Osanna: Palepoli (1973)
Osanna was one of the great Italian prog rock bands. Maybe not as well known as PFM, Le Orme, or even Banco for that matter, but definately worth looking in to. Palepoli is Osanna’s third album, and was the very first Italian prog album I ever heard and I was just totally amazed! It also shows how much the band had progressed as well, starting off with the bluesy/jazzy/hard rock of L’Uomo (1971), to the classical orchestra with rock band of Milano Calibro 9 (1972), which was a film soundtrack, and this one.
Palepoli was the only Osanna album sung entirely in Italian, which was a real smart move for this band as singing (partially) in English on previous albums was definatley not the band’s strong points (the same goes for PFM, particularly on their 1973 album Photos of Ghosts), although those are still fine albums. This time around, the band went for two side length cuts, “Oro Caldo” and “Animale Senze Respiro”, with a short incidental piece called “Stanza Città” in between. This is Osanna at their most aggressive.
If you enjoy David Jackson’s works with Van der Graaf Generator, you’re certain to enjoy Elio D’Anna’s sax work (he even played more than one sax at once, just like Jackson). The saxes throughout the album are very aggressive and can be quite squeaky at time. Keyboardist Lino Vairetti added a Mellotron to his setup (he also used the ARP 2600 synth as well), and uses the tron throughout with very spectacular results. This is also Osanna’s most Mellotron-drenched albums as well, so if you’re a Mellotron fan, you need to start with this album.
The music throughout the album is very unpredictable. It might start off gentle, with acoustic guitar and Mellotron, then they get in to some very aggressive sax and flute jams (the flutework, also from D’Anna himself, is much in the style of Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson), then the music becomes quiet again, then goes through some experimental passages, complete with toying with the Sample & Hold feature on the ARP 2600 synthesizer (which creates a random series of sounds at varying pitches). So don’t buy this album expecting structured music, this is an album once the band gets bored with one thing (which never seems to be more than a minute) they go on to the next thing.
Palepoli is one truly amazing album, and totally unpredictable. There are so few Italian prog albums I’ve been able find that has the mood of this one, the closest being by Cervello, who released an album called Melos (1973), but that should come as no surprise as Cervello featured guitarist Corrado Rustici, who was the younger brother of Osanna guitarist Danilo Rustici. For those more used to the gentler side of Italian prog, such as PFM, Le Orme, Celeste, or Locanda Delle Fate, Palepoli will come as a shock, as this is definately one of the more harsh and abrasive Italian prog albums out there (with the exception of Il Balletto di Bronzo’s YS, of course).
This album truly is nostalgic for me, prior to hearing this album (back in 1993), I didn’t even know there was a large Italian prog scene (I was only barely aware of PFM at the time). So if you like the more heavy, aggressive side of Italian prog, you are certain to enjoy this album.
– Elio D`Anna: flute, saxes
– Lino Vairetti: vocals, 12-string guitar, ARP 2600 synthesizer, Mellotron
– Danilo Rustici: electric and 12-string guitars, Mellotron
– Lello Brandi: bass
– Massimo Guarino: drums, percussion
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