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Locanda Delle Fate - The Missing Fireflies... CD (album) cover


Locanda Delle Fate

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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3 stars 3.5 stars. 1st 4 tracks (4.5 stars). 1977 live tracks (2.5 stars). La Giostra (5 stars).

We need a full new studio album from them after this :-)

Before diving into this gem, I wanted to throw one thing out there that you should know. This cd is split into two parts.

Part 1 contains 4 songs done in the studio this year which total about 21+ minutes.

Part 2 contains 3 old live recordings from 1977 which total about 15-16 minutes.

Having said that, you'll get about 35 minutes of music from this cd.

On to part 1 which is why I bought the cd in the first place. I remember years ago listening to the Mellow Release "Locanda Delle Fate Live" (Bless Mellow records for making all this available to us) and being very very sad that the only recording of "La Giostra" in existance is a recording that is practically unlistenable. For all practical purposes, that song may be better than any of the songs on their "Forse" album which is really saying a lot (for those who know that album)...

Ah and what a treat that there is a clean/crisp/re-recording of "La Giostra" done on Part 1 which clocks in close to 8 minutes. I was nervous that perhaps LDF would use new modern instruments (ie, drum machines and digital keyboards) as it seems to be trendy these days. Ah but what a surprise as this song (and all 4 of the studio songs) sounds so nostalgically 70's that I cannot tell the difference. You could literally put these 4 songs on their 1977 album and not know the difference.

"La Giostra" is simply a beautiful emotional epic with many melodic surprises. And Sasso's voice has not really lost a heartbeat. IN-fact, it sounds even more awesome on parts of this album.

"La Giostra" alone is worth the price of this album.

Another pleasant surprise is a studio version of their 1977 song "No chiudere a chiave le stelle" with Sasso doing all the vocals on this. If you recall on the 77 version (track 6 on their "Forse" album), Sasso does is not doing any vocals on that one. So once again, a beautiful track with a twist (Sasso on vocals). The opening studio song "Crescendo" is another top notch 8+ minute "emerson-esque with italian touches" song in the style that you came to know and love on their original 77 album. Plenty of surprises and emotional vocals. The 2nd song "Sequendza circolere" is a 3+ minute instrument classical piano piece (maybe the least interesting of the studio songs but still very good and definitely not a throwaway track) .

Now you get into part 2 which contains 3 live versions from 1977 with better sound quality than anything on their "Locanda Live" mellow releases album. But still I won't be listening to these 3 songs on part 2 nearly as much as they're there for the fans I think.

All in all a slightly disjoined album (in terms of parts 1 and 2) but oh my oh my the 4 studio songs you get on part 1 make this another essential classic italian prog album.

Just be warned though that you'll only get 21 minutes worth of studio music on this album so it's more like an "EP" with an extra 15 minutes of live recordings from 1977 thrown in.

Still though "La Giostra" makes this all worth while and it may be in my top 5 all time favorite prog songs and I'm so grateful they came into the studio (with Sasso) 34+ years later to do it the way it should have been done in the first place.

For that, I rate this a "masterpiece" but take my review with a grain of salt if you're only a mild fan of italian progressive rock...

I love that these italian prog bands are getting together again after 30+ years and doing new albums.

Now if only Alphataurus can complete their new album (which was supposed to be released in Jan of last year) but I'm not sure what the hold up is.

If you like the 1977 "Forse" album and can accept you'll only get 21 minutes of new material in the same vein of their 1977 album, then this purchase is a no-brainer...

This is also a "no-brainer" if you were sad (over the years) about the low-quality recording of "La Giostra" from their "Locanda Live" album and wished to have a good clean crisp studio recording of it. Here's your chance now :-) It was the primary reason I bought this album and I ended up pleasantly surprised at the other 3 studio tracks. In the order of my favorites, it's "La Giostra", the opening "crescendo" track, "Non Chuidere a Chiave le stelle"(thanks to Sasso for the vocals) and the instrumental "Seqquenza circolare" track. I don't see myself listening to the live tracks much but please know the sound qualify of those is better than that of which you'll hear on the "Locanda Live" mellow release. But these live tracks still suffer a little bit from bootleg quality but they're still listenable.

My cd player will be stuck on "La Giostra" for the next 2+ weeks :-)

Report this review (#640793)
Posted Saturday, February 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Return from summer evenings past...

While LDF are widely hailed as one of the great Italian prog bands that is by no means a unanimous opinion. Many Italian prog fans who prefer the grittier side of the scene scoff at the prestige afforded Locanda, Maxophone, or Corte dei Miracoli. Locanda's late 1970s debut makes many personal favorite lists, an incredibly rich and luxurious symphonic prog treat. While many RPI bands are tagged with the Genesis-influenced label it really wasn't as prevalent as it was made to seem: my own experience after hundreds of albums is that Van Der Graff and Deep Purple styled hard rock were just as important if not more so. But Locanda were one band who surely appreciated Genesis and Yes, along with stalwarts of the Italian scene like PFM and Orme. Many people mention Banco as well but LDF were no where near as adventurous as the Darwin legends. They were a band about beauty and melody and for those who wanted an impeccably produced mix of symphonic and pastoral, their debut is pretty much essential. My own opinion was that the album was lovely but hardly what I reach for when I want core-RPI. I never found them all that representative of the scene.

So here we are decades later and the fireflies have returned for a summer evening just off the woodlands. The moon is large and spirits high, a warm fragrant breeze from the south. LDF is again a working band and participating in festival performances in and out of Italy. This album is a concoction of new recordings and old live performances designed to put them in the prog public eye. For that purpose it is a very successful return indeed. However, if the band truly desires a legacy with the RPI bands they are often compared to, they will need a new collection of originals more convincing than their last comeback attempt in the 90s, which was not well received by prog fans. Listening to this album I believe they have the potential to pull it off.

The first four tracks are recent recordings of material written years ago. To their credit, not only is the material good but they managed to produce it in a fashion complimentary to the songs and the period. It has that warm and mellow vibe, even during the punchier sections, which could fool one into thinking these were outtakes from the Forse sessions. It sounds clear and vibrant but not overly loud and sterile like many of today's albums. (Keith Richards recently lamented how he wishes he could rescue today's music from the supposed benefit of modern production, I hear him loud and clear.) The songs are upbeat and melodic as you'd expect from LDF, with those juicy guitar leads that scream cross between Howe and Hackett to the point of being comical at times. 'Crescendo' is this gorgeous and jubilant classic that sounds like a cross between Hackett-era Genesis and Basso's 'Voci.' Fantastic marriage of keyboard and guitar melody, with Sasso's smooth, reassuring vocal. It percolates with energy, detailed drumming, and warring factions of guitar and bold piano runs. 'Sequenza Circolare' is a most appreciated (by me) classical piano solo which should again thrill fans of Luciano Basso. 'La Giostra' is next, another stellar long track in similar territory as 'Crescendo' and sadly the last new firefly we meet in this outing, as the fourth 'new' song is a re-record of a 'Forse' track.

The rest of the album consists of three live songs recorded in 1977 during their 'Forse' days. It's always a gift for RPI fans to get a chance to hear quality live recordings from the 1970s, as they tend to be rare and sometimes of very spotty sound quality. While these three songs are obviously far from today's standards of live recording quality, they are certainly adequate for this listener to enjoy. They are sadly brief, in fact two are just excerpts, but the glory comes through in a live cut of 'Vendesi saggezza' from the 'Forse' album. While it will be hard for some to accept the sound quality, if one sets aside our learned prejudice for 'perfect' sound, we can clearly hear the power of LDF as a live act at the time. These guys were firing on all cylinders and their hybrid of romantic symphonic is indeed fitting with their representative lovely cover art. They made a big mistake by cutting off these three tracks however, they are almost more like teasers. Clocking in at just 36 minutes there was plenty of room for more songs and complete versions of songs.

While I enjoyed this very much and was tempted to give it four stars, three is probably most appropriate. It contains two essential new LDF cuts (Crescendo and Giostra) along with a bunch of other good stuff that suffers a bit from the convoluted, cut and paste feel of the album. I'll say it again guys....get in the studio and make a true prog-rock epic follow-up to Forse. Your fans are there, and it sounds like the band is still in top form despite the years.

Report this review (#735262)
Posted Saturday, April 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'The Missing Fireflies...' - Locanda Delle Fate (6/10)

Like many other bands within the golden Italian prog rock scene, LOCANDA DELLE FATE were one of those who got lost in the annals of obscurity, to all but those invested in the scene. With that in mind, the two albums they did release garnered some very noble acclaim, with some reviews I read claiming them to be on part with some of the style's very best. Perhaps in some hope to shine a light on their work once more, LOCANDA DELLE FATE have risen from the dead to give listeners a short dose of their music. Sadly, 'The Missing Fireflies...' comes across as a muffled compilation, always hinting at the band's quality, but never demonstrating it. Especially for those who may have been excited to hear that the band was coming out with something new after so many years, this collection of songs does not warrant the wait.

This is not to say that 'The Missing Fireflies...' is a bad collection of songs, however. LOCANDA DELLE FATE make music on the melodic side of Italian prog rock, and comparisons to BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO are not unwarranted. To admit, I always preferred the more adventurous theatrical RPI bands to their GENESIS-like counterparts, but there is no qualm with the music here, which is rather consistently mellow and tasteful. The compilation is split between a handful of freshly recorded songs, and live tracks from the band's heyday. The recorded material is the more notable of the two here, although the live recording is surprisingly crisp. LOCANDA DELLE FATE's music is fuelled largely by gorgeous synths and the RPI-canon vocals of Leonardo Sasso, who does well to bolster the BANCO comparisons this band has received.

Perhaps it's simply the lack of dramatic tension in the music, but 'The Missing Fireflies...' washes over me pleasantly, but fails to capture my spirit. The lackluster flow of the compilation also does not help matters. While I was unaware of the band's music before hearing this collection, it is clear to me that a full-length from these guys would have been much preferable, as their penchant for melodies would have been much better showcased in the context of the epic longform that they once prospered in. 'The Missing Fireflies...' is enjoyable, but I imagine longtime fans of LOCANDA DELLE FATE will find themselves disappointed.

Report this review (#747064)
Posted Tuesday, May 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is a compilation album of both studio and live tracks. The live music is from 1977 and the studio tracks are either seventies songs that weren't completed back then and finished here (tracks 1 & 2) or different versions of those 1977 songs (tracks 3 & 4). The biggest compliment I can give this band is that the new music they have recorded here (tracks 1-4) is amazing. These guys sound as good if not better than they did with their 1977 classic. Unfortunately the power and beauty of the first four songs disappears with those final three live tracks. The sound quality isn't nearly as good on those live ones sadly. I have to mention the cover art as well which rivals the famous one from their 1977 debut. Beautiful stuff.

"Crescendo" opens with pulsating organ that builds as drums, synths then guitar join in. Vocals before 2 minutes. Piano and drums lead 4 minutes in then the vocals return 5 1/2 minutes in as it settles. It kicks back in a minute later. "Sequenza Circolare" is a short intro for the next track and it consists of piano melodies then bang ! It kicks in at the start of "La Giostra". Amazing sound ! Vocals follow. This is simply gorgeous. It's so uplifting after 4 minutes. By the way this track was featured on their 1977 live album but not on the studio album back then. "Non Chiudere A Chiave Le Stelle" is from that 1977 studio album. It's mellow to start with mellotron. And yes it's real mellotron, in fact an M400. Vocals a minute in.

As I mentioned the live tracks just don't sound nearly as good although I kind of got used to the sound by the closing 8 minute song.

I will be keeping this in my rotation simply to listen to those 4 amazing opening songs. These guys still have it ! A low 4 stars.

Report this review (#757938)
Posted Thursday, May 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Ten years after the ephemeral reunion of the late nineties Locanda delle Fate came back with a renewed line-up. This time the reunion was mainly focused on the live activity and the band rearranged the old repertoire with a vintage taste for some live performances with excellent results and in 2010 they played their first concerts since the late seventies. The current line up features the veterans Leonardo Sasso (vocals), Luciano Boero (bass), Giorgio Gardino (drums) and Oscar Mazzoglio (Hammond, keyboards, minimoog) plus two new members: Maurizio Muha (piano, Moog, Mellotron) and Massimo Brignolo. In 2012 they released a new album on the independent label Altrock, "The Missing Fireflies", featuring some new studio versions of old pieces and some live tracks taken from a 1977 concert.

The studio version of "Crescendo" (Growing up) is amazing and the vintage sounds take you back in time... "How much of life is wasted by waiting for tomorrow / The petals of a Time without seasons fall down / Some leaves are dancing like butterflies for us all around / I try to catch them by it's time to growing up now...". This song was composed back in the seventies but it was never recorded in studio before and the new version respects the way it was conceived.

"Sequenza circolare" (Loop) is a fine, short instrumental composed by the newcomer Maurizio Muha and is a perfect introduction for another piece composed in the seventies and here recorded in studio for the first time, "La giostra" (The carousel). It's a beautiful, timeless track about the magic power of dreams... "She is clinging to my nerves that are taking off in orbit above me / I have no fear but standing here I can already see some mirages...".

The last studio track is a new version of "Non chiudere a chiave le stelle" (Don't lock the stars), a piece about a beautiful girl who wastes her time closed in her room, lost in her dreams. The original version was released in the 1977 album "Forse le lucciole non si amano piů" but this version is good as well.

The live tracks are taken from a concert in Asti, at the Alfieri Theatre, on November 21, 1977. The sound quality is not bad but part of the original tapes are lost and what's left are just the final part of "Non chiudere a chiave le stelle", "Crescendo" and "Vendesi saggezza". It's an interesting document of the live performances of the old line up, nothing more. Well, all in all I think that this is just a new starting point for the band and I'm looking forward to a new album with new original stuff!

Report this review (#798388)
Posted Thursday, August 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars In my opinion, Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Piu was one of the best produced 70's prog albums. How did it manage to sound so spectacular compared to other recordings of the time? When it comes to The Missing Fireflies, essentially leftovers of the earlier album, it is likewise produced to a very satisfactory level. The overall sound, from the keys to drums is crisp, punchy, and full. The performances are inspired, especially Luciano's beautiful singing. There's really nothing to complain about here. The Missing Fireflies basically sounds exactly like it should've been on the original album, and it would have been, had their not been technical limitations on the album production. If one was to complain about something, it might be that they were hoping for something that sounded like a different album, but they didn't get it. Well, that wasn't really the purpose here, now was it. You get loads of keyboards and pianos dueling off in magical Italian fashion, gorgeous vocals, perhaps some of the best in Italian 70's, in my humble opinion, and compositions which show great use of transitions and moods while maintaining a magical romantic sort of atmosphere, all the while never being afraid to get 'proggy.'

My only beef with this release is the poor sound quality of the live tracks. Unfortunately, they sound like they were recorded on a microphone in the back of the concert hall and were never mixed. It's pretty bad, I'm not kidding. Nothing we can do about it. In the end, however, I wasn't hoping for a Locanda live album. I just wanted the extra studio tracks, which they delivered splendidly. A real treat for fans of the band and those in the mood for a bit of Italian 70's nostalgia.

Report this review (#1287567)
Posted Saturday, October 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars What's a bit perplexing about this release is not the modern re-recording of old compositional ideas, but the questionable vintage source then used to complete them.

In fact, I found the modern recordings to sound absolutely brilliant. Better than could ever have been expected, they truly capture the spirit of how this musical work was surely envisioned in 1977. What is strange is that the 1977 recordings are from a distant audio source, when much of this material was already available via a different performance as a soundboard source, as evidenced by its release on Mellow in 1993. As I've noted in my review of that very Mellow CD, those recordings were absolutely butchered with digital noise reduction, but one would have to think the original tapes used by Mellow would exist. Could those tapes have provided a soundboard quality representation of the 1977 recordings which were used to finish out this fascinating, unreleased musical work?

I guess we can presume that the soundboard tapes available for Mellow's "Live" were unavailable for license or lost to the sands of time. I will say that the 1977 recordings of this material actually sound a bit better here than those on the Mellow CD. Again, this is down to the poor mastering on the Mellow CD. Nothing to do with a vast difference in performance.

So how to rate such a release? It's difficult, but given the quality of the modern version of LDF and their ability to capture a sound so truly similar to their original, I think 3 stars is entirely fair.

Report this review (#1352669)
Posted Saturday, January 24, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Being a massive fan of the original 1977 album as well as their reunion concert in 2010, this EP provides some more really enjoyable listening material. I'm talking of the first four tracks here of course. As mentioned before, they were composed in the 70s and never made it to an album (apart from Sequenza Circolare, which is a new composition by Maurizio Muha to introduce La Giostra). All of the four tracks (Muha provided an excellent link) are highly enjoyable with all the elements and sounds we love about their 1977 album. The sound is also great, which already makes it a worthy investment. As the RPI performance (and the live snippet here) show, "Non Chiudere A Chiave La Stelle" was originally sung by guitarist Gaviglio with Vevey doing backing vocals. It is too bad neither were involved in this album or there was a vocal recording as it would have been great to hear this enjoyable song in good quality with their vocals, which sound great in the RPI video. This is of course not to say Sasso's voice does not sound great but this alternative would have been interesting. Now, the first 4 tracks I would definitely rate with 5 stars as they capture the lovely 70s sound with very warm and rich textures. The Live tracks are, of course, a great disappointment with regards to their sound. "Non Chiudere A Chiave La Stelle" is only a strange 1-minute snippet in basically unacceptable audio quality. The recording of the others is a bit better but still not anything you would want to listen to a lot, which is a shame since the performance is great (that much you can tell). Therefore, I wouldn't really count them for the album, which is why I consider it more of an EP than an actual album - even though it is sold for the price of a full album. I'm not sure if new ideas would have been disappointing but it is a shame that this release only offers such a short glimpse of the lovely compositions I wish there would be more of. Still I'll rate it as four stars because of the nice songs included here - probably it's enough to buy those in digital format.
Report this review (#1554000)
Posted Thursday, April 21, 2016 | Review Permalink

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