Friday, March 9, 2007


Lino Vairetti (vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboards)

Elio D'Anna (flute, sax)

Danilo Rustici (guitar, organ, vocals)

Lello Brandi (bass)

Massimo Guarino (drums, percussion)

One of the greatest bands in the italian prog field, Osanna came from Naples, formed in 1971 by the members of I Volti di Pietra and Città Frontale (another band with the same name came from Osanna ashes and recorded El Tor) whose keyboard player Gianni Leone has gone to Balletto di Bronzo. Reeds player Elio D'Anna came from Showmen, the others didn't have significant experiences.
During their four years lifespan Osanna failed to create, as many critics have pointed, the perfect album, but left us four very good LP's, among which Palepoli deserves a particular mention.
L'uomo, their first album, released in a memorable triple gatefold cover, already contains their distinctive elements, the nice voice of Lino Vairetti (with interesting lyrics indeed), the aggressive flute of Elio D'Anna, fluid guitar playing by Danilo Rustici and the solid rhythm section of Lello Brandi and Massimo Guarino. Taken from this album the tracks L'uomo and In un vecchio cieco were also released as a single, both starting with an acoustic guitar introduction followed by guitar and flute riffs.
The band also had an intense live activity, with band members all dressed in long vests and with their faces painted. The collaboration with theatrical groups produced interesting shows, unique for the italian audience of the time. They also played with Genesis in their early italian tour, and who knows if the Osanna stage show has somehow inspired Peter Gabriel...In June 1971 the band won the first prize at "Festival d’Avanguardia e Nuove Tendenze" in Viareggio, along with Premiata Forneria Marconi and Mia Martini.
Second album, Preludio, tema, variazioni, canzona, also known as Milano calibro 9 from the name of the film for which it was chosen as soundtrack, is a step backward, with few band compositions mixed with composer Bacalov's orchestral themes. Some of the Osanna tracks are beautiful, though, like the first three Variazione.
Third album, and their best one, Palepoli, from 1973 sees the band at their peak. The album only contains three long tracks and is housed in a nice gatefold whose inner picture is based on the band live stage background. The starting track, Oro caldo, mixes the band typical style with folk chants from their native city Naples. while Stanza città and the side long Animale senza respiro all give space to the good playing of the band members. In many writers' reviews one of the best italian prog albums.
Unfortunately things didn't go well between the group's members and the band came to a split during the Landscape of Life recording sessions, producing a sparse album. Housed in a great cover designed by drummer Massimo Guarino, with an inner gatefold painting by singer Lino Vairetti (some of the band members came from the Naples Academy of Arts and also had an artistic career),the album contains some nice tracks, but suffers from the lack of a real band playing it. The band was trying to play abroad and the album was also intended for the foreign markets, so five of the seven tracks are in english, but due to the split it had to be finished with the help of Corrado Rustici (Danilo's younger brother from Cervello) and drummer Enzo Vallicelli (then with Uno).
Danilo Rustici and Elio D'Anna, with drummer Enzo Vallicelli, went to England to form Uno, while remaining members Lino Vairetti and Massimo Guarino gave a new life to their old band Città Frontale, this time with new musicians and recorded an album in 1975 called El Tor.
Things were not so good for both the newly formed bands and Osanna reunited in 1977 with new members Enzo Petrone (that had played with Lino Vairetti in I Volti di Pietra and later with Moby Dick) and Fabrizio D'Angelo, but their album Suddance is very far from their best days. After the last split Danilo Rustici formed Luna.
A further reunion of the bands with some of the original members brought to some concerts in the 90's, and a new CD has been made in 2002 containing old tracks in a re-recorded form.The last release is an interesting CD+DVD set distributed by BTF taken from the December 2001 reunion concert (not 2003 as stated on the cover), and also including four new studio recordings. The latest Osanna incarnation includes original members guitarist Danilo Rustici and singer Lino Vairetti along with bass player Enzo Petrone from the 1977 line-up and newcomers Gennaro Barba (drums), Gigi Borgogno (guitar), Luca Urciuolo (keyboards) and Vito Ranucci (sax).The revived Osanna sound is much funkier than ever before, and even the old songs suffer from the new arrangements, though sometime the energy of the old band emerges again.
As said above, some of the band members also had an artistic career in different fields, Lino Vairetti being an appreciated painter. He also designed the marvellous cover for the Tempo di Percussione 1975 album.

“Palepoli” is an album difficult to define… It is a concept album about Naples… It is a kind of musical conceived to be played in theatres with actors and dancers… Most of all, it is a melting-pot where different sounds and influences are blended together along with engaged lyrics (lyrics here are in Italian with some parts in the dialect from Naples) … In this album is evident the aim to experience new ways to “cross the styles”…
The opener “Oro caldo” (Hot Gold) begins in a quiet Mediterranean mood (just flute and percussions), then come in an “electric tarantella” that leads to a guitar and keyboards passage in “Genesis style”… “Hot gold drops from a trumpet / From where the shadow of a cold and silent note comes out… And the wind runs towards me / Carrying the reality into its whirls / I feel cold in my thoughts / Thousands voices are trampling on me…”… Then the “show” goes on with continuous changes of rhythm and mood, great harmony vocals (with lyrics swaying from “Pulcinella’s hilarity” to social subjects) and amazing instrumental breaks…
“Stanza città” is just a short instrumental bridge…
“Animale senza respiro” (Animal Without Breath) starts in a more jazzy and experimental way that after six minutes leads to an explosion… Then a delicate acoustic passage… “…You have no more time / You have no more hours / You have no more strength to believe in you / In this metre of life that you have / You are looking for the air of a breath / You have no more time / You have no more hours / You are nothing now…”… There is no rest nor boredom, the music goes on and on and all you have to do is listen to: in this album many influences mixed up together give life to an original, complex and theatrical kind of “rock-opera” very difficult to describe…
“Palepoli” is without doubt the highest peek in the career of Osanna: it is an unique album and a masterpiece of the “Italian prog”…

Osanna's opus, Palepoli, is considered by many to be one of the finest examples of Italian progressive rock out there. Like Il Balleto Di Bronzo's YS, it is also fairly abrasive and inaccessible, which could disappoint many listeners looking for a good introduction to that prog hotbed. Both albums have a hard rock edge, and where Il Balleto based much of it's sound on keyboard pyrotechnics, Palepoli uses tons of saxophone and flute, though still mining much of the same sort of dissonant and experimental territory.
I hear healthy doses of two of my favorite bands in Osanna's music, Van Der Graaf Generator and Jethro Tull, as well as a significant King Crimson influence. This makes for an extremely chaotic and heavy blend, with wailing saxes and driving guitars, as well as a significant portion of ripping flute melodies over a solid hard rock foundation. Occasionally, the music lapses into quiet melodic moments reminiscent of Genesis circa Nursery Cryme or Trespass. A major problem with the album is the fairly horrendous sound quality, and many of the more chaotic moments, which could be absolutely mind blowing, end up sounding like a jumbled mess of screechy saxophone and drum parts. This album truly needs a remastering job before I can enjoy it on the same level as many of the other Italian classics.
The album is basically two songs spread out over what were originally the two LP sides, with a sort interlude at the end of side 1. The main song on side 1, "Ora Caldo" is excellent and is definitely able to hold my interest over the entire track. The song definitely recalls the best of early Tull and Van Der Graaf, but infected with their own distinctive style. The vocals are also quite good and though the poor sound quality takes away from it, it doesn't obstruct the music that much. The side 2 track is not quite as strong, being much more experimental and not as cohesive. By this point my attention would start to wander and the muddled sound quality definitely started to grate on my nerves. I don't know if there is a remaster of this album coming out any time soon, but if there is, wait for it. Otherwise this is a fairly solid Italian release, and they are definitely a number of absolutely incredible moments on the album. - Greg Northrup [2000]

get this masterpiece here



Volkswagen Direct Blog said...

I think I saw this band driving a VW Corrado on my way home here in italy... Man, they really have a cool ride with all the fancy VW Corrado parts... Also, my mother was one of the greatest fan of this band.. I use to remember when she use to bring me in every concert they are in... having a new will greatly make my monther happy to hear it...

mf76 said...

Right on, Right on...Thanks again!

al66 said...

Mediafire link for this album:

al66 said...

The link in the post above is inoperative as Mediafire have flagged it as copyright material - I'll re-up at some point in the future, depending on circumstances...