Exposé Online banner

Premiata Forneria Marconi — 10 Anni Live 1971-1981
(RTI 0217-2, 1978/1996, 4CD)

by Mike McLatchey, Published 1997-02-01

10 Anni Live 1971-1981 Cover art

The saga of PFM is one of the most interesting and revealing of all of the "progressive" symphonic rock greats. With PFM you see the birth of the Italian classical rock scene, you see a band whose repertoire wasn't based solely on writing but on improvisation as well, and most importantly you see what made PFM and what broke them eventually. If you ever needed an example of a "prog" band's voluntary sell out and decline, PFM is the classic example of how a band whose music was some of the most timeless could later sink into abysmal self-parody.

Unfortunately, this 4CD official bootleg series leaves out PFM's reign as the Italian king of symphonic rock around late 1972 to early '73 but as you will see there's more to make up for it. With disc 1 (1971-2) you have a set that preceded their epic debut Storia di un Minuto and consisted mostly of covers — King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" and "Picture of the City," Tull's adaptation of "Bouree" and "My God," and a smattering of jams. Only two tracks from the debut are here and altogether this disc only lends itself to nostalgia.

I suppose PFM's high point was mostly left out due to the lack of reasonable sound quality recordings from the era. If you remember, at least one show was released from this era and the bootleg quality was dreadfully shabby. It's still too bad that there aren't a lot of Italian vocal versions between any of the discs. Anyway you can't complain too much about discs 2 and 3 and although they aren't quite as interesting as when they weren't trying to sing in English, the band instrumentally still was at top form for the next few years. On disc 2, from 1973-4 on tour in the USA (amazing isn't it?), four out of the 12 tracks are solos or jams and on disc 3 (from 75-6) the total is seven of 15. Many of these are excellent, especially on the latter disc where often it's a chance to put a stranglehold on Lanzetti's Gabriel like vocals (what was wrong with the vocals before they hired him?).

Yes, it's painful to see how such a refined and elegant group would go to such ends to Anglicize their sound. As PFM continued into the late 70s, they continued to be the masters of excellent instrumental rock yet occasionally went for the hit single with their new vocalist. Honestly there was a lot of good music made as late as Passpartu when the band reverted back to Italian lyrics, but by this time they had changed their style to a more folkier and direct one. On disc 4, this period of decline, which the set documents to 1981, does have a lot of high points with the Chocolate Kings / Jet Lag album music. By the time of the 80s material PFM were inspirationally somewhere far from the elegant spacey symphonic rock of their first three or four Italian albums.

In summary, you have 3 to 3 1/2 discs of good material that is at least 3/4 great (if that makes any sense). Considering most of it is not really PFM's very best progressiva Italiana its really a surprise how damn good this set is. With a really comprehensive booklet with lots of pictures and a comprehensive biography, this seems to be an intelligently put together set despite some misgivings. But how good could they have been?


Filed under: Archives, Issue 11, 1996 releases, 1978 recordings

Related artist(s): Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM), Lucio Fabbri

Latest news

2019-11-07
Glenn Smith RIP – Glenn Smith, founder, mandolinist, and primary composer of the DeLand, Florida based prog / fusion band Magnatar, passed away on October 18th 2019 at the age of 68, after a brief illness.  » Read more

2019-11-04
Dino Brassea RIP – Word reaches us of the passing of Dino Brassea, who sang and played flute in Cast for many years. By our count, Brassea appeared on 11 Cast albums between 1994 and 2002. He also released music as a solo artist. » Read more

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Rick Wakeman - Past, Present and Future – At the outset, it would appear that reviewing three CDs of solo piano music from keyboardist Rick Wakeman would be a daunting task. While wrestling with the perception that the pianist can easily sit...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues