Francesco De Gregori

Banana Republic

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This live album is a document of the famous Lucio Dalla-Francesco De Gregori 1979 tour, backed up by a band that included a then unknown Ron and members of Stadio and Cyan. Both Dalla and De Gregori were at the crest of their popularity; unsurprisingly, the tour became a sensation in Italy. In retrospect, what strikes the listener most about this otherwise fine live recording is its rather odd track selection. With the exception of "Ma Come Fanno i Marinai," the single Dalla and De Gregori issued that year (presumably to promote the tour), both singers refrain to include their most recent hits. Dalla chooses three classics from his early period (including what is arguably the definitive version of "Piazza Grande"), while De Gregori picks the most obscure track (and the weakest) from the hit-studded Rimmel, the best two songs from 1976's Bufalo Bill, and none from 1978's De Gregori. The remaining three songs are covers, including a forgettable jazzed up take on Paolo Conte's "Un Gelato al Limone," and a delightful Italian version of Steve Goodman's "Banana Republic," made popular by Jimmy Buffet. This song, together with "Ma Come Fanno i Marinai" constitutes the peak of the whole Dalla-De Gregori ongoing collaboration that took place between 1975 and 1980, as it perfectly amalgamates their contrasting personalities and voices in a bittersweet, nostalgic setting. One can only regret that the two artists never agreed or had the time to do an entire studio album in this vein, preferring instead to go on a tour. In their defense, and based on the evidence of this album, the experience must have been a lot of fun.

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