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FLEA

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Flea biography
Having the distinction of releasing three albums under three different names but without changing their personnel, this quartet from Sicily includes the brothers Agostino and Antonio Marangolo (drums and keyboards, respectively), their cousin Carlo Pennisi on guitar, and Elio Volpini on bass and sax. Based in Rome, they played under the name FLEA ON THE HONEY at the 1971 Viareggio Pop Festival. Later that same year they recorded their self-title debut, which was a decidedly English-influenced hard rock album and was marketed as such by RCA subsidiary Delta. The vocals were in English, and the members were even given English names on the album cover (Dustin, Tony, Charlie, and Nigel, respectively), probably an attempt to foist them off as Englishmen who had come to Italy seeking fame and fortune. Although derivative, the music has some nice moments and is a good hard rock album with a nod toward the nascent progressive movement.

After more live activity, including an appearance at the Rome Villa Pamphili Festival and a mini-tour with METAMORFOSI and GARYBALDI, the band shortened their name to FLEA and recorded their best album in 1972, "Topi o Uomini." The highlight is the 20-minute title track, and the album features vocals in Italian and a more progressive style while keeping their feet solidly in the hard rock camp.

Following the release of "Topi o Uomini," bassist Elio Volpini left the band to join his keyboard-playing brother Enzi in L'UOVO DI COLOMBO. He was replaced in FLEA briefly by Fabio Pignatelli, who later left to join CHERRY FIVE and GOBLIN. FLEA then broke up for a short time, but in 1975 the original four members reunited and changed their name to ETNA. Their only eponymous album represents a major shift in musical style to Jazz Rock, not unlike NOVA and IL BARICENTRO.

The group then broke up for the last time. Elio Volpini played with many musicians on stage and in the studio. Agostino Marangolo joined GOBLIN and was later involved in NEW PERIGEO and later in the new version of NAPOLI CENTRALE. Antonio Marangalo had a successful career as a session musician and released a solo album "Duo" in 1987. Carlo Pennisi played briefly in LIBRA, MEDITERRANEO, GOBLIN, and NEW PERIGEO. The Marangolo brothers and cousin Carlo Pennisi played together again on Agostino's 2001 solo album "Day By Day," which is supposed to be similar to WEATHER REPORT in style.
[Todd]

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Helen BurnsHelen Burns
EP
Original Recordings Group 2013
$9.36
$1.38 (used)
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FLEA discography


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

2.06 | 31 ratings
Flea on the Honey
1971
3.43 | 52 ratings
Topi O Uomini
1972

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

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

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

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FLEA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Topi O Uomini  by FLEA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.43 | 52 ratings

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Topi O Uomini
Flea Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A Rome-based group formed by Sicilian natives, they started as Flea On The Honey with all members using English pseudonyms in a common line of many Italian groups.After playing at the Viareggio 1971 Pop Festival they released a self-titled Hard Rock debut on the Delta label, entirely sung in English.A few gigs later, among them a good performance at the famous Rome Villa Pamphili Festival, they shortened their name to Flea and the members reappeared with their normal names, Antonio Marangolo on vocals, piano, flute and harmonica, Carlo Pennisi on guitar, mandolin and vocals, Agostino Marangolo on drums, vibraphone and vocals and Elio Volpini on bass, saxophone, guitar and vocals.Second album ''Topi o uomini'' was released in 1972 on the Fonit label.

The entire opening side is dedicated to the 20-min. title-track, the band had eventually switched to the Italian language, but if this was an instrumental work I would have propably mistaken it for a lost Kraut Rock release.A Hard/Psych Rock tour-de-force with psychedelic jams, mascular riffs and solos and doomy grooves with upfront bass lines.The Italian vocals add a sense of harmony at moments, even if these are delivered with a raw edge, but the music is extremely rough with a guitar-driven sound and a muddy production with only some harmonica added in the process.Consider it more of a loose execution of hard and psychedelic elements and the result will be pretty pleasant.The flipside opens with ''Amazzone a piedi'', which is a bit more ''musically adapted'' with Flea continuing to offer hard-edged power Rock with interesting vocal exercises and sharp guitar parts, which now contain some nice and sudden breaks and moves in dual deliveries.''Sono un pesce'' is an attempt on more proggy and flexible offerings with the addition of vibraphone, acoustic guitars and piano, resulting to a more poetic and romantic intro, which leads to a slow-motion Psych Rock enviroment with the display of interesting sax lines and the omnipresent guitar leads.''L'angelo timido'' is a dominant and complex rocker with energetic electric guitars and a great instrumental middle-part with guitar and bass intercations and some bluesy tunes towards the end.

Elio Volpini soon went on to join L' Uovo di Colombo, replaced by Fabio Pignatelli, who's stint with the band lasted for only two tours, after which he moved to Cherry Five/Goblin.The original Flea quartet reformed in 1975 under the name of Etna and a more Jazz Rock-oriented style.

Rough Hard/Psych Rock, definitely one of the most angular Italian albums of the style, a bit similar to OSAGE TRIBE but with looser executions.Good for what it is, a sufficient listening for all fans of guitar-driven adventures.Recommended.

 Topi O Uomini  by FLEA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.43 | 52 ratings

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Topi O Uomini
Flea Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by coasterzombie

4 stars Sandwiched between their beat/psych debut and jazz fusion masterpiece, Flea (aka Flea on The Honey, aka Etna) produced a monster hard rock album in 1972 on the Fonit label. While some may be reluctant to call this "prog" or progressive rock, if a twenty minute jam in three movements ain't prog, I don't know what is. Being a Goblin fanatic in my early twenties, Flea caught my attention early on due to the connections with that band - Carlo Pennisi (guitar) and both Marangolo brothers (Agostino and Antonio, drums and keyboards respectively) would join the group at various points. On display here is a heavy prog opus, reminiscent of Cream, Hendrix and Led Zeppelin in spots, but wholly original and not derivative as some may suggest. The title track is an absolute stunner, while the second side isn't quite as good. The two even out to a four star rating.

As "Topi O Uomini" begins, we have some tasty hi-hat flourishes courtesy of Agostino Marangolo and some sneaky guitar from Carlo Pennisi; a minute in, he hits the volume pedal and a devastating riff ensues. If you compare Pennisi's playing here to what Flea on the Honey was doing only a year earlier, it's like night and day. Sure, there were hints of his talent on the debut, but on "Topi O Uomini" we see a fully developed guitar giant, trading licks with the best of them. I especially love the unison playing between Pennisi and bassist Elio Volpini...they feed off of one another and it tends to bring out the best in both of them. Singer Antonio has more of a supporting role than he did on Flea on the Honey, jumping in here and there to deliver vocal duties when needed. While this is a twenty minute song, don't expect "Close to The Edge" or "Supper's Ready" - really it is more like three songs in one, and while the transitions are fluid, none of the three movements really bear any relationship to the others, but all three could easily stand on their own. The opening riff is reprised at the end though, so it does give the song some closure and cohesiveness.

Of the three distinct songs on side two, "Sono un Pesce" is by far my favorite and deserves special mention; the addition of piano and vibraphone will hint at what Flea would later realize as Etna, and complete their eponymous jazz fusion classic in 1975. Clearly a band that were capable of playing many different roles, it is unfair to pigeonhole Flea as a "jam band" or "psych-rock leftover." And while I would highly recommend Flea to fans of either genre, their place in the annuls of progressive rock cannot be denied.

 Topi O Uomini  by FLEA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.43 | 52 ratings

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Topi O Uomini
Flea Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Heavy prog with bilingual vocals. That's the bill presented here with "Topi O Uomini". This is very typical for the early seventies, but not from an Italian band.

The long and epic title track features long solos which were more popular during live sets that while played in the studio (but there are some exceptions like this one). Unlike some fellow reviewer, I don't like the vocal parts available: more of a long shouting effect than pleasant. But the musical style doesn't leave much space for sweetness and delicacy in the vocal department.

Guitar work is excellent though and brings this long song to good levels indeed . If you like the work from Bambi Fossati with "Gleemen" and "Garybaldi"; there are lots of chances that you will like this album as well. Still, this drum solo is not at all useful. The closing and bluesy section is not the best either.

The next song is heavy, loose, incoherent and without structure ("Amazzone A Piedi"). The disjointed character of "Flea" 's music is totally present in the good psychedelic "Sono Un Pesce". Some sort of early Floyd psychedelia ("ASOS") full of phantasmagoria and craziness. Be ready for quite a "trip".

The basic and wild heavy rock is back for the closing track of this album: "L'Angelo Timido" can be described as a short counterpart of the title track, just that solo are shorter.

I'm not very found of this album. Three stars. But be aware that this album has nothing to share with Italian music.

 Topi O Uomini  by FLEA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.43 | 52 ratings

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Topi O Uomini
Flea Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Very unusual to see a band like this keep the same lineup for three albums but change the name of the band each time. Not necessarily a great marketing idea. The other unusual thing is that each of these 3 albums are very different from one another. Regardless of the behind the scenes stuff this album is a keeper. And thankyou Todd for the recommendation.

"Topi O Uomi" is the side long (over 20 minutes) opening track that does not disappoint. Cymbals to open as guitar joins in. This is very laid back until a minute in when it turns louder and drums and Italian vocals arrive. Nice guitar interlude 3 minutes in. Prominant bass before 4 1/2 minutes as they jam. Vocals are back 6 1/2 minutes in. A ZEPPELIN vibe here. Great sound 8 1/2 minutes in and I love how chunky the bass is.The guitar solos tastefully with vocal melodies before 12 minutes. Nice. It's the bass and drum show after 14 minutes. Vocals are back 15 1/2 mintes in.Harmonica a minute later. Cymbals only after 17 1/2 minutes with some faint whistling before our main theme returns a minute later. Vocals follow. This is great !

"Amazzone A Piedi" is fairly uptempo and heavy. I like the fast paced vocals that come and go.The guitar after 2 minutes starts to light it up. "Sono Un Pesce" opens with vocals and a melancholic mood. Vibes follow. Sax after 3 minutes as we get an instrumental interlude that ends before 5 1/2 minutes. "L'angelo Timido" kicks in quickly and with aggression. I like the vocal style here. This is raw and heavy. Nice bass solo before 3 1/2 minutes. The guitar is back followed by harmonica as the bass continues to dig deep.

This deserves 4 stars in my opinion. Too much here to like. Their next album under the name ETNA would be a Jazz / Fusion album. Go figure ?

 Flea on the Honey  by FLEA album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.06 | 31 ratings

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Flea on the Honey
Flea Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This is a prehistorically release. The band was of Italian origins and that's the only link with RPI that I can see. This album is a mix of psychedelia and heavy rock. All sung in English to make the link with Italy even less obvious?

I can't be over enthusiastic about this album, even bearing in mind that almost forty years have passed between its release and this review.

Songs are mostly boring. The longest track of this album and opener "Mother Mary" sounds as a joke to me. Some weak drum solo and poor vocals are the "highlights". What comes next is no better: short pieces vaguely psyche ("King's Thoughts"? "Don't You Ever Feel Glad"), jazzy ("Happy Killer") or heavy ("Let The Flags Fly High", "Moon Park Woman") but definitively not very interesting.

You shouldn't be fooled by this inclusion: it holds very, very little to do with Italian music. Some basic rock mood and that's it. The closing "Next Election" features some short flute part and some more constructed music. But nothing too fancy to tell the truth. Two stars is well paid.

 Flea on the Honey  by FLEA album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.06 | 31 ratings

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Flea on the Honey
Flea Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Todd
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano!

2 stars Proto-prog hard rock, decent period piece

This is the first album by FLEA ON THE HONEY, a quartet from Sicily but based in Rome. After this release, they shortened their name to FLEA and released the much better "Topi o Uomini" in 1972. Then they broke up for a while after some personnel changes, but the original quartet reformed in 1975 and produced a really good Jazz Rock album under the name ETNA.

This album is very far from the jazz rock style of 1975. Here there is proto-prog hard rock, with rocking guitars, interesting riffs, even some flute a la Tull. The songs are nothing special, but are not bad. In fact several are quite good--apart, that is, from the singing. They chose to sing in English, with lyrics which approach unbearable. Had they sung in their native Italian, or even kept the album largely instrumental, that would have been a great improvement. But in terms of its contemporaries, it is similar to ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA'S "La Bibbia"-- again, apart from the silly English lyrics and accent. (The band even sports English names on this one!) There are definitely signs that point to their next wonderful, more overtly progressive album, but in these short songs the approach is hard rock with prog flavoring.

The Sony/BMG mini lp is typical, with nice gatefold but little documentation (unlike the excellent booklets of the BTF mini lps)--and it is now out of print, as are all the Sony mini lps. So if you're interested, particularly as a collector of RPI, act quickly! Two stars, but I wish they were stelle . . .

 Topi O Uomini  by FLEA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.43 | 52 ratings

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Topi O Uomini
Flea Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by 1967/ 1976

4 stars INTROSPECTIVE MAGNETISM WITH CHANGE OF PERSONNEL AND IDEAS... BUT... ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA IT WAS REINCERNATED AS TOPI O UOMINI!

In fact 'Topi O Uomini' (eng: 'Mouses or Men) is the 2nd album of Flea On The Honey/ Flea/ Etna but it is also a new RDM album in 'La Bibbia' stile! Other words... Are superfluous.

100% Heavy RPI 'Topi O Uomini' is a compact album, extremely powerful and aged extremely well. In other words... 'Topi O Uomini' is a perfect album. But not a masterpiece because not emotional and without tons of positive feelings. But sure 'Topi O Uomini' have the best moments in the 20 mins of title track and for the rest the other songs are in the same spirit: typical RPI driven by electric guitars and powerful Rock.

I've described 'Topi O Uomini' in a general manner because this is the best way to convince you to bought 'Topi O Uomini' for me.

 Topi O Uomini  by FLEA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.43 | 52 ratings

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Topi O Uomini
Flea Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars For lovers of the rock JAM

In the annals of Italian rock the Sicilian band Flea is yet another group with a roller-coaster history. Originally called Flea In The Honey, their first album was a bit of joke with the label apparently trying to sell them as an English band, going so far as to give them fake names. The music was pretty weak by most estimates although I've not heard it. It was enough to get them playing live on the Italian festival scene and in '72 came this, their second album and under the shortened moniker of Flea. They would split after this one before reuniting in '75 under yet a third band name, Etna. Etna would feature a more fusion-sound and it said to be pretty respectable. But this album is clearly in the hard rock/psych/blues arena with progressive tendencies. It has a fairly heavy English influence to me, and aside from the Italian vocals, sounds much more like it wants to be Zeppelin/Cream/Hendrix Experience than it does Banco or PFM. It features a complete side-long title track with nothing but explosive and bombastic jamming throughout followed by three shorter tracks on side 2.

Scented Gardens explains how the side-long title track "went through several different phases, starting with jazzy percussion and a memorable guitar riff, then introducing chords for the great vocal passage that follows. After some great guitar variations there is a sudden shift to Black Sabbath-tempo heavy rock introducing another melody. This is developed and varied in shifting dynamics with further strong guitar work and vocals. The third and last melody part starts after a short drum solo after 14:56 minutes and is closer to the blues with the addition of harmonica. After a short time this leads into another drum solo, gradually resurrecting the first melodic theme of the song." [SGotM] Taking the view for the opposition, ProgBear is quite passionate: "For me, this is the absolute nadir of the Italian 70's "progressive rock" scene; an absolutely hopeless hard rock band with some half-assed prog pretensions. Awful compositions, clichéd "freak-out" moments and terrible squealy vocalizing make this a must-miss. I find it nigh impossible to believe that this is the exact same band that made the Etna album three years later-how did a band this awful improve that much in three years?" [ProgBear] Personally my views are somewhere in between these polar views: "Topi o uomini" has some moments of great grooving but seems to just be missing one piece of the puzzle, lacking just enough mystery and development in composition to leave me a bit short of satisfied. Leaving that personal lament aside the album rocks with some truly passionate and dinosauric ferocity, heavy and gut-punching rhythms and gruff guitar wailing, sometimes close to a Ted Nugent guitar sound. I can appreciate some of the high energy and occasional Keith Moon or Mitch Mitchell channeling at the drum kit, though albums of such lengthy jamming for the sake of it can get pretty tiring if the compositional goals are not reached or never existed. As a veteran of many garage band jams in my school days I find little on this Flea album that I didn't sit through back then, bobbing my head with beer in-hand, waiting for the well-intentioned young men to finish. Certainly, Flea are better at what they do than most of what I experienced but you have to be one that appreciates the long jam to love this album. For me, while there are some nice rhythm changes, heavy riffs, and interesting individual fireworks sprinkled throughout the long piece it is an occasional play at best. My favorite track on this album is the one the enthusiasts tend to write off: the softer and more "Italian Prog" flavored "Sono un Pesce". It offers up a nice dreamy melody and introspective acoustic guitar that is memorable and pleasing. Perhaps this album will grow on me down the road but for now I'm stuck in one gear with this.

Nevertheless, my taste aside, there is some heavy grooving here that may well appeal to fans of Cream, Hendrix, Rag e Ryggen, or T2. I don't want to be too down on such fun but I can't call this a great album either. Recommended for guitar jam fans or those seeking a deep Italian collection. The BTF/VM gatefold mini-LP sleeve edition is fabulous as usual.

 Topi O Uomini  by FLEA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.43 | 52 ratings

BUY
Topi O Uomini
Flea Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by erik neuteboom
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Here's another wonderful digipack distribution by the prolific Italian label Btf. The information is in Italian and English, embellished with nice pictures. Flea made 3 LP's: the poorly rated Flea On The Honey (1971), Topi O Uomini (1974) and finally their most acclaimed effort Etna (1975). The album Topi O Uomini opens with the long titletrack (around 20 minutes) that sounds as energetic rock: powerful vocals, raw guitar (lots of fiery and moving solos), bluesy harmonica and a propulsive rhythm-section (evoking Led Zeppelin). The other 3 tracks (between 4 and 7 minutes) deliver more variety, also due to the wider range of instruments, from vibraphone and pianoforte to mandoline, soprano-saxophone and acoustic guitar. We can enjoy a sound that alternates from heavy to jazzy, very pleasant if you like the typical rock sound of the Seventies and Flea added some fine progressive ideas.



 Topi O Uomini  by FLEA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.43 | 52 ratings

BUY
Topi O Uomini
Flea Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by federico2_barbarossa

5 stars REALLY: 4,50 (ESSENTIAL!!! Masterpiece of Prog Music!!! ESSENTIAL IN EVERY DISCOGRAPHY!!!)

Good album of Prog, even if the long "Topi O Uomini" and "Amazzone A Piedi" play too pure Hard Rock. To the alone end "L'Angelo Timido" plays fusion, even if not in the style of Perigeo. Best the guitars that thanks to a very soft production play a lot "gotten angry", helped also from a not banal thechnique. Surely an album to rediscover and to love.

Thanks to ProgLucky/Finnforest for the artist addition.

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