After their debut album “Dolce acqua” and some commercial singles (“Jesahel”, “Haum” and “Treno” - in my opinion weak, but very successful), vocalist and flutist Ivano Fossati went solo and Martin Grice stepped in. With a renewed line up now featuring Mimmo Di Martino (guitar, vocals), Ettore Vigo (keyboards, vocals), Marcello Reale (bass, vocals), Peppino Di Santo (drums, percussion, vocals) and Martin Grice (flute, sax, keyboards, vocals) the band turned back to prog and in 1972 released “Lo scemo e il villaggio” (The fool and the village), their second album, a kind of “concept” about “foolishness and reason”, where the fool is someone that always finds a way to tell the truth. In my opinion in this album you can’t find the spontaneity and freshness of Delirium’s debut, anyway the music is rather good and the band blend folk, jazz and prog rock with remarkable results.
The opener “Villaggio” (Village) is an excellent instrumental with a great piano and flute work and a joyful, complex rhythm. Every now and again it reminds me of Le Orme, Jethro Tull and ELP. Well, many influences blended together in a very personal, convincing way. This is also my favourite track on this album.
“Tremori antichi” (Ancient shudders) is an amazing, dreamy acoustic ballad about the absurdity of war. The snow falls down and covers the blood of the dead soldiers after Marathon battle, in the same way men too easily forget the tears of the women who have been waiting in vain longtime for the return of their lovers and husbands. For a thousand years, battle after battle, war after war, it's always been the same endless story... “Under the fog of ancient shudders / The clash of the swords awoke me / I begun to scream like a child / And someone shouted at me that I was mad / The lips of the wise men shouted in my face that they liked to see the rising sun in a blood-red colour...”. The singing of Mimmo De Martino is not bad at all but here I miss a bit the particular voice of Ivano Fossati.
“Gioia, disordine, risentimento” (Joy, disorder and resentment) is a complex piece where the band try to blend tarantella, prog and avant-garde. It's a song about social inequality and the lyrics depict the contrast between slums of tin houses and the threatening power of money. Although I find this experiment interesting, it is not completely convincing and in my opinion this is the weakest track on this album. I prefer by far the new arrangement on their live album released in 2007 which gave new life to this track.
The following “La mia pazzia” (My madness) is a joyful track that reminds me of the hit single and best known Delirium’s song “Jesahel”. Is it madness shouting “Peace!” in the streets or claiming for the right of every man to be equal to others, despite the colour of his skin? Men frequently tell lies to themselves because of their greediness and they disown their own faith because of their evil nature. This is the kind of madness that is described in the lyrics... “Don’t look me in the eyes / My madness won’t be silent...”.
Next comes the beautiful, dreamy “Sogno” (Dream), an instrumental track that recalls the atmospheres of their previous album, with a touch of jazzy sax and piano in the middle section. It leads to “Dimensione uomo” (Dimension man), a a slow ballad with heartfelt vocals floating upon acoustic rhythm guitar patterns and nice piano passages. It's a reflective track that invites you to think about the real value of life in a world that always seems running after death. Isn't it beautiful when peace and love come around? Look at the children and at their ingenuity but do not expect anything from the adults... “Do not ask anything / If you don’t want a refusal...”.
“Culto Disarmonico” (Dis-harmonic cult) is another good instrumental with sax and drums driving the music towards jazzy paths while the final track “Pensiero per un abbandono” (Thought about an abandonment) is quiet and symphonic. Maybe the real madness of humankind is due to the lack of love that leads to injustice and abuse in the name of God. But the real God for too many people is nothing but money... “Perhaps it’s true / I’m mad / I’ve just understood / That I can’t remember a single act of sweetness / Coming from the hands of people...”.
On the whole, “Lo scemo e il villaggio” might not be a masterpiece but in my opinion it could be an excellent addition to any Italian prog collection.
You can listen in straming to the complete album HERE
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