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RIO/Avant-Prog • Italy

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Stormy Six biography
STORMY SIX from Milan, Italy was one of the original bands in the RIO movement and appeared in the famous on March 12th 1978 in the New London Theatre in London. However, as opposed to the other bands appearing with them, they did not start out their musical career as a RIO sounding band.

STORMY SIX began its life in the mid 60's as a folk group with psych influences and left wing tendencies, composing protest songs. This has been the case in their first 3 albums, "Le idee di oggi per la musica di domani" (1969), "L'unità" (1972) and "Guarda giù dalla pianura" (1974). In their 4th album, "Un biglietto del tram" from 1975 the complexity and experimentalism start to show. It was to be only in their 6th album, "L'apprendista" from 1977, that the RIO sound would reach its climax. The following "Macchina Maccheronica" (1980) is even a more complex and continues in the pathway of its predecessor. Both these albums are what won this band a place in the RIO genre. With the next final studio album, "Al Volo" from 1982 they introduced an electronic and poppish sound in their music.

Their last output was when they reunited for a concert and released it as a live CD in 1993 called "Un concerto". For RIO fans, the recommended albums are the two "L'apprendista" and "Macchina Maccheronica" and, to a lesser extent, "Un biglietto del tram".

Temporary biography.

==Assaf Vestin (avestin)==

Why this artist must be listed in :
Stormy Six is one of the founders of RIO musical genre and on of the original five bands to appear in the RIO Festival on 12/3/1978.

Le idee di oggi per la musica di domani, studio album (1969)
L'unità, studio album (1972)
Guarda giù dalla pianura, studio album (1974)
Un biglietto del tram, studio album (1975)
Cliché, soundtrack (1976)
L'apprendista, studio album (1977)
Macchina maccheronica, studio album (1980)
Al volo, studio album (1982)
Un concerto, live (1995)

Stormy Six official website

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Btf 2008
Audio CD$15.43
$15.53 (used)
Cliche & Pinocchio BazaarCliche & Pinocchio Bazaar
Btf 2009
Audio CD$19.91
$18.73 (used)
Original Album SeriesOriginal Album Series
Box set · Import
Warner Italy 2012
Audio CD$499.99
$399.99 (used)
Megafono: Live 1976 - 1982Megafono: Live 1976 - 1982
Btf 2008
Audio CD$12.82
$12.81 (used)
Macchina MaccheronicaMacchina Maccheronica
Btf 2008
Audio CD$24.69
$16.99 (used)
Best of: Stormy Six by Stormy SixBest of: Stormy Six by Stormy Six
Audio CD$229.00
Benvenuto Nel Ghetto by Stormy SixBenvenuto Nel Ghetto by Stormy Six
Audio CD$100.90
Imports 2016
Audio CD$26.15
$20.41 (used)
L'Apprendista by Stormy Six (2008-05-09)L'Apprendista by Stormy Six (2008-05-09)
Audio CD$47.12
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STORMY SIX discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

STORMY SIX top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.10 | 10 ratings
Le Idee Di Oggi Per La Musica Di Domani
2.19 | 8 ratings
2.21 | 9 ratings
Guarda Giu Dalla Pianura
3.85 | 44 ratings
Un Biglietto Del Tram
3.59 | 16 ratings
4.03 | 57 ratings
3.68 | 28 ratings
Macchina Maccheronica
3.04 | 14 ratings
Al Volo

STORMY SIX Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 3 ratings
Un concerto
0.00 | 0 ratings
Benvenuti nel ghetto (feat. Moni Ovadia)

STORMY SIX Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

STORMY SIX Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.50 | 4 ratings

STORMY SIX Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Oggi Piango
0.00 | 0 ratings
Lui verrà
0.00 | 0 ratings
La luna è stanca
0.00 | 0 ratings
Alice nel vento
0.00 | 0 ratings
0.00 | 0 ratings
Sotto il bambù
0.00 | 0 ratings
0.00 | 0 ratings
Cosa danno


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Al Volo by STORMY SIX album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.04 | 14 ratings

Al Volo
Stormy Six RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

3 stars Even a RIO artist sometimes must go to the supermarket to buy food, soaps and this kind of things. If you are already in the 80s when having a vibraphone instead of a fairlight is considered excessively experimental you can have an idea of why Stormy Six made an album like this.

The style is still Avant, IMO, the lyrics have completely lost the political connotations and even if still clearly left-winged they are more concentrated on "society" and "individuals". A sort of Italian Roger Waters, but there's an evident change in the musical direction: no more violin or clarinet. It's like in the 80s only keyboards are allowed.

There's a lot of melody even inside unusual passages. The choir in "alpine" style on "Ragionamenti" is very original, but this album seems to be a turn back to the more classical RPI and this is maybe one of the reasons of their disbanding. You can't produce pure art and eat steaks at the same time. Even one sixth of the Stormies may have a family at home...

So being them true innovative artists they have probably taken the right decision in disbanding after this release that I think they may have disliked.

I don't dislike it anyway. The fact that it's less avant or more approachable than the two previous releases doesn't mean that it's bad. There are unusual passages and sounds as well as melodic moments of RPI flavor. Don't forget that they're Italians.

Of course if you expect to be eating chocolate and find marmite you will be disappointed, but you can realize that marmite is not too bad in its own.

The bad with this album is that remains in the middle, not completely RIO and not completely RPI but the musicians are the same high skilled guys of Macchina Maccheronica.

Don't treat them too badly.

3 stars.

 Macchina Maccheronica by STORMY SIX album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.68 | 28 ratings

Macchina Maccheronica
Stormy Six RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

4 stars Stormy Six took an instrumental from Cliche, added to it lyrics, made some arrangements and named all the album after it. This is "Macchina Maccheronica" (Macaronic Machine). This song is a grotesque tango for the first 3 minutes, then turns into waltz then polka...almost all the popular dancing rhythms of the old Europe, like a precursor on Weird Al Yankovic.

The intro of "Le Lucciole" is enough to make ckear thatthe first track is just a joke. The album is made of something different. If you have an idea of how an experimental band has to sound, this gives exactly this idea. The first RIO festival is an old story and this album is a follow-up, more experimental than anything else previously released by this band, with a fusion between folk and classic contemporary that can remind also to Zeuhl. The lyrics are experimental, too. The clear political statements that were still present on the previous album are now hidden if not disappeared behind words that sound well with the music but not necessarily meaningful. On "Le Lucciole" the role of main instrument that's usually played by the violin is now given to the clarinet. it's only after 6 minutes that the ensemble plays more orchestral making the track less challenging. Following there's another joke. A sort of "shake" version of "Madonina". This song, written in the 30s by Giovanni D'Anzi has become the anthem of the city of Milan where Stormy Six are from. Played in this way in just 50 seconds can be irritating for some of their most traditionalists-right-winged citizens. The "Madonina" is the statue of the Virgin Mary on the top of Milan's Cathedral.

"Megafono" (Megaphone) is a grotesque and very 'avant' song. A Megaphone is an essential device for protesters, and the joke is about the fact that the way it distorces a voice makes the speaker anonymous. There's a long "eclectic" interlude made of disconnected sounds, passages between violin, clarinet, bass and drums. At minute 3:40 there's a short rock section leading to another part with vocals. If you read the definition of this subgenre on PA, this song fits perfectly there.

30 more seconds of irriverent "Madonina" then a female speaker with an Eastern Europe accent introduces what she calls "a moment of relax". "Banca" (Bank) is an instrumental crazyness "Since when you're gone my life is empty...I can't live anymore, what will be of me? I have close this feeling in the bank!".

"Pianeta" (Planet) is even more challenging. If I think to what this band was doing just five years before... The lyrics are as hermetic as the music. A very challenging album that the Madonina interludes try to make a little lighter but it's very difficult and totally non-suitable for the Italian market of 1980. The clarinet makes a great work.

"Rumba Sugli Alberi" (Rumba over the trees) is a brasses and clarinet thing with vocals. two minutes of the most "melodic" stuff that can be found on the album even including the second half when bass and drums make it very chaotic.

I'm now thinking that what I'm writing can be interpreted as "very good and artistic music" by fans of Rio and Avant, and like an "Avoid it absolutely" by fans of more melodic and strustured things like symphonic prog.....

"Enzo" is a vocal choir totally out of what we can call "song" or "melody". It's an experiment about voice, not too dissimilar from what Demetrio Stratos made in his "Concerto all'Elfo". It appears to be recorded live but the applauses may be just added, I don't know.

"Verbale" (Report, intended in legal or bureaucratic sense) is in some way reminding of the political/social period of the band, but the lyrics are very hermetic. The good is that even if one can sometimes catch a sort of melody, this track is totally unstructured and unpredictable both in terms of notes and rhythm. Who makes a great work here is the bass that keeps a jazzy profile.

Another interpratation of "Madonina" and the last "regular" track of the album: "Somario". As Macchina Maccheronica also this track is taken from Cliche'/Pinocchio suite and "Somario" is a joke between "Sommario" (summary) and "Somaro" (donkey), so it's clearly related to Pinocchio. The track is recorded live.

The last 15 seconds of "Madonina" closes the album.

A challenging listen but also rewarding for the listener. Of course it's not an album to be listened while driving by car. Take your time and the right moment to dig into the various moments. A must have for the fans of the genre also because it's the first Stormy Six album of the RIO era.

 L'Apprendista by STORMY SIX album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.03 | 57 ratings

Stormy Six RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

5 stars After the instrumental very avant-garde parenthesis of "Cliche" the Stormy Six return to the "song" format, but the songs are very different from the political pop-folk of the first albums, maybe also a sign of the times changing.

This album is released during one of the worst periods of the post-war history of Italy, in the years that will bring to the 80s: a dramatic change in every sectors of life and arts, not only in music. It's no longer time for political anthems so even though the lyrics are still strongly politically oriented the songs are now about persons instead of movements. This is exactly the same change that was happening in the actual Italian society.

The music is an unusual mixture of folk elements, mainly acoustic, but retains the experimental elements of the previous instrumental album. The difference with today's Avant bands is that once the structure of the song has been identified, the listener is still able to anticipate what's coming (not always of course), so the result is something very close to the music of bands like Gentle Giant, or a sort of non-jazz Canterbury if this makes any sense.

The good is that even being experimental it's still approachable by everybody and unlike the previous albums the music is so good that can be appreciated even without taking care of the lyrics. Songs like "Il Barbiere" (The Barber) and "Il Labirinto" (The Labyrinth) are highlights but all the songs are excellent, above the average, specially from a musical point of view.

Of course the lyrics, too, have to match the new mood to fit better within the music. The result is technically perfect, and the musicianship of all the bandmates is finally evident. A milestone for this band just one year before the first RIO event.

 Cliché by STORMY SIX album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.59 | 16 ratings

Stormy Six RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

4 stars Finally the beginning of RIO. The Stormy six have still a lot of acoustics. A mandolin in general sounds folky but in tracks like the opener "1789" (the year of the French revolution) it sounds grotesque. The final fade-out is a pity, but the track is very interesting. Then the piano comes to "Carmine". This piece of piano and violin sounds like classic contemporary. Who could have imagined a change of this kind in the band's music? Not that I dislike the previous efforts, but this is totally different and came actually unexpected.

The story of this album is quite unusual. It's the reprint of two different albums one of them unreleased, but the mood of the two albums is so similar that it's not easy to vcatch if you don't look at the track list.

The first two tracks are two previously unreleased, extraneous to both the albums.

Starting from the third track until track 16 we have a suite inspired by the Shalkespeare's tragedy "Titus Andronicus". It's pure avant-garde, with the same violinist that once was playing country/bluegrass that's now making classic contemporary. The use of mandolin, contrabass and acoustic guitar makes it even more avant-garde. It's not too challenging anyway. Some parts like "Picnic" are easy enough even for those who are not familiar with this genre. Even neo-prog fans could enjoy it.

The remaining tracks are inspired to "Pinocchio" (The album title would have been "Pinocchio Bazaar"). This is more oriented to chamber music and has more melodic moments. I find it easier than the Shakespeare's thing even if on similar chords and mood.

An enjoyable album that can also be used as starting point for people who wants to approach the genre.

 Un Biglietto Del Tram by STORMY SIX album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.85 | 44 ratings

Un Biglietto Del Tram
Stormy Six RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

4 stars This is the first true prog album of Stormy Six. It can be considered RPI or Prrog-Folk, as RIO has still to come in 1974. The folk element is enhanced by the violin that's the principal soloist throughout the whole album.

The songs are IMO excellent prog-folk and as in their previous albums the lyrics are the most important thing, so instead of speaking of the great instrumental final of "Nuvole a Vinca" with its great violin or the little attempt to "experiment" of "8 Settembre", I think is important speaking of what the subjetcs of the songs are.

This is an album about the last years of the second world war that starts with "Stalingrado" (Stalingrad). It has been one of the bloodiest battles of the human history and has been the beginning of Hitler's defeat. There's a mention to the Italians who were fighting together with the Nazis and have been left back. After the German defeat they had a long retreat in the cold Russian winter which caused more casualties than the battle itself.

"La Fabbrica" (The Factory) is about an episodeat the beginning of 1943. The fascists are still ruling and the workers of a factory in Turin decide to strike. The fascists attempted a repression but the workers were so many and so "committed" that the fascist squads had to retreat.

"Arrivano Gli Americani" is a little sarcastic. When the American troops desembarked in the South of Italy they were acclaimed as savers (and they were). The sarcasm is about the fact that the Catholic Church tried to describe them as "Sent by the Virgin Mary after all our prayers". The same Catholic Church that 20 years before had helped the fascists in getting the power. A nice sentence is "Americans, Martian Garibaldines throw tablets of freedom". It was probably as the people was seeing them. The reference to Garibaldi is because they followed the same path from South to North as Garibaldi about ine century before.

"8 Settembre" (Sept, 8th) is one of the most tragic dates of the recent Italian history. The fascist government has been deposed and the General Badoglio negotiates secretly the armistice. The Italian army is totally disbanded and not informed and when the Nazis decide to revenge after what they consider a betrayal the Italian soldiers didn't defend. It's since that date that the Nazis start killing and deporting every soldier that they find and destroying entire towns including of course the civilians.

"Nuvole di Vinca" is about one of those episodes. A farmer sees the Nazis coming to Vinca and tries to alert the people but he fails and all are closed into the town's church then the Nazis shoot them all leaving no survivors.

"Dante di Nanni" is a former soldier become partisan that who was able to stop a platoon of more than 100 Nazis and fascists for more than three hours, killing many of them fighting all alone from a ladder. Instead of using the last bullet for himself he raised up from the balcony and shot one hidden gun on the top of a church. After then he was waiting to be shot but the Nazis were so surprised to realized that only one man was able of that and they gave him enough time to raise his fist, cry "Long life to Italy" and fall down from the balcony.

"Gianfranco Mattei" is another paartisan. He committed suicide in the jail of Via Tasso in Rome to avoid revealing the names of his mates under torture.

"La Sepoltura dei Morti" (Dead's Burial) and "Un Biglietto del Tram" are the unhappy ending. The war is gone but the consequences are not. Even taking a bus to go to Piazzale Loreto where the corpses of Mussolini and other big names of the fascist party are exposed is not enough to ill the wounds that the war and the fascism have left.

From a musical point of view this is an excellent album with a strong concept. I have just spotted that another reviewer has detailed the tracks as I've done, also better than me, I think. So if you want to go more in depth click on the album title and read also Andrea's review. 4 stars for me.

 Guarda Giu Dalla Pianura by STORMY SIX album cover Studio Album, 1974
2.21 | 9 ratings

Guarda Giu Dalla Pianura
Stormy Six RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

2 stars This is a short folk album and the reason why Stormy six have made an album like this has to be explained.

It's Italy in 1974. The Communist party has reached his maximum success ever in the elections, mainly caused by a sentiment of rebellion against the establishment that was unable to catch the changes that the '68 has brought to people's mind. Italy is still ruled by right-winged catholics.

In this social environment there's a rediscovery of the folk music that's seen as opposed to the mainstream represented by the Sanremo festival or by the "Bel Canto".

So the left-winged Stormy Six make an album with left-winged contents, including a mention of the Italian Communist Party anthem (Avanti Popolo) on the first track.

"Union Maid" is I think a traditional American, but it could have been written by Woody Guthrie. Probably it is, and it's another anthem, of course country/bluegrass.

"Otan Xtupesis Duo Fores" is a mistery for me. I don't know which language is. It's not Russian even though the music seems coming from there.

"Cuba Si, Yanquis No" is of course a celebration of the Cuban Revolution and of Fidel Castro. One sentence says "They speak of communists but they don't say that Batista killed 20000 Cubans". The music is Salsa. How could it be different?

"The Ballad Of Ho Chi Minh" sounds like a traditional country song with Irish influences, but I don't think the lyrics are "American folk" as Ho Chi Minh was the chairman of the North Vietnam. In 1974 the war was just ended (or close to end, it was many time ago).

Naturally "Leaving Belfast Town" is a song of the I.R.A. (Irish Republican Army). I think this is really an Irish song.

"Cancion Del Poder Popular" has a story. After the bloody putsch of Pinochet in Chile a folk band, the "Inti Illimani" escaped to Italy making the Chilean popular music very famous and appreciated. This is one of their songs. (Song of the Popular Power)

"Do Re Mi" (not De Re Mi) are the first notes (C, D, E) in the Italian musical notation. It looks like an American traditional. The band was in favor of Cuba, against the Vietnam War and they probably hated Nixon, but this doesn't mean being anti-Americans. I'm sure that not Cuba, but a lot of Americans were sharing the same feelings about Vietnam and Nixon.

"Brother Did You Weep?" looks like another traditional.

Finally a popular song written after the death of six protesters killed by the police at the end of the 50s.

It's well played but there's nothing prog here.

 Le Idee Di Oggi Per La Musica Di Domani by STORMY SIX album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.10 | 10 ratings

Le Idee Di Oggi Per La Musica Di Domani
Stormy Six RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

3 stars Too early recording. The band's music is very influenced by the 60s country-rock as almost all the less commercial Italian music of that period. They sound like "I Giganti" or "I Nomadi". There are symptoms of the experimentalism to come, in some lyrics and in some musical moments like the flut eat the end of "La Storia Piu' Bella Del Mondo".

There's a bit of rock, also a little acid, on "Schallplattengesellschaftmbh" that's the best track of the album and the one surely of interest for proggers. We have to take into account that in 1969 in Italy a band had to obtain a contract with a major and follow the market's rules. This track is an excellent exception and tells us where the band actually wanted to go.

The rest is pop. Often good pop, but it has just a documentary value. Only "Ramo" has a psychedelic/indian mood given by the acoustic 12 strings guitar that sounds like a sitar (or is it a true sitar? It looks more like a 12-strings).

Another good track is the closer "Sotto I Ponti Di Marmo" that has also good lyrics.

Three good tracks oncluded in the middle of forgettable stuff are not enough for the third star, but I suggest this album anyway, because the three mentioned tracks are good and deserve a listen.

It's not their fault. The forgettable material was likely what the major wanted. I give two stars but three wouldn't be a scandal.

EDIT: I didn't realize that this is the first "collaborator review". My rating has decreased the overall rating too much and because this is a 2.5 stars I have changed my mind and decided to round them up. My final rating goes from 2 to 3.

 L'Unità by STORMY SIX album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.19 | 8 ratings

Stormy Six RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

2 stars The relatively low rating of this album is not surprising if we think that it's totally different from the experimental production of Stormy Six. From a musical point of view, this is closer to the italian "beat" of the 60s. Quite similar to bands like "I Giganti" or for the country-folk influences, non-RPI bands like "I Nomadi".

If one looks for classic RPI and doesn't know anything about the concept and doesn't care of the lyrics this album is surely a disappointment.

For a band like this, the lyrics are an important element. It's where you first see the "Opposition", then imagine an American band making a concept album which tells the non- official story of Lincoln or Washington, in which they are everything but heroes. I don't know if a similar story exist, but "Garibaldi" is the most acclaimed national hero in Italy, and telling a story of murders and war crimes, as probably it really was, as probably all the wars are, is really "In Opposition".

Then it's also a true concept album. The story of the Italian independence wars seen with the eyes of people. The country-western theme of "Garibaldi", seen like a sort of cowboy is grotesque.

"Tre Fratelli Contadini di Venosa" (Three farmer brothers from Venosa) is another slow ballad about three brothers who refuse to join the new nation's army and become bandits to be killed and their bodies exposed in a place. Musically it's trivial, but the triviality of the musical theme and the drama of the story create a suggestive contrast.

"Pontelandolfo" is a town close to Naples remembered as the location, along with Casalduni, of a massacre of largely innocent population by the Piedmontese occupation troops in 1861. This is one of the episodes that are not teached in the Italian schools. Musically it's surely more prog than the previous two songs and there's the first true guitar solo of the album.

"Sciopero!" (Strike!) Is about a strike in a factory in Naples which is repressed by the police in a massacre. Again the music is full of joy while the story is dramatic. It's another episode of the "Unity", but it's a kind of things quite frequent in the early 70s in Italy.

"Suite Per F & F" (Suite for F & F) is a sort of epic for its length, clearly reminding to CSN&Y. It's about the student's movement of the late 60/early 70s. This track contains many instrumental parts that may come from "4Way Steet". For fans of Neil Young.

"La Manifestazione" starts with a guitar that seem to have inspired "Hot River" of Carla Bley and Nick Mason. It's almost identical. The song is very in line with the italian beat, mainly "I Nomadi", or also the "Moody Blues", a band that I Nomadi were highly inspired from. It's another song about a bloody repression.

"Fratello" (Brother) is an acoustic ballad with almost no music. A filler more than a closer.

It's a collector's item. In general terms I could rate it 3 stars and I have to say that I like this album, but for PA people I think it's better looking to their more recent production. Not a bad album really, just not prog.

 Macchina Maccheronica by STORMY SIX album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.68 | 28 ratings

Macchina Maccheronica
Stormy Six RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by tmay102436

5 stars To me, Macchina Maccheronica is the perfect culmination of all that has gone before in the world of Stormy Six. A perfect blending of RIO (which in itself is a blend) and the accurate, passionate Italian rock music of the time. This must have been something to see live!

The music has that overall, loose yet tight, progressive feel to it. The vocals are stunning to me, and although I don't understand Italian, the signing is a story within its telling. All the musicians are wonderful in their interpretation of the music, but especially the percussion department. The bass is just that nice melding of the avant, with straight ahead solid rock playing, against very difficult passages that it shares with the drums. Both are performed with that beautifully typical European approach to music - complex, yet not egotistical.

This album could be put out today, right along side the new Italian avant-guard/RIO releases, and not only fit in, but take over the heart and mind of the contemporary listener. Usually I recommend going out and getting this - and of course I do now - BUT first, work your way to this masterpiece of release, starting with "Cliche" and working up to this. That's not to say that what comes before and after that time period isn't good, it's just that the three releases (Cliche, L'Apprendista, and Macchina Maccheronica) represent a mature growth within the RIO concept.

It appears that this Macchina Maccheronica is now released with a new remaster in mini LP format. For me, this is 5 star perfection.

 Un Biglietto Del Tram by STORMY SIX album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.85 | 44 ratings

Un Biglietto Del Tram
Stormy Six RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Stormy Six were formed in Milan in the mid sixties and began their career as a "beat" band. Later their music turned to folk and West Coast and finally to progressive rock. In 1975 Stormy Six released their fourth album, "Un biglietto del tram", on the independent label L'Orchestra that they contributed to found. The line up featured Franco Fabbri (guitar, vocals), Umberto Fiori (guitar, vocals), Carlo De Martini (sax, violin), Tommaso Leddi (violin, mandolin, balalajka, guitar), Luca Piscicelli (bass, vocals) and Antonio Zanuso (drums). The overall sound on this album is acoustic and well refined featuring an original blend of folk, classical and progressive rock influences. In the early seventies the band got involved in politics and kept tight links with the left-wing protest movements and lyrics on this work reflect the commitment of the band. "Un biglietto del tram" is, in fact, a concept album based on some events of the last period of World War II and celebrates the Italian Resistance movement against the Nazi-Fascists.

The opener "Stalingrado" (Stalingrad) is an epic track about the battle of Stalingrad that was fought between 17th July 1942 and 2nd February 1943 and marked a turning of the tide of war in favour of the Allies (this battle is also the subject of a good film directed by Joseph Vilsmaier in 1993). Old waltzes and Cossack dances clash while lyrics describe hunger, debris, bombardments and roads paved with blood while the city resists like iron. Hope rises as the news of the Nazi-Fascist defeat spreads out and some workers celebrate the victory drinking a toast... "On its frozen way the swastika knows it / From now on it will find Stalingrad in every city...".

"La fabbrica" (The factory) is a lively track about the strikes that started on 5th March 1943, after the news of Stalingrad victory reached Northern Italy. While the Italian "betrayed" troops are dying in the mud in Russia along Don river, in some Italian factories blue collar workers begin their fight against the regime... "As in Stalingrad the Nazis crumbled / At the red Breda factory on strike the Fascists rushed away...".

Next comes the ironic, almost caustic "Arrivano gli americani" (The Americans are coming). It describes the arrivals of the American troops... "Statues sweat blood, they talk inside the churches / They announce a big miracle from the hereafter... The Americans are coming as Garibaldi's troops from Mars...". There was a strong anti-Americanism feeling in the left wings movements during the seventies (and in the extreme right wing as well) and here Americans are depicted in words and music almost as looney tunes characters, as bringers of consumerism and capitalism, as "Chocolate Kings" giving away "bars of freedom" as if they were bars of chocolate...

"8 settembre" (September, 8) is sad and dark. After a delicate acoustic intro, lyrics describe a man walking along the rail-road singing a song to sooth his tension. He has thrown away his uniform and now he tries to go home. All is lost, the Italian army melted and the country is broken. The north is under the control of the Germans, from the south the allies are coming and the king has fled. It's 8th September 1943, a gloomy day for Italy that marks the beginning of a bloody civil war between Fascists and Anti-Fascists. "In a village the Death has come wearing the uniform... In the square a smothered scream rises / They were killed like dogs with a sign hanging on their neck: Partisans!".

"Nuvole a Vinca" (Clouds in Vinca) is another beautiful and melancholic track about a Nazi- Fascists massacre of helpless civilians suspected to support the partisans. In Vinca, a village in the Alpi Apuane mountains, in Tuscany, on 24th August 1944, Nazi troops and Fascists brigades killed 174 inhabitants, most of them were just women and children. Lyrics describe a breathtaking landscape, in the sky there are black and white clouds, old peasants are able to look at them and predict the weather... Then a black cloud comes up the bends of the mountain and it brings nothing but pain... "They do the shooting, damned butchers! / What a good aim, they never miss the target!".

The evocative "Dante di Nanni" is a kind of haunting ghost dance. Dante Di Nanni was a partisan who died as a hero, fighting as a lion against the Nazi-Fascists who surrounded the house where he was sheltered. But his ghost is still walking around in the city, untamed... "I met him one morning on the subway / He was bleeding hard and smiling... Thirty years have passed since the day he was killed / It took hundred men to have him... And they can't feel safe yet / Because they know he's still strolling around, Dante Di Nanni". "Gianfranco Mattei" is tense and proud and features strong classical influences. Gianfranco Mattei was an university professor who contributed to the partisans attacks by making bombing devices. He was arrested by the Nazi-Fascists thanks to a spy and committed suicide in his cell to avoid revealing the names of his companions under the pressure of tortures... "Gianfranco Mattei, your science went too far / Gianfranco Mattei, you will never go back on your teaching post... Gianfranco Mattei, your tribune is always there / Gianfranco Mattei, your lesson won't get lost".

"La sepoltura dei morti" (The burial of the dead) is a melancholic ballad dealing with fading memories... "April is really cruel / Lilac flowers blossom upon the dead / Winter has buried their souvenir leaving nothing but pity / And now a life is just a yellowed face, just a photograph / Death doesn't worth even the price of the newspaper / That you read and then throw away...".

Last track "Un biglietto del tram" (A tram ticket) is a kind of ghastly waltz where some ghosts of victims of the Nazi-Fascists still asking for justice seem to move through the indifference of busy people. One of them makes you a present, a tram ticket to go back in Piazzale Loreto, a place full of dark memories. In 1944 the Nazi-Fascists killed there fifteen partisans and exposed their corpses on the square. In 1945 in Piazzale Loreto were exposed the corpses of Benito Mussolini, his lover Claretta Petacci and other members of the National Fascist Party...

On the whole an excellent album and an interesting way to explore obscure memories coming out from recent Italian history. In my opinion this is the best Stormy Six's album. At the end of the 70's the band had prolific collaboration with foreign artists and Stormy Six were one of the five founder members of the RIO-Rock In Opposition international movement, that gave them the opportunity to play all over Europe and their music became more experimental but in recent reunions they went back to their roots and "Un biglietto del tram" still represents the band at their best.

Thanks to avestin for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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