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Lucio Battisti - Emozioni CD (album) cover


Lucio Battisti

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Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Compilation 1966-1970

I was surprised for quite some time listening to my second Battisti album at how much of a letdown it was after the charming debut. Released in late 1970 "Emozioni" seemed to make no progress from the self-titled debut, in fact it felt regressive, and it felt like one of those rushed second albums quickly thrown together to take advantage of the first's momentum. Only then did I discover that this was not the next Battisti album proper, but rather a compilation of sorts gathering tracks produced over the period of 1966-1970. Further shocking to me was reading some of the praise the album gets, in fact it is the highest rated Battisti album at RYM of any title until "Il nostro caro angelo" and it almost beats that one too! So you may wish to disregard my review because I'm obviously missing the magic here.

I genuinely enjoyed Lucio's warm and melodic debut album from 1969, but "Emozione" sometimes left me bored with a mixed bag of decent tracks and a few underwhelming ones. It was not until the final tracks coming from the debut (Francesca and Io Vivro) that my ears perked up. Some of the others feel like unremarkable 60s pop-rock which offered much less than other artists were by that time, and much less interesting stuff than Lucio would be doing himself very soon. There is orchestrated pop with strummed acoustic and Lucio's frail voice. "Dolce di Giorno" is a bit bluesy and Dylanesque with some harmonica. The longest track "Il Tempo di Morire" is pure torture for me, a bit of a constricted, minimalist blues number about death. Next he turns a sweet, sentimental opening in "Mi Ritorni in Mente" into an energetic rocker spiked with horns before a warm ending---much like the material on the debut and quite lovely. That's another problem here: being a compilation the transitions between tracks sometimes feel disjointed. "Emozioni" is a quiet and contemplative piece of 60s softness, swelling and dying strings, soft guitar, romantic vocals, heavy emotions. It's really quite lovely and very traditional. After a few more typical 60s pop tracks there is another one called "Era" which again has a bit of a Dylan feel to the guitar playing and a simple folk vibe. After those two good tracks from the debut the album closes with "Anna", which if chronological, was the latest material and pretty mediocre. It has some trippy sounding background vocals, a very melancholic lead vocal and some strings or simulated stings creating a lush dramatic background.

This is not bad material overall, I personally don't believe Lucio ever made a truly bad album. But if one is rating his output on a curve then this is the material that is least interesting to me, from a prog perspective certainly, but also from a songwriting perspective. I would call this collection "for fans only," but again, others rate it much higher.

Report this review (#272009)
Posted Sunday, March 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars In my opinion, this is a step up from Battisti's first album, and his first album was very good. To my ears this one just sounds a little more sophisticated, a little more well-put-together. It's very much in the same vein as his earlier album, however, keeping the same high quality, orchestrated pop sound graced, as ever, by Battisti's great voice.

"Fiori rosa, fiori di pesco" starts us off here, and after a short vocal section accompanied by what sounds like organ and piano, a very cheery bass line picks up and is soon joined by some orchestral sounds. I can't understand Italian, but the vocals sound very good and Battisti is joined on this track by what sounds like some female backup singers, which adds quite a bit to the track in my opinion. This is a song that is able to pack a lot of ideas and emotions into a mere 3 minutes, and that kind of concise variation is something I always enjoy.

"Dolce di Giorno" features what I'm pretty sure is a harmonica very prominently, and combined with the (relatively) sparse orchestration and the rawer vocal style used, this is a great change of pace for Battisti, as it almost sounds like a combination of early Beatles song with a little bit of country twinge. Roll all that up with Italian vocals and you've got a pretty unique song here for Battisti.

"Il tempo di morire" is a slower, very bluesy track, with an (at this point) very uncharacteristic lack of orchestral sounds. Battisti is accompanied for most of the track by nothing more than guitar, but there's some use of bass and percussion as well. Again, a bit of a different sound from anything on his first album, but I have to say I really like the blues+Italian lyrics combination.

However, if you thought that the orchestration of his earlier album had disappeared, fear not, as "Mi ritorni in mente" brings it back in top form, featuring some spectacular horn work as well. The song mainly rotates between two themes, a faster one and a slower one, and the juxtaposition works very well. Songs like this make me really admire Battisti's songwriting ability.

"7 e 40" is another song that features a prominent bass line, and it features a very typical, cheery chorus that reminds me quite a bit of "Balla Linda" from the first album. Like that song, "7 e 40" tempers the cheer of its chorus with a more melancholic section in the middle, but quickly picks up again. I really wish I knew Italian so I knew what this shift represented, but for now I'll just have to enjoy the variety.

The title track pulls back significantly from the bombast of the previous track, delivering a much more restrained, introspective and (not unexpectedly) emotional track accompanied by some of the most sparsely beautiful accompanying music I've heard from Battisti thus far.

"Dieci ragazze" kicks back into high gear with a fast paced bass line and a very dynamic vocal performance from Battisti. Definitely one of the "rockier" performances on the album, though we still have the nigh-omnipresent orchestration present.

"Acqua azzurra, acqua chiara" follows, and it may be my favorite song I've heard so far from Lucio Battisti. It starts with an incredibly catchy, high-energy horn and guitar section before it switches gear into a more mixed emotion verse. I know that sounds strange since I've already said I don't speak Italian, but that's really what comes through the music. Great, great song.

"Era" is a simpler track that makes use of some sound effects as well (possibly some tape looping? I don't know). I think that this song really highlights how even the Battisti's simplest songs are still fantastic listens.

"Non e Francesca" is next, and I hear here more of the britpop influence that so abounded in Battisti's first album, though it's more orchestrated than most britpop I've heard. It's a slower song that, were it sung in English, probably would have fit in on the Zombies' "Odyssey and Oracle." This is also one of the proggier tracks, as there is actually an instrumental section in the middle that makes use of what might be a backwards recording of a guitar. This instrumental thing is easily the closest to "actual prog" that Battisti has gotten in these two first albums, and because of that it's one of the more interesting songs I've heard from him.

"Io vivrò (senza te)" I think follows very much in this same "orchestrated britpop" vein, with a similar kind of "Zombies-esque" vibe. It's a slower song that's nonetheless very intense, a fact which is in no small part to the epic string accompaniment to the chorus.

"Anna" closes off the album, and, like the opener, features some female backup vocals that really add to the track. This is another track where Battisti really raises the bar in terms of his vocal presentation, and if you've ever heard him sing that's no small feat. The only other vocalist I can think of that can sing with the kind of emotion Battisti can is the Dear Hunter's Casey Crescenzo, strange as that comparison is. Battisti really succeeds in making his voice sound absolutely broken towards the end of the song, and this combined with the backup vocals is simply breathtaking.

I was very surprised to find out that this album was a collection of singles, because the flow and pacing is, in my opinion, spectacular. This album works as a complete artistic statement, even if the songs weren't written with that intention in mind. As I continue to explore Battisti's discography I can envision a future where I'm quite obsessed with his music, because in the two albums I've reviewed there hasn't been a single bad song.


Report this review (#567875)
Posted Monday, November 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am quite surprised and pleased to find Battisti on PA! Lucio was the companion of my (and my wife) youth , his songs were inevitable on the beach and at parties. I can not say whether Battisti has to do with progressive or not, I only know that he was, in my opinion, one of the greatest composers of the last century, around the world, a true musical mind. Surely the most progressive albums of Battisti are "Amore e non amore" e "Anima latina", but I prefer the long series of extraordinary songs created from 1968 to 1973, some of which we can find in this collection. Songs like "Fiori rosa, fiori di pesco", "Emozioni", "Acqua azzurra, acqua chiara", "Non è Francesca", "Io vivrò (senza te)", despite their simplicity, contain memorable melodies and a pleasant freshness, with some very innovative arrangements for Italy of those years. This collection contains also "Mi ritorni in mente", which, in my opinion, is the greatest song ever written by Battisti: a unattainable melodic line, an orchestral arrangement that makes you almost cry, and poignant text. Battisti is for me one of the few Italian musicians that deserve to remain in the history of world music.
Report this review (#570759)
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 | Review Permalink

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