PFM - Per Un Amico

Year of Release: 2001
Label: BMG Ricordi
Catalog Number: 765412
Format: CD
Total Time: 33:09:00

When folks talk about Italian progressive music they invariably mention Premiata Forneria Marconi or PFM for short. Prompted by a suggestion in just such a discussion, I bought Per Un Amico (Numero Uno, 1972 (74321)), considered one of the band's best releases. Although I had heard Photos Of Ghosts a few times, Per Un Amico is really my first introduction to the band. Photos, by the way, contains reworked versions of material that appeared on Per Un Amico and the band's first release Storia Di Un Minuto. This particular edition of Per Un Amico came out in 2001 as a gold, 24-bit remastered edition from BMG/RCA.

It is not hard to hear why this band is highly regarded in progressive music circles. Just one listen to this spectacular CD and you'll understand, too. That does ring of hyperbole, does it not? But as usual, I'm not taken to exaggeration. The whole album seems to flow together well, though are some hard pauses between some tempo shifts that lead you to think a new track is starting, rather than a new passage, but it's a minor flaw. Perhaps a product of the remastering process, there is a three-dimensional effect to the music, giving each piece depth and space. Given that the majority of the mellower passages are symphonic, they are also very expansive? waves of sound, especially from keys, push out to the further reaches. This means that you can follow the "trajectory" of each instrument on each subsequent listen.

Unlike their Italian brethren, Banco, for example, PFM are a symphonic progressive rock band that, at least here, do not draw upon Italian opera for influence. Perhaps it was because they didn't have a vocalist like Banco's Franceso di Giacomo, but more likely because their muse lay elsewhere. And though PFM are a progressive rock band, their brand of prog rock on display here is often played with a soft focus, like the pastoral sections in many a classic Genesis album, though I wouldn't say that PFM sound like Genesis particularly. And yet, if you listen to the whispered passages during "Geranio," for example, and it's hard not to think there was at some influence. There are similar dynamics employed, however - fragile passages, leading to pastoral, leading to jazzier or rockier passages. Released in 1972, Per Un Amico is contemporaneous with Genesis' Foxtrot. Though, I have to say that I think more of later Genesis material, post Peter Gabriel (pre-pop, though). Also, it is of Steve Hackett's Voyage Of The Acolyte that I'm thinking, and specifically of Phil Collins' vocal performance on "Star Of Sirius" (though that album was three years hence).

What comes to mind also, during the opening track "Appena Un Op'," are the light and lyrical sections of King Crimson's In The Court Of The Crimson King (others name check "Epitaph," but I also hear elements of the title track), especially in the winds work of Mauro Pagani and the mellotron of Flavio Premoli that provides a bed for the rest of the instrumentation. Franco Mussida's delicate acoustic guitar helps open the piece? which over the course of 7-plus minutes shifts from the pastoral to strident rock and back again.

"Generale" is an energetic, rocking tune with frenetic violin and guitar work and rolling piano. As the title suggests, we do get some martial themes, but here more a light and cheerful flute or piccolo tune, parade rather than a march. And if Keith Emerson doesn't come to mind with the brief organ passage... as will ELP itself during parts of "Il Banchetto" (which begins sounding more like America). Here there is a rather awkward, angular passage half-way in, that is more along the lines of experimental than symphonic progressive rock. Something else I associate with Lizard period Crimson (and album I haven't be able to get into). This is followed by a beautiful classical piano passage by Premoli, before leading back to where it started for the last minute.

The title track is light jazz very much in the style of Camel, smooth and breathy, played mostly in warm pastels. Again, some nice violin work from Pagani (reminding me of later work by Kansas' Robby Steinhardt) and some interesting interplay between acoustic guitar and bass. Hints of Yes and ELP can be heard in there, too, but nothing strongly suggestive of either.

This has been another enjoyable listening experience, and the band's performance (since, as I understand it, this was recorded live in the studio) is wonderful. I personally look forward to making my way through their catalog, discovering more gems.

Appena Un Po' (7:38) / Generale (4:13) / Per Un Amico (5:20) / Il Banchetto (8:34) / Gernaio (8:04)

Flavio Premoli - piano, harpsichord, Hammond organ, Pari organ, spinetta, mellotron, moog, bells and vocals
Franco Mussida - acoustic, 12-string, and electric guitars, mandoloncello, and vocals
Franz Di Cioccio - drums, percussion and vocals
Giorgio "Fico" Piazza - bass and vocals
Mauro Pagani - flute, contralto flute, piccolo, violin and vocals

Quelli - Quelli (1969)
Storia Di Un Minuto (1972)
Per Un Amico (1972)
Photos Of Ghosts (1973)
L'Isola Di Niente (1974)
The World Became The World (1974)
Live In The USA (1974)
The Award-Winning Premiata Bakery (1976)
Prime Impressioni (1976)
Celebration (1976)
Chocolate Kings (1976)
Jet Lag (1977)
PFM - Antologia (1977)
Passpartù (1978)
Fabrizio De Andre / PFM - In Concerto Vol 1 (1979)
Fabrizio De Andre / PFM - In Concerto Vol 2 (1979)
Suonare Suonare (1980)
Come Ti Va In Riva Alla Città (1981)
Performance (1982)
PFM? PFM! (1984)
Miss Baker (1987)
L'Album Di...PFM (1988)
PFM - I Grandi Del Rock (1993)
P.F.M. Story (1995)
10 Anni Live - 1971-1981 (1996)
Absolute Live - 1971-1978 (1996)
Ulisse (1997) (Il Best) (1998)
I Miti Musica (2000)
Pieces From Manticore (2000)
Golden Collection (2001)
Serendipity (2002)
Live In Japan 2002 (2002)
Gli Anni Settanta (2002)
I Quelli: Flashback: I Grandi Successi Originali (2003)
Piazza Del Campo 2004 (CD+DVD) (2005)
Dracula Opera 2005 (2005)
Stati Di Immaginazione (CD+DVD) (2006)
Cuore Rock (2006)
35... E Un Minuto (2007)
PFM Canta De André (2008)
A.D. 2010 La Buona Novella (2010)
River Of Life: THe Manticore Years Anthology 1973-1977 (2010)
Amico Faber (2011)
Live In Roma with Ian Anderson (2012)
Celebration 1972-2012 (2012)
PFM In Classic - Da Mozart A Celebration (2013)
Paper Charms: The Complete BBC Recordings 1974-1976 (2014)
Un'isola (2014)
Un Amico (2014)
Il Suono Del Tempo (2015)
Un Minuto (2015)
A Ghost (2015)
The World (2015)
Live Collection - 25 Novembre 1980 (2015)
Marconi Bakery 1973-1974 (box set) (2016)
Emotional Tattoo (2017)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin IT

Added: March 9th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 912
Language: english


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