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Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Darwin! CD (album) cover


Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.37 | 1138 ratings

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5 stars I have only heard the first three albums by Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, but I much prefer this one to the debut and the follow up. By mistake I have also heard the 1991 re-recording of this album; it sounds slick and updated, but they sucked all of the life out of these songs. If you plan on buying this album, make sure you get the original 1972 recording. The sound on the original is maybe a little rough around the edges and the band apparently were not happy with it, but it works to the music's benefit. Judging by the album and song titles, this is some kind of concept album about Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. If you don't speak Italian then you will not understand the lyrics anyway.

Two things make Banco stand out from other Italian bands of the time: the sometimes melodramatic vocals of Francesco di Giacomo, and the twin keyboard attack of brothers Vittorio and Gianni Nocenzi. The guitar, bass and drums are adequate but generally don't stand out. Great use is made of the Moog synthesizer on Darwin! What they do with it is superb, just as good if not better than what any UK or US musician was doing with a Moog at the time. Speaking of UK musicians, you don't hear any obvious influences from the UK prog bands here as you do from other Italian bands at that time.

"L'Evoluzione" opens with sinister sounding organs and then what sounds like an electric harpsichord, along with some guitar. Bass and drums join in before the song becomes very classical sounding when Francesco enters. Some great symphonic rock follows. The bass playing is interesting around 3 minutes. After 4 minutes the song goes into a great upbeat, energenic part. Later some awesome Moog playing. That whole instrumental section in the middle is just terrific. A mini drum solo before it goes back to the upbeat part again. Later the band stops and then some lovely keys and vibes. At the end the song goes into Gentle Giant territory and Francesco comes back.

"La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta" starts out sounding like a cross between ELP and VDGG. Some crazy and fast playing for awhile before it settles into a groove. The tempo picks up and some great keyboard playing. Music starts to mellow out after awhile with some bursts of energy. Tempo increases again and more great keyboard playing. Some tympani in this song. Later some great growling Moog as the band dies out and just harpsichord is present. Some atmospheric organ joins before the band comes back in a laid-back mode with vocals now. Some lovely piano playing as wind sounds finish the song.

"Danza Dei Grandi Rettili" is a great jazzy instrumental with some symphonic keyboards in places. You can listen to "Cento Mani E Cento Occhi" here on PA. This song has a grand opening with Moogs and tympani before it gets crazy and manic sounding. Francesco's vocals go well with the music. Great drumming and piano playing in this song. Over halfway the music settles down before erupting again into a rockin' finale. Love the "ooo-ahh" grunting vocals at the end. "750,000 Ani Fa...L'Amore?" is a melodramatic ballad with great singing. Mostly vocals and piano until later when some Moog enters. Piano and vocals again before drums and bass join in to finish it.

"Miserere Alla Storia" starts with awesome staccato organ playing getting faded in. Great jazzy drumming before the music switches to a more laid-back mellower section. Later some creepy, slightly altered vocals come in. Goes back to the opening section. Later on some great classical piano as the band does some start/stop playing. Some "ahh" vocals. Goes back to the mellower section at the end. "Ed Ora Io Domando Tempo Al Tempo Ed Egli Mi Risponde...Non Ne Ho!" ends the album on a strange but great note. You hear what sounds like an old wooden rocking chair creaking. Some harpsichord and vocals before other instruments join. Turns into a symphonic waltz.

I'm no expert in RPI, but of the albums I've heard from this genre, Darwin! is one of the very best. This is just fantastic classic prog from the classic prog era. Imagine if you mixed together ELP, VDGG and Gentle Giant and a strong Italian element. You would end up with something similar to this, but there is still an originality at work here. I wouldn't call Banco one of my favourite Italian prog groups, because I didn't enjoy the other two albums I heard as much as this. But Darwin! would fit in my top 3 Italian prog albums easily. 5 stars.

zravkapt | 5/5 |


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