Tuesday, 11 December 2012

THE MAN, THE EARTH...

Osanna were formed in Naples in 1971 by musicians coming out from other bands as I Volti di Pietra, Città Frontale and the Showmen. In the same year they released an excellent debut album, “L’uomo” (The man), with a line-up featuring Lino Vairetti (lead vocals, guitars, organ, synthesizer), Danilo Rustici (guitars, organ, synthesizer), Elio D’Anna (flute, sax, ottavino), Lello Brandi (bass) and Massimo Guarino (drums, percussion). In this work they tried to blend many different influences (from Jethro Tull to Jimi Hendrix, from classical music to Italian folklore) in a “theatrical way”. In fact they used to perform their music on stage with painted faces and particular costumes, as shown on the album cover. All the tracks are bound together as in a long suite with continuous changes in rhythm and mood...


The instrumental “Introduzione” starts with a gentle acoustic guitar pattern and synthesizers, then come in bass, electric guitar, flute, drums and harmonica in an aggressive crescendo that leads to the title track... “The man, the earth, the sky and the sea / To create, to create, to create everywhere / The sun, the light, the cold and the heat / Love, love, there’s love everywhere... Man, tell me, who are you?”. Vocals soaring from a carpet of acoustic guitars lead to an “explosion”, then to harmony vocals chanting “Osanna”...


Suddenly the “steamy” rhythm of “Mirror train” breaks in and the singing turns from Italian to English. After some swinging, bluesy passages “Mirror train” ends on the notes of the communist anthem “Bandiera Rossa” (Red flag) played by a distorted guitar (that recalls a little Jimi Hendrix). The album goes on with the rocky, complex “Non sei vissuto mai” (You never lived)... “Mind where you’re going, if you want to do it / Never look back! / You can’t tell what you want / You have already given all away / You have lost everything and the void is around you / Your life is nothing…”. This piece fades out with an instrumental reprise of “L’uomo”. Well, the first side of this album is almost a “manifesto” of Osanna’s musical and political “credo”!


Side two starts with the energetic “Vado verso una meta” (I’m going towards a goal”), full of frustrated hope... “I’m going towards a goal / That is more distant than me / It is always one step beyond / I can see it but I know that it doesn’t exist...”. Then comes the bittersweet, committed ballad “In un vecchio cieco” (In an old blind man) featuring strummed acoustic guitar and good vocal harmonies... Rainy days recall evasive answers to the questions about the sense of life and when you look at an old blind beggar all the certitudes of the wealthy society of consumerism crumble and your way of life changes, you can’t come back... “I let the rain pour down on me / It wets me but I know it’s nothing...”.


The track ends with a jazzy sax solo introducing the delicate, dreamy “L’amore vincerà di nuovo” (Love will win again), featuring lyrics half in Italian and half in English and remarkable harmony vocals... “If in the dark I hear an ageless voice, death will win again / If a light will shine in your love for me, life will win again... Love will win again!”. The last two tracks, “Everybody’s Gonna See You Die” and “Lady Power”, though good, are not at the same level of the previous ones (personally I don’t like Osanna very much when they sing in English). The first one is a blues rock piece featuring harmonica and electric guitar riffs while the last one is a powerful track with an electric guitar in the forefront that could recall Jimi Hendrix...


Although “L’uomo” is not a perfect album (sometimes its “conceptual thread” seems to get lost - especially because of the singing switching from Italian to English and vice-versa - and sometimes the music is not completely defined and too heterogeneous), it is historically important and it contributed to the development of the Italian-prog style.

More info about the band:
http://www.osanna.it/