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Acqua Fragile

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Acqua Fragile Mass Media Stars album cover
3.23 | 109 ratings | 15 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Cosmic Mind Affiar (7:22)
2. Bar Gazing (5:07)
3. Mass-Media Stars (6:55)
4. Opening Act (5:40)
5. Professor (6:49)
6. Coffee Song (5:57)

Total Time: 37:50

Line-up / Musicians

- Bernardo Lanzetti / lead vocals, acoustic, electric & 8-string guitars
- Gino Campanini / guitar, mandolin, vocals
- Maurizio Mori / keyboards
- Franz Dondi / bass
- Piero Canavera / drums, percussion, acoustic guitar, vocals, composer

- Claudio Fabi / piano (4), co-producer

Releases information

Artwork: Guido Harari

LP Ricordi ‎- SMRL 6150 (1974, Italy)
LP Sony Music ‎- 88875121271 (2015, Italy)

CD Contempo Records ‎- CONTEDISC 003 (1991, Italy)
CD Esoteric Recordings ‎- ECLEC 2278 (2011, UK) Remastered (?)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ACQUA FRAGILE Mass Media Stars ratings distribution

(109 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (41%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

ACQUA FRAGILE Mass Media Stars reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars I have not heard their other albums , but Acqua Fragile is on the podium for the category of Earliest Examples of Clones in Prog Music. Not a single ounce of originality (if this is understandable in 2004 , it is not for 1973) , this album reeks of Genesis and Yes. This is so obvious in the singer's voice who most of the times sounds like Gabriel and Surkamp (Pavlov's Dog) and the the backing vocals that sounds like Squire backing up Jon Anderson. The music is almost entirely cloned out of Genesis. If you don't mind everything I have just denounced , than this should be a four star album for you. The fact that this sort of work does ask for some talent though , stops me from rating it lower.
Review by soundsweird
3 stars I've owned both of their proper albums since they came out, although I certainly wouldn't put them alongside PFM or Banco. What you have here is a pretty cheesy album, with the exception of the first and last tracks. The first track is PRETTY good, although there's still plenty of cheese inhabiting it. The synth riff that finally gets the track going near the end is the saving grace. The last track, "Coffee Song", is what makes having the album worthwhile. The cynical (though awkward) lyrics and the instrumental "outro" make this a song I can appreciate time and again. Listen to the way the whole track is slowly "eaten" by severe phase-shifting! Vocalist Bernardo Lanzetti's finest moment, whether in this band or with PFM.
Review by Progbear
3 stars A definite improvement over their self-titled debut, and a decided turn into a more progressive direction. The PFM parallel still applies, though even more pronounced this time, with a greater role for Maurizio Mori's keys. On their previous outing, he was pretty much limited to organ and piano. This time, he adds synthesizers and Mellotron to proceedings, adding much symphonic depth.

The chief standout is the opening track, "Cosmic Mind Affair", full of bright harmonies, winsome melodies and memorable keyboard riffs. In fact, the whole album is packed with the sumptuous, CSN-derived vocal harmonies which were the saving grace of their first album. Bernardo Lanzetti still sounds unnervingly like Roger Chapman. If you're a Family fan (as I am), this won't be a problem. If not, at least console yourself with the knowledge that he does indeed sound better in harmony than solo.

Review by Kazuhiro
3 stars "Mass-Media Stars" that makes to their second albums and became the last work is a work where the feeling of a composition of a light tune and a straight tune drifts. The atmosphere of feeling and Italy where the transparent feeling exists is splendidly expressed.

They are formed in 1971 and are Bernardo Lanzetti. Gino Campanini。The activity starts around Piero Canavera. After having supported the stage of PFM, both parties exchanged it. It took an active part of the support of live of Softs and GG, etc. of the home country etc.

The song of Lanzetti with the experience of growing up in the United States splendidly expresses English lyrics. The first album that had been announced in 1973 felt the influence of Genesis and Yes and played a straight sound with wonderful Harmony. Their performances have evolved further and the element and Harmony of POP have been digested in this album. I think that it is very high-quality music as a work in the home country though it did not screw up so much as sales.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Although the band didn't released any work after this one, there is a tentative for a come back (some demo were recorded in 2004 and 2006) with a new line up around Franz Dondi.

This "Genesis" oriented band released two efforts in early / middle seventies. But their influences also include PFM for instance. This is mostly heard while the opening song "Cosmic Mind Affair". Vocal harmonies are well arranged and the use of keyboards adds a good feel to this quite good song actually ("Professor" also has the same patterns but with a more "Yes" flavour attached to it).

Most songs are of medium length (between five and seven or so) which is fine since it enables to propose decent developed tracks, with theme changes and vocal/instrumental interplay. "Bar Gazing" is a more pastoral song fully in line with the Trespass period. Sweet passages (mellotron) mixed with some rockier ones. You might know that I am quite found of this album ("Trespass"), I mean, and I'm generally not too harsh with bands emulating this period of my youth.

The title track is less catchy: more jazz-oriented, loose, weak melody and weird vocals. Not my cup of tea. The next song is also quite average: a mix of "Yes" and "Gabriel" vocals (!) on a jazzy background. The closing number is sowehow a kaleidoscope of the whole album: acoustic guitar to start, weird vocals but crafted instrumental.

In all, this is not a bad album (just above average). I upgrade it to three stars mainly for the "Cosmic Affair", "Bar Gazing", and "Professor".

Review by progpositivity
3 stars Musically speaking, this is a beautiful album featuring medium-length songs ranging from the pastoral to the powerful. At their best, Acqua Fragile achieves an exquisitely elusive magic that is usually only found on classic Genesis, Gentle Giant or PFM albums.

2 "words of warning" however.

Warning #1 - Vocals: If you have heard PFM's Jet Lag or Chocolate Kings, then there is little doubt you have already formed a strong opinion on the vocal styling of Bernardo Lanzetti. On the one hand, he has a certain classic-era Peter Gabriel timbre to his voice that is almost irresistible. On the other hand, the pitch warbles incessantly. Is he gargling or is he singing? In the end, I've decided that it is a distinctly unique sound, a 'trademark' type sound. You just don't hear it duplicated almost anywhere, so I take it as a plus. Not all feel the same way. Lanzetti is a very polarizing vocalist. Some simply cannot stand abide it, so be forewarned.

Warning #2 ? Lyrics: These lyrics were obviously written in another language and then translated (or should I say transliterated?) into English. The end-result is cringe-worthy. i can only hope that these lyrics were nowhere near as awkward and insipidly shallow in the original language. That said, I've discovered that these lyrics provide a great source of amusement for family and friends. Certainly this comedic accomplishment should count for something!

And so, if you can tolerate a most unusual warbling vocal style, and you don't demand much in the lyrics department, you will be richly rewarded with some very high quality 1970's Italian and Symphonic prog on this disc. This band often gets compared favorably to bands as diverse as Genesis, Gentle Giant and Yes, and not without reason. This is good stuff. Check it out!

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is such a catchy and melodic album that is played at a very high level and includes vocals in English from Bernardo Lanzetti. I don't even detect an accent which might be because at 14 years of age he spent a year living in Texas, then a few years later he would go back for another 6 months. He knows the English language well. I'm surprised he doesn't have a Southern drawl though (haha). He does kind of warble when he sings which I find amusing. It reminds me of the vocalist on the SPLIT ENZ debut. Mellotron on 4 of the 6 tracks doesn't hurt.

"Cosmic Mind Affair" sounds good when it kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes. The keyboards sound amazing 2 minutes in and check out the vocals that follow. Guitar after 2 1/2 minutes. A calm before 5 minutes then it kicks back in one more time. I must admit I tired of this song very quickly. "Bar Gazing" has acoustic guitar and vocals reminding me of GENESIS. It kicks in after 2 minutes. Some nice intricate electric guitar around 3 minutes. Harmonies follow. I like it !

"Mass-Media Stars" has so much going on here early on. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in and i'm really reminded of YES on this one including the guitar. "Opening Act" opens with vocals only then the music and vocal melodies follow. Harmonies and vocals are next and themes are repeated on this one. "Professor" opens with the guitar and drums standing out. Vocals a minute in and it's uptempo.Tempo changes will continue to be contrasted. "Coffee Song" ends it in a great way after two so-so tunes. Intricate guitar to start then the vocals take over as the guitar is strummed. Mellotron joins in. The bass and drums become prominant. Beautiful stuff. Love how he warbles here.

I'm glad I took a chance on this one but I do prefer the debut. 3.5 stars.

Review by historian9
4 stars I might just repeat myself from the review of ACQUA FRAGILE's first album; they are to GENESIS (with bits of YES and GENTLE GIANT but mainly PETER GABRIEL era GENESIS) what THINK FLOYD is to PINK FLOYD basically. That said, this is still a very good melodic album and as long there isn't actual plagiarizing of notes and riffs going on I couldn't care less if a band is regarded as a clone of a more famous one. Definitely worth checking out at least to make judgement for yourselves; recommended to fans of British symphonic rock scene, it's weird this kind of band came from Italy.
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars ''Acqua Fragile'' was actually heading for an export release, something that eventually never happened, and the album went rather unnoticed within the Italian borders.For the second album Acqua Fragile insisted on writing English lyrics, but this time the new album ''Mass media stars'' was released on the Ricordi label and succeeded a US release as well by Import Records.

By the time of the release of ''Mass media stars'', PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI had already started writing albums in English for a possible abroad success and Acqua Fragile followed exactly the same receipt both lyrically and musically.With a talented and highly expressive singer in the line-up, Acqua Fragile sounded like a poor man's P.F.M., having little personality, but musically the band played a rich and passionate Symphonic/Art Rock with intense interplays and plenty of dramatic moments.Organs and mellotrons along with the alternating acoustic and electric guitars remain the band's driving forces, offering nice symphonic arrangements with some great ideas popping out and a pretty solid songwriting, combining vocal- and instrumental moments with comfort.The resemblance to P.F.M's and GENESIS' style sounds often a bit annoying, as the album is dominated by the multi-vocal harmonies, the numerous piano paces and the folky acoustic textures, sometimes with a slight Mediterrenean feel, but again the virtuosic instrumental battles and the first-class harmonies are not an easy thing to achieve, thus Acqua Fragile overcome the lack of originality with passionate and very tight musicianship all the way.

At the fall of 1974 Mori left the band and was replaced by The Trip's keyboardist Joe Vescovi.The live album ''Live in Emilia - Spring 75'', issued in CD format in 1994, gives a good idea of the sound with the new line-up.The same year though Bernardo Lanzetti quit to join Premiata Forneria Marconi, he was replaced for a short time by future-I Dik Dik Roby Facini, but Acqua Fragile disbanded for good shortly after.

Another nice album along the lines of P.F.M.'s English versions of Classic Italian Prog.Top notch Symphonic Rock, where the word ''originality'' is totally absent, still strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Mass Media Stars' - Acqua Fragile (6/10)

Italy's Acqua Fragile delivered a fairly unassuming facsimile of the British symphonic prog sound over the course of two albums. Although their vocalist Bernardo Lanzetti's future participation on Premiata Forneria Marconi's English-language albums might make for a greater claim to fame than the music itself, Acqua Fragile demonstrated some excellent musicianship and an ability to capture some of the same pastoral magic as the giants they hoped to emulate. The band's second album "Mass Media Stars" does nothing to avert or disprove the common criticism of Acqua Fragile as a 'Genesis clone', but lively musicianship and fairly memorable songwriting makes the record worth checking out for proggers outside the RPI inner circle.

Although the same could be said for many lesser-known prog acts, Acqua Fragile's sound seems split between the likes of Yes and Genesis. It's a comparison that should spark groans from many who have heard the same comparisons made for every 'typical' prog rock act, but there are few I've heard that follow the footsteps so accurately. "Cosmic Mind Affair" truly sounds like Yes and Genesis met up to collaborate sometime around the recording of "The Yes Album". The guitars are filled with a bright electric twang you might hear delivered by Yes guitarist Steve Howe. On the flipside, the acoustic guitars here are evidently influenced by Genesis' Steve Hackett. Although such an explicit lack of originality would normally be a death sentence, Acqua Fragile's replication of the 'British sound' is surprisingly convincing. The musicianship is lively and organic, and though the songwriting isn't quite up to the par of the bands they try to emulate, there's clearly been some sincerity and thought put into these pieces. "Cosmic Mind Affair" and the rich title track stand out as highlights.

Bernardo Lanzetti's vocal contribution to Acqua Fragile is no doubt a reason why many listeners found the band in the first place. Later singing on some of PFM's late-70's albums including "Chocolate Kings" and "Jet Lag", Lanzetti is best known for his similarity to Peter Gabriel. While some might enjoy the comfort and familiarity Lanzetti's resemblance to Gabriel provides, I never found his performance to be particularly effective with PFM, and the same applies to his work with Acqua Fragile. Although Peter Gabriel is one of my favourite classic prog vocalists, Lanzetti's voice has a strain and warble to it that wears on the ears. Although the band's instrumental performance is remarkably solid throughout, there are many times here where it feels like Lanzetti's voice feels like more of a distraction than a compliment to the rest of the performance. The lilting acoustic piece "Bar Gazing" is especially guilty of this; although there is some very warm acoustic playing that recalls the work of Steve Hackett, the vocals come across as a little annoying, helped no bit by poor lyrics that sound like they were roughly translated from Italian- the 'dictionary fails' indeed!

Like Acqua Fragile's self-titled debut, "Mass Media Stars" shows tact and potential, but it lacks any sort of unique personality or identity. First impressions are certainly brighter than the album's lasting impact, as some of the album's weaker aspects- Lanzetti's vocals especially- tend to wear down the enjoyment before too long. They may be little more than a Genesis clone, but they do manage to recreate the style faithfully.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Italian band Acqua Fragile are probably most well known now for being the previous band that vocalist Bernardo Lanzetti from Premiata Forneria Marconi's studio albums between 1975-1978 used to front. They released two studio albums between 1973-1974, before Bennardo was off to appear on PFM's `Chocolate Kings' album, but the fact that Acqua Fragile pretty much dissolved at that point is not too much of a tragedy. Despite being an Italian band, there's really very few proper RPI traits to be found in their music, instead they favoured a well-intentioned and energetic take on the sounds of British progressive bands, especially Yes, Gentle Giant and Genesis. They chose to utilize English vocals as well, likely in an attempt to appeal of international audiences. This second album, `Mass Media Stars', is well-played and tasteful, yet also fairly unengaging.

Unfortunately, Bernardo Lanzetti's vocals are extremely hard to love here. His English pronunciation became stronger and clearer on the PFM albums, but here his words often seem to run together in an increasingly inane way, very difficulty to understand and focus on, and attention starts to wander from the decent music behind them. Just notice the way the album suddenly picks up whenever the vocals calm down for a moment and the band launch into lengthier instrumental passages. Sadly these sort of more magical moments are few and far between.

Opener `Cosmic Mind Affair' has a nice punchy groove throughout, moving back and forth into little ethereal drifting moments as well. The sprightly drumming is the highlight, and the jazzy piano over pulsing bass and mandolin change of direction in the middle would have been great without the bleating obnoxious vocal dribbling all over it. `Bar Gazing' pulls out every clichéd Genesis trick, whether it's the acoustic guitar chimes or the symphonic organ pomp, but the repeated chorus melody is catchy (if completely impossible to understand due to Bernardo's gargling vocal), and the electric guitar solo in the middle is pleasingly a little scratchy and rough around the edges to offer a bit of tasty grit. The band then moves onto recreating Yes for the title track, with the high-pitched group harmonies a dead ringer for the more well known band, and the chunky murmuring bass and frantic guitar runs also completely modelled on Mr's Squire and Howe. While it's one of the better tracks, with plenty of twisting and turning infectious up-tempo energy, some oriental themes that pop up here and there throughout are a little baffling, and one or two spots where the group take on a squealing female-like chorus is excruciating.

Frantic Gentle Giant-aping complex harmonies open the second side's `Opening Act', but the rest is a jangling joyful tune full of dazzling piano and strident acoustic strumming. It's made borderline unlistenable by another forced lead vocal and a confusingly oriental-like wail, a shame because the actual tune and playing is lovely. `Professor' merges another Yes-clone rocker with a Gentle Giant-esque vocal (Bernardo is probably at his best on this one), and the rattling drumming, relentless bass and bombastic keyboard blasts are top- notch, making it the best track of the album. Album closer `Coffee Song' opens as a beautiful and delicate acoustic ballad, that gradually builds in stature and power with spacey synths, classical Renaissance-like piano drama and grand organ for a final dreamy instrumental run. A more restrained vocal throughout the earlier minutes would have made it even more special, but it's another of real standout moments on the album.

`Mass Media Stars' is at it's best when the musicians can really stand out and the instrumental passages allow them to shine, but these moments are fairly fleeting, with definitely too much emphasis placed on Mr Lanzetti's difficult vocals. If you decide to investigate Acqua Fragile, the better of their two studio albums is the debut, so be sure to go for that one first. `Mass Media Stars' is not completely without merit, but the truth is that there are far many more exciting and important Italian bands from the Seventies to explore long before this.

Two and a half stars, barely rounded up to three for the final two tracks and the overall musicianship lurking throughout the album.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Honestly, I this band who plays a really inspired by yes genesis prog rock are underrated. The music is rich and complex, all instrumentist are outstanding. The voice of Bernardo Lanzetti is one of the most original in progressive rock (He went with Pfm on Chocolate Kings and Jet Lag). Everythi ... (read more)

Report this review (#179134) | Posted by pwawrzyn | Thursday, August 7, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars album non essential for the progressive mondial, but essential for the Italian Progressive, 3,5 is not possible for the note ... The music of ACQUA FRAGILE is is a middle of deception singer Cat Stevens, the Angel Peter Gabriel (Genesis) and also the rock sophisticed, Rock Symphonique Italian Prog ... (read more)

Report this review (#133508) | Posted by Discographia | Friday, August 17, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Yes, Bernardo Lanzetti's voice seems annoying sometimes (perhaps most of times...). Yes, Acqua Fragile's songs have nothing original. But... They sound different to me some moments. "Cosmic mind affair" is fantastic! Both Acqua Fragile albuns are great: in the first one Lanzetti is less annoyi ... (read more)

Report this review (#45966) | Posted by | Wednesday, September 7, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars better than the first one but playing the same formula : lead vocals à la Gabriel, vocal harmonies à la Yes sang on a folk rock prog... good songs, regular production... this was Acqua Fragile last album and it's a shame since the progression from the first one had been pretty good... so, for fans o ... (read more)

Report this review (#506) | Posted by | Monday, March 22, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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