Banco del Mutuo Soccorso

Banco [1975]

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In 1975, the Italian progressive rock band Banco del Mutuo Soccorso released its first English LP after three Italian ones. Following the example of fellow progsters Premiata Forneria Marconi, they shortened their name to Banco and re-packaged a handful of tracks from their previous records with English vocals to put together an introductory package for the English-speaking world. But unlike PFM's Photos of Ghosts, Banco contained two new pieces, and the old ones had been completely re-recorded, some even re-written. Banco's main point of interest is operatic singer Francesco Di Giacomo. It quickly became clear that, when singing in English, he lost some of his Mediterranean charm. That and poor artistic choices plague the album throughout. First of all, the old songs all come from the band's first eponymous LP and its third, Io Sono Nato Libero. Why jump over the classic second opus, Darwin? "Outside" (once "R.I.P.") has been straightened out, and "Leave Me Alone" is a pale reflection of its Italian counterpart, "Non Mi Rompete," mostly because the band tries to make it sound like Gentle Giant's "Funny Ways." Fans will appreciate "L'Albero del Pane" ("The Bread Tree"), a worthy song unavailable elsewhere, and the better-sounding (vocals excepted) "Metamorphosis." But these are not enough to salvage the project.

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