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Cherry Five - Cherry Five CD (album) cover


Cherry Five


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.91 | 202 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 391

Cherry Five was an Italian progressive rock band which is considered a precursor of the project of Goblin, another Italian progressive rock band. In fact, the group named Oliver has been created by Claudio Simonetti and Massimo Morante. Both went to England in late 1973 to audition a singer, the Englishman Clive "Artman" Haynes, or Clive Heinz as he was then known. He was briefly in the band, recording only some tracks with them. He was sacked then, and didn't appear on the album. With a new singer and the addition of a bassist and a drummer, the band recorded their self-titled album what was to become their first and only album in the 70's. The band's name changed to Cherry Five.

Despite be an Italian band, Cherry Five isn't so particularly representative of the Italian progressive rock sound, really. The reason for this isn't only in the choice of the English language, but in the fact that Cherry Five acted quite technically for many of the Italian standards and the arrangements are by no means as nested or bulky as with many compatriots. The album is a genuine rarity due to the great world success that Goblin achieved with some of their soundtrack works, and it's in many collectors' want lists. The album is characterized by multi-layered keyboard sounds, a colourful mixture of the former analogue keyboard instruments. Sung in English, Cherry Five was strongly influenced by the likes Genesis, Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, especially in the fluid keyboard parts and powerful bass sound.

"Cherry Five" is the eponymous debut solo studio album of Cherry Five and was released in 1975. The line up on the album is Tony Tartarini (lead vocals), Massimo Morante (guitars), Claudio Simonetti (keyboards), Fabio Pignatelli (bass and acoustic guitar) and Carlo Bordini (drums and percussion).

This pre-Goblin outfit should have great appeal to everyone who loves the typical 70's sound. As I mentioned before, the lyrics are unlike most other Italian progressive rock bands sung in English and it works very well. The music here is ballsy symphonic progressive rock of a more traditional kind than the horror soundtracks that they later would make as Goblin. There is a hint, just a slight threat, of what madness Goblin would get up to on the tracks that closes side one and opens side two. But, that's almost an aberration in the midst of this joyful Yes/ELP fest. Cherry Five is evidently fond of four part vocal harmonies that are evident in early Yes. This, of course, makes further comparisons with early Yes, unavoidable. However in their defence, the musicians are excellent and their arranging skills are superb. Melodic and rhythmic counterpoint is staggeringly complex at times and it's during these fleeting moments that glimpses of the real Cherry Five come through the thick pea soup of ELP and early Yes hybridization. Even bassist plays like Squire.

"Cherry Five" has six tracks. The opener "Country Graveyard" is very representative for the album. Tight, energetic and complex progressive rock based in strong themes and arrangements with lots of Mellotron, organ, 70's synths and guitar. Some of the breaks in "The Picture Of Dorian Gray" sounds a bit like Genesis. At the beginning recalls Genesis, but soon it develops in the course of a stylistic life of their own. The catchy vocals also arouse some memories of American bands. In the meantime, very slight Yes reminiscences flash out. The two-part "The Swan Is A Murderer" goes in a similar direction. It's obvious that the Italians had dedicated to the less complex variant of progressive rock music. Thus, the energetic sound unfolds an unexpected dynamic and doesn't move in the spheres of filigree sounds of many of their contemporaries. It has some very intelligent use of harpsichord. The almost 10 minutes art musical "Oliver", which I assume was written during the time when the band was originally known as Oliver, is a true kaleidoscopic. It's a pure progressive joy with several influences, mainly Yes and ELP, with massive keyboard firing from all instruments, an excellent polyphonic performance with confident vocals by the singer Tony Tartarini. The organ has an obvious ELP influence. "My Little Cloud Land" has less intensity than the preceding tracks. But, in general, all the instruments are featured through development and variations all over the track. Maybe less good, but it closes the album well enough.

Conclusion: "Cherry Five" isn't a typical Italian progressive rock album and is likely to please more to fans of British Prog than Classic Italian Prog due to the English lyrics and the strong British Prog influences. But, despite of that, this is a very strong album, and next to PFM's "Photos Of Ghosts" it will probably be one of the easiest and best places to start if you're not familiar with Italian progressive rock, yet. The album offers some nice long tracks with plenty of keyboard instruments, nice guitars and useful vocals. However, this isn't a stone classic of symphonic prog, but it falls into the upper end of the "damn that's good" category that demands dragging out every once in a while. It's quite different from Goblin, but just as tasty in its own way with pretty decent vocals. If you're a lover of the Italian prog rock in general and you enjoy such bands like Genesis, Yes and ELP you must give this album a try. You'll not regret, surely.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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