All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

305

P.F.M.: Cook (Expanded Deluxe Edition)

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Wrapping up Esoteric Recordings' ambitious, thorough and definitive reissue series of Premiata Forneria Marconi's 1970s English-language releases on Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Manticore label, the Italian progressive rock group's sole commercial live recording from the time, Cook (1975), gets a facelift and significant upgrade. The original release was marred by poor sound and energetic but sloppy performances, compared to PFM's fine studio albums, from which most of the music was culled: Manticore's Photos of Ghosts (1973) and The World Became the World (1974); and the quintet's corresponding, purist-preferred Italian language albums, Storia Di Un Minuto (1971), Per Un Amico (1972) and L'Isola Di Niente (1974), all on Numero Uno.

Cook (Expanded Deluxe Edition) does its best to make the six-tune set, from dates in Toronto, Canada and New York City's Central Park, sound as good as possible, but the real gold is the entire Central Park performance, here for the first time on two bonus discs and mixed from the original 16-track master tapes. The considerably improved sound renders the original first disc almost superfluous, and while the performance is equally marred by some imprecise playing and poor time, the absolutely visceral energy of this incendiary, 87-minute set allows its many transgressions to be forgiven.

The biggest culprit is guitarist Franco Mussida, who awkwardly pushes and pulls time during the constantly accelerating, serpentine melody at the heart of "Four Holes in the Ground." Still, the previously unreleased, virtuosic and acoustic "Guitar Solo" posits a fine, classically trained guitarist who, like the rest of PFM, asserts his dominance without relying on "look at me" pyrotechnics. His accompaniment on the pastoral ballad "Just Look Away," is as on the money as his phase-shifted arpeggios driving the opening to the more energetic, episodic "Is My Face on Straight?," and his wah-wah solo, later in that track, shows PFM weighing towards the heavier fusion-centric sound of subsequent recordings like 1976's Chocolate Kings.

Keyboardist Flavio Premoli is equally impressive on "Is My Face," as he follows Mussida with an accordion solo that lends the group its definitive Mediterranean vibe, though his synth solo, just a couple minutes, later speaks more of the influence of American fusioners like Mahavishnu Orchestra. Mauro Pagani is the group's secret weapon, a flautist of delicate grace but an electric violinist who, based on the nuclear jam "Alto Loma Five Till Nine"—including PFM's hokey but still impressive take on Rossini's iconic "William Tell Overture"—clearly deserves more recognition than he ever got.

The entire collection is also marred by the group's vocals—not its near-phonetic rendition of ex-King Crimson lyricist Peter Sinfield's lyrics, but in terms of range, pitch and stamina. Still, despite more flaws than might render another group unlistenable, the sheer cathartic power of PFM's high voltage performance and the superior sonics of the Central Park show now rescued in its entirety, make Cook (Deluxe Expanded Edition) the definitive pre-1975 PFM live release, and with the bonus live disc included on Esoteric's Chocolate Kings reissue, two gaps in this important Italian group's history have now been filled.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
After Carnival

After Carnival

CDM Records
2012

buy
Live at Vision Festival

Live at Vision...

Re: Konstrukt
2012

buy
So Oder So

So Oder So

Self Produced
2012

buy
To My Surprise

To My Surprise

Consolidated Artists Productions
2012

buy
Leap In The Dark

Leap In The Dark

Intuition
2012

buy
Into The Open

Into The Open

Your Favourite Jazz
2012

buy

Related Articles

Read Dirt...And More Dirt CD/LP/Track Review
Dirt...And More Dirt
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Brother Raymond CD/LP/Track Review
Brother Raymond
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Frescalalto CD/LP/Track Review
Frescalalto
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Motion CD/LP/Track Review
Motion
by Geannine Reid
Published: May 22, 2018
Read El Duende CD/LP/Track Review
El Duende
by Chris Mosey
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Walk The Walk CD/LP/Track Review
Walk The Walk
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 21, 2018
Read "Things Have Changed" CD/LP/Track Review Things Have Changed
by Doug Collette
Published: April 28, 2018
Read "Shadow Work" CD/LP/Track Review Shadow Work
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 22, 2017
Read "Contact" CD/LP/Track Review Contact
by Geno Thackara
Published: October 31, 2017
Read "Desert" CD/LP/Track Review Desert
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 13, 2018
Read "Seems Like a Lifetime Ago 1977 - 1980" CD/LP/Track Review Seems Like a Lifetime Ago 1977 - 1980
by John Kelman
Published: November 5, 2017
Read "Poetry in Motion" CD/LP/Track Review Poetry in Motion
by Liz Goodwin
Published: May 21, 2018