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Various Artists (Label Samplers) - Rock Scene CD (album) cover

ROCK SCENE

Various Artists (Label Samplers)

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Todd
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano!
4 stars LA STATALE 17 and EMPHASIS are two bands from near Bozen, Italy, who shared a split album release in 1978 by a small local label, Contrapunkt. Each band shares a side of the album, which was reissued by Mellow Records in CD format in 1994.

LA STATALE 17 plays instrumental music that recalls Camel as well as jazz rock (see particularly "La Sfinge"), rather than partaking from the RPI spirit that unfortunately in 1978 was waning. There is even a Genesis influence (see the opening piano in "La Piramide del Potere"), although not nearly as obvious as their flip side, EMPHASIS. The keyboards are typical of late 1970s, atmospheric and somewhat thin, with some great guitar work. The rhythm section is pretty good too, though not very adventurous.

EMPHASIS is more in the vein of symphonic rock, heavily influenced by Genesis (song title: "Flower"), even down to their particular usage of the flute. The vocals and song titles are in English. The music is not as complex as LA STATALE 17, but is quite melodic and very good. Bands such as KYRIE ELEISON are brought to mind for this listener.

Although both bands are from Italy, neither fits well the particular characteristics of Rock Progressivo Italiano, LA STATALE 17 with their tendency toward Jazz Rock, and EMPHASIS leaning toward Genesis-influenced symphonic prog. Both are excellent, and the CD reissue is well worth seeking. The musical diversity emerging from Italy during this time is astounding, as evidenced by this overlooked gem. "Rock Scene" is especially recommended for the RPI fan who wants to dig even more deeply into the wonderful music coming from Italy in the 1970s.

(Thanks to Augusto Croce's site www.italianprog.com for some of the information)

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Send comments to Todd (BETA) | Report this review (#238673)
Posted Friday, September 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Two bands who sound Camel/Genesis inspired

"Rock Scene" is the unfortunately unimaginative title given to this rarity from the late 1970s. What we have here is an album shared by two different Italian symphonic bands, one called La Statale 17 (Side one) and the other called Emphasis (Side two). The extremely rare item (the vinyl fetches huge cake among collectors) was released in 1978 on a small label called Contrapunkt Records. Mellow Records reissued the title on CD in 1994.

La Statale 17 played an instrumental blend of symphonic with a jazzy snap to the electric lead guitar, comparable to bands like Camel and Gotic, though nowhere near the quality level of either group. The guitarist Carlo Girardello was accomplished and laid out some pretty furious runs over a decent rhythm section and soft layers of string synthesizer, giving the tracks a contrast of soft and aggressive. The leadoff "La piramide del potere" offers a gorgeous piano introduction and a lush string synth bed of clouds. "La Sfinge" is an odd number with both jazzy guitar leads and some spacey layered guitar parts early on, the keys also following this exchange to nice effect. "Miracolo" features some equally intense and lovely guitar leads, the sound being fairly clean and smooth. There are some great bass lines here as well jousting with the guitar. These kinds of jams are pretty much the selling point of La Statale 17, there isn't a lot else in terms of variety over the 4 tracks, but what's there is surely worthwhile.

Emphasis drops the jazzy lead guitar for a more Genesis clone style symphonic, also reminiscent of the German band Rousseau and the Italian band Mellonta Tauta. There are some English language vocals on these tracks although they are not exactly Gabriel level. The four songs are not bad but not particularly exciting either. Lots of billowy keyboard atmospheres with another pretty decent rhythm section, as with Statale I do enjoy the bass guitar here. Guitarist Peter Bozzetta reminds me a bit of Nick Barrett with his tempered, tasteful melodies. The mood is very dreamy and serene for the most part, with occasional fiery leads. The lovely and short "Voice of Nature" is a memorable instrumental closer with classical guitar and sensitive bass over the synths.

While absolutely not essential this sampler may prove enjoyable to fans of Camel and Genesis style groups, looking for interpretations of these prog giants by other groups who never made it big, but certainly had passion for the prog they enjoyed. The Mellow cd booklet offers no band information or lyrics, just a single page insert. 5/10

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#241106)
Posted Wednesday, September 23, 2009 | Review Permalink

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