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AREA

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Area picture
Area biography
Formed in 1972 in Italy - Disbanded in 1983 - Reformed from 1993 to 2000 - Active again since 2009

Undoubtedly one of the more adventurous, AREA were also a very important band on the seventies Italian prog scene, their first three albums in particular come highly recommended and essential listening to anyone discovering the RPI genre.

The band formed in 1972 stabilizing with a line-up of superb musicians for their debut album featuring ex I RIBELLI vocalist Demetrio STRATOS, ex I CALIFFI guitarist Paulo Tofani, bassist Patrick Djivas (later to join PFM), drummer Giulio Capiozzo, keyboardist Patrizio Fariselli and on sax, flute and clarinet Victor Busnello. "Arbeit Macht Frei" (work will make your free) was released on Cramps records in 1973 and is a very accomplished debut by anyone's standards featuring an exciting blend jazz, rock and prog with Arabian and Greek (Stratos was Greek) influences along with a touch of the Avant. The bands lyrics show a politically left wing stance and Stratos was already displaying his inventive vocal style, using it as an instrument much of the time rather than in the traditional sense, something he would develop to further extremes on future albums (including solo work).

By 1974, when their second album "Caution Radiation Area" was released, Djivas had jumped ship for PFM being replaced by Ares Tavolazzi and Busnello also left but was not replaced. It's a harder listen than the debut leaning more towards the avant with a heavier emphasis on free jazz, once again the musicianship is exemplary and features some incredibly powerful moments. In comparison "Crac!" released in 1975 whilst still displaying the same inventive mix of styles was more accessible and is an ideal early port of call to the uninitiated. That year also saw the release of their first live album "Are(A)zione".

Two further studio albums followed where the band continued to expand their musical palette, "Maledetti" released in 1976 where the band used a host of other musicians to help out and "1978 Gli Dei Se Ne Vanno, Gli Arrabbiati Restano". By this point Tofani had left the band. It would also prove to be the last album to feature Stratos who sadly died of cancer in 1979 at the age of only 35.

The three remaining musicians attempted to continue bringing in some outside help in the brass department for the all instrumental album "Tic & Tac". Clearly Stratos was a talent t...
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AREA discography


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

4.28 | 649 ratings
Arbeit Macht Frei
1973
3.92 | 213 ratings
Caution Radiation Area
1974
4.25 | 360 ratings
Crac !
1975
4.04 | 192 ratings
Maledetti
1976
3.89 | 155 ratings
1978 - Gli Dei Se Ne Vanno, Gli Arrabbiati Restano!
1978
2.68 | 53 ratings
Tic & Tac
1980
2.54 | 29 ratings
Chernobyl 7991
1996

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

4.03 | 71 ratings
Are(A)zione
1975
2.58 | 23 ratings
Event '76
1979
3.15 | 7 ratings
Area 1979 - Il Concerto
1980
3.55 | 18 ratings
Concerto Teatro Uomo
1996
3.04 | 13 ratings
Parigi-Lisbona
1996
3.81 | 7 ratings
Live In Torino 1977
2005
4.14 | 7 ratings
Live 2012
2012

AREA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

3.04 | 9 ratings
Anto/Logicamente
1977
4.50 | 2 ratings
Area '70
1980
4.25 | 4 ratings
Gioia e rivoluzione
1996
2.91 | 3 ratings
Revolution
2003
3.00 | 2 ratings
International POPular Group
2004
4.96 | 4 ratings
Area Gold Edition
2007
4.79 | 5 ratings
The Essential Box Set Collection
2010

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

3.00 | 1 ratings
L'Abbattimento Dello Zeppelin
1973
2.67 | 3 ratings
L'Internazionale
1974

AREA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Arbeit Macht Frei by AREA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.28 | 649 ratings

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Arbeit Macht Frei
Area Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

5 stars And here's to you the Area's debut album.

The Lp has an avowedly politicized cover in fact Area are not only a rock band but an icon of the Italian student youth movement of the Seventies, and carry on, together with the editor of their discographyc house Gianni Sassi (alias Frankestein), author of the texts, a Marxist revolutionary discourse.

1. Luglio, Agosto, Settembre (Nero) (4:27). Area's epochal debut starts with a woman's voice reciting very musical verses in Arabic. Then the operatic vocals by Stratos fill our ears, and finally the guitar (Tofani) draws an arabesque but also medieval melody (worthy of Branduardi, minstrel and Italian violinist who only in 1975 will release his first album). The medieval nursery rhyme melody is then doubled by another electric guitar then starts a moment of jazzy cacophony, noise, with avant-garde sounds, then restarts the melody. It will remain the only melodic and captivating, catchy piece on the album. The lyrics talks about the palestinian drama. Masterpiece. Rating 9.

2. Arbeit Macht Frei (7:56). The piece begins with a free-jazz improvisation with the percussion (Capiozzo) in the foreground, then sound effects arrive, electronic sounds that increase more and more, accompanied by the powerful bass by Djivas until, around two minutes and forty, a blues drumming explodes and finally around four minutes a bass riff takes shape which becomes the rhythmic axis of the song, in fact a blues. The singing of Stratos arrives at four and a half minutes from the beginning, the duration of the previous song. Together with the singing and the blues rhythm, the sax played by virtuoso musician Busnello continues with its jazz improvisations, then the music stops, the rhythm changes and the guitar solo of Tofani starts, which then gives way again to Stratos' powerful voice, who sings for a short while before the sudden ending arrives. Masterpiece. Rating 9+.

3. Consapevolezza (6:06). Fariselli, author of all the music, and synths player, brushes a very progressive instrumental intro, full of changes of rhythm and very atmospheric, which after a minute and a half gives space to the energetic voice of Stratos that has no equal in approach, and creates a sense of alienation with the jazz rock music of the group. After two verses, a jazz improvisation led by Busnello's sax, which reveals himself as the album's main soloist, starts. Under the sax, in the background, Capiozzo makes great jokes on the drums. The song despite having a strong blues riff as the first has at least a more relaxed air than the previous two, which were a real tour de force. But towards the end, when Stratos' voice returns, the song explodes. Great song but in comparison with the firsts two is more ordinary. Rating 8+.

End of wonderful A-side.

4. Le Labbra Del Tempo (6:00). Jazz-rock music with the bass in evidence, Strato's voice is not in the foreground, and neither is the drums, in a very jazzy style. Then towards 2'15'' the virtuosic jazz instrumental piece (bass and keyoboards in evidence) starts and ends with a cacophonic piece, then, towards 4 minutes the music stops, Strato's voice returns, making virtuoso vocalizations and then there is an orchestral orgasmic ending. After the first song it is the most sung one of the record. Rating 8.5/9.

5. 240 Chilometri Da Smirne (5:10). Instrumental jazz-rock song, with the sax in evidence, which deepens into an orgiastic virtuoso solo up to two minutes, accompanied by a very jazzy drums. Then a bass solo starts, then the drums come back, Tofani on the guitar plays his solo and then the saxophone and the organ start to draw their lines again. Rating 8.

6. L'Abbattimento Dello Zeppelin (6:45). We got to the last piece of the album, the most arduous, cryptic, avant- garde. Slow start with sound effects, then starts a cacophonous piece where Tofani and Fariselli play at high volume, and the bass of Djivas, a real gem, embellishes the sound, while Capiozzo focuses more on the dishes than on the snare. Stratos' vocalizations create onomatopoeic sounds that blend with the lyrics in Italian, the sax this time is in the background and is prodigious in dissonant sounds almost in the style of Van der Graaf, and with a suspended atmosphere, true avant-garde, we hear a disaffected music, atonal, until the cacophony explodes again. It's an extreme song, which is more like or be detested. I like it, especially as the conclusion of this album. Of course, if it was all six like this, we would have lost a lot in sound content, but as a forward epitaph it's great. Rating 8,5.

Area created with this record what they called international-pop and which was instead a jazz-rock / avant-garde / fusion prog-rock, an absolute masterpiece where the instrumental part was predominant on the singing of Stratos, which was completely alien to rock and melodic music, it was an emphatic and solemn singing, much sought after, sometimes recitative, sometimes tending to the singing of the opera. The musical part is very strong and innovative. This album has nothing to do with Italian progressive rock and is actually a case also internationally. Difficult to catalog, I would include it in the jazz-rock/fusion genre but also in the avant-garde. Area, however, is not limited to writing a music never heard, without genre, and to prodigious in great instrumental and vocal performances, they manage to forge a music rich in suggestions and innovations, that is, they make history. We are facing, in my opinion, one of the greatest masterpieces of prog - and contemporary music.

Medium quality of the songs: 8,67. Absolute masterpiece. Rating 9,75. Five stars (six, If I could).

 Arbeit Macht Frei by AREA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.28 | 649 ratings

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Arbeit Macht Frei
Area Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Jmoss

5 stars My favorite RPI band presents a absolute knock-out on first attempt. All the compositions are pure magic. The musicians skills just blows me away. From the first second, this album takes a grip on me and doesnt let me go untill the last note. During the 36 minutes it takes me on an emotional journey that includes everthing from intellegent rockriffs, jazzy passages, canterburylike melodies and avant expressions. The arrangements on this album always develops and surprises me. Never a dull moment.

And on top of that, the extreordinare voice of late Demetrio Stratos. Sadly i dont understand italian but Stratos expession talks to me anyway. He had a strong and demanding tone with an personal way to craft his melodies with total control over his voice. A unique way to sing. He may be an aquired taste but give him a chance.

The album feels like an Italian mix of early Magma, Zappa on inca roads, Present, early Lifetime and Captain Beefhart.

This is maybe not an easy listning but if you give it your time, the reward can be breathtaking.

In this, my first review i wanted to highlight an absolute favourite. I have listned to many RPI bands but AREA is something extra. And this album is, in my opinion, their absolute best.

A must have, i think, for everyone who likes RPI, RIO, Zeuhl, jazzrock and canterbury.

 Maledetti by AREA album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.04 | 192 ratings

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Maledetti
Area Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars AREA's 1976 effort doesn't quite live up to the standards set in the previous three years, but this is still a very good album.

1. "Evaporazione" (1:45) a wonderful and powerful introduction to the crazed and unique mind and world of Demetrio Stratos. (4.5/5)

2. "Diforisma Urbano" (6:18) slightly discofied jazz-rock fusion of the funky kind being churned out in the second half of the 1970s by such bands as JAN AKKERMAN, SBB, STOMU YAMASH'TA's GO, JAN HAMMER, GEORGE DUKE, LENNY WHITE, and JEFF BECK. Excellent for that fare. (8.75/10)

3. "Gerontocrazia" (7:30) Demetrio, soprano sax, and an African marimba open this one with a very African folk feel until cello takes over at 2:40 as sole companion of Demetrio's singing. At 3:36 the full electrified contingent joins in though carrying a North African melody as its standard. Then at 4:20 we get another drastic shift into a more JAN HAMMER/MAHAVISHNU-like passage in which jazz-rock drums support multi-instrumental presentation of high- speed melody-noodling. A minute later the whole-group presentation breaks down to allow for singular soloists to present their interpretations. At 6:25 the passage ends and we are bridged back to the North African melody section for the song's finish. Interesting! (13.5/15))

4. "Scum" (6:30) piano-based WEATHER REPORT, JOE SAMPLE or even DONALD FAGEN-like jazz fusion with fretless bass in the initial lead and synths and electronic keys adding their voices after a minute. Nice, virtuosic DON PULLEN-like piano solo in the third minute continuing on until the ELP/YES-like 4:23 mark. Experimental synth noises take over, setting the stage for a Demetrio Stratos political vocal recitation (oddly, electronically treated). (9/10)

5. "Il Massacro Di Brandeburgo Numero Tre In Sol Maggiore" (2:20) a BACH string quartet with a little organ support from Demetrio. (4.5/5)

6. "Giro, Giro, Tondo" (5:55) Single note synth drops support a multi-track, multi-voice Demetrio onslaught before drums and keys smash their way into the song at the one minute mark. By 1:45 there is a full-band jazz-rock tapestry playing out over which Demetrio sings a fairly straightforward (for him) impassioned vocal. (8.75/10)

7. "Caos (Parte Seconda)" (9:00) a sonic free-for-all in which every band member is set loose in the studio with the intention, it would seem, to pluck and strike, clink and clank, wah and wang, fizzle and fazzle, strafe and staccato anything and everything they can A) come in contact with or B) imagine and invent. Methinks Demetrio, saxophonist Steve Lacy, and all percussionists had the most fun during this one. I'm guessing that only the most patient, most curious, or else detached and unexpectant listeners will find enjoyment in this one. (14/20)

Total Time: 39:18

Four stars; another wonderful, well-produced display of the kind of politically-charged experimental music being done within the progressive rock movement in the mid-1970s.

 Parigi-Lisbona by AREA album cover Live, 1996
3.04 | 13 ratings

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Parigi-Lisbona
Area Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars This album proves the instrumental and vocal band qualities, while lacking in the sound quality. Chaps offer more than enough energy and raw power to showcase the nucleus of their music. Pieces are not extended into jams and still rather follow the moves of the studio version with rawer energy. We can hear that probably the singer or another musician speaks in French to the audience in Paris and the band is well accepted. Most pieces can be considered band's best of or most famous tracks such as the first concert track which was also the first one on the legendary Crac!. This is a good testimony of band's abilities to play live but as it is not the only one and arguably not the best one, look for another live capturing.
 1978 - Gli Dei Se Ne Vanno, Gli Arrabbiati Restano! by AREA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.89 | 155 ratings

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1978 - Gli Dei Se Ne Vanno, Gli Arrabbiati Restano!
Area Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Area does not disappoint on their last album of the 70's and the last one with their original singer. The band is loyal to their fusion sound but experimenting with other instruments such as trombones and variety of keyboards. The first track sounds simpler in the beginning but evolves into a complex fusion track with classy oriental motives. The second track has two highlights - an Arabic motive and great jam between piano chords and mighty bass guitar. "Retun from Workuta" is a showcase for Stratos vocals that sound unlike from this world.

Next two following tracks are simpler and catchier in their structure but by no means commercial. "Acrostico In Memoria Di Laio" is one of the highlights as it unites modern fusion and funky directions. "FFF" is almost a hard-bop classical workout had it not been for rockier sounding drums. "Vodka cola" is a promising track but the execution leaves mixed feeling as it is not coherent reaching from pop to fusion.

 Maledetti by AREA album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.04 | 192 ratings

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Maledetti
Area Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Still going strong on this album whereas most other bands were on a decline already. After a hardly impressive first short track, a slight change in the sound can be heard: funky rhythms and more danceable beats have come! The bass is strong, drums have been adjusted, too. Clavinet is present and the groovy mood replaced the former fusion heavy spirit.

Temporarily. "Gerontocrazia" has inredible fusion moments in its second half with fast keyboard solo. "Scum" contains elements of free jazz, especially on the piano, and brings the band to a new dimension. The fifth classically influenced track from Brandenburgo Concerto does not bring anything interesting and therefore is a letdown.

"Giro Giro Tondo" is the closest track reminiscent of their past with jazz bass, electric piano and busy fusion drums. At the end of the spectrum, "Caors" is, judged by the name a throwaway disorganized track not suitable for repeated listenings.

 Crac ! by AREA album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.25 | 360 ratings

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Crac !
Area Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by sgtpepper

5 stars The most famous Area album and very highly regarded here on Progarchives, although I think it is on par with not only the debut but also the second album.

The landmark composition is the first song - again featuring oriental influences and state of the art rhythm section (listen to the bass+drums) during the main motiv, this is balsam for the ears. "La mela di Odessa" has a furious organ runs supported by electric piano, bass clarinet and bass. Incredible and tight musicianship.

"Megalopoli" has a memorable organ "riff" that could well be suitable for the guitar. In other parts there are plenty of solos by each instrument except drums. Even drums show a very good variety of fill-ins. The singer shows his peak skills and high improvisional tones. "Nervi scoperti" really touches with its edgy nervous improvisation and finally, we have a furious rock guitar solo. The most catchy track with plenty of joyful atmosphere is named "Gioia E Rivoluzione". "Implosion" returns to the dense fusion theme and the bass is quite high in the mix. Compositionally not the best track but still very quality instrumentation. The unique last track is of historical importance and showcases mainly disharmonic vocal and piano abilities. Some bass and guitar also emerge in the mix.

Together with the first and second album, these are the must-have for fusion and progressive rock fans.

 Arbeit Macht Frei by AREA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.28 | 649 ratings

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Arbeit Macht Frei
Area Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by sgtpepper

5 stars This debut with a very controversial name is also ear and thought-provoking as the band were left-wing oriented and very liberal in music. It was unusual for a band in Southern Europe to start an album with Arabic narrative. The typical playful uncomplicated but slightly unconventional melody with Eastern world influences, dense instrumentation and jazzy/fusion elements combined into one represent an impeccable music mosaic. On top of it, passionate sometime disharmonic-AOR vocal.

All players are masters of their instruments but the drummer, keyboard and saxophone/clarinet player stand out.

"Arbeit macht frei" is a partly jam-oriented fusion-driven track with flute,keyboard and percussions going seemingly disparate. The interplay reminds of Canterbury on one hand and Mile Davis on another. Vocal is disturbing in the concentration but is short, thakfully, before organ/synth led section follows. Certainly one of the top tracks of the album.

"Consapevelozza" is closer to RPI than most other tracks, showing also domestic influence on the band.

"Le labra del tempo" is a fantastic 3/4 or 6/8 intensive workout but also reflects in a calmer mood in the second half. Things get even faster on "240 chilometri da Smirne", this is fusion of high calibre and not many other bands from Italy could compete in that space (Dedalus or Arti e Mestieri comee to mind). No vocals here.

The last track has a great early 70's drum pattern, however the second half turns into an experimental music of not everybody's taste.

In terms of intensity, this may be the best Area album but compositionally and instrumentally, it is slightly better than other next 4 albums and on par with "Crac!".

 Tic & Tac by AREA album cover Studio Album, 1980
2.68 | 53 ratings

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Tic & Tac
Area Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Asiostygius

4 stars Frankly I do not understand the low ratings of this more than decent album by Area. After the unfortunate death of the great Demetrio Stratos in 1979, the band correctly decided to avoid vocals (except by some backing vocals) in this album, since no one could replace the "maestro della voce". Even though this instrumental album is not so adventurous as the previous ones, it is more than decent fusion with virtuosity from all players, especially the spectacular bass played by Ares Tavolazzi. I miss the guitar of Giampaolo Tofani, but as a whole, the album is a joy for my ears: 3.5 stars without any doubt.
 1978 - Gli Dei Se Ne Vanno, Gli Arrabbiati Restano! by AREA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.89 | 155 ratings

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1978 - Gli Dei Se Ne Vanno, Gli Arrabbiati Restano!
Area Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nº 213

'1978 Gli Dei Se Ne Vanno, Gli Arrabbiati Restano!' is the fifth studio album of Area and was released in 1978. This is certainly the most discussed, poorly digested and criticized album of the band. It marked definetely a change in the band. The first turning point is, undoubtedly, the abandonment of Paolo Tofani. With his departure, Area doesn't lose only a guitarist but all that experimental research of sounds that had distinguished the band in their previous albums. The second turning point was, unfortunately, the untimely death of Demetrio Stratos. The group, under the same name, will produce two more studio albums, one a year later and another in 1996. But, both albums are strongly distanced from all the production in the years of activity with Stratos on vocals. It was really fatal for Area his tragic departure.

'1978 Gli Dei Se Ne Vanno, Gli Arrabbiati Restano!' has nine tracks. All tracks were written by Demetrio Stratos, except 'Interno Con Figure E Luci' written by Patrizio Fariselli and Demetrio Stratos, 'Acrostico In Memoria Di Laio' written by Patrizio Fariselli, 'FFF (Festa, Farina E Forca)' written by Giulio Capiozzo, Patrizio Fariselli and Ares Tavolazzi and 'Vodka Cola' written by Patrizio Fariselli, Demetrio Stratos, Giulio Capiozzo and Ares Tavolazzi.

The first track 'Il Bandito Del Deserto' opens with the usual Mediterranean atmosphere very common in the band. The structure of the piece isn't the most complex. But nevertheless, at the level of the structure, it's a concentrate of ideas and precious virtuosities that only great musicians could produce. The text is loosely based on the writing by Shanfara, an Arab pre-Islamic poet. The second track 'Interno Con Figure E Luci' is structured between instrumental parts and moments in which Stratos remains the only creating every kind of sounds from his throat. It's an instrumental track that can show the contrast between the sung parts, which are more obscure and repetitive, and the instrumental parts, which are more radiants. The third track 'Return From Workuta' opens with a very strange and amazing vocal work of Stratos. The piece is timeless and we only perceive a synth carpet with a heavy and suffered contrabass accompanying the melancholic vocalization of Stratos. The song is about the return from the famous Soviet Gulag, the Vorkutlag. The fourth track 'Guardati Dal Mese Vicino All'Aprile' is, undoubtedly, the freest song on the album. It hasn't any kind of structure or discipline. It would be impossible, or rather infinitely long, to describe what happens all over the track. This is another instrumental piece. It's about the regret of have passed ten years after the revolution of 1968 and the things just have only changed a bit. The fifth track 'Hommage A Violette Nozieres' is a ballad with a typical Mediterranean atmosphere, apparently almost pop. But, if we analyze it, we can find harmonious choices and rhythmic solutions of great refinement and complexity. Even the vocals are in a stratospheric level. It's one of the tracks in which Stratos reaches the apex of the vibrato. That is particularly evident on the ending of the piece. It contains a vocalization to the limits of the unimaginable. The sixth track 'Ici On Dance!' is a piece where the most amazing thing is the crazy work from the rhythm section. Here, the Mediterranean influence is aslo predominant in the theme and in the created musical atmospheres. The text is very minimalist and hermetic. The only real fact is that the title of the piece resumes a writing attached to a post, during the Bastille's taking in Paris. The seventh track 'Acrostico In Memoria Di Laio' is a funky Mediterranean jazz piece that runs almost entirely around the text, which is interpreted by Stratos with a kind of spoken. Stratos changes the voice and intonation with an embarrassing naturalness, making jumps even more octaves, giving us the impression that there are several people recording the piece. The eighth track 'FFF (Festa, Farina E Forca)' is another instrumental piece, starting from a single drum that later flow into an almost ambient relaxing part to culminate in another jazz style in which Fariselli shows off all his piano skills. The ninth track 'Vodka Cola' is the lengthiest song on the album. Here, the influence of the Weather Report is even more present, especially in the keyboard sounds. 'Vodka Cola' doesn't have a well defined music structure and has a continuous progression of parts full of the all kind.

Conclusion: '1978 Gli Dei Se Ne Vanno, Gli Arrabbiati Restano!', like all the albums of Area, isn't easy to assimilate, although it's certainly more 'easy listening' when compared to their previous albums. If Stratos hadn't passed away, so soon, probably today, we would talk about this album as an adjustment to a new music path for Area. But, unfortunately, we have to label it as the 'swan song' of one of the best vocalists ever of the universe of the progressive rock music. Although we certainly can't define it as their best album, this is undoubtedly another great album produced by this unique band. It's a less avant-garde release, but if you appreciate the genre, this album will undoubtedly please you. Perhaps our friend DamoXT7942 is right when he says that there's no unification in the whole album. However, this album remains a great piece and justifies why I consider Area the most original and creative Italian prog rock band ever.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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