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BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Buon Vecchio Charlie biography
This Italian band's sole legacy is a wonderful instrumental album of pure symphonic prog dominated by flute, with strong classical influences and a touch of jazz. For comparisons, bands like COLOSSEUM, KING CRIMSON, GENESIS, ELP and The NICE come to mind. Their eponymous album was recorded in 1971 for the Venice-based Suono label but never saw the light of day; a year later, the group had already disbanded. They were eventually honoured by the Rome Villa Pamphili festival who awarded them the prize for 'Best Italian Band' in 1974.

The album, which had been shelved for over twenty years, was finally unearthed by Melos in 1992; Italian label Akama also re-issued it in '99 with two extra tracks. The Melos release comprises three wonderful suites of excellent performance featuring great keyboards, flute and sax plus a few rare vocals, the music alternating between quiet, folksy parts and grand symphonic flights. In 1972, an album by Beppe Palomba entitled "A Rosa, a Giovanna e alle altre" was issued under the Mizar label, featuring some of the members from BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE. Its two best cuts are the ones included in the 1999 Akama re-issue of BVC.

Although the production isn't perfect, "Buon Vecchio Charlie" is one of the better, very early (pre-BANCO/PFM) Italian prog albums and is certainly recommended for all lovers of vintage Italian symphonic prog.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

Buon Vecchio Charlie official website

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3.71 | 75 ratings
Buon Vecchio Charlie
1972

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 Buon Vecchio Charlie by BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 75 ratings

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Buon Vecchio Charlie
Buon Vecchio Charlie Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Almost lost in the sands of time,Buon Vecchio Charlie were formed in 1970 in Rome by guitarist/singer Luigi Calabro, sax/flute player Sandro Cesaroni, keyboardist Sandro Centofanti, bassist Walter Bernardi and percussionist Carlo Visca.Later Visca and Bernardi were replaced by guitarist/singer Richard Benson (who became the main composer of the band),bassist Paolo Damiani and full drummer Rino Sangiorgio.The band recorded an album during the spring of 1971 at the Suono studio in Venice,however, and despite the interest by many producers, these tapes were never officially released until in 1991 Melos label published this work.A 1999 reissue by Akarma featured two bonus tracks and a different cover.

At a time when bands like Premiata Forneria Marconi or Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso searched for their own challenging sound, Buon Vecchio Charlie played some full-edged Progressive Rock presented in three long tracks.The opening ''Venite gił al fiume'' is a proggy version of ''Peer Gynt'' by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg.A track with little space for vocals but plenty of it for some fuzz guitar soling, psychedelic organs, melodic sax leads and raw flute work, close to the likes of JUMBO or OSANNA, but all tightly connected without being excessive at all.''Evviva la contea di Lane'' follows a much softer style, being quite symphonic in nature and based on Centofanti's obscure organ work, Cesaroni's delicate flutes and the huge sax solo of Cesaroni towards the closing section.With the 15-min. ''All'uomo che raccoglie i cartoni'' the band returns to the opening style, close to a mix of Psychedelic and Symphonic Rock.Alternating sections between electric and acoustic passages with good doses of flutes and saxes in a VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR mood, a lust for some more improvisational parts and Centofanti's decent effort on organ and synthesizers offer a variety of soundscapes with influences from Classical, Folk and Jazz Music.

Propably due to the unsuccesful tries of releasing the record the band called it off around 1973 with most of the members remaining in the music industry.Benson followed a personal and quite succesful music career,Centofanti joined Libra a couple of years later, while Calabro, Sangiorgio and Damiani formed the Jazz-Rock act Bauhaus.

It would be a crime if these recordings remained buried and thanks to the Melos' team any prog fan has the opportunity to taste some of this band's talent and pleasant progressive music orientations.Not absolutely essential or masterful like the best of Classic Italian Prog but certainly strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Buon Vecchio Charlie by BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 75 ratings

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Buon Vecchio Charlie
Buon Vecchio Charlie Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars One consequence of the sudden runaway expansion of the Italian prog scene in 1971-72 was the rise of what I think of as the "one album wonders" - bands who managed to produce one album, but because of the sheer oversaturation of the market ended up being completely overlooked. Buon Vecchio Charlie's sole album didn't come out until 1990 despite being recorded in 1971, and if I had to guess why it didn't find a publisher back in the day I'd guess it would have something to do with the album being quite good, but not *so* good as to have much hope of competing with the likes of PFM, Banco, and Le Orme.

Like the British second-tier prog band Beggar's Opera in their debut album, a lot of Buon's schtick revolves around playing proggy interpretations of classical music at breakneck speed, as in the opening track (a treatment of In the Hall of the Mountain King) - in fact, take Beggar's Opera, add Jethro Tull-esque flute playing, and you've more or less got the sound of the first track. The other two see a bit more of a Genesis influence creep in but don't really distinguish themselves. A good effort, but not quite enough to really have much hope in an overcrowded prog scene with at least half a dozen bands who could blow these guys off the stage without trying.

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 Buon Vecchio Charlie by BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 75 ratings

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Buon Vecchio Charlie
Buon Vecchio Charlie Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by coasterzombie

4 stars For an album that never saw the light of day in the 1970s, Buon Vechhio Charlie managed to create a solid effort released posthumously in 1990. Unlike the Alphatuaurus album Dietro L'Uragano, this unearthed treasure actually deserved release and if it was truly recorded in '71-'72 (no one is quite for sure), it is amazingly ahead of its time and sounds professionally recorded. I believe it was possibly even recorded live in studio, as there are some bum notes here and there (particularly out of the bass player) that any typical band with the luxury of time and multitrack recording capabilities would have gone back and fixed. If true, the off-the-cuff nature of the playing is adventurous and mature, warts and all.

"Venite Gui al Fiume" quotes liberally from Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King," but is not a straight up cover like ELO would attempt in 1973 on their third album. There is a very nice sax performance and above average ensemble playing as well. The jazzy tendencies really feel themselves out for a good chunk of the song, but the latter half is all over the map; there are numerous tempo and stylistic changes but nothing out-of-this-world. The drumming does leave a little to be desired - I think this guy uses the same drum fill about 30 times over the course of the album. His playing is far more tasteful on the second tune, "Evviva La Contea di Lane," my favorite on the album. Gone is the jazz and classical sound of the opener...this six-minute masterpiece is a joy, steeped in the Italian tradition but with a bluesy touch. The last two minutes are absolutely brilliant, a symphonic triumph anyone would enjoy.

A nod to Mussorgky's "Night on Bald Mountain" begins "All'uomo Che Raccoglie I Cartoni." A suite comprised of five sections, the song is varied stylistically. But this is a good thing - BVC manage to pull it off quite nicely and it never drifts too far into silly territory. If the album ended here, I would probably give it three stars. For what it is, Buon Vecchio Charlie just can't hold water when compared to the giants of the genre. However, the 1999 Akarma CD release features two bonus tracks, the only other known output of the group besides that of Bauhaus (a jazz-rock album recorded in 1974 by members of BVC). These two tracks alone warrant an extra star, particularly based on the strength of "Rosa." These tracks originally appeared on a solo album by pop artist Beppe Palomba. While I realize the band may not have shared in the compositional or lyrical content of the song, their backing of Palomba is exceptionally tasteful and executed perfectly. A lovely song that doesn't just feel "tacked on," but actually adds value to the album as a whole.

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 Buon Vecchio Charlie by BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 75 ratings

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Buon Vecchio Charlie
Buon Vecchio Charlie Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Nightfly
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars The RPI genre is littered with bands who only made one album and then disappeared. Buon Vecchio Charlie, like a number of other bands, Officina Meccanica immediately springs to mind, didn't even manage that despite recording this album in the early golden days of seventies Italian prog when Italian record companies would I imagine have been snapping up bands like this. It would be almost twenty years before it would get an official release for the first time.

Like many Italian prog bands they draw on classical music for inspiration, indeed the first track, Venite Gił Al Fiumetakes, takes excerpts from Grieg's Hall Of The Mountain King in this lively largely instrumental piece. The band also takes blues and jazz influences over this sadly short album consisting of only three tracks lasting little more than thirty minutes. The shorter and mellower Evviva La Contea Di Lane is bookended by the two longer pieces where the band demonstrates excellent musicianship on the instrumental workouts. Vocalist Richard Benson has a decent voice, generally in the mellower spectrum which is used sparingly. Luckily for him he doubles up on guitar otherwise he'd have very little to do overall. Sax and flute add colour to the more traditional instrumentation of keyboards, drums etc.

This one and only release from the band is certainly not an essential album in the Italian prog genre but is nevertheless an enjoyable way to spend thirty minutes or so. Worth checking out then for those who are already familiar with the premier league of RPI and looking to dig a bit deeper.

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 Buon Vecchio Charlie by BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 75 ratings

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Buon Vecchio Charlie
Buon Vecchio Charlie Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is another one album wonder out of Italy. How many were generated during the early seventies? Countless, I guess.

One gets the whole shebang here: passionate vocals, subtle fluting, great musicianship and melodic music. I particularly enjoy the first two songs which are truly symphonic as this fantastic genre can generate. It is gorgeous music by all means.

The opening number "Venite giu al Flume" shows some definite Tull affiliation (solid beat and great fluting) and demonstrates all of the band's maestria: drumming is excellent, guitar is sustained and bass is powerful. It is a very good combo indeed. Needless to say that the vocal department is also on par. A highlight for sure.

The fully "Trespass" oriented "Evviva la Contea di Lane" is so subtle and sweet! Melody, fluting, passion, skills. What else do we need? Nothing, I guess! The closing part is more hectic and holds some great sax play.

The epic "All'Uomo Che Raccoglie Cartoni" is mixing the ISP style with a more jazzy oriented music. A la "Banco" should I say? But the combination of both styles is quite enjoyable: perfectly flowing into one another.

The great VDGG influence is also very much noticeable. The alternation of quiet and symphonic passages and wild jazzy moments is quite well achieved. This music is very rich indeed. The last two songs and bonus tracks are somewhat "lighter" and don't add anything to the original recording, on the contrary. Jazzy mood for "Rosa" and a more folkish approach for "Il Guardiano Della Valle". In all, this is a very good album for sure. Let's forget about the bonus tracks and granted this work with four stars.

It is too bad that the band didn't follow with more of this type of music. But we are used to this with the ISP genre, unfortunately. One album, and there you go?

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 Buon Vecchio Charlie by BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 75 ratings

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Buon Vecchio Charlie
Buon Vecchio Charlie Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars Charming early RPI album that sits very close to the bands mentioned in the bio: Colosseum, the Nice, Caravan and other bands mixing a psychedelic dreamy mood with light jazzy influences.

The opening track is the best but it's slightly ruined by the adaptation of Grieg's Hall of the Mountain King theme. It isn't my favourite classic tune to start with, and the rock adaptation doesn't improve matters much. It leads into a fun jamming sessions that kind of bridges the gap between The Nice and ELP.

Evviva La Contea Di Lane takes a more mellow approach. The organ playing and pastoral feel still ties us to the 60's but the instrumental development of the song is very proggy. The VDGG styled sax solo is very fitting.

Another lengthy track follows. It has its moments but never really grabs me. The saxophone is one of the most interesting features again. The flute solo at the end with the typical jazz standard of the bass guitar brings Jethro Tull's debut to mind. Two pop songs are thrown in at the end as CD extras, but they have little to do with what preceded.

A fun little album with nice artwork. No more no less.

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 Buon Vecchio Charlie by BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 75 ratings

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Buon Vecchio Charlie
Buon Vecchio Charlie Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars Hard to find, but worth it.

If you are looking for a hard to find arch-typical Rock Progressivo Italiano (RPI) album, this is perhaps the one for you. The album even comes with two different covers on two different record labels and an not so impressive booklet.

The music here is very typical for Italy. Virtuous guitars, keyboards, woodwinds, flute, bass and drums playing with an good vocalist on the top. The music is both tender, slightly jazz orientated, symphonic and heavy at times. This album is slightly more ELP orientated than most RPI albums. Their version of Hall Of Mountain King of Edvard Grieg is pretty good too.

My gripes about this album is that the sound quality is also pretty dubious and the quality of the songs are good, but not great. This album is a bit of a generic RPI album. But it is still a good album well worth checking out if you can find it. I am satisfied owner of this album, but nothing more.

3 stars

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 Buon Vecchio Charlie by BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 75 ratings

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Buon Vecchio Charlie
Buon Vecchio Charlie Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. You have to wonder if there are any other gems like this yet to be unearthed. Recorded in 1971 yet never relased, this one was unearthed and released some twenty years after the fact ! And the bonus of course is that this is a must for RPI fans, it's that good. It's challenging and varied with excellent vocals, and the guitar, sax, flute, drums and bass are all outstanding. Oops I forgot about the keyboards which are great as well.

"Venite Giu Al Fiume" is the over 12 minute opener and my favourite. Flute opens the proceedings and it kicks in quickly. Guitar before 1 1/2 minutes sounds great as drums pound and bass throbs. I really like the sax and organ before 2 minutes and the bass, drums and guitar that follows. More organ as the flute returns. This is jazzy. It settles before 4 minutes as reserved vocals join in. I keep thinking of Swedish bands when the flute comes in, and it's back along with a fuller sound. It kicks back in before 5 1/2 minutes as the tempo picks up. The organ then starts to rip it up. Nice bass too. Sax after 8 1/2 minutes.This sounds amazing ! The guitar after 10 minutes lights it up as the bass and drums continue.

"Ewiva La Contea Di Lane" is pastoral to open with gentle guitar as fragile vocals join in. I like when the vocals stop and the flute comes in. Organ, bass and drums follow. These themes are repeated. Sax after 5 minutes and it gets a little dissonant. I like this band (haha). "All'uomo Che Raccoglie I Cartoni" is the 15 minute closer. Gentle guitar to open as flute joins in. It kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes. Nice sax too. It settles again with organ this time. It kicks back in with some excellent guitar before 3 minutes. The tempo continues to change as it settles again before 5 1/2 minutes with gentle guitar like the intro. Drums and sax 6 minutes in and the guitar follows. Vocals for the first time before 7 minutes and they do get passionate. The organ is back. A nice full sound after 9 1/2 minutes. It settles a minute later then turns jazzy. Flute then sax before 13 minutes. It picks up late.

It's finds like this that make the search worthwhile. Thanks again Todd !

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 Buon Vecchio Charlie by BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 75 ratings

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Buon Vecchio Charlie
Buon Vecchio Charlie Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

5 stars Hard to find, but worth the effort

Edward Burke said "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it", but we don't understand this message, people try to find new and original stuff in contemporary artists, but refuse to take a look to the past and research the unknown bands who made music so original that would make some self proclaimed innovators sound like copyists just because they never discovered this hidden gems.

This is the case of BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE, a pre PFM Italian band who released a fantastic self titled album in 1972 (recorded in 1971) with probably the most original adaptation of a classic. As a fact, I heard at least 5 or 6 versions of "In the Hall of the Mountain King" from the "Peer Gynt Suite" released years after by iconic Prog bands, but none of them so delicate and original as the one from this forgotten gem.

Last week I found this LP gathering dust in a box inside my deposit and decided to give them a chance, and what a surprise, whoever believes that PFM or Banco del Mutuo Soccorso were the pioneers of Italian Symphonic are wrong, this modest band, was there when the genre was in diapers.

Unlike most Italian bands who followed, BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE don't limit themselves to beautiful melodies and “pristine Symphonic songs, they dared to be different, yes, they take "In The Hall of the Mountain King" as the cornerstone of their album as many Symphonic groups did later, but they add so many different elements that would be hard to catalogue them in a determined genre.

The beautiful lyric sections morph in a matter of seconds to Jazzy passages, acoustic tracks and even rock hard when it's required, the distorted guitars go hand by hand with sweet clear acoustic guitar tunes, the pastoral flute coexists perfectly with the tortured Hammond organ and the jazzy Sax. This may sound as a mess, but the arrangements are so strong and crafted with such good taste, that one blends with the other, no matter how contradictory their nature may seem.

And if this wasn't enough, the beautiful lyrics in Italian, sung by the beautiful voice of Richard Benson with Sandro Centofanti making incredibly beautiful backing vocals, there's not a single unnecessary or missing elements, everything fits perfectly as a 10,000 pieces puzzle.

Making a song by song review, may spoil the adventure of discovering the original proposal of BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE, but I recommend to listen the 15 minutes epic "All'Uomo Che Raccoglie I Cartoni" with special care, a Progressive Rock masterpiece that proves this band was capable of great things.

And if you are lucky to find the CD (As I did yesterday in a rarities store for 20 bucks) you may listen the Medieval and "Troubadouresque" "Il Guardiano Della Valle" with a new and clear sound..

No questions, this is a transcendental and essential masterpiece of Progressive Rock that deserves no less than 5 stars.

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 Buon Vecchio Charlie by BUON VECCHIO CHARLIE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 75 ratings

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Buon Vecchio Charlie
Buon Vecchio Charlie Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Fine, energetic early entry

Buon Vecchio Charlie is not the greatest Italian prog album ever but it is an important one that pre-dates most of the heavy hitters from the classic scene. Formed in Rome in 1970, their album was recorded in either '71 or '72 depending on which source you believe which puts in on the early side of the classic period. It features a varied and downright spunky assortment of heavy rockiness and more subtle moments with the feel of Midnight Sun, Tull, or to a lesser extent Marsupilami. "Recorded in the Spring of 1971, it contains simply superb progressive rock with three prolonged pieces elegantly balanced between classical, jazz, folk and heavy progressive. Their adaption of Edvard Grieg's In The Hall Of Mountain King combined with their own melodic material is a 12-minute delight, far better than any adaptations The Nice ever made." [italicized from Scented Gardens]

The album ranges from a heavy guitar rock sound with bluesy and jazzy variations to the second track which has a more romantic, pastoral feel. Flute is ever present on both the rock and pastoral stuff, saxophone is the other heavily featured accompaniment. The bass foundation is solid and to the fore with animated drumming (lots of fills!) and good lead guitar. There is much here for the organ rock fan as well, lots of heavy runs and trade-offs with the flute. I admit to being more swayed by the middle track with its beautiful pastoral Italian feel: the warm, big-hearted vocals with the summer day flute melody that keeps coming back. Less exciting perhaps than the two big jam tracks that bookend it but really special to me, sort of leading to where PFM would soon arrive and get credit for being.but I believe BVC was right there with "evviva la contea di lane" even if not as sparkling with their production. But even in this track they never get too pretentious: they throw a wailing sax solo right in the middle of their mellower track and then get back wide open jamming for the long third track. And that's the main selling point of BVC: they can jam. Don't look to them for mind blowing, way-out concepts and pretentiousness (in either the good or bad sense.) Look for a jamming rock band with a bit of the Italian prog flair on the side. Every time they stop for a more introspective interlude like a quiet acoustic guitar meditation, they soon burst back into the energetic jamming. They almost make me think of a kid sitting at the piano practicing his classical exercises, meantime his foot is nervously twitching as he can't wait to get back to the basement and strap on his guitar!

While one can take issue with the less-than-perfect production and occasionally loose playing I think that BVC is something that Italian fans will need to hear, and many '70s prog fans in general would greatly enjoy. Much of it is instrumental so don't be put off by the Italian vocals thing. The Akarma digipak features no booklet or information, but does tack on a couple of short bonus tracks, neither of which match the quality of the three main tracks. I have noted that some claim the Akarma version sounds better, but I haven't heard the other version. 7/10

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