BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO: NUDO (1997)
CD I: 1) Nudo, Pt. 1; 2) Nudo, Pt. 2; 3) Nudo, Pt. 3; 4) E Mi Viene Da Pensare; 5) Prologo #1; 6) R.I.P.; 7) Il Ragno; 8) Emiliano; 9) L'Evoluzione; 10) 750,000 Anni Fa... L'Amore; CD II: 1) Sul Palco; 2) La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta; 3) Metamorfosi; 4) Guardami Le Spalle; 5) Roma/Tokyo; 6) La Band; 7) Bisbigli; 8) Passaggio; 9) Coi Capelli Sciolti Al Vento; 10) Traccia; 11) Prologo #2; 12) Non Mi Rompete.
What good is releasing a double CD if you are only going to put one new song on it? And not a good one, at that: the three-part ʽNudoʼ suite is most definitely one of those «failed experiments» where the artist thinks he is being all smart and complex and cool and modern, but in reality just comes up with something that makes no sense whatsoever. ʽNudoʼ is very loud, very full of itself, but fails to come up with melodies that would venture outside second-rate synth-pop and adult contemporary — it is about as «progressive» as circa-Union Yes; in fact, it is a serious stylistic letdown even compared to the already lax standards of Il 13. Granted, the riffs and solos are at a much higher level of complexity than on E Via, but the synth tones, the drum machines, and the overproduced guitars make that observation pointless: in the end, there is more pomp here than style, and far more technophilia than substance.
All the more curious is the fact that the rest of this stuff, even though it all consists of oldies done anew, is delightful. The first CD, once the accursed suite is over, is then dedicated to an «unplugged» section where they do their classic tunes in acoustic mode, with the aid of a young colleague guitarist, Filippo Marcheggiani (who was not even born when they already recorded most of their classic albums). The results are hardly essential, but sound almost surprisingly inspired — lack of amplification does not impact the energy of the melodies, just gives them more of a «chamber» feel (actually, the lack of amplification only refers to guitars — synthesizers are still quite prominent, particularly on ʽL'Evoluzioneʼ).
The second disc (there is also a 1-CD edition that omits it) contains a selection of properly live titles, recorded at two shows in Tokyo; the tracks do not overlap with the «unplugged» ones, but are also mostly classic stuff, with the exception of the Vittorio-sung ʽGuardami Le Spalleʼ from Il 13 and a new instrumental, flatteringly called ʽRoma / Tokyoʼ — another pompous symph-rock composition, but somewhat more effective than ʽNudoʼ, maybe because the live environment makes it feel more like a real heated battle between all the players than just another demonstration of their worship of loud-sounding technogadgets.
As for the classics, well, this is actually the first time we get to hear Banco in full-out live mode playing the classics without turning them into disco attractions — the versions of ʽConquista Della Posizione Erettaʼ and ʽMetamorfosiʼ in particular are quite impressive. Now they share the regular prog-rock live album bane («find ten differences from the originals... not»), but with twenty five years lying between the originals and the copies, who would really blame them? And while we are at it, DiGiacomo's voice has not lost a thing in terms of range or power, only gained in terms of self-assurance and professionalism.
Overall, Nudo clearly shows that at this point, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso are only functional as a «nostalgia act», but they can be a damn fine nostalgia act if they really put their minds to it — their days as composers of quality music long since gone, their talents for melody and innovation worn out, eaten up, perhaps, by the syphilis of the reckless musical prostitution of the previous decade, or by other reasons. Much to their honor, the band members must have acknowledged this and come to terms with it — although Banco never officially disbanded, and still continue to play and record, the ʽNudoʼ suite was their last ever attempt at creating new music. If you know for sure that you are never going to create anything on the level of Darwin!, not ever again, why bother hopelessly trying? Just enjoy life as it is, that's all.