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Angelo Branduardi - Pane e Rose CD (album) cover

PANE E ROSE

Angelo Branduardi

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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2 stars At the end of the 80s, probably seeing the sales decreasing but more likely because being considered a minstrel is no longer satisfying for him, Branduardi decides to experiment and this "Pane e Rose" (Bread and Roses) is still today his most unusual recording.

The album is opened by a classical/mexican/western guitar. It's the theme of the movie "Paris/Texas" of Wim Wenders and composed by Ry Cooder on which Angelo sings with an unusual funeral/drunk/doped voice. "L'Albero" (The Tree) is the title. "A high tree grows in me shining in the sun, tied to the black warm earth and each leaf sings"... quite psychedelic.

"Il primo della classe" (translatable as "the best of the schoolboys") is about a schoolboy emarginated buy the others because more intelligent and less "physical". It's a sort of electronic reggae/ska. If you replace Angelo's voice and make Sting sing, it's quite a Police song. Nice 80s pop, nothing more, but very unusual for this artist.

"1 Aprile 1965" (April 1st 1965) is the letter that Ernesto 'Che' Guevara sent to his family in Argentina before leaving for Bolivia. It's between tango and calypso and the only song of this album that's fitting in the usual Angelo's dreaming style even with the arrangement very 80s with electronics and fretless bass.

"Pioggia" (Rain) is even more unusual. Deeply electronic, likely played by a fairlight, sees Angelo singing a repetitive theme. Dark as a Joy Division song it could stay on ZEE:Identity.

"Frutta" (Fruits) is a sort of pregressive electronic and features a vocal duo between Angelo and the uncredited Pietra Montecorvino. It's another very unusual song for this artist.

"Miracolo a Goiania" (Miracle in Goiania) is opened by samba percussions and marimbas with Angelo(?) singing like a brasilian....By coincidence a friend of mine lives in Goiania and apart of a little nuclear incident in the 80s I have bnever heard of miracles there.

"Tango" starts with a sliding acoustic guitar very bluesy. Maybe it's a tango but sounds like "Cielito Lindo" played by Eric Clapton at guitar.

On "Scatolette" (Little Boxes) the guitar sounds like JJ.Cale/Knopfler with Branduardi singing weird lyrics with a style very far from his own. At this point I don't know what passed by his mind when he wrote this album.

"Angelina" is something that I can't describe. Mexican ? The melody is trivial but at least Angelo sings on his natural chords.

"Fame Di Sole" (Sun's Hunger) is just a pop song that reminds to Simon and Garfunkel(!). What happened to Branduardi?

"Barbablu" (Bluebeard) is another Marimba/percussion/samba song with Pietra singing in duo. If I'm not wrong it was the same year when Toquinho had a huge success with his Acquarello. This may be a reason for making an album of this kind.

"Benvenuta, Donna Mia" (Welcome My Woman). Is finally a Branduardi's song even if still more Country/western than medieval. Let coyote's sing and the ole man spit while he's drinking whiskey at the sunset...less than 2 minutes anyway.

Not really poor because the musicianship is good, but surely an album for completist only. The first three tracks are not bad but then the album takes a strange road and goes nowhere. An album that shouldn't have been released.

Two stars as a prize to the career.

Report this review (#526897)
Posted Monday, September 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Angelo Branduardi must have gone through a difficult phase during 1988 - and by listening to this album now you can almost tell he had a hard time putting it together. Trying to shake the formula and develop further was a good thing to do, but his voice sounded brittle and the experiments on "Pane e Rose" have not always led to satisfying results, so in the end it's a strange, uneven collection of songs that he himself isn't very proud of nowadays.

He had Maurizio Fabrizio and Jose Papete from "Canta Yeats" with him still, but the "old band" was gone and in order to evolve further he had to put a new one together. For whatever reason inspiration was hard to come by, so he collaborated with south-american singer Pietra Montecorvino ( she's been sharing the spotlight and lead-vocals on "Tango", "Frutta" and "Barbablu" ), checking out Latin rhythms and digging into Tango Argentino. It's a strange album, really. He somehow could not decide in which direction to go, so it's been quite incoherent at last and remained a mixed bag for the fan, confusing, even worrying... "Is he well ? What has happened ? Ain't an album like this a severe sign of the artist to have lost his bearings ?"

What added to the confusion was - Maurizio Fabrizio's name was listed in the personnel ( as a musician as well as arranger & orchestral conductor ) but ( with the exception of "Tango" ) you just can't hear him. He seemed to have been involved into this project only briefly before disappearing for quite some years... so the magical team that had produced "Canta Yeats" to such great results was to fall apart. With "Pane e Rose" you don't get "more of that", by no means. You get something different.

But this mixed bag has its outstanding moments. Moments in which the musicians are creating magic, still, such as "1st Aprile 1965", the lyrics being from a letter of Che Guevara to his parents, and the whole sad mood of the song is as fragile as Branduardi's voice, so it fits very well.

"Pioggia" is astounding - a marvellous experiment with ethnic rhythms and synth-sounds creating the atmosphere of a rainy day, it belongs to my favourite recordings of Angelo, cause it's progressive in the true sense of the word - but rather pop than "progressive rock music" in the end.

You've got to like strong opera voices singing folk songs in order to like "Tango", cause Pietra Montecorvino may well terrify the average Branduardi-listener as her voluminous singing makes him ask if this is the disc of a different artist. Branduardi's brittle voice is for sure a counterpart that you've got to get used to. But once you've done that - you'll discover that "Tango" is another gem and outstanding track on the album.

As is "Angelina". You can almost hear Branduardi's voice breaking in half while you wonder if he's still strong enough to keep the guitar in his hand, yep, it's really coming across that fragile. But it's so very beautiful that way...

"Fame di Sole" is one of the better "pop-tracks" on the album. It's not really belonging to Angelo's very best compositions but it helps to make "Pane e Rose" more than just a mediocre affair. Many experiments, especially "Frutta" and "Scatolette", simply sink into the vaults of nowhere-land after several listens - just like the strange opener "L'Albero" does... that's sort of taking pains in order to let "the silence speak" where absolute silence would have been the better choice, struggling for deeper feelings but failing to evoke them. It is no coherent, finished composition. It's fragments of music to the words. In the end all that's left of it in your memory is a slide-guitar echoing. That's not enough even if you're in love with its sound. "Miracolo a Goiania" is better, but well... Carlos Santana's better at such stuff and... where did the melodical confidence of Branduardi's previous albums go ?

"La Primo della classe" is funny. And, if only for once on this album, "Barbablu" is really uplifting. Pietra is crying rather than singing, sounding like a young lad yelling back to Branduardi - and the track was supposed to be a big summer-hit. Great one. Don't know if it was released as a single but if it was then it's for sure 2nd only to "Gulliver" in the large catalogue of "Branduardi ear-wigs" made for radio-airplay. What the hell of a fun-time ! If only the whole album would have sounded as confident as this...

...but no, most of the album really sounds rather timid, and its closer "Benvenuta, donna mia" is echoing that mood. It took me quite some time to get warm with it. I really like it now. If only, as a whole, it weren't that inconsistent, I'd like to give it 4 stars for the genuine emotions that it's giving to me, I'd like to honour the courage of disturbing the fans rather than hiding away a condition that audibly wasn't Branduardi's best. It's got a very "human touch". And I think it was important for Angelo to make it. I wouldn't wanna miss it for the world in my collection, but I can't give it a higher rating than 3 stars.

The "classic days" were over. Hard times were here. But "Barbablu" is a tune that can help you get through 'em and "Pioggia" as well as "1st Aprile 1965" belong to Angelo's very best. Perhaps he should have sung "Tango" alone.

Report this review (#634872)
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2012 | Review Permalink

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