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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) Photos Of Ghosts album cover
4.02 | 603 ratings | 32 reviews | 34% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. River Of Life (Appena Un Po) (6:56)
2. Celebration (╚ Festa) (3:50)
3. Photos Of Ghosts (Per Un Amico) (5:20)
4. Old Rain (3:40)
5. The Banquet (Il Banchetto) (8:34)
6. Mr. 9 'Till 5 (Generale) (4:07)
7. Promenade The Puzzle (Geranio) (7:35)

Total Time: 39:02

Line-up / Musicians

- Franco Mussida / lead vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, 12-string guitar, mandocello, theorbo (?)
- Flavio Premoli / lead vocals, Hammond & Pari organs, MiniMoog, Mellotron, harpsichord, piano, spinet, tubular bells
- Mauro Pagani / flutes (contralto,piccolo), violin, backing vocals
- Giorgio Piazza / bass, backing vocals
- Franz Di Cioccio / drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Peter Sinfield / producer (2,4 & all new vocals), remixing

Releases information

Partial re-recordings, with new lyrics in English, except track 4 previously unreleased:
Full "Per Un Amico" album (tracks 1,3,5-7) and track 2 from "Storia di un minuto".

Artwork: Julia Fryer with Nick Darke (design)

LP Numero Uno - ZSLN 55661 (1973, Italy)
LP Atlantic - MC 66668 (1973, Canada)

CD RCA ‎- ND 71785 (1989, Italy)
CD BMG ‎- 74321-872302 (2001, Italy) 24-bit remaster

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) Photos Of Ghosts ratings distribution

(603 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(34%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is one of the best Italian progressive rock albums! It has very mellow, delicate and graceful moments, followed by powerful and loaded parts. There are many charming childish flute parts, cute and melodic acoustic guitars, many excellent piano parts, all supported by a powerful and bottom bass. The keyboards can be very intensely floating, like on "River of life". The restless but not brutal drums are never the same. There are some excellent violin parts. The lead singer often adopts a smooth voice perfectly matched with the peaceful ambience. The many electric guitar solos have a really soft and inoffensive sound. It does not very much sound like other Italian prog bands Banco, Le Orme and RDM: it is more subtle, relaxing, ethereal, and less technical: it has some British similitudes with Genesis (Selling England by the pound), early King Crimson and Gryphon. There is even an excellent piano solo a la Keith Emerson on "Il Banchetto"! There are many excellent catchy backing vocals. The tracks are very varied. I have noticed a very little touch of jazzy influence, like on "Il banchetto", or like the piano, the violin and the drums on "Old rain".


Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I won't describe this album track by track because I rather do it on the original versions.

The music is great, the songs are amazing, but Pete Sinfield should never translate them to english, in first place because it's not a translation but a recreation, kills the spirit of the songs. Phonetically the tracks are terrible in English and the accent is even worst.

The music is so great that I can't give the album less than four stars, poor rating compared to the five stars that IMO deserve "Per un Amico" and "Storia Di Un Minuto".

Leave the masterpieces in their original languages as they were created.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Pictures of Italy

This album by Italian band PFM (named apparently after an Italian bakery) found a much bigger audience in the UK than it would otherwise have done. This was due to two things, their adoption by the fledgling ELP Manitcore label, and Pete Sinfield's work in providing English language lyrics (although the way they are sung does make it hard to tell what language is being used at times).

Many ELP fans bought product on the Manticore label on the assumption that it would include noticeable ELP influences. They would not have been disappointed by "Photos of Ghosts" for, while it does not really sound at all like ELP, it is good solid prog. There are dominant keyboards, time changes a-plenty and lengthy instrumental sections.

"Celebration" was nearly a hit single, and is by far the most commercial track, with jumping synthesisers and a very catchy hook. As a whole though, the tracks are complex and progressive, with more in common with the heavier works of King Crimson than of with ELP. The vocals are something of a weak point at times, but overall, this is a good prog rock album.

Review by Menswear
4 stars Marconi...Marconi...Isn't the guy who invented the radio? But ' Marconi's Super Bakery' ? Man, that's an odd name.

But the results are uncanny. An exceptionnal album.

With a nice atmosphere that breathes peace of mind and great spirits. Flutes are giving a fantasy taste that's not too thick. And the piano-keyboards are in the vein of Triumvirat in many passages. Great emphasis on acoustic guitar, brought in front in a crisp and audible way so you don't miss it. Nice, relaxing vocals also. The feel is smooth, but they don't fear to rock on the end of the record. Not much of everything, more on the relaxed side of prog. This album falls so much into place, it's almost a revelation.

Why am I so happy? I'll tell you a thing. People recommended me sooooo bad 'When the World became the World', that when I bought it, I had really great expectations. The album decieved me in so many ways, it was dramatic for me. My first prog heart-break. The album was loud, dramatic, pompous, almost funeral. The vocals had nothing to do with 'Photos fo Ghosts'. Kinda like the vocals were recorded with a cardboard box over the signer's head. Man what a drag.

This album is more on the Camel side (Mirage and Snow Goose). Yay. Recommended if you like smooth, gentle rides on the clouds with fog, fairies and lots of sunset colors. Also recommend Rovescio della Medaglia with 'Contaminazione'. These two are solid additions to an international prog collection. not confuse with Macaroni. It's just common sense.

Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album from the Italian Progressive Rock giants PFM was designed for the international market, and is almost a rehashed version of the band's second album "Per Un Amico" but with English lyrics by Pete Sinfield (except 'Il Banchetto', which stayed in Italian). The origin of the tracks on "Photos Of Ghosts" is as follows: 'River Of Life' is 'Appena Un Po' ' from "Per Un Amico"; 'Celebration' is '╚ Festa' from "Storia Di Un Minuto"; 'Photos Of Ghosts' is 'Per Un Amico' from "Per Un Amico"; 'Old Rain' is an instrumental written by Premoli that had not been released on a previous LP; 'Il Banchetto' is the same as 'Il Banchetto' on "Per Un Amico"; 'Mr 9 'till 5' is 'Generale!' from "Per Un Amico", but with vocals; 'Promenade The Puzzle' is 'Geranio' from "Per Un Amico".

The tracks on "Photos Of Ghosts" were remixed by Pete Sinfield and are not absolutely identical to the original Italian albums. And neither are the English lyrics translations of the original Italian lyrics: Sinfield imposed his own poetic lyrics. Many people do not like the heavy Italian accent in the English vocals on this album, and I do admit they do stand out at times, but I can honestly say they have never bothered me. And neither do the altered lyrics. I have lost count of the number of reviews that I have read over the years that in essence stated "Forget Photos Of Ghosts, it's awful; the original albums are much better." Well, all I can say is that I have both versions and I like them both. For example I like the clap of thunder that Sinfield added at the end of 'Appena Un Po' ' ('River Of Life'); I like his remix of '╚ Festa' ('Celebration'); I like the corny lyrics on top of 'Generale!' ('Mr 9 'till 5'); I like the whole darn lot! There, after all these years I've finally got it off my chest!

Now, for those of you who don't know the band's music, PFM were (strictly speaking, "are") one of the most melodious Progressive Rock bands I know. The tracks on their early albums are sophisticated: full of changes of melody, tempo and mood, and the music (on the early albums) includes classical influences (I hear baroque, or perhaps even earlier) and Italian country tunes. The band were experts at melding acoustic guitar, flute, synth, Mellotron, organ, bass, drums and violin - amongst other instruments. Sometimes the music is acoustic and mellow, at other times it is grandiose and pure symphonic Progressive Rock. Their musicianship is second to none, and they were masters at using the acoustic guitar, flute and piano to great effect.

How should I advise you regarding this album vis-Ó-vis "Per Un Amico"? If you don't have any PFM albums and want to experience only one, then get "Per Un Amico". But the trouble is, you shouldn't stop there because you must hear '╚ Festa' ('Celebration'), so you'll have to get "Storia Di Un Minuto", which has other excellent tracks not on "Photos Of Ghosts". But if you see "Photos Of Ghosts" and feel the impulse, go ahead and get it - it's no dud.

Now, with regard to my star-rating of this album, I'm going to give it only 4 stars (excellent addition to any prog rock collection) simply because the material is available on the original albums (well, except for 'Old Rain', which I believe was the flip side of the 'Celebration' single and is pleasant enough but no masterpiece in itself). Had "Photos Of Ghosts" been the only source of this music then I would have had no hesitation in awarding it 5 stars.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I was really amazed watching the PFM+Pagani DVD "Piazza Del Campo" last night which proved that the band is still great after more than thirty years in music industry. Awesome. The opening track of the DVD is my all-time favorite PFM song "River of Life" which represents my first introduction to this album. I was lucky that I knew the album from the English version so I had no problem at all and it seemed natural prog music to me even though when I knew the Italian version later I prefer this album was sung in the band's mother's tongue. But it does not mean this English version is bad at all. Well, especially when I consider vocal is another musical instrument as well - what is language anyway? It does not really matter to me. I always come back to my basic philosophy: music is emotion! So, I always find the joy of writing a review as an expression how I feel about it. This "Photos of Ghosts" does its job really well to serve that purpose.

I have always considered this album as one of the finest moments in progressive rock scenes. It blends all elements of classical, electronic (with mellotron sounds that characterized the era), traditional folk, and acoustic music with no particular focus on certain element , such as rock, jazz or pop as later albums being criticized. "River of Life" blew me away at first listen due to "really" touchy melody for the whole song. It opens beautifully by Franco Mussida's classical guitar work that in a way reminds me to the intro of Genesis' "Blood on A Rooftops". It's probably - accidentally (?) - Genesis heard this before making their Winds and Wuthering album? It's probably not also, of course. But Mussida's guitar work is really stunning. It's then followed with Mauro Pagani's flute work and Flavio Premoli's keyboard. The combination of this three instruments in itself has projected a complex arrangement even though it's performed acoustically. The music suddenly turns into a full blown one with the entrance of drums and bass guitar combined with beautiful violin. The music mood increases and suddenly stops beautifully, continued with first lyrical verse: "River of life ." oh my God . what a great melody! " Rain was your birth / Gathered deep / Beneath the earth./ Search and seep/ Hollow stone/ Issue and flow ..". The music flows really well with great instrumentation and heavy mellotron sounds. It's really a masterpiece!

The second track "Celebration" has an upbeat tempo with keyboard as the main melody and rhythm section combined with the pan-pipe. Vocals are done together by the band members. The album title track "Photos of Ghosts" is another excellent one with a combination of silent passages with the full blown musical streams. Great flute work and keyboards. "Old Rain" explores another acoustic guitar work in ambient nuance combined with a very nice violin. It's a mellow track with a bit of jazzy / avant-garde touches. "Il banchetto" is another excellent track that was not translated with an excellent combination of keyboard and acosutic guitar. "Mr. 9 till 5" and "Promenade the puzzle" are also classic tracks that have become legendary as well.

Sonic quality is excellent. The instruments were impeccably recorded with clean mixing, so when I turn my volume louder all instruments can be heard even better. This combines the right balance of simple and complicated arrangement. The musicians seemed like having shared the same feelings in composing the album as they seemed playing with their hearts and their minds. Highly recommended album!

Progressively yours,


"Caves and canyons / Stark prison walls / Swirl and hurl you / From white cascading falls. Across the plain / Sweep your course / River roll / Follow your star ." - PFM "River of Life"

Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars On their third album we read that Pete Sinfield from King Crimson produced this record and also delivered the lyrics, not really a coincidence if you listen to the main influence for PFM! All songs sound strong and lush and are tasteful elaborated, it sounds as a pleasant mix of folk, classical and symphonic. The violinplay is excellent! A great song is the long "Il barchetto", it contains lots of majestic Mellotron and sparkling classical piano work. I AGREE WITH THE REVIEWERS WHO WISHED THAT THIS ALBUM WAS SUNG IN THEIR NATIVE AND MORE EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE, SO ONE STAR LESS THAN A MASTERPIECE!!
Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars My goodness, just eyeing that gorgeous cover art again and the goose bumps begin! Let me put it bluntly: One of the all-time classics of the Italian school of progressive rock, "Photos of Ghosts" is the english version of the "Per un Amico" masterpiece, a move that was deemed necessary to conquer the world when Manticore (ELP Label) brought in the illustriously brilliant yet misunderstood ex-Crimson lyricist Pete Sinfield. PFM's style is a rich concoction , flavoured with a generous helping of Genesis influences, as well as a sizeable dose of vintage King Crimson , while infusing their highly original recipe with Italian style "canzione" such as "Il Banchetto" . Gourmet banquet, indeed! Their immense talent reveals itself in the instrumental armada used to weave a flamboyant acoustic and electric guitar network (where the spirit of Fripp rises to the top), majestic and innovative keyboard canvases brushed by vivid piano strokes & fluid synth runs , attacked by earth-shaking violin streaks and a rythmic crew bent on creating their own genius. Yet the main trademark that keeps the listener in a state of hypnotic glee appears within the imperially sumptuous melodies that grace each track in general, starting with the mezmerizing upward spiral of emotion expressed on opener "River of Life" and non stop until the last note. Even though the instrumental display may seem quite technical when the music stops on a dime and swerve suddenly elsewhere, the band stays on a firm course that yields to no pressure, marching to the central melodic spine and fortified by waves of lush Mellotron infested symphonics. It's precisely this extrapolation pf compositional research and harmonic flamboyance that makes this velvety and romantic disc , one of the bastions of timeless prog and a crucial reference point that is regularly revisited by fans (and the band's recent tours , playing the "old stuff" is proof enough ) .Top ten all time. 5 celebrations
Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
5 stars PFM's first collaboration with Peter Sinfield. I think the English lyrics from Sinfield really helped bring PFM to a broader audience. I don't think I'd have ended up becoming a fan if that didn't happen. Sure there is some English language prejudice on my part, but it is the only language I speak fluently.

Unlike L'sola di niente for The World Became The World, there isn't an Italian language counterpart, and from a progressive perspective, I find it a little more enjoyable than TWBTW, but it's really still too close to call. The music here is complex and beautiful, but has a hard edge at times as well. Two of the songs here I became familiar with first from the Cook/Live In The USA album. There's not a "weak" track on here.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars With apologies to the ones who think the original italian version is better, I must say i do prefer the english one. The main reason is that recording sound is far lower than this one. Ok, I love italian and I think it┤s more suited to the music than english, but it works anyway. Besides, the italian version did not have their biggest hit, Celebration. That song is one of italy┤s best exemple of a truly prog song that has an unmistakeable national mark.

Nevertheless, Photos Of Ghosts does not have the same impact as The World Became The World. I think it┤s a little ragged at times and some songs do not work very well together. Make no mistake, none is crap and the good ones are excellent, like the opening River Of Life. Those guys are brilliant muscians and their work is, deserverly, considered italy┤s best in the 70┤s.

This is in my opinion PFM┤s second best after The World Became The World, and a must have for any prog fan.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Just like "Banco" did in 1975, "PFM" signed for the Manticore label ("ELP") in 1973 or thereabouts to acquire a widespread distribution and fame.

Lyrics in English provided by Pete Sinfield (which should have been a guarantee of quality) and the same and beautiful music as usual is performed. Not being a great specialist in the Italian language (French and Spanish are the only Latin language I fully master), I have no real problem with this change. As for "Banco", I can't really tell whether they sing in English or in Italian (same comment was also made by Erik).

What' s for sure is that the opening number "River Of Life" is an absolute masterpiece. As the original "Appena Un Po" was on their second album "Per Un Amico". Because since this album was meant to get the band known in Europe (the continent and the UK), most of these songs were already released in an Italian version.

Mostly from "Per Un Amico" but not all of them like "Celebration" ("E Festa") which was featured on their debut. Nothing wrong about it since it was mostly instrumental. As delicate and passionate as the original. In one word : great.

The unrealeased "Old Rain" won't add anything to your "PFM" discography. take it for granted. A jazzy and peaceful track. Fully pastoral and only pleasant during the flute break. As "Banco" will do a little later on their album... "Banco 1975", there will be one untouched song : "Il Banchetto". It was the highlight of their second album).

There is even some sort of trick in turning an all instrumental original track into a sung one. "Mr. 9 'Till 5" will do so. But not with brio, I'm afraid.

I am not sure that the best of the early "PFM" is featured here. Still, it is a good album. Three stars.

Review by jammun
3 stars I snapped up PFM's Photos of Ghosts when it was released, given that they were one of the first groups signed to ELP's Manticore label. I assumed I would be getting some good music and was not disappointed.

The songs on here are all good enough, but on this album at least the band never really transcends their influences. They sound like Crimson here and ELP there, with the occasional touch of the Mothers thrown in. But they never establish a real identity of their own. Perhaps part of the problem is that they are singing English lyrics phonetically. I have heard the true Italian albums are better, but based on what I've heard on Photos I've not been motivated to seek those out. So I'll admit that Photos of Ghosts is my only direct experience with PFM's music.

So I add it all up -- good musicianship, somewhat lack of originality -- and I rate this a three, a good but by no means essential album. Nonetheless will be enjoyed by fans of early-70's prog.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This was PFM's first English language release. It's made up mostly of songs from their previous two classic albums plus an instrumental ("Old Rain") that's new.

"River Of Live" opens with intricate acoustic guitar as flute, harpsichord and organ join in. A full sound 1 1/2 minutes in as drums arrive. A calm with vocals 2 minutes in. The soundscape 3 minutes in is beyond beautiful, and beyond words. Themes are repeated. "Celebration" is uptempo and joyful as the title would suggest. Prominant drums and synths before the flute and vocals arrive. A calm 2 minutes in. Piano and flute a minute later before the tempo picks back up. "Photos Of Ghosts" opens with flute and piano. Vocals before a minute. Violin before 3 minutes as the tempo picks up. Strummed guitar as drums pound. "Old Rain" is the previously unreleased instrumental. There isn't much of a melody early as violin and drums do their thing. This is mellow stuff. Flute before 2 1/2 minutes.

"Il Banchetto" brings such an inner joy to me it's hard to express. Sort of like the first track really. These guys are the masters of creating emotional music. Interesting section before 3 minutes as it becomes spacey and then it turns classical. A piano interlude is followed by the returning organ 7 1/2 minutes in. "Mr.9 'Til 5" features an impressive instrumental display and then the vocals come in. A change after 2 minutes. Church organ before 3 minutes as earlier themes return. "Promenade The Puzzle" has these reserved vocals and piano melodies as other delicate sounds join in. It kicks into gear 2 minutes in with vocal melodies. Fantastic section 3 minutes in. The tempo continues to shift. It turns pastoral 5 minutes in and then it starts to build.

For me this is well worth 4 stars, English vocals and all. Too much beauty and class to pass this one up.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Virtually every moment of Photos Of Ghosts is awe inspiring. Rarely have a band been so precise, so in sync, so brilliant than this album. Each track moves through a series of impressions in the same way as a classical piece is structured. 'Il Banchetto' is the standout track and is a long, highly complex example of virtuoso playing that showcases in particular Premoli's incredible talents. It's frenetic pace transfixes from beginning to end, the metrical patterns of Cioccio's drumming is phenomenal. It slows in the middle section so that we have room to breathe within the wall of sound that is at times suffocating, but then picks up the pace again in the last impression with Cioccio's vocals dominating.

I will be the first one to admit that I usually have no idea what PFM's tracks are about as all is in Italian but it was great to hear English versions of their craft. Celebration is a great single featuring very catchy melodies and happy organ sounds throughout. I was introduced to the band through this track and it hooked me into this style of Italian prog.

The atmosphere on each track is captured by the use of sparse orchestral arrangements, featuring primarily Pagani's woodwind instruments and Premoli's organ phrases and the jagged guitars of Mussida. The minimalist feminine sections are augmented by the masculine rock sections balancing out the quieter moments. The flute is played to perfection and drifts along so sweetly it augments to ambience of the entire album.

Tracks such as Mr. 9 till 5 shift metrical patterns throughout and climax with the huge wall of sound that is essential PFM. There is a wonderful blend of guitars, violins and Hammond, Mellotron and Moog synthesiser building to a crescendo. The sonata form structure is powerfully realised with the bombastic vocal arrangements.

PFM have produced some stunning pieces such as River of Life that begins with the beautiful acoustic vibrations of Mussida, a real beauty that meanders like a flowing stream. The flute and harpsichord chime in like fish in the sea dancing in the waves. Then we are thrown over the waterfall as the majestic wall of keyboards bursts through like sun bursting through dark clouds. The vocals are simply awesome throughout.

The new directions of each track keeps the metronome working overtime with changes in time signatures and that ever pounding bass of Piazza. Each track is masterfully executed and charged with high emotion making this one of the best examples of Italian prog.

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Photos Of Ghosts, released in 1973 is not strictly speaking the third album from PFM as in reality it is more or less a revamp of their excellent 1972 release Per Un Amico. In an attempt to achieve an audience outside their native Italy they enlisted the services of King Crimson lyricist Pete Sinfield to produce the album and provide English lyrics. The exception being Il Banchetto, which for reasons unknown to me retains its Italian vocals. Of course Per Un Amico only had five tracks and there are seven here. The other two are Celebration, a track originally on their debut Storia Di Un Minuto where it appeared as E' Festa. The only piece to have not appeared in another version somewhere else is Old Rain.

Most true RPI lovers will tell you that these releases should be left untouched, with original Italian vocals intact. As I've delved more and more into this world of wonderful music over the last few years I've come to the same conclusion myself and while Photos Of Ghosts is an excellent album, while not sounding exactly disjointed with the Italian vocals on one song and English on the rest, it does lose something of its charm.

However, whatever your opinion might be on the vocals there's no denying the sheer quality of the music which is an attractive blend of acoustic and electric instrumentation; flute, violin, acoustic guitar, piano and drums alongside the electric instruments of guitar, bass and classic seventies keyboards like the Hammond organ, Moog and Mellotron. Not surprisingly a dynamic sound is produced, with mellow pastoral restraint alongside more powerful sections, perfectly illustrated in opener River of Life which after an acoustic guitar and flute dominated intro leads into a short but storming full band instrumental workout, until calm is restored for the vocals. Like most of the album the music is fairly complex moving through many changes and moods, never less than captivating.

A simpler approach can be heard in Celebration, though not bad is probably the weakest song on the album, which is the nearest we get to a straightforward rock riff and lacking the musical diversity of most other pieces. Old Rain, a short instrumental is also a relatively simpler and largely acoustic piece, making up for in restrained beauty for what it lacks in diversity.

It's on the more complex pieces though, which is most of the rest that PFM really enthral where symphonic splendour sits alongside acoustic beauty, masterfully crafted together.

Photos Of Ghosts is not surprisingly an excellent album, however rather than recommend it I'd say go and get Per Un Amico instead to hear most of these songs as they should be heard.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Surprisingly enough this album was my introduction to Premiata Forneria Marconi! At the time I knew nothing about the band nor the material that this compilation had to offer so I explored it with great enthusiasm and an open mind.

For everyone who is already familiar with the band's two previous albums this release basically represents a re-recorded English-version of the album Per Un Amico with two added bonuses in the form of Celebration, which is a E' Festa from Storia Di Un Minuto, plus a new instrumental titled Old Rain. From what I can tell the material here is completely re-recorded and in some cases the tracks are somewhat re-arranged which can still make this music worth a while even for the those who already know this material. One of the biggest surprises might be the added vocal sections on Generale which here is titled Mr. 9 Till 5.

Since I've already covered most of my favorite compositions here in my previous Premiata Forneria Marconi-reviews I'll skip the whole track-by-track walk-through especially since my opinion of this material hasn't changed all that much with the addition of the English vocals written by Peter Sinfield. I'm not sure if it has to do with the fact that it was my first album experience from this band but I don't have any problem with the vocals and the pronunciation here. Maybe it's the vocal harmonies that still make the music pleasant enough but I still find my indifference quite unexpected especially since I can't stand the vocals on the only English-sung track off the band's next album.

Photos Of Ghosts is a very employable album for anyone who is willing to keep an open mind about this whole experience but if you're a purist then I suggest getting your Premiata Forneria Marconi-kicks somewhere else.

***** star songs: River Of Life (7:01) Il Banchetto (8:37)

**** star songs: Celebration (3:53) Photos Of Ghosts (5:23) Old Rain (3:41) Mr. 9 Till 5 (4:11) Promenade The Puzzle (7:30)

Review by friso
3 stars PFM - Photos of Ghost (1973)

The English version of 'Per un Amigo'.

I would rather have had a vinyl copy of the original Italian album, but they are quite rare in Holland. Photos of Ghost, released on ELP's Manticore label, has the same songs as the original, but the vocals on most of the songs were re-recorded. The English lyrics were written by lyrical wonder-man Peter Sinfield. His lyrics are good, but I'd rather have had translations of the original Italian lyrics. I also have the mp3 of Pur un Amigo and I though it was quite clear the Italian vocals were recorded much better than the English.

The music of PFM is a mix of influences from the English progressive scene. One can hear some King Crimson-like impact of songs, some ELP instrumentation and some Genesis like symphonic sounds. On this album PFM plays symphonic progressive music of the highest quality. The compositions are very atmospheric and have a warm emotional feel, whilst the band manages to be technical and innovative at the same time. All instruments are played very professional, only the drums are a bit less good then on later PFM albums. My main problem with PFM is their inability to know where to stop with experimentation, because their most 'progressive' moments are just chaotic runs of synths of guitars.

Conclusion. Of course, try the Italian version first. This English version deserves three stars, mainly because the beautiful moments in which PFM does not extend its music beyond its natural borders.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars My hat is off for producer Pete Sinfield. In his remixing of songs from the previous Premiata Forneria Marconi, he managed to tone down many of the passaged that were most reminiscent of the British progressive rock acts of the time, allowing the group's own sound to come out. On the other hand, the majority of the English lyrics are somewhat unintelligible, and many of the words that can be understood, seem a bit out of place.

Nevertheless, this is a fine example of seventies progressive rock in it's peak years. It shows that premiata Forneria Marconi belongs near the top of the classic prog echelon. Even if you have the original Italian versions of these songs, there are enough differences to make this album a worthwhile purchase.

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Photos Of Ghosts' - Premiata Forneria Marconi (9/10)

In the Italian progressive rock scene, there are few grails as holy as PFM's 'Per Un Amico', an album which has since gone on to be considered not only to be among the best of Italy, but among the best prog rock of all time. Once discovered by Greg Lake of ELP, the band was given the opportunity to thrust out on to the international scene, whereas they had previously had most of their fanbase locked within their own country. As was likely one of the best business decisions that the band ever made, they made an album mostly in English, ironically a language that none of them were fluent in. Rerecording much of 'Per Un Amico' and adding a few new surprises along the way, Premiata Forneria Marconi had made an album that could finally introduce them to the global community. Although 'Photos Of Ghosts' is typically thought of as 'Per Un Amico' with English lyrics, there is more that has been done to refurbish this album than simply that, and although I am sure that many would tend to disagree, 'Photos Of Ghosts' results as an even more successful album than 'Per Un Amico', fixing some of the issues I had with that album, and giving a fresh new look on the music simultaneously.

As one might expect, the lyrics and new vocal performance tend to be the worst thing about 'Photos Of Ghosts'. As one can tell by the often garbled Italian accent, the vocalists struggle through the alien English language, and some of the passion that filled the vocals in the original has been lost in translation. Had this been the only thing that had been changed for 'Photos Of Ghosts', the album would be fairly unnecessary and I would tend to reccommend this record only to diehard fans of the other. Potentially the biggest thing that PFM has improved with on 'Photos' however is the sense of flow. Although the music was incredible on 'Per Un Amico', it did suffer from a lack of flow, as if the tracks were spliced together seemingly at random. The uncomplimentary fashion in which the album was structured robbed it of any perfection it may have otherwise had, but with 'Photos Of Ghosts', it really feels as if measures are taken to ensure a smooth listening experience. Instead of moving onto 'Generale' for the second track, PFM follows up the English rendition of 'Appena Un Po' with a song from their debut, 'E Festa'; aptly titled 'Celebration' here. Having a very moving and slower piece being trailed by a more upbeat and melodic number is ten times more effective than the jazzy breakdown that haphazardly followed on the original. Things like this make the album move along as a masterpiece would, and it really makes the music shine the way it should have on the original.

There are also some added nuances to the music, a sense that the album's sound was tweaked before rereleasing. It must have been a good experience for the band to look back on their existing music and try to improve things they may have regretted in hindsight. The nuances are entirely fresh perse, but it does make the music sound a little more up to date than 'Per Un Amico'. The music of course is warm, lush, and takes quite a few tricks from jazz and classical music. 'Per Un Amico' is widely considered a masterpiece for a reason, but it feels as if the tunes are even better here, save for the rather weak vocals. 'Photos Of Ghosts' may be a remake, and while it is not a legitimate album when compared to 'Per Un Amico', I feel it does provide a more fulfilling listening experience. Issues have been fixed, and much like a patch, Premiata Forneria Marconi have touched up their album and created an album I can more safely consider a masterpiece.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONIA broke big in 1972 releasing two bedazzling masterpieces that year and carried out a very successful tour around Italy which put them on the top of the Italian prog heap of outstanding bands to have emerged at that time. They were fortuitous enough to attract the attention of Greg Lake from ELP while they themselves were touring the Italian countryside, which turned out to be quite the burst of luck for PFM as ELP had just launched their very own record label Manticore Records and was scouting out new talents. Well, it's no brainer that they were extremely impressed with the outstanding musical wizardry of this band. First action to be taken was to go global for a wider reach of audiences and that meant going English language all the way and PHOTOS OF GHOSTS is the the very first album by PFM to be sung in English. However, instead of making a totally new album with new songs, what we get here are remakes of tracks from "Storia Di Un Minuto" and "Per Un Amico" with the sole exception of the instrumental "Old Rain" which is the only new track created for the album.

While lovers of Italian lyrics which suit the music better may not be totally thrilled (such as me), the rest of the world was exposed to a new international rock sound and PFM became one of the few Italian prog bands to find success abroad. PHOTOS OF GHOSTS actually cracked the top 200 albums chart on Billboard (#180) and scored successful tours across all of Europe, Japan, Canada and the US. The new lyrics were written by Peter Sinfield formerly of King Crimson and the new English lyrics are totally rewritten and not merely translated. Unfortunately the rhythmic cadences and flow of the music i find to be better suited for the original Italian language as the English sounds a little stilted and clunky as it's not their native tongue but truth be told, the lyrics are really a footnote between the massive instrumental workouts that placed PFM in a league above most of the competition and Franco Mussida's vocals are heavenly even if sounding out of their element.

It is quite confusing, this one. Here's a track-by-track list of which song came from which album and other details:

Track one "River Of Life" ("Appena Un Po") (6:56) with totally new lyrics in English and is the first track on "Per Un Amico" as well as here which is a great lead

Track two "Celebration" ("╚ Festa") (3:50) became their best known song once re-recorded in English. This one was totally re-recorded including all instruments as well as vocals

Track three "Photos Of Ghosts" ("Per Un Amico") (5:20) was originally track three from "Per Un Amico" with all music the same and only the lyrics re-recorded in English

Track four "Old Rain" (3:40) is a mellow piano and acoustic guitar doing a proggy dance together with flute and piccolo joining in. Prog folk as opposed to rock actually. It's a nice little interlude between the more rocking tracks

Track five "The Banquet" ("Il Banchetto") (8:34) was track four on "Per Un Amico" with same instrumental arrangement and re- recorded lyrics in English

Track six "Mr. 9 'Till 5" ("Generale") (4:07) was originally track two on "Per Un Amico" with same instrumental arrangement and only newly recorded lyrics in English

Track seven "Promenade The Puzzle" ("Geranio") (7:35) was track five on "Per Un Amico" also with same musical accompaniment with revisions only in the lyrical language department

I guess i couldn't call this one essential because i prefer the original versions and the one new track is a nice welcome newbie to the old crowd but is noticeably inferior at the same time. It is perhaps a tad too mellow for its place but it's certainly not bad either. Even though i can't find a logical argument to say this essential, i still find it to be so. This music is brilliant and breathtakingly beautiful even if the lyrics sounds a little off. So perhaps not THE most essential release of PFM but still an excellent album nonetheless. Way too good for only three stars.

Review by jamesbaldwin
3 stars After churning out the first two albums, the "Premiata Forneria Marconi" starts to conquer America, and therefore a third Lp, "Photos of Ghosts", can be packaged, with the lyrics of Pete Sinfield, King Crimson's freak lyricist, and sung in English by the members of the group, especially from guitarist Franco Mussida.

Sinfield's texts have the advantage of not being the simple translation of the originals in Italian. The record contains all five songs of "Per un Amico (For a friend)", the most prog album of the group, and the most rock and festive song of the debut album, "E' Festa". To these songs is added an unpublished piece, instrumental, by Flavio Premoli, with a very relaxed atmosphere, jazz, thanks to the always precious sounds of Pagani's violin and flute. It is a very experimental piece for the PFM, which has never been so close to free jazz and constitutes the main point of interest on the album. (Rating 8).

Despite the skill of the composers, and the attention for singing in English, this Lp in my opinion does not represent the best of their music, both because they preferred the songs of "Per un amico" to those of "Storia di un Minuto", and because the integration of the various pieces and the singing in English lose something of the original artistic inspiration.

The album remains good, but not excellent. Rating 8, three and a half stars.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Review #177 This was totally unnecessary. "Photos of Ghosts" was PFM's first collaboration with Peter Sinfield, who helped them to recreate the songs from the beautiful "Per un Amico". I understand that back in the seventies most of the Rock bands from non-English speaking countries wanted (o ... (read more)

Report this review (#2653888) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Sunday, December 19, 2021 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Get the Italian version (Per Un Amico) Instead. Greg Lake liked PFM and signed them to his Manticore label. Their first album for Manticore is their album 'Per Un Amico' but with new English lyrics written by Peter Sinfield, as well as a new instrumental ("Old Rain") and "Celebration" which is ju ... (read more)

Report this review (#1702489) | Posted by Walkscore | Thursday, March 16, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars PFM is one of the best prog bands ever and at least three of four record are in the absolute world class of progressive rock, real masterpieces. This could have been one of those but still I can't give five stars to the right and left(Swedish expression) all the time. The music is as great as ... (read more)

Report this review (#1110020) | Posted by Dr÷mmarenAdrian | Tuesday, January 7, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Photos of Ghosts is my first encounter of Premiata Forneria Marconi (I bought the vinyl in the late seventies) and my appeciation of the album grows every time I listen to what I am considering as a true masterpiece of music in general It is the first english album as a version of "Per Un Amico ... (read more)

Report this review (#212569) | Posted by Ultime | Monday, April 27, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This is a remake of the album Per Un Amico. The only difference is that the lyrics are in English. I'm not a big fan of this album. The original is great, but something is lost in translation on this one (No pun intended) The singer didn't have any of the same feeling and emotion behind the ... (read more)

Report this review (#125100) | Posted by weaverinhisweb | Thursday, June 7, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This review is mostly to suppoirt the very high rating this album has. Here are some of my reasons. 1) This album plays longer than the first two originals on which it is based. I just love the originals, but they seem to play too fast. I know it's only a difference of 5 minutes or so, but ... (read more)

Report this review (#99512) | Posted by gr8sho | Sunday, November 19, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I am no expert on italian symphonic prog. I haven't heard first two italian albums by PFM. However, this one I gladly have in my possesion. So, because I am not influenced by "original", I think I can review Photos of ghost as a standalone effort. And what an album it is. A masterpiece! Reall ... (read more)

Report this review (#99087) | Posted by Hejkal | Thursday, November 16, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The third work "Photos Of Ghosts" was released from the manticore label in English in 1973. It is a commemorative work to which the world advancement of the Euro rock was heralded.One of great boards that represent progressive rock. It is a wonderful album. There is a pure, musical impression. ... (read more)

Report this review (#63495) | Posted by braindamage | Saturday, January 7, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Every prog mucian must know the athmosphere, the sound and the geniality of this english work by Premiata Forneria Marconi. The work is a "compilation" of the first two album ("Storia di un Minuto" and "Per un Amico") but with new musical devices and lirycs in english. The comparing with the f ... (read more)

Report this review (#15858) | Posted by dodaro | Monday, March 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An excellent album. When it was released could be considerated a masterwork, but hearing today it seems a music with excellent melodies and instrumentals, of course, but following strictly the canons of "symphonic" rock. PFM are the best when they take out their imitations of King Crimson, Gen ... (read more)

Report this review (#15853) | Posted by | Wednesday, July 21, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Of course i am very careful with the stars or numbers i must give to any kind of work. Being a member of a jury in a rock contest i know that very well. anyway thanks for remembering it. "Photos of ghosts" is undoutly a masterpiece and i subscrive absolutely bonzo: there are no words to descri ... (read more)

Report this review (#15850) | Posted by | Wednesday, May 26, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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