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Il Rovescio Della Medaglia

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Il Rovescio Della Medaglia Contaminazione album cover
4.18 | 346 ratings | 33 reviews | 41% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Absent For This Consumed World (1:05)
2. Ora Non Ricordo Piu (1:47)
3. Il Suono Del Silenzio (5:16)
4. Mi Sono Svegliato E... Ho Chiuso Gli Occhi (4:19)
5. Lei Sei Tu: Lei (2:04)
6. La Mia Musica (4:10)
7. Johann (1:23)
8. Scotland Machine (3:06)
9. Cella 503 (3:18)
10. Contaminazione 1760 (1:04)
11. Alzo Un Muro Elettrico (2:55)
12. Sweet Suite (2:17)
13. La Grande Fuga (3:42)

Total Time 36:26

Line-up / Musicians

- Pino Ballarini / vocals, percussion
- Enzo Vita / guitars
- Franco Di Sabbatino / keyboards, Hammond B, harmonium, synths (Eminent, VCS, ARP, Moog)
- Stefano Urso / bass
- Gino Campoli / drums

- Luis Enriquez Bacalov / arrangements, director & producer

Releases information

Full title is: "CONTAMINAZIONE di alcune idee di certi preludi e fughe de 'Il Clavicembalo ben temprato' di J. S. Bach"
English lyrics version entitled "Contamination" was first released in 1975 and has its own entry.

Artwork: Impiglia-Mancini Studio

LP RCA - DPSL 10593 (1973, Italy)

CD RCA - ND 74511 (1990, Italy)
CD BMG - BVCM-37503 (2004, Japan) Remastered by Cozy Noda

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA Contaminazione ratings distribution

(346 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(41%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA Contaminazione reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
5 stars This is one of the most essential prog classic to adorn any prog lovers collection. This is pure progressive magic from start to finish. Based on the life of JS Bach, RDM create a dream-like environment to tell the story from. Lyrics are in Italian and the musicianship is exceptional throughout. RDM deliver a wide contrast in moods and atmosphere here ranging from the pure and serene to loud crashing of guitars and synths. Orchestration is obviously filtered throughout and work very well for the listener making this a real gem all the way around. This is beautiful Italian tension building prog at its finest. The vocal portions are also amazing and sound great on the 'ol stereo....great speaker seperation
Review by Steve Hegede
5 stars "Contaminazione" is a concept album, based on themes from Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier". 13 sections alternate from straight-forward prog rock to aggressive, Bach-influenced, instrumental passages where harpsichords, trumpets, and strings compete with electric guitars, bass, and an energetic drummer. A couple of the sections are mellow, and only serve to balance the more intense passages. RDM are worth adding to your collection.
Review by lor68
4 stars Well actually this "contamination" is a bit dated nowadays, but in the course of the seventies this operation was so much acclaimed as one of the best re-arrangements from an opera by J.S. Bach. Honestly in this case the work should be inspired by such Bach's "Well Tempered Clavier", but the similarities are not so evident; rather I find a personal imprinting by an heavy rock band which made his first attempt to become more "progressive", thanks to this interesting idea. The concept works quite well instrumentally, even though it is not much inspiring from the point of view of the connection between a song and another. For the considerations above the score should be inferior, but the impact was so strong that the album deserves for sure a major attention.
Review by Menswear
5 stars "Help me out! Find the key! Break the lock! Set me free..." This is what I'm talking about!! Simply divine. After 2 medium/poor albums, R.D.M. suddendly jumps both feet in the big leagues with this record. A record, by the way, that you will never be ambarrassed to play loud. I heard it on an LP (the english version), and now I finally posess the original italian version (way easier to find). This don't disappoint. Pure gold. No kidding. Along with "Felona e Sorona" and "Per un Amico", this record jumps right in the all-time italian classics. It's groundbreaking and agressive but also fragile and subtle. A perfect approach of a (true) story by combining heavy rock with Bach's work. And what a marvelous combination. It's not in Trace's way (dazzling and speedy baroque),'s like attempting to an extravagant play featuring R.D.M. and Bach. It takes it time to breathe and to shake you at the right time. My hat to Rovescio della medaglia for being an obscure band and showing us that talent is not always hiding in dazzling performances but also in crafting and building a record that stands proudly on it's feet, not being afraid to compete with prog giants. UNDENIALBLE CLASSIC. * 5 CONTAMINATED STARS*
Review by Proghead
4 stars It's about time I got this original, Italian language album. For many years, I've been familiar with the English language version, "Contamination", because I owned the Italian RCA LP of it. Well let's say I like the original "Contaminazione" even better. Not that it sounds any different, vocals aside, of course, but that this album was meant to be sung in Italian, and the English vocals on "Contamination" seem a bit unnatural for the band (like what PFM did on "Photos of Ghosts"). OK, I noticed some slight differences in some of the places (for one, I didn't notice any trumpets at the end of "Contamination", and some of the studio effects on the vocals are a bit different).

Well prior to "Contaminazione", RDM released two hard rock albums, "Io Come Io" in '72 and "La Bibbia" in '71. Neither album too well liked by prog rock fans, although I have to admit "La Bibbia" isn't all that bad (it's pretty rough and unpolished hard rock with prog trappings and don't compare it with "Contaminazione" / "Contamination", you should be fine), although I hadn't heard "Io Come Io" yet. But figuring they couldn't keep going the hard rock direction, the band added a keyboard played and became the legend of Italian prog people associate them with.

For "Contaminazione" they decided to record yet another concept album, about a Scottish musician so obsessed with the music of Bach he went insane. They merged the style of classical music in the style of Bach (specifically that of The Well Tempered Clavier) and merge it with the Italian prog scene of the time. Thanks to a keyboardist being added, there's no shortage of keyboards (Hammond organ, Mini Moog, VCS-3, ARP 2600, harpsichord, piano, Eminent, pipe organ). They also wanted to include orchestra and hired Argentine-born Luis Enriquez Bacalov to conduct the strings (he already had a hand in OSANNA's "Milano Calibro 9" and NEW TROLLS' "Concerto Grosso Per 1"). This is usually regarded as Bacalov's best work for a prog rock album. There are times this album reminds me of NEW TROLLS' "Concerto Grosso Per 1" (I guess that's little surprise given the Bacalov involvement), only more progressive and without the TULL and HENDRIX trappings of that album. There isn't a single cut on "Contaminazione" that's over 4 minutes, but they're all segued in to each other for continuous play. It's only the end of "La Mi Musica" and the beginning of "Johann" that divides side one and side two (that is, if you own the LP). Most often it's interludes, experimental bits, and orchestra that goes between actual songs like "Ora Non Ricordo Piu`", "Lei Sei Tu: Lei", "La Mia Musica", "Johann", "Scotland Machine", "Alzo un Muro Elettrico" and "La Granda Fuga". I really love that dramatic organ found on "Mi Sono Svegliato e... Ho Chiuso Gli Ochhi". There is so much going on, they don't stick with one thing, and there are always going to be a few people thrown off by that. It's because it don't have the 15-20 minute epics letting the band really show their stuff, so RDM approaches thing different. Regardless this is truly a must-have album.

My rating: 4 1/2 stars

Review by NJprogfan
4 stars Didn't know what to expect when I bought this album other than it was highly rated Italian prog. Then BAM, that orchestra! I'll say right off the bat that this album is the best melding of classical orchestra and bluesy prog/rock ever, or at least, what I've heard so far. It may sound like a combinding of styles that could lead to disaster, but don't be afraid. It's done so well, you forget the strings, piano/harpsicord, horns/flutes were not played by the band themselves. The vocals are done very nicely, almost choir-like, very echoey. All songs are short but are melded together to tell the story, (A man's obsession with the music of Bach). If not for the drag in the middle of the album, it would garner a no-brainer five star rating. But thankfully, it picks up towards the end with an orchestral flourish. Another Italian prog gem that lovers of the style must own.
Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars The third album from RDM is their best, it features lots of Keith Emerson inspired Hammond organ play. Along with the propulsive an dynamic rhythm-section, it evokes also TRACE and EKSEPTION (featuring Dutch pride Rick van der Linden). The instrumentation is very varied including violin, harpsichord, heavy guitar, a violin-section, piano, classical guitar and church organ. At some moments the music sounds a bit freaky or experimental but in general this is wonderful melodic Seventies based progrock. The Italian vocals are beautiful and have a warm sound. By the way, this album is a kind of tribute to Mr. JS BACH, especially the composition "Toccata in D-Fuga".


Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've always loved baroque and classical music.did you really think I could ever have rated such an Opus differently?

Contaminazione is what its name represents! A tangle of different arrangements, instruments and moods all based on a conceptual idea: Johann Sebastian Bach's life and works (1685 - 1750). Life and career of this great composer and musician were curiously confined to a very limited geographical space, in the then various german states, whilst his OPERA are famous and known in all the world and were very important for the development of classical music that came after. In my opinion, whith Vivaldi, Bach is the apex of Music!

Why Il Rovescio della Medaglia, after releasing two so called "mediocre" prog-albums (La Bibbia and Io Come Io - "Me Like Me") , decided to test theirselves withg this "monstrum" of classical music? Maybe times were mature for the band and for its progressive temper! By the way they were helped and supported by the argentine composer Luis Enriquez Bacalov, who had already worked with New Trolls for their Concerto Grosso. The most impressive tracks here are Cella 503 and the shivery closer La Grande Fuga. this is Prog at its best!!

The complete title of the album is " Contaminazione, about certain ideas of certain preludes and fugas from the Well Tempered Harpsichord of J. S. Bach".

Try to imagine all that instrumental variety and that sublime marriage between 70s' keyboards, synths and strong Martin Barre-looking-like electric guitar with all those baroque orchestral instruments like harpsichord, piano, strings, classic guitar, trumpet, flute et cetera...

Lyrics are not to be remembered, though, having only a marginal and secondary role! This is an important thing to underline, because usually lyrics have a great importance in all italian scenario. Here lyrics are important only for some precious informations about Bach's life. For example the complete lyrics of the seventh song Johann are: " Johann, Johann Sebastian Bach had 21 sons, 20 he raised up, 1 he Scotland".

1973 was THE year and so, through RDM, flew all the classicism that influenced so much, in particular, all italians' culture and, in general, all the 70s' progressive musical movement!

Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A criticism I have of some Progressive Rock albums that include a classical orchestra is that parts of the music sound like a movie score or a pop orchestration, often due to rather saccharine swathes of strings or simply the composition itself. This is one of my criticisms of the concerti grossi by the NEW TROLLS. I'm glad to say that I have no such problem with "Contaminazione", the 1973 album from IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA, which is based around some of the preludes and fugues in Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier. Although it's not entirely devoid of saccharine strings, the vast majority of the strings on this album do sound like a classical orchestra rather than a studio orchestra playing Breakfast At Tiffany's, if you catch my drift.

Overall I hear a more sophisticated and adventurous fusion of classical music with rock here than on the two NEW TROLLS albums. Funny in a way, because Argentinean composer of movie scores Luis Enriquez Bacalov was involved on all three albums.

"Contaminazione" sounds more experimental and, to me, more convincing and exciting than the two NEW TROLLS albums. The keyboards occasionally remind me of Keith Emerson. Actually, the line-up of keyboards is quite impressive: Hammond, synthesizers, piano, harpsichord and pipe organ. And Franco Di Sabbatino, the new member of the group on this album, could certainly play them. Mind you, there is also plenty of pleasing guitar and bass on this album, not to mention the drums and orchestral accompaniment.

All thirteen pieces are very short but all segue together, so it is rather misleading to talk of them as tracks. There are some pure classical parts to these 'tracks', some pure Progressive Rock parts, and some experimental parts (unusual sounds, or unusual use of instruments). These are all good and work well together. There are vocals on some of these pieces, but even then not over the entire piece. The lyrics and LP cover tell the fictitious story of a Scottish musician who became obsessed with Bach and his music to the extent of believing he was Bach's son, and went mad.

I find it easy to rate this album: a very solid 4 stars (Excellent addition to any progressive music collection). Actually, if half stars were available I'd raise that to 4.5 stars. There is plenty in here to satisfy fans of symphonic Progressive Rock, fans of Italian Progressive Rock, and also fans that like something a little more unusual. It's a Progressive Rock goody bag: lots to discover and enjoy. Highly recommended.

Although the whole album is, in effect, one long piece of music, I give below a brief rundown of the tracks as they are titled. But I reiterate that they all segue together (which, in itself, results in a pleasing listen).

'Absent For This Consumed World' starts with ethereal, far-off-sounding Eminent (I think) and vocalisations sounding like the Doppler effect on a passing car, followed by a drum roll.

'Ora Non Ricordo Piu' has a calm, tinkling, echoing keyboard backing to singing and harmonies. Some very brittle-sounding synthesiser weaves itself around the track.

'Il Suono Del Silenzio' contains some experimental keyboard and guitar sounds in places. I'm almost reminded of very early PINK FLOYD. There follows some really groovy Hammond with pumping bass and drums, reminding a little of ELP, with the belting out of a repeating lyrical theme. There are all sorts of interesting interruptions: synthesizer, piano, harpsichord, violin and funky bass.

'Mi Sono Svegliato E. Ho Chiuso Gli Occhi' is a calm song over Bach strings and organ. Timpani, cymbals, choir and some serious violins and cello give it gravitas. There's a brief solo of heavy electric guitar, and slow Hammond and singing finish off the track. A melancholic, but effective number.

'Lei Sei Tu: Lei' is a song with a rapid, stabbing repetitive rock theme over harpsichord, but has a very classical-sounding interlude.

'La Mia Musica' starts with a slightly classical barroom piano. Then organ and calm, almost religious-sounding singing come in, followed by ecclesiastical-sounding Hammond and classical strings. This pleasant song is the one part of the album that does remind me slightly of the saccharine string orchestrations I mentioned earlier, and is the most mainstream-sounding track on the album to me, although it has the feel of a chorale and is relaxing.

'Johann' has some echoing and very pleasing quiet guitar accompanied only by singing.

'Scotland Machine' starts with synthesizer sounding, as the title might suggest, rather Scottish. Harpsichord, guitar and other instruments then come in to rock it up. It changes mood again and a very distorted synthesizer theme comes in that initially sounds odd but somehow fits perfectly. The music jumps all over the place and this is one of the more experimental tracks.

'Cella 503' starts with just lovely classical acoustic guitar. Then harpsichord, strings, horns, synthesizer and flute join in but still primarily in a classical style. Heavy guitar, bass and Hammond then kick in briefly, followed by some deep ecclesiastical-sounding pipe organ that is the business.

'Contaminazione 1760' is a one-minute snippet of just flute music, primarily mimicking birdsong: vibrato, trilling, cuckooing. Nice.

The Hammond and initial staccato, distorted guitar and flute on 'Alzo Un Muro Elettrico' is very good. There is a calm, odd intermission with gorgeous piano and a jazzy, Bossa Nova-like snippet with flute, then the piece reverts to the initial theme. I have to say I really like this short piece.

The title of 'Sweet Suite' already amuses me. The calm, echoing keyboards and electric guitar please me even more, and then it rocks up with some vocals.

The instrumental 'La Grande Fuga' is a rollicking, funky end to the album. It's a mix of: violins; a fast, killer synthesizer; Hammond organ; pipe organ, harpsichord; bass and drums. The track pumps along and is a real foot-tapper. Absolutely perfect classical-rock fusion.

Review by Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In 1973 'IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA' released their third studio record 'Contaminazione' based on the life and works of Johann Sebastian Bach.An important part in the realisation took the Argentinian composer Louis Enrique Bacalov. Bacalov, who had composed up to then mainly soundtracks for Italian Western, did the arrangements and played keyboards on the record, taking an important part in the overall sound of the record. The combination of baroque music arrangements and hard rock does works well and reminds 'Ekseption' and 'ELP'.

'Absent for this consumend World' the opening track with an organ intro and choir like vocals blends with a drum roll into...'Ora non ricordo piu' alternating a Bach theme with a hard rock riff, a short string arrangement and a moog theme.

'Il suono del silenzio' a longer track based around a heavy guitar riff and organ, harpsichord, violin and string section, followed by 'Mi sono svegliato e..ho chiuso gli occhi ' introduced by a Hendrix like feedback guitar alternating with a Bach theme for organ and strings.

'Lei sei tu: Lei' an uptempo track for harpsichord and strings and 'La mia musica' the first highlight of the record, a Bach theme introduced by piano develops into a beautiful ballad for church organ piano and strings and great vocals by Pino Ballarini, one of the most beautiful 70's Italian Prog tracks.

'Johann' a slightly boring rock track build around a repeated chord for delayed guitar, followed by 'Scotland Machine' an ELP influenced track with excellent dynamics, alternating, after a moog intro, a Bach theme for harpsichord and strings with a hard rock section.

'Cella 503' with an acoustic guitar intro, alternates again a Bach theme and a short Flamenco section with a heavy rhythm followed by 'Contaminazione 1760' a flute solo.

'Alzo un muro elettrico' the second highlight, another great song alternating a classical hard rock rhythm with heavy organ work and a ligher Bach theme played in Latin- American fashion, highlighting the respective talents of Bacalov and singer Ballarini.

'Sweet Suite' introduced by a Bach theme on organ blends into a spaced organ theme with guitar counterpoint and strings and the last track 'La grande fuga' a Bach theme played by strings, alternates with a synth theme, that has surely influenced 'Goblin' with is nevous jerky athmosphere and the track ends with a brass outro.

'Contaminazione' is a brillant mixture of Baroque music, hard rock and a slice of latin american music.

Review by Kotro

Abisso, abside, accantonare, affogato, allenatore, Alpi, amaretto, arrivedérci, asinino, aspettare, auguri, avanti, babbo, bacio, bambino, befana, Beretta, birra, bolognese, buonasera, calcio, caldo, calzone, cappucino, cercare, chiesa, cinquecento, cipolla, condottiero, conoscere, consigliere, conzucione, croce, culo, cuore, destra, doge, domani, dopo, ebreo, ecco, espresso, fascio, fica, formaggio, fragola, freddo, ghibelino, giallo, giorno, gli, grazie, guardare, guelfo, ieri, insegnante, insieme, latte, loggia, maccherone, madonna, malato, mascarpone, mensa, mezzo, moglie, nave, negozio, nessuno, niente, nocciolato, nodo, nudo, occhio, ogni, olivo, parmigiano, paura, pazzo, permesso, piccolo, pipistrello, pizza, pomodoro, quartiere, quindici, raccogliere, raccolta, ragazza, rapporto, regno, risotto, rovescio, scopo, scusare, sfumato, siccome, specchio, spunto, squadra, stampa, strappo,sviluppo, tagliatelle, tarantella, tasca, testa, tifosi, tonno, treno, tridentino, uscita, vecchio, volere, zio, zucchero, zuppa.

The above list is, rudely put, my entire Italian vocabulary, not counting, obviously, the long array of words similar or alike in my native tongue. A few of those were picked up on trip to Italy last year. Of course, my goal there was not to learn the language, but to attend a Gilmour concert and do a little sightseeing. The Gilmour concert was great, the sightseeing even better, but I feel I could have done more and maybe dive into the cradle of a fantastic musical genre, Italian Symphonic Prog. I knew PFM and La Maschera di Cera were around performing, but one of the downsizes of travelling accompanied is that you can't always go where you what. Still, back to the list, it is not, as you can probably conclude, a very flattering one. And it is probably one of the reasons why I can't appreciate Italian Symphonic Prog (from now on referred to by the Italian initials to Rock Progressivo Italiano - RPI) in full.

I was "introduced" to RPI, surprisingly, by a dear lady friend (prog-chicks - gotta love them!). The band in question was Banco del Mutuo Soccorso. When I asked her where she had got those tracks, she replied "Prog Archives. Don't you know it?" I had never heard of it. I can't say that I would continue not knowing it if not for her, but I agree she speeded up the process of me joining this wonderful resource. She and RPI, that is. For my first moments on this website were spent downloading (when you still could) the massive array of RPI samples available in this prog El-Dorado. From ba-rock bliss to heavy folk-rock, from eerie to exciting, at every track I got, my curiosity and devotion to this amazing genre grew. Progressively.

It seems only fair that my first RPI review refer to my first RPI album: Roverscio della Medaglia's CONTAMINAZIONE di alcune idee di certi prelude e fughe de «Il Clavicembalo ben temperato» di J. S. Bach (don't you just love long titles?). Sure, I had previous contact with the RPI samples here on PA, including the one for RDM, Cella 503, yet Contaminazione. was the first full experience of appreciation I had, which is to say, the first RPI album I purchased. It was an impulse of the moment. I received a mailing list from a music distributor that featured one copy of this album. As soon as I saw it, in 5 minutes I had it bought. Two days later, there he came knocking to my door. Needless to say, the first listen wasn't all I expected it to be. First off, there was the album length - 36 minutes. When you pay some dosh for an album, you might expect it to be filled. Then, as if the album length wasn't enough, there were the tracks - one had 4 minutes and 10 seconds, the rest not even 4. Of course, after a few listens, I realized this wasn't important. As far as I could and can tell, the album compromises only one piece of music, as all the songs segue into the next to form a 36 minute opus (the only exception is between tracks 6 and 7 where, I can only imagine, the division for vinyl was made, an assumption confirmed by other reviewers).

What wondrous music and musicianship! The keyboards are omnipresent, but they don't embark as much on the psych ups-and- downs we are used to in many progressive rock acts as much as they serve an eerie ambient sound. Electric guitars are less present throughout the album, but they do come out sometimes, and what a joy it is when they do! The vocals, both individual and in chorus, are spot on. The orchestra gives it a classical ambience that the band fits into so well and therefore there is plenty of classical instrumentation to go around, driven by the obvious harpsichord and strings, delightfully present throughout the opus. The first half of the album, compromising the first 6 tracks, has an exiting start, but then gets progressively more mellow and emotional. From the second half on, opened by Johan it gets slightly heavier, faster and wackier. Every song before Alzo Un Muro Eletrico sounds like a display of fireworks at Louis XIV's Versailles. When that track does arrive, it does so in a funky blast, after the small 1-minute intro provided by the flute-dominatedContaminazione 1760. Distorted guitars dominate the landscape here, by far the heaviest track of the album and a real highlight. The heaviness is slightly interrupted at the middle by what Ian Anderson could describe as a "sleazy piece of hotel elevator jazz". This amazing track gives way to the climatic yet phantasmagorical, keyboard dominated Sweet Suite (such a sweet name!), that repeats the intro from Alzo Un Muro Eletrico before segueing into the fast-paced, baroque-psyched ending that is La Grande Fuga. Harpsichord, strings, electric keyboards, all compete in this track to see who's stronger and who's faster, and while they do so, the only winner in the competitions is us, the listeners. You can just picture in your mind the fireworks in the end.

This is not an album to hear and discard after one listen. It has to be repeated, listened to carefully, it has to mature in the ear. When it does, you can't keep from seeing it as it is. A masterpiece.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Forget the Concerto Grosso, this is the real deal.

Rovescio Delle Medaglia (RDM) were formed in late 1970 in Rome and became a very popular live act in the early '70s Italian scene. After two albums more in the rock realm than prog they added keyboardist Franco Di Sabbatino in 1973. This move, along with the collaboration of Argentinean composer Luis Bacalov was the double spark they needed to fuel one of Italian prog's most beloved titles, "Contamination," I believe a reference to the melding of classical music with rock. Bacalov should ring a bell for Italian fans as he helped New Trolls with their "Concerto Grosso" prior. But with RDM he would create an album that would blow that previous work out of the water. In fact, beyond just Italian prog, Contamination is sometimes cited as one of the best, perhaps *the* best example of classical music with progressive rock. The stunning baroque arrangements are seamlessly tied to the RDM sound and are amazingly natural and unforced. Even an English version was floated in an attempt to break the band wider. The well received work in the magic year of Italian prog ('73) should have lent a brighter future but their impressive live stage sound system was ripped off that year and apparently this development took the wind from their sails. The core group folded soon thereafter as yet another of Italy's promising acts faded too soon.

"Contaminazione" is apparently a story of a man's obsession with the music of Bach. It begins with light strings panning back and forth in your speaks with spectacular choral voices. "Ora Non Ricordo Piu" starts with trippy synth effects and warm, pleasant vocals. There are more of those choral waves of sound before the band comes out of the gate with a heavy guitar riff. As they bound along there are wild synth digs spicing it up. The bass is awesome, lively and easily heard. "Il Suono del Silenzio" reprises the heavy main riff as the vocals flow. I know things are getting nuts when I have to pause the CD to keep up typing. The first real strings hit at this point and they sound just incredible. Totally alive, vibrant, well-recorded. As soon as they appear there is a blast of synth, then piano, then harpsichord all at once signaling this will not be a laid back affair. The band comes back with organ to the fore in their rock section. The track winds down with the main riff and vocal reprise. "Mi Sono." starts with gorgeous violin as soft as a feathered bed over easy vocals. Suddenly the mood gets darker with tom-toms and building operatic choir, then it eases for more strings. Then all subsides for a Malmsteenish classical-tinged electric solo, very cool but too short. The tracks drifts to fading keyboards at close. "Lei Sei Tu" starts with a fast harpsichord (I think) run to lightly backing guitar bends and attentive drumming. Majestic strings break in pulling the mood straight up! Then the harpsichord/drums return with vocals. "La Mia Musica" begins with gorgeous classical piano and then floats lovely, delicate vocals over you. Halfway through organ and strings commence and you feel like you're in the middle of some great cathedral in Europe 200 years ago. A great vocal tops off this standout song. "Johann" is a short trippy montage with vocal and distant guitar. "Scotland Machine" begins with a band and some synth freakouts followed by organ, harpsichord and mellotron. The band jumps in with spirited well conceived rock parts. It's all so much more sophisticated and satisfying than the Concerto Grosso. "Cella 503" is a foray of delicious classical acoustic guitar soon joined by electric and then horns and strings in response. Just fabulous! (Ladies and Gentlemen, put on your gush-protection suit at this time.thank you.) The rock picks back leading to some great gothic BLASTS of organ that will rattle the walls. The title track is a short sojourn of flutes and woodwinds whippering away. "Alzo un Muro Elettrico" goes a bit Purple/Tull with the main riff but stops half-way through for a brief break. "Sweet Suite" is next, ouch, the name is a bit corny! A very quiet, moody keyboard for the first half. The second half is a reprise of the heavy rock in the previous track with a nice strings ending. Finally we reach "La Grande Fuga" with the strings from the previous track descending into muscular electric guitar leads and organ flashes. From that point the band charges forward towards a fitting grandiose ending to this super album.

An essential title for fans of classical music and Italian prog fans. I award 4 solid stars because of the incredible marriage of the two main styles rock and classical. I've never heard it done so well. Perhaps I should have lit up the fifth star but it kills me when I have to do that. Often the attempt to mix classical and rock can be disastrously cheesy or annoying, here is it joyous and musically satisfying. This is one of many titans that makes the Italian scene competitive with the UK/German/French scenes in a creative sense, if not in the commercial sense.

Review by Mellotron Storm
2 stars This is a tough one for me. First of all the way they combine Classical music with Rock music is not that influencial, significant or new in my opinion when the NEW TROLLS did it 2 years earlier. Also the vocals really are not that good, maybe annoying is the word. Then there is the album cover which is one of the worst i've seen. That cover alone kept me from listening to it for months. Haha.

I'm not a fan of orchestral or Classical music in the first place. Sure there are some excellent passages on this album. It's interesting that the first two tracks are kind of spacey and dreamy. There is some fantastic guitar and organ in the fourth song. Also in the ninth song we get more killer organ runs.The start of the eleventh track is great but unfortunately it changes after a minute.

This is one is a big disappointment for me. 2.5 stars.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars It is amazing to see how this band has been evolving in two years' time!

From a heavy music, they switched to an almost symphonic piece. I write almost because there are still some reminiscence of their past style, but very little actually. If you are into emotional and passionate music, this Contaminazione should please you quite a lot.

Since this concept album is about the life of Bach, there is no wonder that some classical influences are highly noticeable and wonderfully blended into this marvellous Italian style I love so much (I will never say it enough).

This album is also far much better produced than their earlier releases and my only concern would be that some of the songs are really on the short edge. The wonderful Ora Non Ricordo Piu should have been more developed IMO. It holds such a great melody.

The work of Pino Ballarini on the vocals is also very good. I would say even exceptional during the sublime La Mia Musica.

Some reviewers have pointed out some ELP influence, but I feel that it is not too much of a problem. Only a few tracks are related IMO (Scotland Machine for instance).

Most of the pieces are delicate and combines with a great brio the classical and the prog genre. It is really a marvellous example of complementarities between both styles: the best examples is Cella 503.

Il Rovescio Della Medaglia gets back with their first love (which was heavy music) during Alzo Un Muro Electrico. But it is only for a while. As they have done for most of the songs so far, they will combine these heavy notes with classical again. It is surprising but so original in this case.

This album is a real pleasure to listen to. The bombastic La Grande Fuga is such a fine way to close this work (again it features a similar ELPian approach). Just over thirty-six minutes of happiness, this is what is excepting you when you start to listen to this album. Because there is no way to either stop to listen to this album once you have started or to skip some pieces of it.

Four stars.

Review by DamoXt7942
5 stars I see the contaminated world is a beautiful world.

For only one year, what should alter IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA (RDM) into a really progressive band? Before listening to Contaminazione, I've heard their previous two albums. The first album was one of the heaviest products of all Italian progressive ones in 1971 and I think this is a great one in that period. The second got freer style than the first but the mainstream was almost same.

In spite of previous heavy (but not lyrical) style, Contaminazione, the third album is quite different from previous ones. I consider the most important point is RDM could bring keyboard as one of the main instrumentals, and could make good use of the strings. Of course, we can't tell the point without the keyboard player FRANCO DI SABBATINO and LUIS ENRIQUEZ BACALOV's production (Luis is the producer of Concerto Grosso and Milano Calibro 9) . I'm sure, whatever we say, this aggressive change was the potential and motivation of RDM itself.

In this work, sounds of guitar and percussion is as heavy as previously, and there is lyrical and fantastic style previously unexpressive. Classical melody is brought from Bach's and this is written on the sleeve. Wonderfully and interestingly, this work is balanced between heavy guitar & percussion and lyrical keyboard and strings. Namely, this balance is the core of Italian Progressive Rock World. RDM could do this for only one year...and soon be broken out...oh well, as Close To The Edge by Yes, to be broken away after climbing the top of the mountain (named as Italian Progressive Rock) is the destiny, isn't it? Even if it's so, we are very happy to listen to this excellent album. I wanna say, Contaminazione is one of the most brilliant of all progressive rock albums.


Review by andrea
5 stars Il Rovescio della Medaglia were one of the many bands of the Italian prog scene of the early seventies. They were from Rome and after two albums in a hard rock style, "La bibbia" and "Io come io", in 1973 they collaborated with composer Luis Enriquez Bacalov and lyricist Sergio Bardotti for a third album in a more symphonic style. The result was a very peculiar concept album blending classical music and rock entitled "Contaminazione di alcune idee di certi preludi e fughe del Clavicembalo ben temperato di J.S. Bach" (Contamination of some ideas from some preludes and fugues from the well-tempered clavier by J.S. Bach). The line up on this album features Enzo Vita (guitars), Stefano Urso (bass), Gino Campoli (drums), Pino Ballarini (vocals, flute) and Franco di Sabbatini (keyboards) but in studio the band interacted with a baroque orchestra directed by the Maestro Luis Enriquez Bacalov himself with excellent results.

The album tells the story of an imaginary character, a Scottish guitarist called Jim McCluskin that, back from a journey in Nepal, believes to be the "avatar" (the incarnation) of another imaginary character, a Scottish musician called Isaia Somerset, supposed to be an illegitimate son of Johann Sebastian Bach who abandoned him during his stay in Britain. The guitarist is hospitalized in a psychiatric structure where he is haunted by his crazy musical dreams. The plot is ironic, all the tracks are linked together and the music flows without interruptions drawing a kind of well crafted "divertissement".

The opener, "Absent For This Consumed World" is a short instrumental introduction that leads with a drum roll to the ethereal and melancholic "Ora non ricordo più" (Now I can't remember). "Now I can't remember what kind of music I used to play / I saw white and I fell over / It's the imagine of an imagine... I run after my music / My music is running forward, away from me / Like dark never touch light / Where time comes to life and immediately dies / She is there and she's waiting for me / She is calling me...".

Next comes "Il suono del silenzio" (The sound of silence). Don't worry, it's not a cover of Simon & Garfunkel but an experimental track where classical passages of harpsichord, organ and violin are mixed with a vibrant and pulsing rhythm section. In the mind of the protagonist a question comes up... "Maybe, am I the son of Bach?".

"Mi sono svegliato e... Ho chiuso gli occhi" (I woke up and... I shut my eyes) tells of a sad awakening... "Why am I here? Why did they shut me here? Because for them I'm like a strange child...". From a lullaby take off a desperate electric guitar solo in Jimi Hendrix style... The protagonist wants to go back into the world of dreams... "I woke up this morning and... / I shut my eyes...". Well, definitively dreams can be better than reality...

The short and frenzy "Lei sei tu: lei" (She is you: she) depicts a troubled dream where music becomes a beautiful woman inviting the protagonist to follow her in another world where she is waiting. Next comes "La mia musica" (My music), a sweet and romantic love song dedicated to the charming woman that incarnates the music... "She is there... And in the light of thought even the faintest souvenir becomes clear / I run after her when she runs away / To have her one more time... Sing on the roof / And I'll call you swallow / Sing on the bank / And I'll call you sea / I can hear thousands voices / They sing the secrets hidden into the soul / They sing the thoughts of a free spirit / It's for me that they are singing / It's for you... Now she is here / Now she is mine...".

The mad rock guitarist believes now to be Isaia Somerset, the illegitimate son of Bach and on "Johann" the contamination of styles is perfect The interaction between rock band and baroque orchestra is absolutely brilliant... "Johann Sebastian Bach had twenty-one children / He loved twenty of them / But one was abandoned in Scotland...".

"Scotland Machine" blends classical music and rock with Celtic echoes... When the protagonist awakes he's driven into cell number 503 that now is free and all for him... "Cella 503" (Cell 503) is an instrumental where we find a peculiar Spanish flavour mixed with baroque music, then a rock part precedes a closing section featuring a powerful organ solo. Then comes "Contaminazione 1760", another short instrumental featuring only flutes.

"Alzo un muro elettrico" is one of the best tracks on this work, where you can find tasteful reminiscences of Brazil... "I build an electric wall / A sky of organs is opening / She is there / Now I'm again myself...". "Sweet Suite" begins with a church-like organ, then a short reprise of "Alzo un muro elettrico" follows... "Now I'm again myself!". The fiery and passionate instrumental "La grande fuga" (The grat fugue) is a perfect "gran finale" for this amazing album.

An English version of this album was also released for the international market, but I prefer the Italian one. A must have for every prog lover.-

Review by seventhsojourn
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Contaminazione is a concept album based on a fictitious Scottish guitarist who is driven to insanity by his obsession with J. S. Bach. However, what is probably of greater relevance to non-Italian speaking listeners is that the music is inspired by preludes and fugues by the said composer. From ORA NON RICORDO PIU (Prelude No. 1 in C major) to LA GRANDE FUGA (Prelude from the cello suite No. 1 in G major), and pretty much everything in between, the tracks blend familiar Bach melodies with the band's original material. All 13 tracks are short but they segue seamlessly, and the band's instruments combine perfectly with Luis Enriquez Bacalov's orchestral arrangements. For example, the dreamy MI SONO SVEGLIATO E... contrasts dramatic strings and timpani with Hendrix-inspired guitar while IL SUONO DEL SILENZIO, where the protagonist questions if he is the illegitimate son of Bach, features a fine meshwork of Baroque and rock elements.

Although Bach had 20 children by his two wives, he apparently has no known descendants living today. JOHANN concerns the protagonist's false belief that he is Bach's 21st child, abandoned by him in Scotland, and this track leads into SCOTLAND MACHINE. This features a squelching synthesizer intro that sounds like soggy bagpipes, and the main riff reinforces the Scottish flavour with the synth mimicking the skirl of the pipes to wonderful effect. CELLA 503 begins with classical guitar that introduces a seemingly flamenco-inspired passage, and closes with an organ solo as the character is confined in a mental institution. I don't know what happens to him thereafter, but I do know there's some glorious music here. LEI SE TU is built around a nimble-fingered harpsichord continuo and a simple but effective snare drum pattern. The romantic LA MIA MUSICA features wonderful strings and organ, and ALZO UN MURO ELETRRICO is a great rocker with shades of Martin Barre in the lead guitar.

As a rule, I tend to dislike albums that fuse orchestral and rock music. However, Contaminazione wipes the nose of albums like Days Of Future Passed and in my opinion is *the* greatest work of this kind.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Contaminazione is one of those RPI titles that come with long rounds of applause, but this is one where the sound of the applause is a lot more enjoyable then the actual music.

This album is a Bach goes heavy rock overkill of sorts. Baroque keyboard dashes, Keith Emerson inspired pomposity and brassy orchestrations try to hide the gaping hole that lies behind its exuberant form, a void consisting of empty pathos, shaky song writing, weak vocals and soulless music.

There are some usable riffs and ideas scattered throughout the album but the band had a hard time forging something meaningful from their Baroque ingredients. It largely sounds like a series of classical clichés jammed together with gaudy solos for guitar and tweeting teapot synths. Both schoolboy voices and strained emo vocals are added in attempt to put something resembling a song together. No luck. Listen to La Mia Musica as an example of the dreariest possible kind of sentimental pomposity. Luckily I was only 2 years when this album was released. Had I been older I would have launched the punk movement 3 years before it was due.

So far RPI had impressed me with some unlikely but very successful integrations of classical music with rock. Bands like Il Paese Dei Balocchi, Quella Vecchia Locanda and Campo Di Marte all succeeded gracefully in this most difficult of marriages. Contaminazione however is mostly a kitschy affair. And that in trying to emulate Bach, one of the most impressive of classical composers. Such a shame.

Review by Matti
5 stars This band had made two albums of heavy prog when they collaborated with L. E. Bacalov, who had made Concerto Grosso with NEW TROLLS. The difference to their previous works must be notable, since they didn't even have a keyboard player before. Contaminazione is loaded with organ, piano and synths, without forgetting the excellent electric guitar of Enzo Vita. It also has a Baroque-style orchestration by Bacalov. The album is based on the harpsichord work The Well Tempered Clavier by J. S. Bach.

Apart from a couple of opposite opinions, this album is highly respected and enjoyed. Quite rightly so. The arrangements are gorgeous, combining the world of Art Music and that of (relatively hard) rock. The result is shamelessly ambitious, dramatic and emotionally powerful. I also like the presence of vocals (sadly my Italian's too bad for understanding the lyrics!). ELP did their interpretation on Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition in their own style, Renaissance owe something to Rimsky-Korsakov with their Scheherazade, etc. In my opinion this album is among the best Art Music adaptations - and other orchestral works - in Prog. Bach melodies are recognizable here and there (e.g. the opening of 'Ora non ricordo piu'), but the group made a unique, original work of their own. Many tracks are very progressive even separately, and more so when they form the whole concept.

Classic RPI albums are often short; this is 36 minutes. Some tracks may be too heavy for my taste, but I agree this is a masterpiece in its field (though I can understand not everybody enjoys it at all). Bach could be at least as proud of this innovative adaptation as of numerous jazz versions of his works. I like the cover art too.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Here's an enjoyable Rock Progressivo Italiano tour de force on which Il Rovescio della Medaglia put their own twist (or "Contamination") on the work of J.S. Bach, mashing up their own original compositions with themes from The Well-Tempered Clavier. Pino Ballarini plays some dynamite flute on here, and whilst it's a bad habit to compare every prog band which includes flute to Jethro Tull the hard rock style in which Ballarini plays his instrument really does remind me of Ian Anderson's approach; meanwhile, Franco Di Sabbatino's keyboard style shows an impressive range, from Keith Emerson-like flamboyance and forcefulness to a more subtle approach which puts me in mind of David Kaffineti of Rare Bird (and Spinal Tap, though it's his work in Rare Bird I'm reminded of here). Whilst I wouldn't put it in the top tier of RPI releases from the 1970s, it's certainly a decent one which is worth exploring once you've covered the RPI essentials.
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Among the favorites of Classic Italian Prog fans, Il Rovescio Della Medaglia came from Rome and were found in early-70's by guitarist Enzo Vita, bassist Stefano Urso, drummer Gino Campoli and singer Gianni Mereu, who's place was taken soon by Sandro Falbo and then Pino Ballarini.Their performance at the Viareggio Pop festival marked the band as a live monster and the first two albums, ''La bibbia'' (1971) and ''Io come io'' (1972) are good examples of dynamic Hard Rock.They reached their pinnacle though the following year, when RCA came in contact with Argentine composer Enriquez Bacalov (the same man who helped New Trolls) to dress the band's music with his arrangements.By the time they had added Franco Di Sabbatino on keyboards and the result of the recordings was the ''Contaminazione'' album, released in 1973 with lyrics written by Sergio Bardotti and Giampiero Scalamogna.

''Contaminazione'' follows the trends of the time, it's an album heavily inspired by Classical Music, resulting to a work of complex Prog Rock with hard-edged guitars and keyboards in the forefront, obviously linked to NEW TROLLS ''Concerto grosso'' due to Bacalov's presence and the dominant display of some powerful string sections.On the other hand they had surfaced with their own identity, while ''Concerto grosso'' was much more of a harmonic and well-flowing release, ''Contaminazione'' is characterized by a dark atmosphere, ranging from melacholic lyrics to mascular guitar attacks.Split in 13 tracks, this album flows as a single suite with monster orchestral arrangements and excellent keyboard parts, including Hammond organ, piano, harsichord and synthesizers, evolving from Classical themes with a sweet atmosphere to complicated keyboard parts with a very dense and compact sound.This one grows with every listening, as every single part has its own approach, it often comes close to the works of LATTE E MIELE, trying to combine romantic tunes and interludes with Symphonic/Hard Rock.The vocals are absolutely great, mostly delivered in a sentimental tone and placed between the complex instrumental passages for a more balanced sound.Cinematic textures and early-60's Psych influences are also detected in here, but the bulk goes for keyboard-based Symphonic Rock with some beautiful dual executions and the usual presence of electric guitars around.

The band played live also in France and Switzerland, the later country became the home of Pino Ballarini in late-73', replaced for a few concerts by Semiramis' Michele Zarrillo.After an English version of their classic in 1975 the band fell apart to be reformed twenty years later by Enzo Vita, leading to some more studio releases, far from the classic style of Il Rovescio Della Medaglia and closer to a more AOR/radio-friendly sound.''Live in Tokyo'' though, released in 2014 on Immaginifica, offers a good live take by the recent formation on the classic ''Contaminazione'' album.

Very good Classical Prog with some emphatic keyboard and string arrangements, almost a classic of the genre, twisting between cinematic and haunting soundscapes.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A brilliant and skillful merging of classical and rock traditions is here used to present a story of the life of Johann Sebastian Bach. The full title of this album is "CONTAMINAZIONE di alcune idee di certi preludi e fughe de 'Il Clavicembalo ben temprato' di J. S. Bach." Hearing the album makes it obvious how much Il Rovescio della Medaglia was inspired by J.S. Bach life and music.

1. "Absent For This Consumed World" (1:05) awesome atmospheric opener of synths and strings and cymbals (10/10)

2. "Ora Non Ricordo Piu" (1:47) opens with and fast lead synth arppegi over GENESIS/New Age-like synth wash. Beautiful male voice announces something in a plaintive voice. (10/10)

3. "Il Suono Del Silenzio" (5:16) exposes the full rock sound of the band for the first time even though there are some very classically organized and constructed sections within this multi-movement song. Very tight, competent instrumental cohesion. The choral choice for vocal exposition is good though it makes the song feel kind of rock- opera-ish. (9/10)

4. "Mi Sono Svegliato E... Ho Chiuso Gli Occhi" (4:19) opens with organ and strings as if from a famous Vivaldi, Bach or even Mozart composition. Vocals enter and the song builds all the while maintaining its largo foundation in sparsely arranged classical music. (10/10)

5. "Lei Sei Tu: Lei" (2:04) using harpsichord and orchestra with the rock band rhythm section lends this song a very time-representative sound. Little vocals, presented in the choral form again. (9/10)

6. "La Mia Musica" (4:10) opens with electric piano played classical-style (as if practicing before one's piano teacher) before the music falls away leaving a very sparsely instrument-and-space-supported foundation for a very delicate, soft solo vocal. At the two-minute mark an full church organ takes over as the foundational instrument where it is eventually joined by voice(s), rock band, and orchestral strings. The first (and only) orchestral arrangement on the album that is a bit 'cheesy.' (8/10)

7. "Johann" (1:23) uses solo electric guitar to create a finger-picked in a kind of country-classical way chordal foundation for a vocal as if from a haunted individual. (9/10)

8. "Scotland Machine" (3:06) returns to full rock format--though with all electronic instrumentalists performing as if in a classical composition.By the second half of the second minute the song climbs into drive with rolicking, melodic ride forward. Probably my favorite rock-oriented song on the album. (9.5/10)

9. "Cella 503" (3:18) an astonishingly perfect blend of rock'n'roll and orchestration--here used in an amazing call and response arrangement! Opening with awesome classical guitars (three tracks!), moving into harpsichord, horns, strings with drum-and-bass-supported synthesizer as its alternate. The organ and harpsichord work beneath the electric instruments is awesome and the pipe organ solo at the end of the song is great! Amazing song! (10/10)

10. "Contaminazione 1760" (1:04) is an astonishing display of woodwind (and synth?) skills and possibilities (10/10)

11. "Alzo Un Muro Elettrico" (2:55) is a straight-forward hard rock song in the RARE EARTH vein of dynamics and sound. If there is a weakness in the music present on this album it may be in the vocals. Not so much the lead but the choral voices are recorded rather poorly throughout the album. Two interjections of classical instrumentation occur here, one a brief quartet-like interlude in the middle and the other being the joinder of organ for the final minute. (8/10)

12. "Sweet Suite" (2:17) is a slowed down, sparsely filled instrumental similar to a couple of the earlier songs on the album, using organ as the primary foundation and lead electric jazz guitar for the melody-maker. (9/10)

13. La Grande Fuga (3:42) pits organ and harpsichord against synthesizers while both orchestra and rock band play in support beneath. The best rock riff on the album lays the foundation for the song while familiar classical (Bach?) themes play over the top from a wide variety of soloists. (10/10)

Though Il Rovescio della Medaglia employed the same Argentinian composer/conductor that NEW TROLLS had used for their 1971 Concerto Grosso, Luis Enriquez Bacalov, I have to agree with many of my predecessors that the arrangements, integration, and recorded sounds of the orchestral inputs here are far, far superior to those on Concerto Grosso. These fit within and do not feel cheezy, diluted or soundtrack-like as do the ones in New Trolls' Concerto Grosso.

A rare and gleaming achievement of integration of rock and classical music as well as a great story foundation. In my opinion, this is one of the peak achievements of the classic RPI scene.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars After two albums of a veritable proto-metal style of hard rock, the Rome based quartet IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA (The Other Side of the Coin) joined the ranks of the majority of Italian prog bands of the early 70s and added a fifth member, ex- Il Paese di Balocchi keyboardist Franco Di Sabbatino. This changed the band's sounds drastically and they were at last considered a symphonic prog band in the vein of PFM, Banco, Museo Rosenbach, Jumbo and just about every Italian band that jumped on the prog bandwagon. Not only that but the band suddenly got quite ambitious and started to collaborate with the famous Argentine composer Luis Enriquez Bacalov who had worked with the New Trolls and Osanna.

The result was the band's third album CONTAMINAZIONE which was long suite of over 13 movements primarily inspired by the "Well-Tempered Clavier" of J.S. Bach. While not truly original as this had been done before, this was first in England by The Moody Blues and Deep Purple and then later in Italy itself from the New Trolls and Osanna under the guidance of Bacalov. Following in the footsteps of these symphonic rock giants who made a prog rock tribute to the world of classical music, IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA released CONTAMINAZIONE in 1973 and immediately the album became a smashing success and their most famous effort which led to an English language edition released under the title "Contamination."

CONTAMINAZIONE was one of the most Baroque sounding albums of the entire prog scene and while the album was a hybridization of the J.S. Bach works musically speaking, lyrically the album was inspired by the alleged tale of an 18th century Scottish musician who claimed to be Bach's illegitimate son but unfortunately was not recognized by the composer as such. The album was also notable at its time for its amazing production modernity which allowed all kinds of new recording processes to be implemented. Oh and BTW the album actually has an official title that is quite lengthy: "CONTAMINAZIONE di alcune idee di certi preludi e fughe de 'Il Clavicembalo ben temprato' di J. S. Bach." The album features 13 separate tracks but in reality the entire 36 1/2 minute run sounds like one lengthy masterwork.

A complete change in style from the previous keyboard-free hard rocker albums, CONTAMINAZIONE is primarily dominated by vast arrays of keyboards ranging from Hammond organs and harmoniums to Eminent, VCS, ARP and Moog synthesizers. Likewise Ballarini's vocal parts are subdued as the album is primarily instrumental and literally rockin' the classics with some moments of hard rock returning for brief moments. The vocal lines that do occur are often designed to be part of the musical flow rather than actually convey the story but the overall lyrical theme does play a major role in the mood and feel of the entire work. Unlike the band's previous two albums, CONTAMINAZIONE was a major hit which led to an English version being created for international export and has become one of Bacalov's most famous works as well.

While it seems that IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA had found its true calling as a symphonic prog band after all and experienced much coveted success with its first foray into the style, the band suffered a major blow shortly after the release of this album by having all of its unique specialized equipment and instruments stolen in one of the most famous musical heists in prog history. This devastating blow crippled the band so much that even as it was poised to become one of Italy's major prog players, instead the band was forced to call it quits in utter defeat. A very sad occurrence by any means. While CONTAMINAZIONE remains a divisive album for many who claim that this classical meets prog rock hybrid has been done way too many times and that it sounds cheesy, in reality i think IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA did a really excellent job at keeping this Bach inspired album feeling more like an Italian prog release of the 70s rather than just a tribute to a great classical composer.

I may be in the minority but i actually prefer the hard rock / proto-metal style that preceded on the band's first two albums "La Bibbia" and "Io Come Io." Sure they were raw and primeval in their approach but also utterly unique however despite joining the ranks of New Trolls and others, CONTAMINAZIONE is a very well executed album release that showcases the band's ability to completely reinvent itself into the world of symphonic prog and crafted an amazingly beautiful album that focuses on just enough blatant Bach runs to keep the connection well established but obfuscates his influences enough to make the album sound unique. The star of the show on this one is clearly newbie Franco Di Sabbatino who cranked out some amazingly keyboard moves. I'm also one of those who avoided this album for the longest time due to the nauseating album cover art but in the end there is no denying that this is a beautiful tribute to J.S. Bach set to 70s progressive rock. The album has continued to attract audiences throughout the decades and now is even on Bandcamp with a remastered 2.0 edition.

Latest members reviews

5 stars A band that mixes Rock and Classic musical usually falls into the cheesy category, however this is not the case when the Italian band "Il Rovescio Della Medaglia" (Eng Trans: The other side of the coin") joined forces with the Argentinian composer Luis Enriquez Bacavlov (New Trolls - Concerto G ... (read more)

Report this review (#2576962) | Posted by Carnier | Tuesday, July 6, 2021 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Classical influence isn't a wild concept for progressive rock, but RPI group Il Rovescio Della Medaglia take this to another level with this Bach inspired album. Working off of Bach's works, the band manages a unique blend of this influence and the standard sound Italian progressive groups are gen ... (read more)

Report this review (#1137216) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Tuesday, February 25, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Absolutely Marvelous! It has been a while since I reviewed an album, mainly when I first joined the forum and picked some of my old favorites (plus a new one or two) until the novelty for me wore off. Since reviewing is harder and more time consuming than it appears, at least if it is to be ... (read more)

Report this review (#1041123) | Posted by AEProgman | Saturday, September 21, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is the essense of progress. One year after the disappointing "Io Come Io", Il Rovescio Della Medaglia released their best album and one of the best Italian prog rock albums. "Contaminazione" is a concept album based on J.S. Bach. Their sound is much more symphonic. The addition of Franco ... (read more)

Report this review (#299594) | Posted by DeKay | Saturday, September 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Not a simple album... But if J.S. Bach is a Rock composer... Certainly with this 'Contaminazione' (eng: 'Contamination') Il Rovescio Della Medaglia becomes the protagonist of a series of acute readings of compositions (preludes and fugues) of J.S. Bach, contained in ''Il Clavicembalo ben temp ... (read more)

Report this review (#225164) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Wednesday, July 8, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Classical music combinated with choir music and imaginative symphonic progrock. Mmmm. Every song on this album has so much to give, ex. if you listen to this album about 4 minutes, it will take through numerous songparts, when usually 4-minute song would only have verses, chorus and a C -part. I ... (read more)

Report this review (#62303) | Posted by oravamangusti | Friday, December 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars it's pretty much one of the best cd of my collection i recommend it to everyone!!!!!!! I did not know what it was like before i bought it, but i really discoverd something rare and precious (since it was the only copy). If you like PFM, you will rapidely become a great fan. Maybe for Italian Pro ... (read more)

Report this review (#43863) | Posted by | Monday, August 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Really great!! Maybe just for Italian Prog fans, but it's one of the best albums of the 70's. Just hear the voice of Pino Ballarini and you'll understand what I mean. Very classical, this tribute to JS Bach sounds like a real symphony with powerful keyboards arrangements by Franco Di Sabbatino ... (read more)

Report this review (#39810) | Posted by progadicto | Tuesday, July 19, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I had the english version LP in the 70's, and I recently purchase the Italian version which I find more sensitive. The mix of classisism, synth, rock, a bit of jazz, is unique. The sound in particular the strings, organ and the voice is magnificent. Thru the sensible interpretation we feel the ... (read more)

Report this review (#6377) | Posted by | Tuesday, August 3, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars How to make Bach modern. Fugues, sonatas for violin and other famous themes from the major works of the most universal genius of classic music are perfectly recognizable: modern instruments as guitars and keyboards integrate very well with the sound of the orchestra and the whole has a rhythmic ener ... (read more)

Report this review (#6373) | Posted by mlgdominici | Sunday, February 29, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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