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Quella Vecchia Locanda - Quella Vecchia Locanda CD (album) cover


Quella Vecchia Locanda


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.14 | 349 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA has so much more of a beautiful ring to the ears than the rather plain sounding English translation 'This Old Inn' which found this band from Rome carrying on the Italian progressive rock tradition of taking on a cutesy band name in the same style as Premiata Forneria Marconi (Award-winning Marconi Bakery) and Banco del Mutuo Soccorso (Bank of Mutual Relief). This quintet formed in 1970 and enjoyed a rather vigorous live setting that helped them become one of the more remembered Italian prog rock bands of the heyday in the early 70s. Their eponymously titled debut emerged in 1972 after a rather pop-oriented beginning which while almost completely faded into history left traces only lingering about on a various artists compilation titled 'Progressive Voyage' (The track is titled 'Io ti amo' or in English 'I love you.' While they would hone their prog rock chops in no time and be ready for the big time, there's no doubt that the pop aspects of this band carried over to their proggier side and allowed them to dish out some of the more melodic flow of compositions in the Italian prog rock scene.

QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA only released two albums in their short career with this one being released on the Help label and then finally getting picked up by RCA for their second album 'Il Tempo Della Gioia.' While they only released two albums, both are quite distinct in their style despite both firmly placed in the category of classically infused rock with folk and jazzy touches. This debut album lacks the production prowess of the second album but for my ears is the more interesting album of the two as it unleashes a powerful youthful exuberance and enthusiasm that 'Il Tempo Della Gioia' lacks as they began to slip into a comfort zone but a very beautiful one i must add. The band's main leaders were lead singer and flautist Giorgio Giorgi, guitarist and clarinetist Raimondo Maria Cocco, keyboardist Massimo Roselli and percussionist Patrick Traina who all played together in the earlier pop rock phases of the band but for their more adventurous prog years added Donald Lax to dazzle with his violin skills that added a unique gypsy swing and Paganini element to the band's overall sound that set them apart from many of the purely symphonic rock contemporaries of the day.

'Prologo' bursts onto the scene with a scorching duo between the violin and piano with the guitar bursting in and finally the drums and as the intro cedes into the more symphonic leaning rock segments, the instruments all go crazy on each other. Lax plays both acoustic and electric violins and sometimes delivers frenetic assaults reminiscent of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and at times reminding of the folkier side of the prog rock scene from such bands like Comus or Spirogyra. While not unique to QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA, the band mastered the dynamics shifting of soft sensual classical piano oriented pastoral segments with the heavy guitar laden rock sections that allowed Roselli to unleash his best Keith Emerson inspired keyboard wizardry. Certain tracks like 'Un Villaggio,Un'illsione' display Lax's playing around with Bach, Brahms, Corelli and other classical masters and weave them into a more Paganini performance that would be reworked into the rock fusion compositions that start out with classical intros and slowly morph into the heavier guitar, bass and drum action accompanied by the passionate vocal style of Giorgi who had the perfect vocal style for this type of music magic.

It may only last slightly over 34 minutes in duration but the debut album by QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA is one of the best offerings the early RPI scene had to offer. These eight tracks are chock full of passionately strewn classically infused rock sophistication very much at a level of the other greats of PFM, Banco, Il Balleto di Bronzo, Le Orme and the rest. The music is as perfectly constructed as the stunningly beautiful album cover and covers so many grounds in such a small amount of time that i can easily put this one on rotation and listen to it repeatedly without getting bored for one second. This band mastered the melodies, the Tull inspired folk feel, the ELP keyboard prowess, the medieval chamber aspects, the freak gypsy folk and the symphonic heavy rock. Chock full of brilliant dynamic shifts and progressive time signature workouts without sacrificing some of the most intricately designed melodic developments, QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA is one of the Italian greats of the era. For my money this debut release is one of the absolute best examples of this era of Italian progressive rock that rightfully deserves all the high praise and positive criticism that it has received ever since.

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |


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