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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - The Spaghetti Epic CD (album) cover


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4 stars Another winner for Colossus with this project, The Spaghetti Western. Six bands, each doing a suite of 20 or more minutes duration in 70's prog style using "authentic" 70's instruments "where possible". Well, all in all this works rather well I must say (as it has on the other Colossus projects). Each band takes a character from the movie Once Upon A Time In The West, with Haikara taking the West itself as it's song topic since there are only 5 major characters in the moive, and uses them as the basis of their suite.

Haikara's tracks is probably the least interesting of them all, but still not bad. It is fairly dark and had some repetitive instrumental sections (in fact, most of the song is instrumental, except the first couple minutes and the last couple). Not a bad song, but not a very strong way to open the album, that's for sure.

The next track by Randone is probably the best one on the whole album, done in a somewhat more modern Italian prog style, yet still maintaining a 70's feel to the overall composition. Some great guitar work and vocals in this one.

Tilion's track is along the same lines as the previous track, great Italian symphonic prog with lots of variation and variety. Another great track.

Starting CD2, we have a project band created just for this album (and the next Spaghetti Epic released recently) consisting of Andy Tillison and Guy Manning (though they give themselves rather silly Italian names in the booklet). This one is great for anyone who likes The Tangent or Manning's more progressive work. A great song with Manning singing the more upbeat sections at the beginning and ending and Tillison doing the more gritty and dark middle parts. Great playing by both musicians and a great epic.

Taproban does another wonderful piece, this time more in the Le Orme/ ELP mold with lots and lots of keyboard solos and classic keyboards filling out the piece. The bass playing also deserves special mention for the power Rickenbacker sound that is on par with Squire's best work. Great track.

Finally, Trion finish things off with the longest track, an instrumental. The playing is good, but this is pretty derivative stuff. To be fair, most of the songs on these projects are derivative to varying degrees, due to the requirements made by Colossus on the bands . But this one really just seems to borrow too liberally for me from bands like Genesis, Yes, and ELP. Plus, at almost 25 minutes, it just doesn't hold attention like the other songs, probably because of its instrumental nature. However, having said all that, it's not bad and if you like retro prog with a bit of a neo vibe it's not a bad track. Kind of ends the album on a less than great note for me though.

Considering that the first and last songs are my least favorite, I should probably give this 3 stars at best. But the middle songs are good enough to make up for those two, and really those two are not that bad, just not particularly noteworthy or outstanding like all the other tracks. So I'll go with a solid 3.5, rounded up to 4. If you like the other Colossus projects, this one is a must. If you haven't heard any of them, I'd actually suggest you start with The Odyssey, though that one is a bit more to digest all at once.

Report this review (#121376)
Posted Wednesday, May 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the second epical treat from Colossus I bought some years ago. I bought it around the same time as Colossus of Rhodes so that gave me every opportunity to compare them. After many listenings I consider this one slightly better. I will describe each epic below.

Haikara starts off with a mellow vocal tune accompanied by a harmonica which reminds us of course of the famous Once upon a time in the West movie from 1973. Doesn't sound like Ennio Morricone by the way, this is prog we are used to. I already knew Haikara slightly from the Kalevala project but that was just one shorter song so I'm not really familiar with the band. Seems to be an interesting eclectic progband (according to progarchives). I can hear what that's coming from, also this epic sounds pretty eclectic (if that's some kind of sound at all !) and then I mean, music without simple straightforward melody usually containing dissonances, at least that's what it often is in real terms. Anyway, despite the fact I like straightforward melodies, I can't say I dislike this epic. The build up is very good and makes this epic more than listenable. It will never be my favourite epical track of all time, but then again: I have an enormous lot of good epics in my personal collection so that doesn't have to be a downside. The song closes with the same tune as the beginning to complete the circle of this track. Composition and build up are better here than the music itself but still I think it deserves 3,75 stars.

Randone is a typical Italian prog band and that is what shines through obviously in this epic. The composition is not very memorable here I'm afraid. It's the usual build up as with many epics, many alternations and moodswings. Randone uses several themes and there's even a bit of Bach's Toccata detectable if you listen carefully. Nice epic but nothing mindblowing. 3 stars.

Tilion is my least favourite track. It's supposed to be Italian symfo but especially in the beginning it sounds more like psychedelic/space to me. At 3:45 the more normal music takes its turn. But to me that is not yet something near nice let alone great music. In contrast to Haikara I have sincere doubts about the quality although I have no doubt there could be proggers that like this one. Just not me. The vocals are at least debatable and also the music is not in one passage anything of my liking (except maybe the piano at ± 10.00 but that's not even for one minute in length). Second half of the song is a bit better by the way. Matter of personal taste of course, don't let it bother them, but I can give no more than 2 stars.

La Voce del vento starts the second and better disc of the two for my preference. The vocals are by Guy Manning who also appears in Parallel or 90 degrees and The Tangent. The man has an unmistakable voice hasn't he ? The music has some resemblance with the Tangent (flute a.o.) and this is a very good epical track because the instrumental as well as the compositional aspect of this track is of a very high level. This makes me decide for 4,25 stars.

Taproban is an Italian symphonic progband and that's pretty logical to invite at least a few Italian symfo bands for the spaghetti epic. This band and track is much more of my liking than Tilion. The track starts with some interesting keyboards taken over by the organ after several minutes. Some more minutes later a very impressive "march-like" tune sets in to culminate after a minute and a half in a ballad like half vocal/half piano passage working very nicely as well. This epic is at least as good as the previous one. I give it 4,5 stars.

Last but certainly not least is Trion, surprisingly a dutch symphonic prog band. The track starts with keyboards followed by a sort of church organ, then the two combined before after 5,35 the guitar adds lustre to the already smooth play, then a quiet down after 8,30, a beautiful piano tune is next, then guitars and an organ making the thing somewhat rougher, then the keys return more fiercely taken over by melodic guitar (until 13.00). Transition to a melodic multi instrument passage with a quiet passage, at 17.00 guitar returns to play a sort of theme till the end of the track. The last few minutes also bring out the atmosphere that is required for a spaghetti epic, in the end resulting in a great melodic guitar for the grand finale, a worthy showstopper. 4,5 stars.

Thanks to the second disc I think it's fair to reward this project with 4 stars (3 vs 4,4 stars so rounded up from 3,7).

Report this review (#189446)
Posted Sunday, November 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I happened to see an advertisement for this one about 3 years ago, and that by accident. I was immediately interested in getting this music. I loved the idea of having a cd with epic length music. Wow! You actually getting six 20 minute plus tunes; all on two CDs. This in itself gets one point for the people who put this concept together. I believe it is Musea. Unfortunately, I had to wait for over three years to finally get my mitts on this. Thanks to Prog Archives, I was able to purchase it. I got it in the mail about four days ago and I have listened to the whole thing three times. I am half way through it the fourth time as I write. First of all, every band featured on the album are top notch musicians. All songs are well done. That nets the CD another star. Next, each band adds an original look at the characters of The West. I happened to see that movie years ago. You definitely get a feel of the movie as you listen to the album.That gets it another star. I thought putting Haikara's The west first was a stroke of guenius. Also putting Frank by Trion last was a great move. It really fits the flow of the album. It seems like the right place for those two songs. That gets it another star. That said, I had a few things that I didn't care for on the CD. All of the songs have what I feel is to much inaction during the course of each project. What I mean is that it seemed the bands were letting some of the slow parts last too long.That is just my feeling though. Like I said, the music is something I will enjoy forever. Another thing that I didn't care for, but as I continue to listen, I will get to like it. The 2nd song by Randone seems to me to get off to a labored start. It is called Jill. The good thing is that Randone has many great musical ideas to make up for the starting point. I liked it a lot and the guitar work is exceptional! Cheyenne by Tilion starts off in a surrealistic mode. It also gives a good listen. At first I had trouble getting into the singing of Jill and Cheyenne simply because it is sung in Italian, but I got into it during the 2nd listen. Harmonica by La Voce Del Vento has some memorable parts in it. It seemed to move along a little better, to me anyway. Morton by Taproban was an immediate favorite. The singing stood out and was quite fitting. The music was also great. Getting back to the first song, The west; I thought the singing was exceptional. IT set the mood for the rest of the CD.It stayed with me. I especially enjoyed Frank because I love instrumentals.

Overall I give this album four stars. I believe that you,the lover of prog music,will be missing out on a lifetime of musical enjoyment, if you don't get it.

Report this review (#196453)
Posted Tuesday, December 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars An interesting concept album based on the movie "Once Upon A Time In The West" where 6 bands were asked to offer up over 20 minutes of music based on a character of the movie. It's harder then it sounds. For the most part it works although i'm not a fan of double concept albums as a rule. And when the first two tracks are my least favourites, well it doesn't get off on the right foot at all for me. The liner notes couldn't be better with a cartoon and detailed information that goes beyond the call of duty.

The first track is really about "The West" in general whereas the other tracks do deal with a person from the movie. HAIKARA are from Finland and I am a big fan of this band. So for me the result was disappointing. Female vocals and accordion for the first 2 1/2 minutes. Not a fan. My favourite part comes in before 9 minutes and ends after 12 minutes. Nice rhythm here. The rest for me is difficult. The intro is reprised to end it. RANDONE from Italy does the second track "Jill". This is better with all the vintage instruments from the seventies taking the spotlight like moog, Hammond and mellotron.This is fairly laid back with male and female vocals in Italian. Some nice electric guitar before 14 minutes. Just not a fan of this one though. TILION was a band I didn't know about from Italy. Man they impressed me here though.The best track from disc one easily.This song's called "Cheyene" and it opens with experimental sounds before kicking in with vocals after 2 1/2 minutes. Piano and guitar come in a minute later as the tempo picks up. Drums and a great sound follow. Kind of jazzy 4 1/2 minutes in as it settles. It's intense 7 minutes in before kicking back in. Fantastic sound ! It settles as the song continues to change. It's intense again to end it.

Disc 2 starts off with a band called LA VOCE DEL VENTO who is actually those two guys from PARALLEL OR 90 DEGREES now called THE TANGENT, Andy Tillison and Guy Manning. They don't disappoint in the least. You should see all the instruments these two guys play. And they both sing. First Guy is up on vocals after 3 1/2 minutes, then Andy sings after 9 minutes. These guys are gun slingers man. Some great organ on this one. This is just a treat to listen to and my favourite off this double album. A pleasure. Oh the song is called "Harmonica". Next up is an Italian band called TAPROBAN who I hadn't heard of before but was left very impressed. The song is called "Morton". It opens with the sound of a train coming through. Very cool. It kicks in around a minute with a good heavy sound. This sounds incredible when the vocals join in. Organ after 5 1/2 minutes with some passionate vocals in tow. Chunky bass follows then they jam for a while. I like the synths. The sound of waves end it. "Frank" is the final song by TRION from the Netherlands. The guitar in this one surprised me the most. There's plenty of it along with mellotron. The church organ early is a powerful statement too. A good song.

I'd give disc two 4 stars, but disc one is no more then 3 stars.Three great tracks and one good to go along with the first two which were okay.

Report this review (#236397)
Posted Tuesday, September 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars To be honest (I'm always honest, but this is how phrase sounds), I'm amazed. I've seen Once Upon a Time in the West (or C'era una volta il West is you please) when I was a little child and many times since that wonderful moment of greatly build atmosphere, deeds which had to be done, cold staring Frank's eyes, Jill trying to start a new life, Cheyene dirty, with crude ways, but one that can be counted on, Harmonica man, burned by his revenge and Morton, so self-confidental. OK, now we can end this review. What ? You want to hear more ? OK, but only because of you... It's one of the foundation stones in my sense of morality, things which should be done and those that you can't do with clean conscience. Well, I basically enjoy every moment of this Film. And if Spaghetti means offensive term in normal way, I don't take it. After all, Sergio Leone did better job than a lot of others.

He created masterpiece. And to this status, also this album is trying to get close. Six tracks, six times 20-24 minutes. That's fine amount of epic work. Occasionally we can hear sounds of western (horses, shooting bullets, flies). Every track is named after one of the main characters here, except first track, which serves as connection between them. But tracks not only revolves about their namesakes, but explores other topics too. Because every track is different in style. Yes, they all are Italian symphonic, mostly (but take for example Haikara). Jill's track is quite cheerful, Cheyene's is some kind of mysterious, not so nice, but fits to his wild character. And others suits perfectly too. I like they completely understood atmosphere of each topic and made style, pace, use of acoustic/plugged instruments exactly after this vision. Sad thing that it's so forgotten. And "Frank" quite haunting, especially this piano in middle part.

4(+) because I can't see, nor hear any mistakes, also because of great transformation of movie into music (goal that only few accomplished), because of lot of minutes to listen and proof that even bands unknown to me can be good. And importance of this movie also.

EDIT: There are mistakes, even first I tried to overlook them, due to epical structure and length. There are deaf points, when nothing is happening. I wanted so much to give better rating, but I can't.

Report this review (#237881)
Posted Monday, September 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am glad Musea gives the listener more for the buck on these concept albums. If one is fortunate, one may be able to get 3 or 4 epic songs by one band, but here we have 6 long ones by six different bands that all sound very proficient at their craft. It is a real pleasure to hear bands from other countries apply their trade in such effective ways.

This concept is taken from the western "Once Upon a Time in the West" starring Charles Bronson, and Henry Fonda, among many other fine actors and actresses. I thought the music made the characters larger than life and much more dramatic than the film did. This album outdoes the film hands down.

Haikara starts it off with "The West." It is an overview of sorts, since none of the bands knew what each other were going to do. I liked the song right away, but I thought the band stayed a little long on each idea. Still it didn't get boring. I decided to count how many changes each song contained, but I only did so with the first three songs. The first song had approximately 26 changes in it. I say approximately because I doubt if there is a sure fire way to count every change a band does in a song accurately. Anyway, You get about one change per minute. I don't count repetitions.

Randone takes over with "Jill," a whore turned respectable woman, due to her marriage to a farmer that gets gunned down before she arrives at her new home. Randone has an organ that dominates the beginning of the tune and continues to repeat the theme, only each successive time something new is added to change the sound. Then they do all kinds of different things. All in all they had about 86 changes in the song,which means there was something happening every 15 to 20 seconds. This band knows how to play prog and keep it interesting! They should do well. I think it would be a good thing for all prog bands to plaster how many changes they have in each song on the front of every album. This way there might be a little more effort by the bands to put more into their concepts and give us listeners more for our money. Anyway, The guitar also shines and there are some decent vocals by the band. I did like the female voices better than the male ones though.

"Cheyene" by Tillion is one of my favorites. Andrea Ricci, I hope I spelled his name right, is a standout here and he thrills with his voice. The band also does some wild and crazy stuff. They had 75 to 80 changes in their piece, so the music doesn't get stale, but it is intense! These guys also know how to play prog.

"Harmonica" by La Voce Del Vento is a character study of the main player in the movie, namely Charles Bronson, who had to watch his brother die, because of Frank(Henry Fonda). This song sucks you in right away and has some cool changes in it. Very interesting. The thing I wished they would have done is not repeated the main theme so much, but it doesn't take away from the song a whole lot.

"Morton" by Taproban is another italian group that deliver the goods here and they keep that old west vibe going throughout the song. My favorite part is after the sounds of construction work fade away and it is just the singer and his piano. It is simply beautiful! The only thing I didn't care for here was the staying too long on the idea attitude, the way too many prog bands seem to like doing. The last part where the ocean is heard rushing in and out lasts far too long and should have been shortened considerably.

"Frank" by Trion is the only instrumental, but the band delivers the goods. These guys sound like Genesis during their "Wind and Wuthering" period. I especially enjoyed the last part. It is slow and just makes you visualize Harmonica as he gets done killing Frank and begins walking away. It is a fitting way to end the album. The thing I didn't care for about this song was the same thing I complain about continually. Too long on too few ideas. Still, it doesn't take that much away from the listening enjoyment.

I continue to listen to this album and I don't plan on stopping for years. I like it a lot and I give it 4 stars.

Report this review (#282491)
Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Perhaps a bit foolishly titled "Spaghetti Epic - Six Modern Prog Bands for Six 70's Prog Suites" is a project by a Finnish prog organisation Colossus. First, I don't like the word 'spaghetti' referring to Sergio Leone's westerns (besides, why not simply "Once Upon a Time in the West", which is the film this set is solely based on?), and second, "70's prog suites" is a misleading way to put it: yes, the bands were asked to make epics in the 70's style (especially Italian Prog style), but that don't quite make them "70's prog suites", does it?

Both of the 2 discs contain three bands, each performing a 20+ minute epic. Three Italian bands, one English (La Voce Del Vento is a project name for Guy Manning and Andy Tillison), one Dutch and one Finnish. The latter (or actually the first one in the set), HAIKARA, is my favourite one here. Whereas the five other bands deal with the main characters of the mentioned film (Jill, Cheyenne, Harmonica, Morton, Frank), Haikara's object is the West itself. Their epic is emotionally powerful, beautiful and well balanced between instrumental and sung sections. Well, naturally all of the tracks aim at that, but I found some of them a bit tiring even if they start promisingly. TILION's 'Cheyenne' was my least liked track; for example vocals are bad. RANDONE's interpretation of the female character is among the best too, as well as the totally instrumental closer by TRION from Holland.

I must say I enjoyed much more the Kalevala Prog Epic, which featured in three discs a multitude of bands. This 6-track set with the more specified structural guidelines is not as good in introducing new bands to the listener. And moreover, the double disc containing nothing but 20+ minute epics is not my ideal vision of a prog work. The fact that the bands change in each track don't actually help the heavy, demanding structure of the wole set.

Anyway, for anyone wanting long epics in the classic Italian style this set is warmly recommended. Especially if the bands include ones you already appreciate. None of them (except Haikara from my Finnish point of view!) is very easy to come across. I guess I hadn't listened to four of these bands before. Worth mentioning is the lavish booklet that contains storylines of the film and also a cartoon. It all increases my possibilities to enjoy the Sergio Leone film much more when I happen to see it the next time (because frankly it has often felt way too long to pay close attention till the end).

Report this review (#419639)
Posted Tuesday, March 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Premiata Forneria "Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez."

Second chapter of the Musea/Colossus project that combines progressive rock with famous Italian movies. After "The Colossus of Rhodes" this time the film chosen is Sergio Leone's masterpiece "Once Upon A Time In The West" (excellent film even if lower than the previous "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly", which I consider to be the greatest movie ever) and the suites that make up the double album are dedicated to the most important characters of the movie: Jill (Claudia Cardinale), Cheyenne (Jason Robards), Harmonica (Charles Bronson), Morton (Gabriele Ferzetti), Frank (Henry Fonda). There is also a sixth suite dedicated to the West in general. Note that there are no references to the wonderful soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, except in very few cases (some themes appear briefly in the suites of Randone and Tilion).

The combination of progressive rock and western movies is a bit strange. What does the West with the progressive rock? Nothing. Can you imagine Wyatt Earp whistles "Watcher Of The Skies" or "Epitaph" at the OK Corrall? Thinking at Monument Valley is difficult when listening to a progressive track (much easier to think of wizards, elves and spaceships, don't you think?). For this reason, I was very wary when I bought this album. Fortunately, my concerns have proven unfounded in part. Now a brief analysis of the songs.

1. The West. Author: HAIKARA. The first suite of Haikara (from Finland) is one of the weakest of the album. In a word we can say that it is mediocre. Never fails to provoke me chills, it is always rather dull. The style reminds me a bit Renassaince, but the voice (female) is obviously not comparable to that of Annie Haslam. After a singed prelude, the piano takes on the role as the main instrument and the suite continues with instrumental symphonyc parts connected to each other with the only one solo of the song (a drum solo fortunately rather short). Some themes are interesting (especially after the drum solo) but is often too repetitive and dilated. The suite ends with the reprise of the opening theme. In conclusion, a not exceptional first song. Rating: 3/10.

2. Jill. Author: RANDONE. Second suite by the Italians Randone. The beginning is good with a nice introduction to organ and mellotron and great guitar solos. The atmosphere, for the first five minutes, is very reminiscent of the classic period of PFM. After the promising start the suite becomes quite confused. The vocals (sung in Italian) and the choruses are another weak point and seem out of context. Finally, the lyrics are very weak and are the simple reporting of events of the film. The worst track on the album. Rating: 2/10.

3. Cheyenne. Author: TILION. The best suite of disc one and one of the best things of the album by another Italian band. Experimental, intriguing, evocative and very much in tune with the character of the "gentleman bandit". Not easy to digest (no doubt, it takes more plays!), is inspired by the typical sounds of Italian prog bands like Balletto di Bronzo but with very good vocals (in Italian) and very intriguing lyrics, concerning the controversial nature of the character interpreted by Robards. Keyboards (all types but especially piano) are in evidence throughout the suite, but there is no trace of the exaggerations and pomposity typical of this kind of style. Very good. Rating 7/10.

4. Harmonica. Author: LA VOCE DEL VENTO (Alias Tillison and Manning). Two stars of contemporary British prog give life to a fruitful collaboration: the suite dedicated to the silent hero interpreted by Charles Bronson is excellent. Good perform by Guy Manning on vocals (by contrary the vocals in the middle of the suite performed by Tillison are not exceptional). Good balance between the acoustic parts and others characterized by the use of electronic keyboards. The final Manning singing "It's a hard life / Time to bring you down / It's a hard life / Leave you on the ground" is very effective. Rating: 6/10.

5. Morton. Author: TAPROBAN. Italian band author of the suite dedicated to Morton, the builder of the railroad that wants to link the two American coasts (started by the Atlantic Ocean, his dream is to get to see the shores of the Pacific: he will die looking at a pool of muddy water). The vocals are in English (unfortunately, the Italian accent is evident). The first part reminds me ELP or Quatermass with a lot of keyboards. Then a sound effect that mimics the construction of the tracks. After that a more intimate section of voice and piano is followed, and then a fantastic rhythmic variation that leads to the final. Another good one. Rating 6/10.

6. Frank. Author: TRION. The end of the album is dedicated to Henry Fonda's villain. It is an amazing instrumental suite, performed by this Dutch trio. In the first half keyboards dominating the scene with a theme repeated twice (first with the piano, then with the organ in a crescendo of extraordinary tension) to symbolize the arrival on the scene of the evil Frank. The second half the guitar is protagonist (we can hear some memorable solos here). The final is a stunning crescendo on a typical western theme, with guitar again in evidence. The best song on the album. Rating: 9/10.

A good album. Final Rating: 5/10.

Best song: Frank

Report this review (#425951)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2011 | Review Permalink


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