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Franco Maria Giannini

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Franco Maria Giannini Affresco album cover
3.05 | 19 ratings | 4 reviews | 5% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

01. Affresco 4:31
02. Lo Stracciarolo 3:25
03. Il Cane Duc 3:52
04. L'eroe Di Cartone 5:13
05. Per La Tua Strada 3:42
06. Vecchio Uomo 5:27
07. Un Sognatore 4:12
08. Il Barbone 4:14

Line-up / Musicians

Thanks to micky for the addition
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FRANCO MARIA GIANNINI Affresco ratings distribution

(19 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (47%)
Collectors/fans only (16%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by micky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Time and time again I am reminded of just how incredible the depth of range of Italian Progressive Rock. This album is a good case in point. I made reference on time in the forums to the staggering number of artists and bands listed in a book on Italian Prog. The numbers would surprise you it is eye-opening, it is like every musician, or group tried their hand at Prog during the early 70's. A phenomena not seen in any any time. This is another album that was lost for years before finally being reissued in the 90's. Giannini like many before him tried his hand at progressive rock..was he sucessful? Ehhh.. commercially of course he was not but often quality had nothing to do with that. There is a reason Italy has such a high number of 'one and done' prog groups. The market.. a limited one like Italy could not sustain the shear number of artists and albums that came out in the early to mid 70's. Much better groups and albums than this album made absolutely no impact sales-wise thus receded into the pages of history. Only to be rediscovered with the incredible surge of re-interest in Italian prog due to the internet, that led to many out of print albums to be reissued.

Giannini's album enlisted some heavy hitters musically. Quella Vecchia Locanda's violinist Claudio Filice and guitarist Nicola Di Staso from Libra. Unfortunately their major contributions are limited to a couple of tracks, that not surprisingly sound like they could have been on a QVL album. Musically..the album is a bit of a mixed bag. The opening title track has strong traces of I Pooh which for those who don't particularly like the saccharine vocals of Pooh.. you might want to skip that one. Decent instrumental work with e-guitar, mandolin, mellotron and moog, but in a genre of incredible album opening tracks, it does come up a bit short. The musical coda is good stuff though. Lo Stracciarolo follows that with a nice violin introduction and a swirling rhythm propelled by the drums. Nice little stops and starts and musical twists, musically definitely a bit more interesting than the opening track. The Pooh-ish vocals from the opening track are gone though and here we get Franco's voice on their own here. His voice is rather pleasant. Not particularly dramatic or operatic like many out of RPI...but sort of indicative of the singer-songwriter background he came from. A decent musically interesting track. Il Cane Duc is a nice mandolin driven song with nice mellotron accompaniment, then the pace picks up with the drums and guitar coming in, slows again to a nice mellotron section. Not overpowering.. sort of supporting Franco's lyrical verses. Nice stuff. One thing that is a must in prog is dynamic and harmonic variety. Again.. this stuff is not in the league of the heavy hitters of prog, but it is a good listen. L'Eroe Di Cartone is next..and this is BY FAR my favorite on the album. The song started with a horn section that sound vaguely Spanish, then a solo piano section with Franco singing over it. Then a spanish horn section heralds a severe musical shift where the drums bring a military-life stridency to the song. Fabulous mellotron and piano work take us through a hypnotic section with passionately delivered vocals and great horn work with interesting synth work. A song that hooked me from the first listen. Good stuff.

Side 2 opens with Per La Tua Strada where the synths come up from the last song... and with them come the Poohish vocals. The vocal chorus on this song is irritating as hell. No idea what they are singing.. and never bothered to ask Raff to take the cotton from her eyes and tell me what it is that is being sung. Skip this track... I do. Vecchio Uomo is next.. and ooohh.. talk about repenting for musical sins. A wonderful journey if all too short, all the tracks on the album are under six minutes, a great melodynailed by Giannini vocally led by again by piano and the 'tron. Nice guitar and violin play supporting parts on this. Not hammer of the Gods kind of prog, but musically..very interesting. Un Sognatore is up next. This track is the one that sounds like it stepped right off an QVL album and on to a Giannini album. A bruising piece that starts with a sweet acoustic section then explodes into that Hammer of the Gods fury of passionately delivered vocals and stinging guitars and heavy and passionately delivered flute. The track that fans of prog will naturally gravitate to. Great track. Il Barbone (hahaha.. foreboding indeed for our dear Giannini) finishes the album with a tasteful violin introduction. Again.. well song. The horns in the spanish vein reappear and is a nice... if sedate way to close the album.

Rating the album. Hmmm. This is not by any stretch of the imagination the best album I have heard come out of Italy. However what it is though... is a very good album. Not the fire and brimstone of Osanna.. yet not the whimped out prog of Genesis inspired acts. It is a musically diverse ride and an interesting listen. For me... 3 stars.. I do enjoy the album. Enough so I felt like I needed to get off my ass and review it. For the site. 2 stars. I like it... but the explorer to Italian prog has a ways to go before you should be looking at adding this album to your collection.

Micky (aka The Big Icky...aka Michael)

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars One more obscure Italian gem!

If someone ask me why i love RPI, one of the possible answers may be because there are no limits, when you think you have discovered everything, then you are wrong because in this RPI realm there are always something new to listen, this is the case of Franco Maria Giannini, an old Italian composer who used to have another moniker, but then changed the name to Gianninni and sadly released only one album.

Thanks to the recommendation of my hahaha italian expert friend i could listen to this album and see how beautiful is, and i just wonder how many gems are still to be listened, incredible. This album was released in 1974 and did not have success at the time, but nowadays due to those crazy collectors of Italian prog, the album has been released on CD and it's value increased a little bit. Affresco features 8 songs and a total time of 34 minutes.

It opens with the title-track "Affresco", with a folk and slow beginning which suddenly turns into a symphonic passage due to the use of keyboards, then after a short stop and spoken words, you will find his voice along with some backing vocals with a very italian style, then the song structure returns to the first part and it goes again with it's mini changes until the song finishes, nice song and nice introduction to this album.

"Lo Stracciarolo" starts with some violin that reminds me a bit to New Trolls, then again spoken word, drums, piano and very nice bass lines, some stop, and then it starts again with a constant sound and a great acoustic guitar over there, nice musicianship actually and some strange but nice changes.

"Il Cane Duc" reminds me to the first song due to the mandolin sound in the first moments, then the vocals enter (how beautiful is Italian language), some mellotron as background and with a romantic flavour, then the song changes and become a bit proggier, again the bass lines are noticeable and the drumming is very good. Despite being a short song, you will find several changes within, so that may be a good or bad point, depends on the listener.

Next one you will find L'eroe di Cartone which starts very different, with some trumpet introduction and then a soft piano sound along with Giannini's vocals, making a beautiful sound, after some minutes, the trumpets return and immediately after there are some funeral drumming for a few seconds, after a short stop, his voice appears again with some acoustic guitar and then after another stop again, the mellotron appears and the song becomes more powerful and beautiful,the ending is very nostalgic, one of the best tracks of the album without a doubt.

"Per la tua Strada" opens with some synth sound along with female vocals, after a few seconds that female vocals continue but at the same time Giannini's voice and his acoustic guitar appear, the song is very catchy and not that complex, but it has it's italian style with those vocals that remind me to New Trolls, there is also a soft guitar solo and the mellotron sound keeps being beautiful.

"Vecchio Uomo" has a slow and calm start with mellotron and after a minute the vocals appear, then it slows down a bit and later the drums' sound begin to increase and gives the impression of another change, and yes, the melody mix several feelings and makes several short stops and changes, violin, acoustic guitar and piano will be listened through the song. After some minutes the song and Giannini's voice turns more emotional. very good song.

"Un Sognatore" starts with acoustic guitar notes and a peaceful feeling, some seconds later a flute enters and then drums, bass and even electric guitars appear in order to make this a more powerful song and to put an example of that 70s classic RPI song, this is one of my prefered tracks of the album.

And the last one is "Il Barbone" which starts again with violin and then a very catchy melody begins with some nice acoustic guitar and Franco's vocals, the song has that old italian flavour, which makes it beautiful, nice song to finish a nice album.

With Affresco, you will not find anything new, you will not find outstanding tracks, but you will find one more hidden gem of this endless RPI realm, and believe me it is so cool to discover these musicians and to know they created great music, it is estimulating, so for that my search of more and more bands and artists increases everyday.

Nice album, 3 stars, good but non essential. Enjoy it!!

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A beautiful and warm songs-based gem

There were many performers who released albums in the Italian singer/songwriter tradition during the 1970s, names like Enzo Capuano, Battisti, Genco Puro, and Stefano Testa to name a few. All used elements of the songs tradition and mixed varying degrees of other influences, orchestrations, experimentations, and the prog-rock popular in Italy at the time. Some worked better than others and some had more on an RPI association than others. One of the nicest gems to come from this period is "Affresco" by Franco Maria Giannini. Born in Rome in March 1945, Giannini (real name Aldo Parente) began playing with bands in the late 1960s. He was active on the festivals scene of the early 70s and in 1974 released this album for a small label named Aris Records. In later years he has struggled with poverty and apparently seen little financial reward by labels who have reissued his album on CD. He has made an appeal to fans who enjoy his work to maybe make a small donation directly if they wish. He can be contacted through Myspace or his own website.

"Affresco" is a wonderful album! While steering clear of long, complex instrumental prog it features eight feisty 3-5 minute tracks full of variety and proggy touches. While the basic tracks have a folk-rock feel about them, they are souped up with a bit of everything: cello, violin, mandolin, 12-string, trumpet, electric solos and keyboards.

"....some parts are similar to the Procession albums, also released in 1974. The playing is enthusiastic and convincing....some romantic violin and mean guitar parts.... In between there are Jethro Tull-like flutes, mandolins and acoustic guitar, placing this album between folk, classical, jazz and heavy rock with characteristic Italian "canto" influences." [Scented Gardens]

The title track opens with a nice rocker, upbeat, with mandolin for some flavor. It is the second track where the album gets good for me, as the beautiful violin of Quella Vecchia Locanda's Claudio Filice opens the track. Instantly recognizable and adds a ton of atmosphere! The Italian song tradition is in full display here with a festive vocal and rolling piano along with the violin. Another weapon the album boasts is the capable lead guitar work of Libra's Nicola Di Staso. Giannini's vocals are not among Italy's best RPI singers but they are pleasant and perfectly suitable. "Il Cane Duc" features some lovely mellotron or strings to a heartfelt ballad. Later comes the inventive use of horns which were not super common, and reminds one of Battisti's "Anima Latina." In fact, Giannini should play well to any fan of Lucio Battisti via the use of inventive arrangements that take the songwriting to another level. The songs are uplifting and rather hopeful though of course I cannot comment on what the lyrics actually reflect. Another similarity to "Anima" is the use of children's vocals on "Per La Tua Strada" which really plays to one's heartstrings---it may be too sappy for some but I'm pretty sentimental and I love that kind of thing. Great musicianship continues with lovely integrations of feisty guitar, piano, violin, mandolin, soft keyboards, flute, and warm bass. I'll probably get some flak for this comment, but I would actually choose Giannini's delightful "Affresco" over Battisti. I'm not saying it's "better" music, simply that I enjoy it more. Giannini should be very proud of this album which I predict will become much more popular as the current crop of RPI fans begin to discover it. Probably a 3 star album to most people, I have to give this 4 because it turns out to be music I care about. For me, it tugs at the heart like an old Cat Stevens favorite but with the Italian touch.

The album is recorded quite well and still sounds pretty good even by today's standards. Sadly the Mellow issue contains no biographical material. But the artwork, when folded out to view the front and back covers, is one of my favorite album covers. "Affresco" really deserves to be reissued in much nicer packaging, I want to see this album remastered and given a gatefold mini-LP sleeve. Well, BTF or Japan, are you listening?? This review is dedicated to an old friend. Yeah, you.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Like Gino D'Eliso, Maurizio Arcieri or even Lucio Battisti, Franco Maria Giannini (born as Aldo Parente) was a singer/songwriter from Rome who tried his luck with a progressive LP in mid- 70's.His musical career included the 60's beat groups I Baronetti and Under 2000, then under the nickname Folkado he released a single in 1972 and toured Italy with his trademark, a distinctive puppet.In 1974 he released his first full-length work ''Affresco'' on the obscure Aris label.

A good effort in an Art Rock/Pop Prog vein, the album offers short and pleasant numbers of artistic value with a wide range of influences but always maintaining a cliche song-based structure.Giannini was helped by Libra's guitarist Nicola Di Staso and Quella Vecchia Locanda's violin player Claudio Filice for this work.''Affresco'' is dominated by Giannini's sensational voice and fantastic vocal arrangements, that can do nothing else than thrill the listener.The compositions have rather simple structures however with plenty of twists outside a typical songwriter album: Orchestral passages with interesting use of synths and even some nice trumpets, light Classical-parts guided by elegant piano, some nice string arrangements with violin on the front and even some use of mandolin reminiscent of late-70's LE ORME, strong psychedelic guitars and folsky acoustic moments.The musicianship goes from a sensitive vocal-based sound to more grandiose instrumental atmospheres and combined with Giannini's unique voice offers plenty of moments of delight for the most of its part.

Giannini sadly dissapeared from the music scene for some time, only releasing more recently a few self-produced albums, distributed via his personal website.

A nice surprise of 70's Italian Art Rock with a rich sound, which ends up to be a winner even for fans of adventurous Progressive Rock with its sole flaw being the amateur sounding choir parts in the style of early NEW TROLLS.If you are into the specific style, this comes even highly recommended.

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