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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - Live In Japan 2002 CD (album) cover


Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars When there is a chance to listen a concert from a band long after their glory days have passed is usual and almost normal to feel a bit disappointed because normally it's never the same, but there are exceptions and Premiata Forneria Marconi - Live in Japan 2002 is one of those rare cases in which they sound even better on stage than 20 or 30 years before.

I have to be honest and tell you I don't own the CD yet (I already ordered it by internet and still not received it) but after listening a copy a friend lend me I bought the DVD which has almost the same tracks except Bandiera Bianca (A song by Franco Battiato that didn't impressed me too much) and Sea of Memory, a new track with Peter Hammill at vocals that should have been included in the DVD because it's an excellent way to travel back in time to the 70's.

It's true that an important member like Mauro Pagani isn't any more with the band but he's brilliantly replaced in the violin by Lucio Fabbri who is simply amazing and precise. Of course the production is impeccable and the 5.1 Dolby Surround is a great help.

The highlights are E' Festa (In which they mix the lyrics in Italian and the ones from the English version called Celebration), La Carroza di Hans and of course the violin trilogy Tokyo Violin Jam Part 1 that works as an excellent opener for the second track William Tell Overture and Tokyo Violin Jam part 2, simply delightful.

I heard an older version of this violin trilogy in 10 Anni Live (1971 -1981) Box Set CD 2 1973-1974 L'esperienza Americana; but the one from 2002 is simply 100% better.

Tokyo Electric Guitar Jam is another excellent song which includes a new version or to be honest a completely improvised one of Altaloma 5 Till 9," extraordinaire!!!!

The only song that disappointed me a bit was Dolcissima Maria, which loses a lot of its naive beauty when made more complex like in this album.

It will be a loss of time to talk about each member, because the years haven't passed for them, they are still at their top, something not usual for guys who are more than 30 years in the business.

I sincerely recommend this excellent album to anybody who ever liked true progressive music, and if you can get the DVD also, don't hesitate, it's a unique chance to listen the best music by one of the best Italian Progressive Bands.

Five solid stars without any doubt.

Report this review (#17027)
Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This live album is similar to YES`"Keys to Ascension" and "Keys to Ascension 2" live albums in some things. Like YES, the musicians of P.F.M. are still very good, but this album shows, IMO, that "time really passed". If in YES` live album "Yessongs" the band played with a lot of energy due to be younger, P.F.M. also did it in their live album from 1974 called "Live in U.S.A." (AKA "Cook"). Like YES in their "Keys to Ascension" albums, P.F.M. still plays very good in this live album, recorded in Japan in 2002. But they show that time passed, because like YES, they play their old songs in a more "paused", "matured" way, with more "tranquility" maybe. It is good to listen again to 4 of the musicians of their best line-up of the 70s: Franco Mussida, Franz Di Cioccio, Flavio Premoli and Jan Patrick Djivas.The only one missing member is violinist / flute player Mauro Pagani. For this album, the band is augmented by an old member from P.F.M.`s Pop Rock albums of the 80s, Lucio Fabbri, who plays violin, keyboards and guitar as guest. Di Cioccio is listed as being the lead singer, but I can hear that Mussida and Premoli also sang some lead vocals. When Di Cioccio sings lead vocals, they have another drummer, Piero Monteresi, to play in the songs. Some of the songs are played with different arrangements, and some are played more closer to the original studio versions. They play a lot of old songs from their best period as a Prog Rock band in the seventies, with some sung in Italian and some sung in English, but they also include some songs from their albums of the 80s, sung in Italian, which were more oriented to Pop Rock music.They also include in this album two studio recordings. "Sea of Memories" is a collaboration with singer Peter Hammill. Not being a fan of this singer or of the band Van der Graaf Generator, I consider this song as being good, but not very interesting, apart from the keyboards playing by Flavio Premoli. The next studio recording is a cover of a song composed by Franco Battiato ("Bandiera Bianca"), which I consider as a better song.

Keyboard player Flavio Premoli is maybe the musician of the band who shines more in this album. But the other members still have many interesting things in their playing. But I think that Mauro Pagani is really missed. Lucio Fabbri replaces him, but he doesn`t play flute as Pagani, so he has to play some melodies originally played by Premoli on the flute using his violin. These new arrangements sound good, but IMO Pagani was a very important musician in P.F.M.

I don`t know why they chose to record this live album in Japan. It sounds as if it was recorded in a small club or theatre. The audience gave to the band good ovations, but they kept silent during the playing of some parts of the songs. The members of the band speak in English and for the most time in Italian to the audience which sounds like really understanding the messages given by P.F.M. to them.

The recording and mixing of this album is obviously better than in previous P.F.M.`s live albums ("Live in U.S.A" and "Performance"), being produced with more modern technology.But I still prefer their live album from 1974, called "Live in U.S.A." (AKA "Cook"). But this 2002 live album is still very good. It is a very good example of how good is this band until now.

Report this review (#43864)
Posted Monday, August 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This review is an impulsive thought after reading an excellent review by colleague collaborator Guillermo. How come I have forgotten to write my views about this awesome live performance - where the band was playing their old stuffs wonderfully? Under what criteria do I say that this is a wonderful live record? Of course I cannot comment about the quality of compositions as this is the live version of their studio albums during their glory days in the seventies. The most logical thing is I should base my criteria on how good (getting better, worse or same) the live version is performed in comparison to their original studio version. Judging under this criteria, I still can comment that this is a brilliant live show as most songs are performed better and lively - even though the crowd do not sound to be enthusiastic. I can reconfirm this because I own the DVD version as well, and I can see the crowd is different with what I have seen with, say "Dream Theater Live at Budokan". The kind of crowd is typical with King Crimson live in Japan's crowd.

However, I still can put my words with a basis of composition as there are some tracks that are played differently or even added with some music. Take an example of "River of Life". In this version there is an additional one-minute instrumental piece "Rain Birth" that features fabulous acoustic guitar work by Franco Mussida. This short piece is not only enriching the textures of the song but also elevating the live ambient as the crowd attention was focusing in Mussida's introductory piece. The intro part of "River Of Life" itself is lacking one instrument: flute that was played by Pagani in the original studio version. But, a worthy note on this part where the band can recover this brilliantly by making the combined work of keyboard (by Flavio Premoli) and violin (performed by guest musician: Lucio Fabbri). The result is even entertaining music with a heavy influence of classical music. The song is performed amazingly with great guitar playing (acoustic and electric), improvised keyboard and .. dazzling drum work by Franz Di Cioccio. As this is my all-time favorite PFM track ever, I'm really satisfied with this live version. So dynamic, so lively.Other classic track like "Photos of Ghost", "Peninsula", "Out of The Roundabout", and "Mr 9 Till 5", etc. are all performed dynamically.

On musicianship, I can not believe that these old men still perform their oldies with passion and energy with flawless delivery. I never heard any slippage on their skills during this performance. Franco Mussida performs his role through guitar playing (acoustic and electric) as well as singing, Flavio Premoli demonstrates his talented skills in keyboard work that characterize most of PFM music. Franz Di Cioccio also plays dual roles as drummer and vocalist with no double roles performed at the same time. He does not play his drum when he sings. Djivas performs inventive bass lines and solo especially during interlude part - eg. in River of Life. The guest musician Lucio Fabri contributes great violin work during the show. Well, as you know that violin is a pivotal element in any PFM composition. I cannot imagine playing PFM tunes without violin.

Overall, if I have not heard and seen the DVD / CD of the latest PFM live record "Piazza Del campo" (2004) I would give this performance with five stars because it's truly a masterpiece. Since "Piazza Del Campo" is much better - which indicates that the band gets better with the passage of time - I should give this PFM "Live in Japan" with four stars rating. Wrong, I think that both can be masterpiece five stars but as a matter of preference I'd like the latest (2004) than this album. This album still deserves five stars. I go for Ivan's rating: five stars. Bingo! Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#43870)
Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I'm very embarassed behind this album: A live performance by one of the most famous italian prog band...more than 30 years after their masterpieces were written. in hte last 20 years, Pfm has become infact a superfluous pop band. So, what's wrong with this live? I really think the atmosphere is too relaxed, definitely boring. Too much are the fillers in this concert...and also the small jam are pointless. Certainly there are great songs..but performed without pathos and energy (except for franz di cioccio)!

so...nothing more but two marks...I'm sorry!

Report this review (#52201)
Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first time I put this CD on and listened to the two new studio tracks (Sea of Memories and Bandiera Bianca) I thought, "OK, they've lost whatever magic they once had. Then I got onto some of their older stuff and thought that it was worth further listens. As a result Sea of Memories is now one of my all-time favourite PFM tracks (I just love Franco Mussida's guitar hook), although I do yearn for a bit of Mellotron. From then on I was convinced PFM still have the magic.

Sound quality is excellent and well balanced. In particular Franco's guitar sits well up in the mix (whereas I feel it's a little quiet on the Piazza Del Campo live recording 3 years later)

It maybe lacks the passion of Live in the USA but I guess that's understandable: 30 years had passed, and I get the sense that PFM really feed off an audience's energy. The audience here seems quite small and fairly reserved. As a result many of the performances seem fairly slow paced.

Franz Di Coccio gives it his all on the drums as ever, Franco Mussida can do no wrong in my book on guitar, and Patrik Djivas excels on bass of course. And is there a man more capable of getting the best out of a Moog than Flavio Premoli? (That's a rhetorical question- the answer is NO)

Outstanding tracks for me are:

-Sea of Memories -Rain Birth/River of Life -Photos of Ghosts -Peninsula (quite different from the Jet Lag version and played outstandingly) -Dove.Quando -Mr 9 till 5 -Tokyo Electric Guitar Jam including Alta Loma 5 till 9 (took a bit of getting used to having been reared on the Live in the USA/Cook version of Alta Loma. Barely recognisable as the same track but it is essentially a jam, and a good one at that) -La Luna Nuova/Four Holes In The Ground -Out of the Roundabout- One song I really love from Chocolate Kings but this version does miss Bernado Lanzetti's voice

Less good in my opinion (mainly due to my dislike of the material rather than the performances): -Bandiera Bianca -Promenade the Puzzle -Maestro Della Voce -Si Puň Fare (I wish they'd drop this from the set, it's also a low point of the Piazza Del Campo recording)

All in all though there's enough good material on the CDs to justify a decent rating. This still gets pretty regular plays on my CD.

3.5 stars really, rounded up to 4 because of the pleasure listening to the good stuff gives me.

Report this review (#100734)
Posted Tuesday, November 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars IS THIS A JOKE ?

PFM released a good live album in 1998 called "" But one of this kind is enough, right ?

Actually there are two CD's here (like on "pfmpfm" should you say.). The difference is that "Live In Japan" is not well balanced AT ALL.

While the first CD contains some very good music like "La Carriozza di Hans", "Photos of Ghosts" or "Out of the Roundabout" and "Dove... Quando"; the second one features lots of dull and useless improvisations.

The worse being achieved by an ultra long and ultra boring (believe me!) "Si Puň Fare". It was already the case in their previous live album, but here "PFM" just surpassed themselves. TWELFE minutes of a karaoke type of music and a band presentation while the background music is just painful!!!

"Scary Light" is on par but hopefully lot shorter.

The second disc is a copy of "pfmpfm". EIGHTY FIVE percent has been featured in this prior release or has to be considered as a jam!

Even if the "Tokyo Electric Guitar Jam" is great, it is just a repetition of the source one. It sounds very much as a "Santana" track. I mentioned "Caravanserai" while reviewing "pfmpfm". I could now compare it as a jam track from "Lotus" (a "Santana" live album recorded in . Japan).

And I'm not that impressed with the TWO "Tokyo Violin Jam" to be honest. Of course the encores are great. Starting with "Impressioni Di Settembre" one of my all time fave of the band

Needless to say that these three songs were also featured on "pfmpfm".

So, what's the use of this album ?

Basically none if you have listened to their previous live album which is anyway better than this one. Even if there the useless "Si Puň Fare" was already featured, there were less jamming sessions. But if you like jamming, then maybe.

Not for me. Nor for what it holds, nor for their marketing approach. Shame on you "PFM". And I like the band very much.

Two stars.

Report this review (#155441)
Posted Friday, December 14, 2007 | Review Permalink

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