Lucio Battisti

Amore e Non Amore

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Originally released in 1971 (and reissued on Water in 2006), Lucio Battisti's seminal Amore e Non Amore was actually put out by his former label, Ricordi -- who still had the rights to the songs -- after Battisti and lyricist Mogol left to build up their own company, Numero Uno. Still, it stands as one of the artist's most important records, and it's a big step forward in Italian rock music. Moving away from the more sentimental, sweet-string-laden songs and arrangements that haunt Romance-language pop (including Battisti's), Amore e Non Amore is as good as any album released that year (and yes, that's referring to Zeppelin IV and Sticky Fingers). Battisti's voice has a rough, unpracticed quality to it that heightens the emotional intensity of his songs. He sounds desperate, or perhaps just unbearably nervous, like a panicky teenager on his first date, in the opener, the fantastic "Dio Mio No" (also found on the 1969 self-titled debut), as he waits for a woman to arrive at his house for dinner. Later in the song, he's hardly able to control himself when he sees her approaching him in pajamas, his voice a half-sob/half-yelp of joy as he squawks out "cosa fai, che cosa fai?," before the song breaks into two minutes of modal organ and guitar riffs. Even though half of the eight songs are instrumentals, their long, descriptive titles ("Davanti a un Distributore Automatico di Fiori dell'Aeroporto di Bruxelles Anch'io Chiuso in una Bolla di Vetro" or "7 Agosto di Pomeriggio, fra le Lamiere Roventi di un Cimitero di Automoboli Solo Io, Silenzioso Eppure Straordinariamente Vivo") explain the situation as well as any of Mogol's lyrics do. The band -- and everything is arranged and composed by Battisti -- is tight and crisp, yet loose enough to allow for improvisation and pure groove. It's great, affecting rock music: the two guitars and the piano play off and with one another while the bass, drums, organ, and the occasional orchestral arrangement add a warm rhythm that moves the song along with concentrated and direct feeling. Amore e Non Amore is short: it clocks in at just over 35 minutes, but it's an excellent album that shows Battisti at his best and most beloved, with honest lyrics that are reflected in his voice and in his music.

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