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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - Per Un Amico CD (album) cover

PER UN AMICO

Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.40 | 1465 ratings

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ScorchedFirth
2 stars (5/10)

As a disclaimer I should just say that I'm pretty new to all this 'Rock Progressivo Italiano', and this is really my first time properly listening to an album from this subgenre. I chose Premiata Forneria Marconi's "Per Un Amico" because it's the highest rated RPI album and started there, as it seems to be pretty much acclaimed by most of this site. As you can see this is not quite the experience I have had, but I'm still exploring, so don't lose hope for me yet RPI fans!

A quick point before I talk about the actual music: given that PFM released two albums in 1972, they clearly weren't short of material. Why then is this album only 34 minutes long? That's an EP not an album! Still, it seems PFM is second to Le Orme in this regard (Uomo Di Pezza clocking in at a mere 31 minutes - about the same as your average Transatlantic ditty).

Anyway, the music. Immediately from the first song, "Appena Un Po", it calls to mind early King Crimson, Genesis, and Jethro Tull, as well as secondarily the rest of the general canon of British prog bands from around the same time. It's nicely familiar sounding, with a bit more of a pronounced classical influence, which I enjoy. I also liked how the flutes and violins were used. The singing is a bit dull though, and doesn't help with how the album sort of just plods along merrily for long sections without too much concern. There are a few more exciting sections though, which do stop the album from being overwhelmingly samey.

There are some quite catchy parts strung together in these songs, and it is all very pleasant to listen to. A lot of that has to do with the gentle acoustic and wind instruments, and the way the keyboards/synthesisers/etc. are handled. After quite a few listens though, I must admit, I cannot attain the enthusiasm for this album I was expecting, and my mind tends to wander quite easily from the music even with the short running time. I think the disjointed nature of some of the songs doesn't help with this. "Il Banchetto", for example, pretty much kills all of its momentum half way through and gets lost in some self-indulgent instrumental mess for the rest of the song before the brief conclusion. Possibly not enough thought was put into transitioning between the different segments of the songs.

So overall I'm pretty disappointed. I was told the RPI subgenre had a very distinctive sound, and I can't spot much here that wasn't already present in Britain around the same time. I was also told to expect extravagant expressive Italian vocals, but these are really quite standard to my ears. Supposedly other RPI bands are where the vocals are meant to get interesting, which seems to be the case from the little I've heard of Banco. Maybe this wasn't the best choice as an RPI gateway for me, so I'm looking at Banco and Il Balletto Di Bronzo soon, and possibly some more PFM eventually after that.

Still, as the top rated RPI album on this site I was expecting a lot more from "Per Un Amico". It was supposed to be some sort of gateway drug for me, and all I can say is that I can find absolutely nothing special about this at all, other than that fact that it's in Italian being a bit of a novelty that quickly wears off. It just sounds like lower tier standard 70s prog fare (with maybe a slightly different balance between the main prog influences than the other music I've heard from that era), but with little else to recommend it beyond that, and certainly nothing to get at all excited by. My apologies to all the many who obviously consider this some sort of flawless masterpiece, but I can't honestly call this a good album myself.

ScorchedFirth | 2/5 |

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