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


Quella Vecchia Locanda


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.11 | 340 ratings

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4 stars I have been listening to Quella Vecchia Locanda's IL TEMPO DELLA GIOIA for a few weeks now, and I quite enjoy this fine, almost genre-defining example of 70s Italian "symphonic progressive." I do have some misgivings, however, which (as with reviewer James Lee before me) prevent me from awarding full marks to this 1974 release.

The album opens on a lovely note, with "Villa Doria Pamphili." Beautiful piano, violin that is laden with sad, soulful expressiveness, acoustic guitar accents, and Italian vocals that I simply cannot fault combine in a glorious example of just how magnificent this subdivision of prog can be. I should think that fans of classic PFM and Banco will embrace this terrific music whole-heartedly!

The second number, "A Forma Di," slowly rises out of silence with rhythmic strings and soaring flute, when some "treated" choral vocals join in to bring the piece to even greater heights of grandeur. Just as the listener is experiencing transports of aural ecstasy, however, the song quickly fades, in an ending that comes much too soon -- almost as if the band could afford limited studio time, and the producer was watching the clock with a miserly accountant's eye. (The entire album clocks in at just under thirty-four minutes, roughly half the length of many modern CDs, and all too short for music this good!)

The longer, more varied title track is another winner, with magnificent piano, strings, and feeling vocals. After a gentle introduction, the song suddenly (but not jarringly) veers off into more up-tempo territory, and we are treated to some electric guitar that evokes that of Gentle Giant, but with an Italian flair. Comparisons to PFM would not be unwarranted here. I particularly enjoy the interchange between the driving drums, guitar and keys on this one. Once again, however, the ending comes too soon, and leaves the song with a somewhat artificially-truncated feel.

The frantic violin on "Un Giorno, Un Amico" reminds me of that of (mid-70s) King Crimson's David Cross, and this faster piece should delight fans of Crimson, Giant, or PFM, whose influences, to varying degrees, can be discerned here. The bass, clarinet, and drums near the middle and end of this, the session's longest and most adventurous track, remind me particularly of LIZARD/ISLANDS-era Crimson. Yet again, though, I find the ending to be notably and disappointingly abrupt -- too bad that the band didn't expend the same degree of care on composing satisfying endings, as they clearly did on the introductions and bodies of their works. This stuff is just too darned good to have been so often marred by hasty, underdeveloped endings!

The closing "E Accaduto una Notte" is again quite dynamic, and the vocals, violin, and drums, especially, shine here -- BUT (here it comes again!) the ending, with its build-up to a sudden "explosion" or thunder-clap, seems to have either been dictated by the constraints of limited time, or -- more likely -- a simple lack of inspiration.

Overall then, my dissatisfaction with the endings of four of the album's five tracks would seem to point to a more middling rating of two or three stars, but for the fact that the material herein is so often truly awesome in its beauty, scope and power. I therefore award IL TEMPO DELLA GIOIA four stars, and the accolade of "excellent" -- it would make a fine addition to the collections of all who appreciate classic Italian symphonic progressive rock. I could wish that the disc ran an additional ten minutes or so, and incorporated some better-planned endings for its very strong material, but -- in music, as in life -- we can't always get everything we want. I urge you to check it out anyway!

Peter | 4/5 |


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