This political Italian punk/ska crew has some Mediterranean mix similarities to Mano Negra, but the music is a step slower, built on beefy slabs of guitar chords that make the Clash and Negu Gorriak closer models. This 2-CD live set was recorded at a Rome concert for free expression--two days before, Banda Bassotti had played a benefit concert for the 100 people arrested in the anti-fascist protests during the Austrian neo-Nazi leader Haider's visit to Rome; so it's not hard to figure where this group stands.
"Sveglia" and "La Ballata Della Sanguisuga" are Clash City rifferama with a guitar sound like "Complete Control," while "Er Ciccione" and "Cararo Sindaco" show more of a Ramones side. "Caputo Mundi" breaks into a great rising riff with football-shout vocals and a variant on the Sex Pistols "Pretty Vacant" riff, while "Potere Al Popolo" strongly recalls Kortatu's and Negu Gorriak's triumphal hard rocking.
Add a horn section and you get Banda Bassotti the ska group, with the light, buoyant "Giunti Tudi Palanche Ska" ending with a punkish charge. The racehorse "Ska Against Racism" gets major audience reaction (true of most of the ska numbers) even before the singing starts. "Beat Ska 01" is very Madness, but with heavier guitar, while "Somaro Beat Ska" starts in a reggae/dub style before more double- time ska meets a Blues Magoos riff variant and a snatch of "You Really Got Me."
The second CD is less focused and drags in spots--"Avanzo de Cantiere" starts okay, but its well-applied four chords and hard drums get much better as it goes along. "Anoro Dove Mi Porteranno I Miei Scarponi" is pretty basic rock with a guitar melody hook -- the solos throughout the disc are serviceable but nothing more -- and "Comunicato N 38" features a guest female singer for balance since Banda Bassotti is essentially a fist-pumping, radical guy's kind of band.
"La Linea Del Frente" and "Zu Atrapartu Arte" bring Negu Gorriak veterans Fermin Muguruza and Kaki Arkarazo up for a rare look back at the Kortatu songbook. There's a ska reprise with a bit of rap/funk, "All Are Equal For The Law" (supposedly, but it's sung in Italian, not English) that segues into the a cappella singalong and shout-out for revolutionary heroes of "Figli Della Stessa Rabbia." The traditional "Della Ciao", revved up Mano Negra patchanka style, closes out the CD.
Banda Bassotti doesn't impress here as any kind of originators (aside from bringing the message and music in Italian, which is not something to dismiss lightly) and they're skilled enough in synthesizing the elements they love. It's a very solid disc by a very committed band, but the sweat and frenzied energy that probably made for a great live gig doesn't quite come through on Urn Alter Giorno D'Amore.