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TRACK LIST: 1. End of the Race 3:41 2. Traveling Lady 5:31 3. Sermonette 4:14 4. The Days of Man 4:06 5. Analonihum 5:31 6. A Beautiful Child 4:44 7. Through a Glass Darkly 3:28 8. Cryptic Purple Browne Orchard 3:51 9. Can't Find the Reason 3:48 10. Everything Is Coming to an End 3:13 11. Another Rude Awakening 5:26 All tracks: by Caputo & London Underground, except 2: M. Mann & M. Hugg, & 9: V. Crane. LINE-UP: Daniele Caputo - drums; lead vocals Stefano Gabbani - electric bass Gianni Vergello - acoustic & electric guitars Gianluca Gerlini - keyboards With: Stefano Negri - saxophone & flute (on 2) Lucumonius - flute (on 7) Beatrice Tinagli - backing vocals (on 9) Produced by Gerlini, Vergelli, & B. Frassinelli. Engineered by B. Frassinelli at "Alto-piano", Florence.
Prolusion. "Through a Glass Darkly" is the second album by Italy's London Underground. The band's debut (self-titled) album was released in 2000. For more info, check Related Links below the review.
Synopsis. What would you expect to hear from a band whose name sounds so distinctly familiar? Me too. Indeed, London Underground performs the music, which was rather typical for the eponymous movement arisen in London in the second half of the sixties and reached its peak at the end of the decade. The album doesn't have a 'modern' feel to it, and there are no sounds that would even remotely remind you of those of synthesizers etc. The keyboard equipment consists exclusively of vintage instruments: a real Hammond organ and Clavinet, electric and acoustic piano. Despite the fact that the overall sound of the CD is crystal-clear, the impression that the album was recorded somewhere between 1967 and 1970 didn't leave me while I listened to it. Although I can't say that the music is absolutely free of influences, it can in many ways be regarded as the quintessence of a few progressive and proto-progressive styles that existed at that time. Six of the eleven songs on the album (no instrumentals here): End of the Race, Traveling Lady, The Days of Man, Can't Find the Reason, Everything Is Coming to an End, and Another Rude Awakening (1, 2, 4, 8, 9, 10, & 11) are definitely progressive. As far as I can remember, the second of them is a rendering of one of the songs written by Manfred Mann before he formed Earth Band. What's curious is most of the instrumental parts on said tracks are in many ways comparable with those on Eden Rose's >"On the Way to Eden", which I reviewed three weeks ago. To be more precise, the style presented here is an organ- and guitar-driven vintage Symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Hard Rock and Jazz-Fusion, and the bands that may come to mind while listening to them are Eden Rose, Colosseum, Atomic Rooster and, in a less degree, Procol Harum and Deep Purple. The associations with the latter band appear because the distorted solos of Hammond sound much like those by Jon Lord, while guitar riffs and solos are original. The other five songs: Sermonette, Analonihum, A Beautiful Child, the album's title track, and Can't Find the Reason (3, 5, 6, 7, & 9) are musically similar among themselves as well, but have very little in common with the described ones. Here we have a proto-progressive, mostly piano- and vocals-based Art-Rock much in the vein of early Procol Harum. In other words, the band goes as if "fifty-fifty" in its creation, not giving preference to any of the two musical directions they like.
Conclusion. "Through a Glass Darkly" is a very good album amazingly reproducing the warm and sincere atmosphere typical for the time of formation of our beloved genre, and my only regret concerns its stylistic inconsistency. Nevertheless, I am sure that this nostalgic music will find its way to the hearts of most Prog lovers.
VM: February 7, 2004
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