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Flea - Topi O Uomini  CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.42 | 53 ratings

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4 stars Sandwiched between their beat/psych debut and jazz fusion masterpiece, Flea (aka Flea on The Honey, aka Etna) produced a monster hard rock album in 1972 on the Fonit label. While some may be reluctant to call this "prog" or progressive rock, if a twenty minute jam in three movements ain't prog, I don't know what is. Being a Goblin fanatic in my early twenties, Flea caught my attention early on due to the connections with that band - Carlo Pennisi (guitar) and both Marangolo brothers (Agostino and Antonio, drums and keyboards respectively) would join the group at various points. On display here is a heavy prog opus, reminiscent of Cream, Hendrix and Led Zeppelin in spots, but wholly original and not derivative as some may suggest. The title track is an absolute stunner, while the second side isn't quite as good. The two even out to a four star rating.

As "Topi O Uomini" begins, we have some tasty hi-hat flourishes courtesy of Agostino Marangolo and some sneaky guitar from Carlo Pennisi; a minute in, he hits the volume pedal and a devastating riff ensues. If you compare Pennisi's playing here to what Flea on the Honey was doing only a year earlier, it's like night and day. Sure, there were hints of his talent on the debut, but on "Topi O Uomini" we see a fully developed guitar giant, trading licks with the best of them. I especially love the unison playing between Pennisi and bassist Elio Volpini...they feed off of one another and it tends to bring out the best in both of them. Singer Antonio has more of a supporting role than he did on Flea on the Honey, jumping in here and there to deliver vocal duties when needed. While this is a twenty minute song, don't expect "Close to The Edge" or "Supper's Ready" - really it is more like three songs in one, and while the transitions are fluid, none of the three movements really bear any relationship to the others, but all three could easily stand on their own. The opening riff is reprised at the end though, so it does give the song some closure and cohesiveness.

Of the three distinct songs on side two, "Sono un Pesce" is by far my favorite and deserves special mention; the addition of piano and vibraphone will hint at what Flea would later realize as Etna, and complete their eponymous jazz fusion classic in 1975. Clearly a band that were capable of playing many different roles, it is unfair to pigeonhole Flea as a "jam band" or "psych-rock leftover." And while I would highly recommend Flea to fans of either genre, their place in the annuls of progressive rock cannot be denied.

coasterzombie | 4/5 |


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