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Quella Vecchia Locanda - Il Tempo della Gioia CD (album) cover


Quella Vecchia Locanda


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.11 | 341 ratings

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5 stars The epitome of the Italian genre?

There is so much great Italian prog that I'm always raving about it only to be asked by others where to start. Then it becomes very hard to think of one album that captures all of the many wonderful and unique aspects of the classic Italian album. This would have to be one of the top candidates to suggest to someone as an essential Italian album and one that covers most of the traits that make them special: creative songwriting fusing the rock, classical, and jazz genres; immaculate production with great attention to recording details; exceptional use of violins, flutes, and other classical elements; warm and passionate Italian vocals; and perhaps most importantly an unabashed willingness to project a most romantic style of music. Some will say that the Italian stuff can't compare to the best English or German music but I disagree. True, the big groups from those other countries achieved far great commercial success but does that necessarily mean they are better? Or perhaps just different, with the luxury of more access and distribution that has allowed them to be more ingrained in our minds as the standard bearers of quality prog? The sheer beauty of "Il Tempo Della Gioia" would suggest it has a place amongst the greatest prog titles from anywhere in my humble opinion.

The album opens with a sweeping and gorgeous piano melody in "Villa Doria Pamphili" joined by acoustic guitar and violin. Achingly beautiful. The vocals begin and are very good by any standards. At 2:30 there is a unexpected crescendo. Then after another verse the song ends with such a wistful, haunting piano. What an opener!

"A Forma Di" begins softly with building violin and then flute and piano, the violins being tense and nervous while the other instruments are contrasted by a sense of calm. Around halfway we get some wordless vocals in a choir form. Then what I believe is a harpsichord adds an elegant feel before the song fades out.

The title track is next with vocals right away proceeding into somewhat jazzy waters. We get some trippy keyboards and operatic sounding vocals. Bass and percussion provide a solid backdrop here and we get a small taste of some nice guitar. The last part of the song begins to sound like an Italian version of Relayer's "Sound Chaser." But make no mistake, this band was not trying to mimic Yes or Genesis or Floyd, they made their own sound with this release.

"Un Giorno Un Amico" features some fiery violin playing in the first half of this near 10 minute prog gem. If you're waiting for things to get conventional, they won't. This track is just about exploration and emotion. After some vocals the second half opens up more space for some nice solos from several instruments. Again the combination of jazz/rock and classical elements is seamless. The sound quality is pretty decent for '74.

"E Accaduto una Notte" begins with choral voices, flutes, and acoustics before the lead vocal begins, accompanied by piano and distinct bass. The mood gets decidedly dark as the strings and piano take on a sinister tone. The album ends with a trippy build-up to an explosion of some type. So much for the happy ending! It is true as some have noted that QVL was "ending challenged." Many of their songs just stop abruptly or in some unimaginative way but for me it just can't negate all the things they do right.

The Japanese mini lp-sleeve features incredible sound and a perfect reproduction of one of the most amazing gatefolds I've ever seen. A deliciously abstract painting graces the outside while the inside art would suggest maybe a romantic road trip spent writing music among other things? How should I know, just a guess! Whatever the point of the art, it works magically with the music to convey the feeling that these were men reveling in a most creative and heady time in their lives.

An essential title for a collection desiring any exposure to the Italian scene, the masterpiece of QVL. Also recommended to fans of classical music. Their debut may be more rocking and accessible, but this one is where the real magic is! 4 stars rounding up on this one.

Finnforest | 5/5 |


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