305

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

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
P.F.M.: Cook (Expanded Deluxe Edition) 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.

Track Listing: CD1 (Original album mix remastered): Four Holes in the Ground; Dove...Quando...; Just Look Away; Celebration, including The World Became the World; Mr. Nine 'till Five; Alto Loma Five 'Till Nine (including PFM's arrangement of Rossini's William Tell Overture). CD2 (Live in Central Park, 31st August 1974 Part 1): River of Life; Four Holes in the Ground; Is My Face on Straight; Dove...Quando...; Guitar Solo; Just Look Away. CD3 (Live in Central Park, 31st August 1974 Part 2): Mr. Nine 'till Five; Alto Loma Five 'Till Nine (including PFM's arrangement of Rossini's William Tell Overture); Celebration/Drum Solo/The World Became the World.

Personnel: Flavio Premoli: keyboards, vocals; Franco Mussida: guitars, vocals; Franz di Cioccio: drums, percussion, vocals; Mauro Pagani: violin, woodwind, vocals; Patrick Djivas: bass, vocals.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Esoteric Recordings


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Two CD/LP/Track Review Two
by Joe Gatto
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand CD/LP/Track Review Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Nightfall CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by John Kelman
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Pekka CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "A Zoology of the Future" CD/LP/Track Review A Zoology of the Future
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 31, 2016
Read "Eka" CD/LP/Track Review Eka
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Northern Adventures" CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Hawniyaz" CD/LP/Track Review Hawniyaz
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 1, 2016
Read "The Dreamer Is the Dream" CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "Miles Goes Wes" CD/LP/Track Review Miles Goes Wes
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 18, 2017
comments powered by Disqus

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!