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Libra - Winter Day's Nightmare CD (album) cover

WINTER DAY'S NIGHTMARE

Libra

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.18 | 12 ratings

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Warthur
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Perhaps the most startling thing about Winter Day's Nightmare - aside from that cool flamingo on the front cover - is that it came out on none other than the legendary Motown Records, who were operating a bit far outside their usual area of expertise here.

That said, whilst it is a bit unexpected to find an Italian prog band released on a label more known for its titanic reputation for top-notch soul, funk, and R&B, it's not completely illogical. Libra's preceding album, released in its original version as Musica e Parole, had a funk-influenced sound not a million miles away from what Goblin were getting up to on the Profondo Rosso soundtrack. Duly impressed by the band's funk chops, Motown not only issued an English-language version of the album for the English-speaking market (retitled simply Libra and given brand new cover art) but went so far as to give the band a 10-album contract. (Perhaps they were looking to the example of ELP, whose Manticore label had released English-language versions of albums by PFM and Banco to some success.)

The band duly flew to the US and put in a stint recording Frank Zappa, and set about recording this sophomore release - their first to be recorded under the Motown contract. Here, however, things began to go badly awry; reportedly, the group had severe disagreements with their producer, and unfortunately you can kind of tell as much from the album, being as it is a weird mix of accessible AOR with smooth soul influences jumbled in with proggier moments. There's clearly the kernel of a good idea there - a fusion of prog and soul could end up being quite intriguing, like a sort of less poppy and more esoteric take on Bowie's Young Americans or Station to Station - but alas, if the band had a strong idea for how they would accomplish this union, it doesn't come across on the album.

The group went home to Italy by the end of 1975, having split up in the process. They'd reform in a reconfigured lineup for that time-honoured pastime of Italian prog bands - namely, producing a soundtrack for an Italian horror movie (Schock) - but this would be without guitarist Federico D'Andrea, whose English vocals had won them the Motown contract in the first place and are one of the silver linings here. (Whether this was truly a Libra album or merely an album released using the Libra name for a bit of name recognition due to some Libra musicians being in the lineup is a question for another day.)

Sadly, Federico D'Andrea would die after being hit by a car in 1978, putting an end to any prospect of this incarnation of the group reuniting. This is a shame, because like I said, there's the glimmering of something special here, but the execution could do with a bit of polishing-up.

Warthur | 2/5 |

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