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Banco: Banco [Limited Edition]

Album Notes

Banco was one of the leading bands in the first wave of Italian progressive rock, and they had already established their primacy in their own country with three stellar albums before being discovered by Emerson, Lake & Palmer and signed to ELP's own Manticore label. In fact, Banco was the second Italian prog outfit to curry favor with ELP, as P.F.M. had already become Manticore artists by the time Banco cut their self-titled album for the label. Since the band's fourth album was really their introduction to a global audience, they decided to cut new versions of some of the best of their earlier tracks, with English lyrics by Marva Jan Marrow (who provided the same service for P.F.M.) The revamped tunes stood alongside three new songs, and the whole thing added up to an international prog rock classic. As ever, the keyboard team of brothers Gianni and Vittorio Nocenzi was at the forefront, unleashing a dazzling maelstrom of jazz- and classical-influenced piano lines, powerful, percussive organ riffs, and wailing synthesizer blasts. Though Banco's singer, the charismatic Francesco DiGiacomo (who had appeared in a number of Fellini movies) was a lightning rod for public attention, his rich tenor voice is not always the focal point here. Some songs are dominated by long, complex instrumental passages, with vocal sections taking something of a secondary role, the acoustic ballad "Leave Me Alone" being a notable exception. In fact, the album is bookended by two stately, synth-led instrumentals, "Chorale" and "Traccia 2." That's not to say that DiGiacomo's presence isn't felt on the record, though: he and guitarist Rodolfo Maltese both make strong contributions throughout, especially on the album's meatiest cuts, the epics "Metamorphosis" and "Nothing's the Same," two suite-like compositions that are as colorful, sophisticated, and bewitching as anything in the entire prog rock canon. ~ J. Allen


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