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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM): Emotional Tattoos

The name Premiata Forneria Marconi, or PFM for short, needs no introduction, the Italian band being one of the legendary names of classic '70s progressive rock, whose early material rivals the output of Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, ELP, and the like in the eyes of many. Fast forward to 2017 and the band are still going strong, here releasing their 19th album Emotional Tattoos for InsideOut Records, presented in both English language and Italian language formats (so you'll get to enjoy both and choose the one you favor.) Still manning the drum kit and lead vocal slot is founder Franz Di Cioccio, along with longtime bassist Patrick Djivas. Joining the duo are guitar shredder Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie), Alessandro Scaglione (keyboards), Alberto Bravin (keyboards, vocals), Lucio Fabbri (violin, keyboards, guitar, vocals), and Roberto Gualdi (2nd drums) rounding out the current version of the band.

While I certainly won't declare that Emotional Tattoos is a return to the glory days of Per un Amico or Storia di un minuto, the band does try and recapture some of their prog majesty. Vibrant opener "We're Not An Island is an upbeat symphonic rocker, the vocals melodic and plenty of tasty keyboard lines to be found, while "Morning Freedom" and "The Lesson" allow guitar virtuoso Sfogli plenty of room to blaze a path with his tasty solos. Nice use of acoustic guitars alongside the synths on the quirky "A Day We Share", and "Central District" has more of a hard rock tone with some catchy pop hooks, Di Cioccio sounding like an Italian version of Peter Gabriel. In fact, much of the music throughout Emotional Tattoos is not unlike some of the '80s material from the former Genesis frontman, which, depending on your expectations of this album, might or might not be a good thing. "Freedom Square" is a blazing instrumental with dueling keyboards, violin, and guitar, and a must hear for any Dixie Dregs fan, easily one of the more prog-tinged tracks here with a touch of fusion. Sfogli's metallic riffing permeates "I'm Just a Sound", and the groove laden "It's My Road" has some cool synth textures, jazzy piano, and tasty guitar licks.

To be honest, as was always the case with this band, the Italian language version of the album is the more pleasing to the ears, as Di Cioccio sounds just so much more confident singing in his native tongue, plus the Italian language is so beautiful to listen to. I'm already hearing from some prog fans that Emotional Tattoos doesn't have enough 'vintage sounding prog' for their liking, and while they might not be far off on that statement, this is sure as hell a step in the right direction. Half of this album has plenty of the dramatic, romantic, and symphonic progressive rock the band were always known for, the other half is solid pop rock with a touch of prog. Overall, not bad by any means and easy to recommend, but I think for most, it will be just good to have PFM back creating new music once again that at least partly resembles their fantastic '70s output.

Track Listing
1. We're Not An Island (7:12)
2. Morning Freedom (6:06)
3. The Lesson (5:08)
4. So Long (5:56)
5. A Day We Share (6:03)
6. There's A Fire In Me (4:55)
7. Central District (5:27)
8. Freedom Square (Instrumental) (4:47)
9. I'm Just A Sound (5:57)
10. Hannah (5:16)
11. It's My Road (5:07)

Added: January 14th 2018
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 3082
Language: english

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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM): Emotional Tattoos
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-01-14 23:02:49
My Score:

For those of you not in the know PFM (Premiata Forneria Marconi) is a legendary Italian progressive rock band which formed in 1970 in Milan. Over the years the band has built up a massive discography and as you might expect for a band that has been around for so many years has seen its share of lineup changes as well. In fact, the only original member appearing on the new album titled Emotional Tattoos is Franz Di Cioccio (lead vocals, drums) although Patrick Djivas (bass, keyboards), while not an original member first played on the L'Isola Di Niente album released in 1974. The rest of the band are Lucio Fabbri (violin, viola), Marco Sfogli (guitars), Alessandro Scaglione (piano, keyboards), Alberto Bravin (keyboards, backing vocals) and Roberto Gualdi (percussion).

Now, I have admit to never hearing PFM in their '70s heyday, in fact, Emotional Tattoos is the first album I have heard from the band. I was just never exposed to their music at a young age. Although I have some listening to do it's never too late to discover and listen to a great band of which PFM surely qualifies. Having never heard the band before I have to say it's a rather cathartic experience listening to such music having no previous albums to compare it to which can often be detrimental to a band. If I were to use one word to describe this release 'classy' comes to mind. The melodies and musicianship are first rate and the hooks are plentiful beginning with the first track "We're Not An Island". Catchy Gabriel inspired lead vocals that will settle into your brain and lovely instrumentation with a mid '70s Genesis approach should leave most progressive rock fans fully satiated. Soft synths and understated vocals begin the enchanting "Morning Freedom" before the drumming picks up and the guitar and synth work leans towards the orchestral. The excellent bass of Djivas stands out in a big way in the catchy "The Lesson" which pulsates with a slightly darker vibe. The moody mid-tempo of "So Long" features outstanding keyboards and synths that seem to float through the soundscape and again the melodic and slightly raspy vocal delivery is spot on. The highly skilled lead guitar work fits in the song's framework perfectly. "A Day We Share" is another upbeat offering delivering a positive message lyrically with bubbly keyboards, synth solos and melodic rhythms. This one should invoke warm feelings which isn't a bad thing considering the turmoil the world faces on a daily basis. And so it goes with the rest of the album.

The CD comes as a two disc set with English and Italian lyrics. That is the only difference between the two discs. It's a nice addition giving listeners a choice over which language they prefer.

I really dig the AOR and progressive mixture Emotional Tattoos brings to the table. Another shining musical light from 2017!

An Inside Music release.

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