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Cittą Frontale - El Tor  CD (album) cover


Cittą Frontale


Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.13 | 45 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars After first Osanna's split up in 1974, former members Lino Vairetti (vocals, guitar, mellotron, harmonica) and Massimo Guarino (drums, percussion, vibes, vocals) reformed a band called Cittą Frontale along with Gianni Guarracino (guitar, synth, vocals), Enzo Avitabile (sax, flute, vocals), Paolo Raffone (keyboards) and Rino Zurzolo (bass). Cittą Frontale recorded only this album before disbanding... "El tor" was originally conceived as a rock opera. It's a concept album (or, if you prefer, a musical) that tells the story of a fantastic character called "El tor" ("El tor" was the popular name of the "vibrio cholerae", the bacteria responsible for the disease that raged in Naples in 1973).

The opener "Alba di una cittą" is a soft and delicate instrumental intro describing a city that is waking up... It leads to the next track "Solo uniti"... "It's only together that we can give a dimension to reality / It's only united that we can change the society..."... The political commitment is evident in the lyrics but the music is very distant from the sound of Osanna and more in the vein of a Brodway show (or, if you prefer, in the vein of an Italian musical of Garinei and Giovannini), nevertheless the drumming of Massimo Guarino is brilliant and you can appreciate also in this track the bass work of Rino Zurzolo...

The title track is a ballad introduced by acoustic guitars... Lyrics describe the protagonist of the story, a dreamy boy who makes a deal with the devil: "El Tor" sells his soul to the devil and in exchange he obtains the power of muting his body at will, in this way he can travel all over the world muting himself millions of times and, disguised as an eagle, an elephant, a snake, a microbe or a butterfly, he can listen to the voices of suffering and oppressed people... Although the lyrics provide suggestive imagery the overall structure of the songs on this album is simpler if compared to the previous works of Osanna and, despite the excellent musicianship showcased by the members of the band, the music does not really take off...

"Duro lavoro" (Hard work) in my opinion is by far the best track on this album, but it is an exception... This song features shifting tempos and moods and here the atmosphere is closer to Osanna's standards than in every other track on this work... Lyrics describe the protagonist's growing awareness that in the world there's a "wicked power" exploiting poor people work, while the music goes from the delicate classical guitar intro to quotes from Frank Zappa...

"Mutazione" is a good instrumental track that tries to describe the changing attitude of the protagonist of the story and his bursting rebellion against the political system... This track is the only one on this album that could be described as close to jazz rock and it features an excellent sax work intertwined with guitar and keyboards lines on the suggestive and dynamic background provided by the rhythm section...

On "La casa del mercante Sun" (The house of Sun the merchant) the music comes back to simpler structures and melodic lines, while lyrics describe the protagonist looming plots of revolution...

"Milioni di persone" is a ballad almost in "West Coast" style featuring acoustic guitars and blues harp... Here lyrics try to describe the bitterness of a revolution leader corroded by the power that has to impose his will on millions of people who don't share his ideology...

In the last track "Equilibrio divino", another melodic ballad with an interesting crescendo finale, the protagonist ends up to kill people in the name of God, "aiming to put their devotion under state control"... A sad end for a revolution dream!

In the whole, despite the suggestive concept provided by the lyrics, in my opinion "El tor" sometimes lacks a coherent musical direction... It's a really good album, but I don't think it's really an essential one in a prog collection

andrea | 3/5 |


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