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Banco/Banco del Mutuo Soccorso: As in a Last Supper [Limited Edition]

Album Notes

The 1976 release As in a Last Supper marked a pivotal point in the career of legendary Italian prog rockers Banco. The previous year, the band put out its first album targeted at English-speaking audiences, on admirers Emerson, Lake & Palmer's own label, Manticore. (Fellow Italian proggies PFM were already part of the Manticore roster.) But that self-titled release was a hodgepodge of earlier tracks with newly recorded vocals in English, plus some new material. As in a Last Supper was the first "proper" Banco album targeted at the Anglo audience, the first to be conceived as a self-contained piece for Manticore. During this period, they were also going by the simpler Banco outside Italy, as opposed to their full name, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, though they'd eventually use the shorter moniker worldwide. The band's prog rock peak had arguably come with its last "original" album, 1973's Io Sono Nato Libero, and before long Banco would begin adopting a less progressive approach, with shorter, simpler songs, but As in a Last Supper still finds them turning out complex, captivating pieces. At some points, you can hear things just beginning to take a turn toward a more direct, visceral approach, but Last Supper is nevertheless a sumptuous art rock feast for the ears. Keyboard-playing brothers Vittorio and Gianni Nocenzi lead the way as usual, with their kaleidoscopic whirl of synth, organ, and piano lines creating an elegant, artful framework, over which Francesco Di Giacomo's bold, soaring voice glides powerfully but gracefully, and guitarist Rodolfo Maltese alternates between cunning counterpoint and cutting lead lines. As with the band's previous Manticore release, the band's original Italian lyrics (intact on the Italian version of the album) were re-cut in English. While it's probably more aesthetically pleasing to hear Di Giacomo delivering lyrics in his native tongue, he does a fine job with the English version, and his singing retains more than enough of its dramatic appeal to make up for any aesthetic incongruities occasioned by the linguistic shift. ~ J. Allen



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