Francesco De Gregori

Prendere e Lasciare

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The second of the only two studio albums Francesco De Gregori would release in the '90s, 1996's Prendere e Lasciare is clearly a disappointment after 1992's superb Canzoni d'Amore. Apparently, De Gregori was experiencing some serious creative block at the time, and it shows. To make matters worse, De Gregori decided to record this album in Berkeley with a small band comprised of three American session men and guitarist Corrado Rustici, who doubles as producer and arranger. Perhaps as a consequence of the probable lack of feeling between musicians and material, the record sounds distant, professional, and tasteful, but rather lifeless. As a result, while most songs here are quite decent, overall this record sounds aimless and fails to generate any sparks. Not coincidentally, the best moments are the album's sparest, quietest songs, such as "Rosa Rosae," "Stelutis Alpinis," and "Battere e Levare." Puzzlingly, the latter is also included twice in fairly similar acoustic arrangements, as the last song and as a ghost track that pops up after a silence of almost 20 minutes. It is a neat little song, but still, go figure. Listeners interested in hearing this new batch of songs are strongly advised to seek out the much improved live versions available in 1997's La Valigia dell'Attore, which reprises half the material of Prendere e Lasciare together with some 20 De Gregori classics, and adds four new songs including the extraordinary title track (chosen best song of the year in Italy) and an amazing Italian cover of Bob Dylan's "If You See Her, Say Hello."

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