Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Come In Un' Ultima Cena

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Musicrama
Catalog Number: 634752
Format: CD
Total Time: 45:23:00

Banco's fifth release as a group effort. I think so anyway. I am counting their fourth effort Banco, even though it contains only one new song, the rest being re-recorded versions of cuts from their first and third albums with English lyrics. In between Banco and Come In Un' Ultima Cena (1976, Dischi Ricordi, cat. no. 8466), there was Garofano Rosso, an instrumental recording, a film soundtrack, actually. Then there was As In A Last Supper, the Manticore label version of Come In Un' Ultima Cena, with vocals recorded in English. Ok? You're with me now, right?

I will stick to the Italian release here. I think the recordings by Banco, and PFM, or any non-English speaking group for that matter, are best heard in their original form. I want to hear the music as the artist intended, regardless of the language barrier. What about Deus Ex Machina? How many Italians can speak Latin? Many? Few? I don't know, but music knows no one language, so my inability to understand Italian is only a minor impediment to my understanding of Banco. Anyway, vocalist Francesco Di Giacomo sounds better singing in his native tongue.

Come In Un Ultima Cena is an exquisite, beautifully crafted set of songs. It is a perfect album to put on at bed time, letting the magic of the music seep into your mind, soothing and relaxing.

Please don't assume that this is muzak, or something like that. It is, however, Banco's most initially accessible album. No one will have to sit through this a half dozen times to understand what's going on here. Unlike many progressive rock releases, including many I would describe as my favorites, I loved this the first time I heard it. The nine tracks on this great CD flow smoothly from one to another, creating a sustained mood of melancholy, then joy, and always inevitability. It seems a bit like a movie without visual images.

Everything, of course, is wonderfully written and arranged in the manner which Banco fans are accustomed to, all composed by Di Giacomo and one or both of the Nocenzi brothers. The other members of this most classic band line-up, Pier Luigi Calderoni at the drums, Rodolfo Maltese on the guitars, and Renato D'Angelo on bass, all seem to be better represented on this than some of the earlier efforts.

As with all Banco (short for Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, or, the Bank of Mutual Trust, if you must know) releases, every song is a world unto itself, and deserving of analysis.

So, with the formalities out of the way, we begin.

"A Cena Per Esempio," the album's opener, has a gentle and somewhat somber beginning, with soft bells and harp, or plucked piano strings, introducing a smooth almost jazzy song that reminds me at various points of Joni Mitchell, Boz Scaggs, or David Bowie. It sets the tone nicely for this work as a whole. It is instantly clear that this will be an album of melody and lyricism.

"Il Ragno" follows. What can I tell you about this song? If you know Banco, you know "Il Ragno." It has probably been re-worked more than anything in Banco's repertoire. Great beat, strong keyboards, engaging vocals and harmonies. Even the later disco version is good. Good songwriting is transcendent. And this is good songwriting.

On to "E'Cosi Buono Giovanni, Ma." Another warm, pastoral, lovely work of art. Acoustic guitar, flute, trumpet played by Rodolfo, and Di Giacomo's quavering, emotive voice. Perfect beauty in song.

Next comes a change in tone. "Slogan" begins as a menacing bass line, followed by dissonant guitar, then into the verse, with the vocal power of Di Giacomo in full evidence. This is a good example of the Nocenzi's ability to arrange for two keyboards. They can summon any mood, evoke any image with their music. This is a Banco classic.

Track five is a simply gorgeous piece of work, titled "Si Dice Che I Delfini Parlino." This is another very smooth track, and it reminds me just a bit of Khan, and the song "Stranded Effervescent Psychonovelty." Say that three times fast, ok? It has a superb bass line that seems strangly familiar, almost an organic sound, from the earth itself. Think Dave Brubeck here. This tune is almost six minutes, but for some reason it seems to be over much too quickly. I always play this one a couple times in a row. But, that's just me, ok?

"Voila' Mida (Il Guaritore)" is yet another (note to myself: look up more synonyms for beautiful) example of Banco at their best. This composition is full of bubbling synthesizers, fine piano, and the kind of vocals that make Mr. Chubbs so much fun to listen to. Their ability to combine Italian folk melodies, avant-garde form, and pop music is stunning.

The seventh track, "Quanto La Buona Gente Dice," continues in an upbeat mood. Again, the song seems to draw inspiration from traditional Italian music. This is only 1:50 in length, so pay attention, or you'll miss it.

"La Notte E'Piena" has us walking quietly through the sunny countryside. A flute plays in the distance, as we trample down the tall grass. Rodolfo Maltese carries the weight of this melody, joined by violin, castanets, clarinet played by Gianni Nocenzi and a brief appearance by Di Giacomo. Ending with unaccompanied piano, this is a radiant, glowing piece of writing, brilliantly arranged and executed.

The final song, "Fino Alla Mia Porta," ties this package up quite well. It recalls the opening bars of "Metamophosi," and showcases Maltese's electric guitar, which has been in short supply in some of Come In? Synthesizer and organ come back into play, and the album ends as it began, with the soft bell like tones of the keyboard fading away, ending this dream. Something as grand, and lovely as this??.. must it be just a dream?

A Cena, Per Esempio (6:20) / Il Ragno ( 4:55) / E'Cosi Buono Giovanni,Ma (3:32) / Slogan ( 7:23) / Si Dice Che I Delfini Parlino (5:50) / Voila'Mida(Il Guaritore) (6:14) / Quanto La Buona Gente Dice ( 1:57) / La Notte E' Piena (4:14) / Fino Alla Mia Porta (4:30)

Pier Luigi Calderoni - drums, percussion
Gianni Nocenzi - clarinet, keyboards
Renato D'Angelo - bass, guitar
Francesco Di Giacomo - vocals
Rodolfo Maltese - guitar, trumpet, vocals
Vittorio Nocenzi - keyboards
Angelo Branduardi - violin

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso (1972)
Darwin (1972)
Io Sono Nato Libero (1973)
Banco (1975)
Garofano Rosso (1976)
Come In Un' Ultima Cena (1976)
...Di Terra (1978)
Canto Di Primavera (1979)
Capolinea (1980)
Urgentissimo (1980)
Buone Notizie (1981)
Banco (1983)
...E Via (1985)
Donna Plautilla (1989)
Il 13 (1994)
Nudo (1997)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin IT

Added: March 22nd 2004
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 1432
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]