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 For Gyumri CD/LP/Track Review
For Gyumri
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Sextet (Parker) 1993 CD/LP/Track Review
Sextet (Parker) 1993
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Esperanto/Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim CD/LP/Track Review
Esperanto/Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim
by Kevin Press
Published: February 19, 2018
Read 9 CD/LP/Track Review
9
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Orientation CD/LP/Track Review
Orientation
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Romaria CD/LP/Track Review
Romaria
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 18, 2018
Read "Crack-Up" CD/LP/Track Review Crack-Up
by Doug Collette
Published: June 19, 2017
Read "Taking Direction" CD/LP/Track Review Taking Direction
by Marithe Van der Aa
Published: April 4, 2017
Read "Strange Days - 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" CD/LP/Track Review Strange Days - 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: December 9, 2017
Read "Asteroidea" CD/LP/Track Review Asteroidea
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 4, 2017
Read "The Moonlight Sessions, Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review The Moonlight Sessions, Volume 1
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 15, 2017
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017