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BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso picture
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso biography
Founded in Rome, Italy in 1969 - Between 1997-2018 active playing Live - Reformed in 2016

One of the most important progressive rock bands to come from Italy, BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO, along with LE ORME and PFM are regarded as the big three of the RPI genre. This is not only because of their longevity and the level of success they achieved in their own country, but also because each were able to make considerable inroads abroad, something which didn't happen for most of their contemporaries.

Despite not releasing their first album until 1972, the band actually formed in 1969, their sound centering around the virtuoso dual keyboard work of the Nocenzi brothers, Gianni and Vittorio. The early line-up fluctuated with various members coming and going before any recorded output was released, including drummers Franco Pontecorvi and Mario Achilli, bassist Fabrizio Falco and guitarists Gianfranco Coletta (ex CHETRO & CO) and Claudio Falco. This early incarnation of the band did, however, record some material but this wouldn't surface until 1989 (see the "Donna Plautilla" album).

Joining the Nocenzi brothers for a more stable line-up in time for their first album was ex-FIORI DI CAMPO guitarist Marcello Todaro and three members of LE ESPERIENZE, vocalist Francesco Di Giacomo, drummer Pier Luigi Calderoni and bassist Renato D'Angelo. Their eponymous first album was a remarkably mature piece of inventive symphonic progressive rock with classical influences, featuring excellent musicianship and the emotionally charged vocal delivery of Di Giacomo. This was quickly followed up by the equally highly regarded "Darwin" and "Io Sono Nato Libero," forming a trio of albums that are essential listening for anyone with even the most casual interest in the RPI genre.

A change of guitarist followed shortly after the recording of "Io Sono Nato Libero," when Todaro left and joined CRYSTALS and was replaced by Rodolfo Maltese, formerly of HOMO SAPIENS. Around this time the band attempted to make inroads outside their native Italy and released the English sung "Banco" on ELP'S Manticore label. In reality this was largely a compilation, as it consisted of re-recorded songs from their first three albums with the exception of one track. To promote this they toured the USA and UK with limited success. "Banco" was followed in 1976 by the film soundtrack album "Garofano Rosso," and in the same year two versions of the same album, one Italian and one English...
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TransiberianaTransiberiana
Century Media 2019
$13.97
Darwin (ita)Darwin (ita)
Sony/Bmg Italy 1999
$9.97
$5.29 (used)
Seguendo Le TracceSeguendo Le Tracce
Marac 2005
$17.90
$20.77 (used)
CapolineaCapolinea
Edge J26181 2011
$12.72
$14.12 (used)
Io Sono Nato LiberoIo Sono Nato Libero
Sony/Bmg Italy 1998
$12.96
$8.25 (used)
Canto Di PrimaveraCanto Di Primavera
Emi Music Italy 1995
$20.07
$45.76 (used)
BancoBanco
Sony/Bmg Italy 2006
$6.99
$5.98 (used)
Un Idea Che Non Puoi FermareUn Idea Che Non Puoi Fermare
Rca Records Label 2014
$30.56
$17.58 (used)
I Grandi SuccessiI Grandi Successi
Sony/Bmg Italy 1993
$13.99
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BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO discography


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

BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.28 | 838 ratings
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
1972
4.37 | 1094 ratings
Darwin!
1972
4.36 | 1012 ratings
Io Sono Nato Libero
1973
4.09 | 241 ratings
Banco
1975
3.48 | 156 ratings
Garofano Rosso
1976
4.00 | 247 ratings
Come In Un'Ultima Cena
1976
3.32 | 74 ratings
As In A Last Supper
1976
3.76 | 209 ratings
...Di Terra
1978
3.75 | 163 ratings
Canto Di Primavera
1979
1.67 | 57 ratings
Urgentissimo
1980
2.11 | 48 ratings
Buone Notizie
1981
1.92 | 53 ratings
Banco (1983)
1983
1.28 | 50 ratings
...E Via
1985
2.28 | 43 ratings
Donna Plautilla
1989
2.14 | 32 ratings
Non Mettere Le Dita Nel Naso
1989
3.41 | 44 ratings
B.M.S. (Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, 1991 version)
1991
3.43 | 80 ratings
Darwin (1991 version)
1991
2.26 | 38 ratings
Il 13
1994
4.03 | 36 ratings
Transiberiana
2019

BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.07 | 51 ratings
Capolinea
1979
2.00 | 6 ratings
Live
1993
2.35 | 18 ratings
Papagayo Club 1972
1994
3.77 | 44 ratings
Nudo
1997
3.56 | 9 ratings
Nudo - Live In Tokyo
1998
3.70 | 20 ratings
En Concierto, May 1999 - Mexico City.
1999
3.87 | 27 ratings
No Palco
2003
4.26 | 56 ratings
Seguendo Le Tracce
2005
3.58 | 12 ratings
Quaranta (Live Prog Exhibition 2010)
2012

BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.32 | 25 ratings
In Concerto: Cio' Che Si Vede È
1992
3.76 | 10 ratings
Live 1980
2007

BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.21 | 27 ratings
Da qui messere si domina la valle
1991
3.25 | 8 ratings
La Storia
1993
2.21 | 5 ratings
I Grandi Successi
1993
1.75 | 4 ratings
Banco d'accusa
1996
3.95 | 3 ratings
Le Origini
1996
2.07 | 5 ratings
Antologia
1996
1.00 | 2 ratings
Nudo (Japanese version)
1997
1.00 | 2 ratings
Musica più
1997
3.94 | 8 ratings
Gli Anni 70
1998
3.75 | 4 ratings
Made In Italy
2004
3.92 | 3 ratings
I Miti Musica
2005
4.25 | 4 ratings
Collezione Italiana
2006
3.50 | 2 ratings
D.O.C.
2006
2.50 | 4 ratings
Le Più Belle Canzoni Di... Il Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
2006
4.00 | 1 ratings
Il Ragno
2008
4.56 | 9 ratings
Banco del Mutuo Soccorso - 40 anni (Debut album 40th anniversary Deluxe Edition)
2012
5.00 | 1 ratings
Essential
2012
5.00 | 8 ratings
Darwin!
2013
4.00 | 11 ratings
Un'idea che non puoi fermare
2014
4.75 | 4 ratings
Io sono nato libero 1973-2017 (Legasy Edition)
2017

BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 2 ratings
Non Mi Rompete
1973
2.00 | 1 ratings
Canto Di Primavera
1979
2.00 | 1 ratings
Niente
1979
2.00 | 2 ratings
Paolo Pa / Ma Che Idea
1980
2.00 | 1 ratings
Paolo Pa
1980
2.00 | 1 ratings
Il Ragno
1980
2.00 | 1 ratings
Baciami Alfredo
1981
3.50 | 2 ratings
Lontano Da (DJ - Special Mix)
1983
1.50 | 2 ratings
Moby Dick
1983
1.95 | 3 ratings
Grande Joe
1985
1.50 | 2 ratings
Vedo Il Telefono
1989

BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Transiberiana by BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.03 | 36 ratings

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Transiberiana
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Triumphantly spanning five decades of progressive rock history, Italy's one and only BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO which proved everything sounds better in Italian (compare to the English "Bank of Mutual Relief") returns after a quarter of a century since the last studio album "Il 13" was released in 1994. Along with bands like Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM), Le Orme, Area and Osanna, BANCO dominated Italy's popular prog scene that took the early 70s by storm with a string of classic albums that began with 1972's self-titled masterpiece and followed by the even more outstanding "Darwin!" and "Io Sono Nato Libero" followed by other great albums that continued throughout the decade however like many a prog band of the era succumbed to the changing tides in the music industry. While some bands like Genesis, Yes and Franco Battiato rode the new wave of pop music like pros, BANCO reached new nadirs with lifeless pop shlop that has pretty much been rightfully forgotten.

Exactly 50 years after the band's formation, this Roman legend has surprisingly sprung back to life releasing its 17th studio album TRANSIBERIANA in the year 2019. This is all the more surprising considering the operatic vocalist and charismatic frontman Francesco Di Giacomo perished in an unfortunate car accident in 2014. It's fair to say that no one saw this one coming but with the modern day renaissance of all things progressive and 70s albums that went virtually unnoticed during the day suddenly becoming hot selling items, i can't say i blame any legendary prog rock band can miss out on it, especially after the caliber that BANCO delivered in their prime. So yes it has been a "thing" for classic prog bands to emerge from the past and resuscitate their former glory years that helped make the prog universe so distinctly unique within the greater rock music paradigm. But capturing the past and balancing it with the modern era is no easy feat for sure.

BANCO clearly deserves the highest plaudits as one of the greats of the Rock Italiano Progressive scene and it cannot be unnoticed when a band revives a certain characteristic that has become an instantly recognizable icon of its identity. I'm speaking of the debut album's terra cotta boob shaped piggy bank that makes a reprise on the band's latest offering TRANSIBERIANA only this time featuring a world map and colored blue. Instantly this signifies that the band has eschewed it's lame attempts to cash in on the insipid pop of the 80s and 90s and finally has gotten back to what it delivered with all the fiery passion that made them the legendary stars that these guys?. well, so immortal. But mortal they are like all of us. Of the classic lineup that graced the first two albums, only co-founder Vittorio Nocenzi remains, so any notion of the "real" BANCO should dissipate very quickly and realize that this is a totally new band that only has one important connection to the classic years.

The new lineup consists of Tony D'Alessio (lead vocals), Filippo Marcheggiani (lead guitar), Nicola Di Già (rhythm guitar), Marco Capozi (bass), Fabio Moresco (drums) and the sole connection to the past Vittorio Nocenzi (piano, keyboards, vocals) and TRANSIBERIANA consists of 11 new studio tracks with a bonus track edition that has two extra live tracks that add 16 minutes of playing time. Despite the long delay between albums, BANCO never really went away and has been playing live gigs off and on throughout the years. It wasn't until the death of Francesco Di Giacomo and the arrival of singer Tony D'Alessio that the band contemplated actually getting to work and recording a progressive rock album that looks back to the golden years of the band while updating things to the modern day in terms of both production value and contemporary relevance.

It doesn't take long to hear that despite a completely new lineup minus one founding member that the spirit of classic BANCO carries on. The passion is still there and D'Alessio while not blowing away the late Giacomo's vocal prowess still commands a veritable vox box delivery in his own right. Right from the starting track "Stelle Sulla Terra" it's clear that the BANCO sound has returned but it's also clear that it is a distant recording from those early years despite the firm connection to them. While all the tracks host the progressive elements that made BANCO Italian superstars, there are not lengthy sprawling epic tracks like 1973's "Canto nomade per un prigioniero politico" from the "Io Sono Nato Libero" album. The longest track on TRANSIBERIANA is merely six and a half minutes long but the band creates some veritable musical gems in this album's somewhat lengthy 53 minute playtime.

Once again BANCO delivers strong melodic hooks with that classic Italian flair that reignites the passion, ramps up the rock mixed with classical and jazzy touches and introduces some veritable art rock accoutrements to the mix. The opener is a prime example as it crafts a melodic verse / chorus traditional feel but has intermissions with rapidly almost rapped vocals behind what sounds like a mandolin riff. The band also includes the expected proggy piano rolls alongside the more electronic sound effects from the synthesizer. The band members uncannily mimic the past member's excellent instrumental interplay with progressive chops, alternating pianos, acoustic guitars, drum rolls and electronic in a dazzling tapestry that exudes the classic zeitgeist while crafting uncharted territory for the band but then again i have skipped the majority of the 80s and 90s output due to its reputation alone.

Perhaps my only complaint is that the album is a little too long and some of the slower tracks in the middle could've been edited out to create a more authentic 70s album length that only exhibited the best the new version of the band could muster up, however nothing is overtly bad. With so many classic bands emerging out of the woodwork and trying to recapture the past, unfortunately very few succeed in their efforts. BANCO's new album TRANSIBERIANA is quite the surprise as it actually is a worthy addition to their lengthy canon. While the first three classic albums are in no way in danger of being dethroned as the feathers in BANCO's cap, this album delivers an interesting mix of old and new without sacrificing the spirit of the classic BANCO years despite some tracks sounding almost more industrial or punk oriented. TRANSIBERIANA is an intriguing comeback album for sure and while i usually wish that classic prog bands just call it day and let the classics speak, when a band delivers an interesting album with a new spin, i have to say it warms my heart to know that old dogs can learn new tricks even if most of the dogs on board are new. Excellent release! Biggest surprise of the year so far.

 Transiberiana by BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.03 | 36 ratings

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Transiberiana
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars "The return of the giant Banco"

Singer Tony D'Alessio performed in bands like Lost Innocence, Scenario, Guernica and Pozzo di San Patrizio, but he has always been a huge fan of the Classic Italian Prog, especially Il Balletto Di Bronzo, Osanna, PFM, Area, and Banco. He even met Francesco Di Giacomo in the time during his band Scenario. Francesco was impressed and said to the Banco members : 'Before I die, mark him as a hypothetical substitute for the band'. Unfortunately this was sooner than planned when Francesco died in a car collision in 2014. From the moment Banco wanted te release a new album they organized auditions for a new singer, and asked Tony to join because they remembered Francesco his words. Among many good candidates Tony won, and he can be found on the Banco 2-CD compilation Io Sono Nato Libero The Legacy Edition, with the 2017 CD La Liberta Difficile (6 tracks).

Listening to this new Banco studio-album (the first since Il 13, from 1994) I am stunned by the huge variety, from modern prog to avant-garde, and from atmospheric to AOR, incredible, it sounds like Pandora's Prog Box! And new singer Tony does an excellent job, from tender to powerful, and from melancholical to expressive. He reminds me of the Italian vocals in Metamorfosi, Le Orme, Museo Rosenbach, and of course Banco, very passionate and inspired!

In many tracks the emphasis is on catchy beats, percussive keyboard sounds (great fat sequencer-like sounds), a propulsive rhythm-section and harder-edged guitar work. This is embellished with inventive and surprising breaks and shifting moods, like in these tracks.

L'Imprevisto : from subtle acoustic rhythm guitar and howling steel guitar to lush Hammond.

L'Assalto Dei Lupi : Il Balletto Di Bronzo-like 'jazz meets rock meets avant-garde' with a virtuosic acoustic guitar part.

Eterna Transiberiana : in the end a very moving guitar solo with echoes from Andy Latimer.

The exciting and alternating I Ruderi Del Gulag : from swinging piano to awesome interplay between Hammond and a heavy guitar.

And Oceano: Strade Di Sale : catchy and accessible with Hammond and rock guitar, like Eighties Kansas.

Some tracks sound more laidback, like Campi Di Fragole: first dreamy with piano and acoustic guitar, then a slow rhythm with piano, warm vocals, a buzzing fretless bass and soaring keyboards, and finally sparkling piano work and fragile acoustic guitar with soaring keyboards. And Lasciando Alle Spalle : an atmospheric climate with tender piano and guitar, and a variety of keyboard sounds, like 'classical meets electronic'.

My highlights.

La Discesa Dal Treno. First dreamy with piano and powerful guitar riffs and howling electric guitar runs, then passionate vocals and tender piano, this creates a great tension between mellow and bombastic. Next flashy synth flights and heavy electric guitar, and strong interplay. We can enjoy a surprising experimental instrumental part with jazzy piano, a catchy beat and echo guitar. Then melancholical vocals and tender keyboards and vibraphone, and finally heavy guitar riffs and percussive keyboard sound, what a hypnotizing sound.

Lo Sciamano. It starts with a spectacular synthesizer intro, like 'Vangelis meets Keith Emerson'! Then a slow rhythm with distorted vocals, heavy guitar play and twanging guitar (King Crimson hints). Halfway a swirling Hammond solo in an ominous atmosphere. This is followed by a heavy guitar solo, outstanding acrobatic vocals, propulsive drum beats, dazzling synthesizer flights and heavy guitar runs, what a sensational prog composition, so varied and adventurous.

Il Grande Bianco. A mellow climate with repetetive twanging guitars (like Eighties King Crimson), soaring keyboards, a cello sound, soft bass and wonderful dreamy vocals, then lush Hammond and sparkling synthesizer flights. Now the music turns first into slow and bombastic with moving electric guitar and then into a catchy beat with a fiery guitar solo ('jazzrock meets metal'). Again strong vocals, and delicate work on keyboards and guitar, topped with a powerful rhythm-section. Finally a dreamy part with tender Grand piano and subtle electric guitar drops. Variety rules!

The two bonustracks are live recorded in 2018, at the Festival Prog Di Veruno.

Metamorfosi (9.43) : A Banco classic, what a powerful and dynamic version featuring great work on keyboards, including virtuosic piano - and synthesizer play by good old Vittorio Nocenzi (one of the founding members) and a heavy guitar sound by Filippo Marcheggiani, adding a special flavour to the new Banco sound. In the second part Tony D'Alessio showcases his talents with a short rendition of R.I.P., a jawdropping tribute to Francesco Di Giacomo (this part was his finest moment for me), goose bumps!

Il Ragno (5.42) : A swinging rhythm with pleasant work on piano, keyboards and guitar, powerful vocals, topped with an inventive rhythm-section, this became a stage favourite during the years.

To me this new Banco album sounds as 'modern progressive', from catchy and accessible to experimental and genuine progressive, it is fresh, powerful, adventurous and dynamic, a big hand for this new Banco!

 Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso by BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.28 | 838 ratings

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Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars While I haven't listened to much RPI at this point in time, mainly only listening to some of the big bands such as Le Orme and PFM, the debut album of Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso easily stands out to me, having a more energetic, experimental sound to it, making it stand out from the others I've hears which stuck to a more beautiful approach. That's not to say I necessarily like it more than those others, it's just that this one is quite interesting to me, further due to the odd album structure, only having 3 real songs, 2 over 10 minutes, and then a few interludes. The album most reminds me of Emerson, Lake and Palmer but with a strong Italian identity and a vocalist more suited to opera.

The first proper song on the album is also the one I consider far and away the best here, as it still impresses me just how much harder this song rocks compared to the rest of the Italian prog I've heard, being wonderfully energetic with the guitar and piano playing off each other excellently, while Pier Luigi Calderoni bashes away at the drums. This song is so incredibly catchy, with a superb vocal melody from Francesco Di Giacomo, who I think has an excellent voice all around. Further adding to this song's greatness are the solos in the first half, which are a perfect mix of bombastic and enjoyable. The final nail in the coffin that secures this song as being absolutely brilliant is its complete change at the halfway mark, leaning much harder on classical influences as it slows down considerably, making way for lush, breathtaking piano lines and flutes, the vocal absolutely stealing the show. This all culminates with the drumming becoming progressivly becoming faster until everything bursts into a much more grandiose sound produced by the organ. Metamorfosi is a far more experimental, wild piece, being predominantly instrumental, with hints of frenetic jamming amongst sometimes jazzy, melodic lines and solos. The song never really sits still, as even during the quieter sections, there's always some sort of instrument playing very energetically until just past the halfway mark, where just like the previous song, it shifts considerably into much slower, more emotive sounding music. The song picks up again near the end, being much darker sounding. I find this track quite good in general, but definitely feel like it could have been shortened by a couple of minutes. Il Giardano Del Mago is definitely the most free flowing of the songs, being an 18 minute multipart suite that has a fairly consistent tone to it, but definitely goes from dark and isolated, especially when the vocals are backed up by some unsettling harmonies, which transitions excellently into what almost sounds like chanting as the song picks up considerably into an instrumental breakdown that sounds quite similar to certain sections of Tarkus. The song continues progressing, with a really pleasant, softer section further accentuating the vocal talent present here, before picking right back up again, complete with an excellent section with the clarinet. Overall, I find this to be another excellent song, despite once again feeling as if it could have been cut by a couple of minutes. The short interludes on the album are all quite nice sounding, but are just interludes, so I really don't pay too much attention to them in all honesty.

While occasionally carrying on for too long during certain sections of the 2 longer songs, this album nonetheless is one that I find highly enjoyable, perfectly balancing between energy and beauty in a highly appealing way. In terms of quality, I'd recommend this album to newcomers of the genre, as it both contains the accessible, fun song of R.I.P, while also having some more challenging, ambitious stuff on here in the form of the two epics, providing depth while also being all around fun.

Best songs: R.I.P, Metamorfosi

Weakest songs: none

Verdict: A fun album filled with bursts of energy and sweeping sections of beauty making it quite nicely balanced. The longer tracks probably each could have been cut down a bit, but it doesn't really hurt the album's quality all that much.

 Banco (1983) by BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO album cover Studio Album, 1983
1.92 | 53 ratings

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Banco (1983)
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by opmanso

1 stars In March 2014, I went to Milan for a meeting. I stayed there for four days. In the same street of the hotel where I was staying there was a record store. So, I went there many times late in the afternoon, after work. You know how people say "When in Rome..." so I decided it was time to finally get to know some of the famous italian prog rock. I learned in the Internet about Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and Premiata Forneria Marconi being the two most popular bands of the genre. In the shop, I found several records from these bands but I could only buy one of each. Since I couldn't remember which albums were regarded as best, I decided based on the covers and titles of albums.

In the end, I came out of that store with «Per un Amico» by PFM and «Banco» by Banco del Mutuo Soccorso. I thought «Banco» was their first album because often debut albums are self-titled. The date on the back cover didn't help because it is written "2006" and I thought that should be a reissue from an early seventies record. Only later I discovered that I have chosen a 1983 album and one from the weakest period of the band.

It's very hard to review this album because to be prepared to write a revier one should listen carefully to an album as many times as possible and in different occasions. I must admit this is an album I've listened only 3 or 4 times since I bought it in March 2014. It's not an album I want to play to anyone. It's not an album I want to go back. Sometimes, after not listening to it for many months I start thinking: "well, maybe it is not so bad". Then, I give it another try and the conclusion is always the same: this album is one of the worst I have ever listened to.

Everything is bad: songs are uninspired, production is awful. I know a lot of people like Francesco Di Giacomo powerful operatic voice (and I respect their opinions) but that is not the case with me. His voice reminds me too much of Demis Roussos (Aphrodite's Child). Trying really hard, I can pick a not-so-bad song: «Moby Dick». Most of the rest is hard to get over. «Lontano Da» and «Velocità» are absolutely ridiculous.

Later I discovered the album «Io Sono Nato Libero» and was able to somehow reconcile with this band but I must say that back in March 2014 the disappointment with this album was highly compensated by the discovery of the beautiful «Per un Amico» by Premiata Forneria Marconi.

 As In A Last Supper by BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.32 | 74 ratings

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As In A Last Supper
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Surprisingly there were only two preceding reviews for this album, but on the other hand the original Italian-language version Come di un'Ultima Cena has (deservedly) gained more attention here. Count me among those who prefer their RPI listenings in Italian rather than in English, despite the fact that I can't speak Italian. Anyway, I have the Esoteric Recordings' re-release from 2010 on my hands. It contains liner notes by Ernesto de Pascale. Before going into music itself, I'd like to pick up some background facts.

After Greg Lake of ELP had witnessed a gig og P.F.M. in Italy and invited the band to record for their Manticore label, some other RPI groups followed the same way and made albums in English. One of them was Banco, undoubtedly the second biggest Italian prog band, both at the time and retrospectively. Whereas their first Manticore release Banco [IV] (1975) used material from various albums, As in a Last Supper is musically identical to its Italian twin. The lyrics of vocalist Francesco Di Giacomo were translated by Angelo Branduardi. "The concept for the album was casually born at a dinner with friends of the group, at which one of the guests stood up to talk about his doubts and problems, asking for help and advice. The situation suggested a series of themes and subjects, which would be covered in the album through the metaphor of the Last Supper. The illustration inside the album's gatefold cover inlay saw designer Mimmo Mellino take the painting by Leonardo Da Vinci and metaphorically revisit with the addition of the faces of the band members."

Compared to Banco's earlier albums with long compositions, this nine-track concept album favours shorter song structures. The opener 'At Supper, For Example' (6:19, the second longest track) has a fine, colourful sonic texture. Vittorio and Gianni Nocenzi play many kinds of keyboards but leave enough room for the singer. Curiously, at times I came to think of Tim Buckley's music (which is not a negative remark!). 'The Spider' is an edgier and faster prog piece slightly reminding of Kansas. 'John Has a Good Heart, But...' is a mellow and pastoral song in a folkish, acoustic-oriented arrangement.

'Slogan' (7:25) is a prog rollercoaster with lots of dynamic changes and a slower middle part. Guitarist Rodolfo Maltese plays also trumpet, and one of the synths has a harp-like sound. One of the album's highlights is 'They Say Dolphins Speak' in which the violin part of Angelo Branduardi - yes, the translator - has a Crimsonesque effect. The song has a nice, groovy bass line in the bottom. Till the end this album keeps the sonic richness and the lyrical content in good balance. And as ZowieZiggy says, Francesco sounds so passionate that the language is not that relevant. Of all RPI classics this one may not be among the very greatest achievements (and surely not even the best album of Banco), but it's a very good addition to a collection of vintage 70's prog.

 Darwin! by BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.37 | 1094 ratings

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Darwin!
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars Out of the multitude of Italian prog that emerged in the 70s, of which there are too many greats to mention, only a few reached the top tier status that placed them as the crown jewels of Italian progressive rock. Alongside critically acclaimed acts such as Premiata Forneria Marconi and Le Orme came another Italian great from the city of Rome and like an episode of punctuated equilibrium, a term that describes a sudden burst of evolution rather than a gradual ascent, BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO or BANCO for short unleashed their second album of 1972 and expanded their musical paradigm a millionfold on their sophomore release DARWIN! Named after the famous evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin, the band crafted a concept album based on his theories about the birth and evolution of all species on the planet. Like the self-titled debut the music is driven by the powerful classical trained keyboard counterpoints of brothers Vittorio and Gianni Nocenzi alongside the powerful rhythm section and the operatic powerhouse vocal style of Francesco Di Giacomo.

Much of the Italian prog scene was influenced by the British bands such as Genesis, Van Der Graaf Generator and Emerson, Lake and Palmer who often found more enthusiastic fans abroad than in their homeland. While each respective Italian band shared similar elements from the abundance of imported influences, they each managed to find a different recipe in which to refine the ingredients. In the case of BANCO, the band continued their heavy driving double keyboard drama with an outstanding emphasis on overlapping classical attacks of bombastic ELP styled Hammond organ runs along with Moog synthesizers and the tender yet stylistically challenging piano riffs. While many bands were about showcasing their virtuosity, BANCO found a way to tamp down those primeval impulses and implemented their talents in the context of a theme which gives DARWIN! a very mature and sophisticated overall feel. In addition to these imported influences, BANCO utilized healthy doses of the beautiful Italian folk as well as pan-European classical music in general.

Due to the fact that like many Italian bands of the day, BANCO crafts their tales exclusively in their native lingo which means the storyline is completely null and void to non-speakers but even with no lyrical context, the music delivers a spine-tingling prowess that delves into a dizzying array of stylistic shifts throughout the album's seven track run. "L'Evoluzione (Evolution)," the lengthiest track running just shy of the 14 minute mark begins much like the expected symphonic prog band of the era hinting at a pastoral Genesis inspired dreamscape with lush classical passages and Giacomo's romantic soothing vocals. But as such a title would indicate many changes, the passionate lulling placidity ratchets up the tempo as classical piano runs are joined by rock and bass guitar and heavy percussive drive. The truck erupts into an organ frenzy venturing into a frenetic ELP inspired assault that becomes the main motif of the track's duration.

"La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta (The Conquest Of The Upright Stance)" switches gears showing immediately that DARWIN! is a multi-faceted beast. The ostinato bass line provides a buzzing drone effect while the keys and flute are allowed to leapfrog all over each other. The track develops a melody and rhythmic drive that sounds sort of like a James Bond movie theme getting crashed by the mafia. "Danza Dei Grandi Rettili (Dance Of The Big Reptiles)" shifts gears again and transports the listener into some clandestine speakeasy jazz club with a sultry swinging groove augmented by the unusual sound of the Hammond organ runs crashing the party. "Cento Mani E Cento Occhi (One Hundred Hands And One Hundred Eyes)" deceives as it sounds like a victory dance at a Medieval festival and then plays the old switcheroonie as it jumps into a bombastic hyperdrive that finds BANCO in full hard rock mode making it the heaviest rock track on the album without sacrificing the Chopin-esque classical piano chops with ELP organ bombast.

"750,000 Anni Fa ... L'Amore? (750,000 Years Ago?.Love?)" takes a complete 180 and tackles a passionate Italian pop piano ballad with no trace of neither progressiveness nor rock. "Miserere Alla Storia (Misery To History)" struts its swanky groove as a heavy bass line augments a heavy organ and piano intro but the tracks dramatically shifts to a sophisticated mellower track that exceeds in dynamic counterpoints that culminate in a dramatic Italian rant that sounds like something out of Phantom Of The Opera but ultimately finds resolution as a hyperactive jazzy-funk groove with out-of-sync synthesizer runs haunting the background. This track has a lot of changing parts with classical piano runs breaking in and stealing the thunder. One of my personal faves.

"Ed Ora Lo Domando Tempo Al Tempo Ed Egli Mi Risponde ... Non Ne Ho! (And Now I Ask For Time For More Time And He Answers Me?I Don't Have Any!)" is a bizarre little ender to a very ambitious album as it is a short piece that is inspired by merry-go-round music. While that seems completely out of place it becomes clear if you understand how the music corresponds to the track titles since it seems to insinuate the cosmic wheel of life going round and round but very much on the clock. In fact the album makes a lot more sense at least understanding the meaning of the titles as they give some sort of reference to the musicality taking place. While the album may seem totally off-kilter in all its arrangement prowess gone astray, logic occurs in the context of the evolutionary themes of life on the planet and as a biology major myself, a thematic content that i'm quite enthralled with on a personal level.

While DARWIN! has stood the test of time and remained one of the pinnacles of the Italian prog scene, it is by no means an instantly attainable album for the uninitiated. While melodies and moments of symphonic beauty can pacify the soul, this collection of progressive rock workouts can just as easily sound jarring and disorienting as angular rhythms and bombastic outbursts pummel away at the nerves. The sophistication of which the whole thing is stitched together takes a few spins to come to grips with and i by no means found this to be the masterpiece it's made out to be upon first encounter. After all is said and done (and a fair number of attentive listening experiences later), one can only conclude that this is indeed one of Italy's finest moments in a progressive rock context and deservingly stands up to such greats of PFM, Le Orme or Area in its unapologetic and idiosyncratic delivery of disparate ideas sewn together in a bizarre new concoction. While BANCO would churn out a few more excellent albums, none of them are quite as startling as hearing DARWIN! for the very first time.

 Io Sono Nato Libero by BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.36 | 1012 ratings

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Io Sono Nato Libero
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by nikitasv777

5 stars I did want to submit this review both to echo the general support for this album. Io Sono Nato Libero a classic of the Italian Progressive Rock movement in the 70s. Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso's best album (in my opinion). One of the all-time great Italian prog albums. Impressive music! Io Sono Nato Libero grabs and attract from the first minute. Melodism, perfect arrangements, scent of classical music, the Italian lyrics, theatrical flair; enchanting and varied as well. Truly wonderful stuff! The technical abilities and creativity of the band are exceptional. Even though the album is just forty minutes, there's so much to discover with each new listen.
 ...Di Terra by BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.76 | 209 ratings

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...Di Terra
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Tapfret
Special Collaborator Eclectic & C/JRF Prog Team

4 stars It is clear that Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso made their masterpiece works with operatic front man, Francesco Di Giacomo. It was also clear that Garafano Rosso, the movie soundtrack that was the band's first instrumental work, was a tier below the rest of their 1970's discography. But the band's 1978 album, ...di Terra, easily holds its own among Banco's classics.

This instrumental does not just feature the band playing sans lyrics, it also includes the Orchestra del'Unione Musicisti di Roma. Quickly one can hear a vast departure from their early sound and style. It is not readily comprehensible what the band might sound like playing this composition without the orchestra. The fusing of the rock band and orchestrations is tight, a complete melding, creating a cohesiveness between the instruments that is so often missing in these type of projects, even with regard to the most highly acclaimed of these rock/orchestra collaborations. For instance, on Days of Future Past, the orchestra is used more as a transitional element. As seamless and natural as those transitions were, the combination was rarely simultaneous. With ...di Terra, that fusion is the rule, rather than the exception.

While the compositions are not overtly complex, they are deeply explorative. From the legato Nel Cielo E Nelle Altre Cose Mute; to the frantic, disharmonic staccato of Terramadre; to the grooving jazzy overtones of Nè Piú Di Un Albero Non Meno Di Una Stella; this album is not one that is void of challenge to the listener, yet never seems to waver in its themetic goal. While I am not aware of the exact circumstances, the theme of the project is actually centered around a poetic work of singer Francesco Di Giacomo. Perhaps I am reading to much into it, but it often appears that his presence is not missing. Is it that the band is making a conscious effort to convey this work in the essence of Di Giacomo's approach to music without his actual presence on the recording? To me, that is exactly what happens, right down to the closing resolution. And the only way that could happen was to approach the entire piece from a purely orchestral direction. The result is a compostion that is poetically nuanced, each movement carrying an almost conversational pace and tone. When translating the titles: "In Heaven And In Other Quiet Places", "Mother Earth", "Neither More Of A Tree, Nor Less Of A Star", while a large aspect of subjectivity certainly applies, the names are emblematic of the movements.

...di Terra is an outstanding work at a time that most classic prog acts were floundering. But still, it endures an amazing amount of criticism. And surely its understandable with 1978 being the year of Tormato and Love Beach. The competition was fierce! But all kidding aside, ...di Terra is an extremely beautiful album, ranking 3rd behind Io Sono Nato Libero and Darwin! as my favorite BMS albums. It was easily one of the best of a particularly weak year. 4 stars

 Darwin! by BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.37 | 1094 ratings

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Darwin!
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The much-acclaimed and revered epitome of 1970s 'classic' RPI here finds criticism and disconnect.

1. "L'Evoluzione" (13:59) This song offers a perfect opportunity for me to express a few of my dislikes in Banco music. Banco songs can sometimes be too busy. Like the comment in Amadeus about Mozart using just too many notes, the average, untrained human brain can only take in so much. Then there are the tendencies that Banco uses to compose support music for individual soli that is too rigid and monotonous--that goes on for far longer than one would like to hear. And then there are the flaws in the mixes of the instruments. Still, there is the fact of the amazing complexity and sophistication that is always a part of Banco compositions. Admirable and laudable, but they do not always translate into enjoyable listening experiences. Sometimes there can be just . . . too much going on at once. And I am often found having trouble finding, much less attaching to, lead or woven melodies. Where are they? And I will finally admit that after all these listens to Banco materials: I am just not that big of a fan of Francesco Di Giacomo's voice. He may be the equivalent of the Peter Hammill of Italy--you either love him or you hate him. (Like with Hammill), I fall into this latter category. (Well, I don't really hate him. I don't always enjoy his voice or vocal performances.) (8.5/10)

2. "La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta" (8:42) until the final two minutes, this is an instrumental song of typical Banco complexity and breakneck speed but possessing some nice, interesting, engaging melodies on the top (mostly from the synthesizer). Still, this song feels a bit too much like a song that would run over the introductory or end credits of a 1970s spy film. One of the more tolerable, even enjoyable, Francesco Di Giacomo vocals. (9.5/10)

3. "Danza Dei Grandi Rettili" (3:42) opens with a kind of sophisticated coffee-house jazz feel. For 45 seconds. Then the full-house orchestral hall sound bursts forth. For a bit. Reverting back to café dynamics, the jazzy sound returns for some piano and jazz guitar interplay. The louder 'chorus' section returns with some cool organ and synth interplay before a bridge back to the original sound and theme occurs. Piano, jazz bass, brushed drums, and jazz lead guitar play out to the end--and, it is assumed, the sparse applause of the smokey café. (9/10)

4. "Cento Mani E Cento Occhi" (5:22) opens with a driving, dynamic burst of straightforward organ-based rock. Francesco's poorly recorded voice is oddly mixed. There then follows a kind of Keith Emerson section before the vocals return. In the second half of the song, a kind of all-male barrel-house vocal ensemble becomes the form of vocal delivery--in both the louder and even the softer sections. A well constructed and performed song that is somehow poorly recorded and troublesome to connect with. Better to sit back and enjoy as spectator. (8.5/10)

5. "750,000 Anni Fa ... L'Amore?" (5:38) opens as a gentle, contemplative piano-based song over which a very strong, passionate, almost operatic vocal is sung by Francesco Di Giacomo. The man can definitely sing! There's even a section where Francesco's voice alone exudes the force that an entire full rock band might try to display--just his voice! Perhaps he was a failed or frustrated opera singer. The odd synth interlude in the middle is unfortunate. But, it is short-lived. We return to the piano and solo voce format where Francesco and Gianni Nocenzi perform their magic--until the rest of the rock band finally joins in for the final 35 seconds. (9/10)

6. "Miserere Alla Storia" (5:58) opens with a fade in of an already in full-form and fast-pace jazz-rock weave, but, then, just as it reaches front and center, it stops! Instead we are left with some spacious organ, bass, synthesizer play beneath a distant soloing clarinet. At two minute mark a very aggressive, demonic (non-Francesco) vocal sets up the onset of a new instrumental section of driving film soundtrack music. Piano soloing over staccato rhythm section ensues at the end of the fourth minute before returning first to the soundtrack "chase scene" theme and then to a pensive soft section for bass and fading clarinet to take us out. Odd song. (8.5/10)

7. "Ed Ora Io Domando Tempo Al Tempo Ed Egli Mi Risponde ... Non Ne Ho!" (3:29) opens with themes and sounds that could come from several ethnic musical traditions--and which sounds a lot like some of Woody Allen's clarinet- led Italian music as used in his films. The song is partly beautiful, partly grotesquely sad, partly funny--and definitely interesting. (9/10)

A near-masterpiece of Rock Progressivo Italiano and a clear example of how brilliant ideas in the hands of virtuoso artists do not always result in glowing masterpieces of artistic product.

 Come In Un'Ultima Cena by BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.00 | 247 ratings

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Come In Un'Ultima Cena
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

5 stars One of the most ground-breaking Italian progressive groups of the Seventies (actually, of all time), Banco del Mutuo Soccorso had an interesting first few years of releases. Three landmark RPI works (the self-titled debut, `Darwin!' and `Io Sono Nato Libero'), an English language remake disc and an all-instrumental soundtrack work `Garofano Rosso' arrived within the five years covering 1972-1976, and the group also delivered a further work `Come in Un'Ultima Cena' (`As In a Last Supper') in both Italian and English versions. While it's not quite up to the genre-setting standard of their first three releases, it's still a hugely impressive, intelligent and varied work that more than ever before showcases the charismatic vocals of frontman Francesco Di Giacomo, more than ably backed up by dazzling instrumental prowess of the musicians around him.

Unsurprisingly, a work inspired by the spiritual themes and symbolism of one of Leonardo Da Vinci's most famous paintings `L'ultima Cena' proves to give the music a bombastic and rich drama, and opener `...a cena, per esempio' sets things up nicely, with brash keyboard bursts, ripples of doomy and ravishing cascading piano, a jazzy swing in amongst electric guitar bite, melting Moog runs and Francesco's melancholic croon purring away with dignity. `Il Ragno' has a bass-powered funky grooving saunter that perhaps brings the album the closest to a more accessible commercial piece, but it's far from radio- friendly and still full of Banco's trademark twitching instrumental bursts. The melody of `È così buono Giovanni, ma...' is deeply stirring thanks to Francesco's warm and sweet vocal over pretty synth trills, breezy flute, warm acoustic guitar flecks and effective sparse orchestration, and `Slogan' takes the album in a nightmarish direction with serrated buzzsaw-like cuttingelectric guitar splinters over gloomy piano and ballistic hair-tearing up-tempo symphonic bursts, a fanfare of blaring horns and thrashing drum spasms.

After a tense introduction, `Si Dice' is a frequently introspective piece that rises for a more boisterous chorus within its more compact framing, `Voilà Mida' arrives like a delirious call-to-arms with its runaway dark-jazz piano and creeping organ bristles, a malevolent bounce to its histrionic bursts and stop/start snapping twists before Francesco's voice arrives with a joyful and lighter swoon. `Quando la buona gente dice' is a spirited and lively vocal-led interlude with rapid little instrumental fills,`La notte è piena' a gorgeous ruminative recorder and gentle classical guitar ballad and `Fino alla mia porta' a wonderful final race of instrumental flourishes and symphonic pomp.

`Come in Un'Ultima Cena' remains a very underrated work with something of an ill-conceived lesser reputation from this important Italian group. The only problem is that they perhaps set their personal standard so impossibly high with their first three works (that remain benchmark Italian progressive discs to this very day), but close inspection and repeated plays reveals `Come in...' retains all the same vocally rich, lyrically thoughtful and instrumentally flamboyant work as those others, just crafted to a more melodic and focused work that stands proudly with great dignity on its own merits.

A disappointment? Not even slightly...

Four and half stars.

Thanks to Todd for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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