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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso: Capolinea


1) Non Mi Rompete; 2) Il Ragno; 3) Canto Di Primavera; 4) 750,000 Anni Fa... L'Amore; 5) Capolinea, Pt. 1; 6) Capolinea, Pt. 2; 7) R.I.P.; 8) Garofano Rosso.

Why these guys had to wait until 1980 to release a live album is anybody's guess — perhaps they thought it boring to jump on the «triple live album» fad while they were still playing the songs close to the originals, but now that they had so daringly reinvented themselves for the Modern Age, it was time to show the world how infinite those adaptive capacities of progressive rock really are? Particularly now that you can actually dance to those formerly tricky oldies and all?

All right, so this is not quite the brand new, Eighties-ready Banco yet. This is a transitional album: they do a selection of mostly old material, alternating between (a) tear-jerkers — ballads that need very little readjustment to set the crowds a-weepin'; and (b) old «rockers» remade according to the electro-funky standards of the day, with hot syncopated basslines that sometimes go all the way up to disco (even though in general this is not «Banco's disco album», as the fans sometimes brand it, steeping away in horror — but a dance album this is, of course).

The only new composition is the two-part title track, a fast, but relatively old-fashioned boogie piece with alternating synthesizer and guitar solos, and a bass part that pays proper tribute to the fusion genre. It's listenable and nimble, but generic, and the synthesizer tones are ugly anyway. But it may be a better proposition for the fans than the funkified rethinking of ʽR.I.P.ʼ, or the disco pounce of ʽIl Ragnoʼ, or the new life of ʽGarofano Rossoʼ as the Italian equivalent of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.

On the other hand, in retrospect the experience is sort of amusing — it is curious to hear, at least once, how these old classic tunes behave in a «nightclub» setting, and it will ultimately depend upon your attitude towards something like Walter Murphy's ʽA Fifth Of Beethovenʼ: ridiculous, disgusting, money-grubbin' desecration or cheesy, bold, tongue-in-cheek experimentation? For Banco, scrap «tongue-in-cheek», though: there are no signs of self-irony anywhere in sight, they are clearly targeting these rearrangements at a new kind of audience — one that is accustomed to standing up and getting it on at live shows, not sitting down and contemplating.

The recording quality is fairly good (every throb of each disco line wobbles your speakers im­pressively), DiGiacomo is in fine vocal form (in fact, at this point he emerges as the most «con­servative» element of the music, faithfully reproducing the original vocal melodies), and the No­cenzi brothers do work their asses off, regardless of the goals and results. The album hardly qua­lifies for a proper end-of-the-decade «summarization» of achievements — it stares way too in­tensely into the glum future, and the song selection is too restricted — but, at the very least, it is a semi-decent way to cap off one's collection of BMS records, because, compared to what would follow, and follow very soon, Capolinea is a frickin' Mozartian masterpiece. Prophetic title, too: Capolinea means «terminus» in Italian, so take a hint before proceeding further.

Check "Capolinea" (CD) on Amazon


  1. The good news first. The synths are generally not that ugly; I have heard Jon Lord doing worse in the studio (not on stage though; I'm thinking of Rat Bat Blue). Non me Rompete works better than in the original version imo; especially the plucking on the acoustic guitar is very tasteful, while the guitar solo at the end not only rocks, but produces some pyrotechnics as well. The female backing vocals are a bit goofy (bad pronunciation? I still have to find out), so there is the tongue in cheek factor. The percussion is intriguing.
    The basic idea of Capolinea is nice, but it's way too repetitive. The guys don't have the creativity come up with a new idea every few seconds. The best part is at the beginning of part 2, when there is some almost (but not quite) atonal jazz piano tingling.
    750 000 Anni is the other ballad; alas the arrangement is not as tasteful as on the opener. There is some gorgeous piano play, but you can find that on the previous studio album as well. The wobbling bass and the wah wah guitar solo are quite out of place. But can forgive them; if you try a few things out you run the risk of failing. At least they do not really betray their prog roots.

    Now the bad news. Il Ragno, which I didn't like too much anyway, is just horrible with its 4/4 disco beat. I hardly can believe this is the same drummer. Not all change is progression and the rhythm section of a progrock band trying to copy KC and the Sunshine Band certainly isn't. Canto Primavera is completely ruined in the same way. RIP and Garofano are only slightly less bad.
    As an experienced disco hater I'm not going to forgive the boys for this manure.

  2. Glad to see reviews of bands that don't sing in English. Any hope for Baron Rojo?

    1. Yes. It would be great if George reviewed spanish and latinamerican bands