, what an excellent blend of jazz, rock, classic and symphonic, from the soaring Mellotron, fragile acoustic guitar, beautiful violin (including the William Tell Overture) and flute work to the powerful Hammond organ waves and fiery electric guitar. CD-1 is a bit on the level of an average bootleg but looking at the musical value, for me no problem! A GREAT SET TO DISCOVER THIS EXCELLENT ITALIAN PROGROCK BAND!!
Report this review (#74130)
Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars After releasing a comprehensive 4-CD box set of bootleg concert tapes in 1996 ("10 Anni Live 1971-1981"), the ace Italian proggers of PFM compiled this two-disc abbreviation, but even for those of us on a tight budget it's hardly a worthwhile bargain. The shorter version is still a generous collection, with 36-total cuts spanning the band's golden years from their earliest Italian tours in 1971 to their cultural homecoming circa 1978 (I count only 8 anni in this reduced set, but as their former lyricist Peter Sinfield might have said, "that's life").

And the performances are, as any fan would expect, never less than agile and inventive. Perhaps too much disc space is devoted to sometimes aimless jamming, a habit with PFM that always compared poorly to the more adventurous collective improvisation of the group's most obvious role model, early KING CRIMSON. But there's a worthwhile cross-section of genuine songs as well, including (from the oldest gigs) some fascinating covers of CRIMSON and TULL material, sung as always in somewhat fractured phonetic English.

No, the biggest hurdle here, even for confirmed fans, is the inconsistent amateur production. The original box set was sold as an "official bootleg series", so be forewarned: the sound quality ranges from merely adequate to almost completely unlistenable. The few welcome exceptions are the tracks from the band's 1973-1974 American tour (using the same tapes from their excellent live album "Cook"), and some of the jazzier selections from the "Jet Lag" / "Passpartů" years.

The latter tracks in particular offer a rare showcase for fiddler Gregory Bloch, who appeared on only one PFM album (the fusion influenced "Jet Lag", in 1977) and disappeared just as quickly. The Jazz Rock flavor of that music left a sour taste to many longtime fans, but it's interesting to hear Bloch's interpretation of older PFM favorites (such as "Dove...Quando"), performed in a style more bluegrass than classical.

Elsewhere this collection (actually, a compilation of a compilation) is strictly for diehard Premiata Forneria Fanatics who can't afford the four-disc box, and dedicated Prog archeologists unafraid to scrape the bottom of the sonic barrel.

Report this review (#208760)
Posted Wednesday, March 25, 2009 | Review Permalink

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