Saint Just

La Casa Sul Lago

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Only a year separated Saint Just's eponymous debut album from its 1974 follow-up, La Casa Sul Lago, but it was a very different band, with a very different sound, that was featured on the latter set. Axeman Tony Verde moved exclusively to bass, while new members Tino Rinesi and Andrea Faccenda added guitars, percussion and keyboards, and drummer Fulvio Maras to the expanded lineup. As Saint Just's first album had included all these instruments, the dramatic shift in style apparently was due less to the enlistment of permanent musicians than to the departure of saxophonist Robert Fix. With him went the original trio's improvisational jazz bend, the dramatic shifts in styling, as well as many of their folk and classical elements. In its stead came a much more guitar driven, proggy sound, although remnants of their Canterbury flecked past can be heard on "Lato A," while threads of their classical stylings of yore wind through both "Nella Vita, Un Pianto" and "Tristana," at least until they kick into exhilarating prog rock halfway through that latter song. Still, that side of the vinyl album is at least in keeping with many of their earlier British influences, the B-side is the real shocker, for on "Viaggio Nel Tempo" they seem to be channelling the Jefferson Airplane at their jamming heights, while the pretty, acoustic "La Terra Della Verita" could have been written for Marty Balin. The title track, in contrast, jets off to Spain, creating a wonderfully Mediterranean prog sound, while "Messicano" features a surprising world music style far ahead of its time. Lord only knows what fans of Saint Just's first album thought of their second, and vice versa; bar the vocals it's difficult to believe this is even the same band. Like it's predecessor, it's an excellent set, but in an entirely different mode.