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Nuova Idea - Clowns CD (album) cover


Nuova Idea


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.66 | 77 ratings

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4 stars The Clown rocks

I've seen Nuova Idea described as a poor man's New Trolls but personally I prefer them to the well known Trolls. The Genova band was stacked with good musicians who had played and would later play in a variety of Italian groups. Nuova Idea released three quality albums in the early 1970s and in some respects "Clowns" may be the most realized RPI album of the three. Quite bold, gregarious, and heavy, the tracks are stoked with a truly animated sense of musical adventure, the album embodies much of what I love about the classic Italian albums of the day.

"Clowns" at times can remind me of anyone from Semiramis to Officina Meccanica to Jumbo to Gentle Giant. It combines hard organ/guitar rock, occasional symphonic leanings, and little bits of jazz rock. Large chunks of it will appeal very much to Heavy Prog fans. The first thing to comment on is the controversial vocals of Ricky Belloni. Many people blast this album for the supposedly horrid vocals and I must implore you to ignore them if you love raucous RPI. I love these vocals! Unlike the annoying tendency of New Trolls (or Deep Purple) to ride those upper registers just because they can, NI employ them more out of the natural chaos of the song. In other words, the vocals seem to act out the craziness of the album's personality rather than simply coming at you with a constant high-register warble out of habit.

"Clessidra" begins with a random blast of brass that sounds just like the part before the main theme of Atom Heart Mother, followed by a raucous electric guitar/organ romp. Then we get the first of several vocals styles, this one sounding Yes-like. "Un'Isola" drags a bit and is too Deep Purple for my taste but has some nice moments of good rock. "Il Giardino" has some really nasty Roger Chapman on steroids vocals that I just love, really fun, and a nice heavy groove balanced by a bit of acoustic guitar. Great lead work here reminiscent of Ritchie Blackmore's sound along with some up front bass in the later section. The 10-minute title track is next and this is an RPI classic with a Gentle Giant meets heavy Italian vibe. Some nice strings and horns embellish the circus atmosphere, and there is a really cool repeating section of a children's choir over mellotron, a great touch! Later there is a burst of jazzy sax leading into an odd percussion section before the main riff is reprised. The album closes with the mellowest track but certainly not easy listening, as the acoustic guitars in the beginning give way to increasingly strange vocals, keyboards, and finally the dissonant horns to close it.

"Clowns" is exactly the kind of RPI album I love, saucy and extroverted. They really don't make stuff that *feels* like this anymore, even the retro bands who try to. This is not a relaxing or pastoral album with easy-going "floaty" keyboards, so assess what kind of prog you like. If you like the bands I mention above you should definitely check into this one. Perhaps one of those love or hate bands but I love it! 3 stars but I personally need to round up here.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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