Nuova Idea — Live Anthology
(Black Widow BWR 166, 2014, DVD)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2014-06-07
Nuova Idea is an Italian progressive rock band from the 70s who released three albums between 1971 and 1973. They were a keyboard-oriented rock band that played some very aggressive music. Then the band broke up. In 2011 Paolo Siani (drums) reformed the group and released a CD on Black Widow. Live Anthology documents the band then and now. First I must warn you that this is a PAL DVD, so it may not be compatible with US DVD players, but it may play on your computer. The DVD has several features: a slideshow, RAI archives, an interview with Paolo Siani, a concert in December 2012, and an excerpt of a concert in October 2012. Let’s start with the slideshow. We see a progression of the band from very young boys to now, accompanied by their music. As they got older, their hair grew longer, and today keyboardist Giorgio Usai sports very long white hair and a mustache. I have one complaint regarding the interview: it is all in Italian, of course, but there are no English subtitles, so it is a total loss watching this as I have no idea what they are saying. Next are the RAI (the official Italian television station) archives. Here we have seven rare archived performances by Nuova Idea from 1971 to 1973. But here is another problem: this one long video, about 24 minutes, so it is very difficult to locate a specific video if you are interested in watching “Sarà Cosi” for example. This should have been divided up into seven separate videos that you could watch all at once or individually, as is usually the case on a music DVD. All of the videos are in black and white. And, as typical with TV in the early 70s, the audience is very straight looking and appears bored for the most part, though the band did not let that affect them, except for the two songs from 1973. Here Nuova Idea just seems to be going through the paces. In the other videos, the band really cuts loose and shows a lot of aggressiveness and energy in their music and their playing. The highpoint is the performance of “Illusioni da Poco” with a full orchestra recorded August 26, 1972. The band was at their peak that night and the orchestra made for a very full sound, playing in front of a huge audience in the concert hall.
Fast-forwarding 40 years, we have the two concerts from 2012. Only three original members of Nuova Idea remain in the reformed band: Paolo Siani (drums), Ricky Belloni (guitar), and Giorgio Usai (keyboards). The are all in their 60s now, but they are surrounded by many younger musicians, including Paolo’s son Alessandro Siani (electronics). When all three of the original members are performing on stage, they capture the energy of their youth. But there are several songs with only Paolo on drums with the younger members. These tunes appear to be more orchestrated, some people are even reading music, and less spontaneous. All in all, the music is excellent and consistent with what we hear today, but what is missing is the spark that made their music so great in the 70s.
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more