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(37:21, MP Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Stand Up 2:17 2. Another Flower 5:00 3. Black Hand in the Sky 3:28 4. UFO 3:10 5. This Is the Last Day 6:03 6. Once Upon a Time Rock 'N' Roll 4:19 7. I Want to Keep on Dancing 4:01 8. Tonight with You 3:43 9. Swan of the Lake 5:20 LINEUP: Cinzia Catalucci – vocals; keyboards; percussion Raffaele Spanetta – guitars; vocals; synthesizers Giacomo Cocchiara – bass, guitars; vocals Mike Capriolo – drums, percussion; vocals With: Laurence Cocchiara – violin, viola Costanza Pepini – violin Catherine Bruni – cello Chiara Dragoni – flute Franco Pellicani – percussion
Prolusion. The Italian band OLD ROCK CITY ORCHESTRA was formed back in 2009, and released an initial EP the following year. This first selection of material was well received, and in 2011 they started working on their full-length debut album "Once Upon a Time", which was released in 2012 through the Italian label Musiche Particolari & Records. Since then they have also released a second studio album, "Back to Earth", in 2015.
Analysis. One fact that becomes crystal clear following a run through this CD, is that this is a band that has taken a name that says a lot about their music. This is a band fond of their vintage-oriented rock, and a unit honing in on the 1960s just as much as the ‘70s. Whether or not they can be described as progressive rock as such, based on the material on this production, is perhaps a subject open to discussion, personally I found this band to explore different aspects of music of the kind that inspired or were related to progressive rock in style to a greater extent than honing in on progressive rock as such, even if the latter is also featured here and there. In other places I have seen the band compared to the US band Jefferson Airplane, and while I'm not familiar enough with that band, the comparison has been made so frequently by so many that it merits being mentioned. Many of the compositions on this CD revolve around distinctly blues-based songs. The energetic opener Stand Up with its slight tendencies towards the power trio music of the Robin Trower variety, perhaps with a touch of Cream as well, and the more gentle touch of the longer This is the Last Day hones in on a more distinct blues style, with some nice, energetic psychedelic guitar solos thrown in between the vocal parts. The title track, Once Upon a Time Rock 'N' Roll revolves around a rockabilly style, with electric guitar riffs taking the lead role usually reserved for the piano in such creations, with the expected piano added to supplement the proceedings as the song develops. Other songs explore rather different landscapes. Another Flower features pumping bass lines and harmony lead guitars in a manner that made me think of Iron Maiden given an early ‘70s makeover, or a subtly punchier edition of early Wishbone Ash, with delicate jazz-oriented intermissions thrown in for good measure. Tonight with You is a fairly purebred folk rock affair, while concluding piece Swan of the Lake is a vintage majestic ballad complete with violins, cello and layered keyboards. The compositions not specifically mentioned revolve inside the boundaries of the ones already described, albeit with some differences in the manner in which the different elements are combined and the style combinations explored. More often than not with a firm base in blues, and frequently with a touch or three of psychedelic rock. The most striking feature, apart from the distinct vintage-style orientation, is the clear, distinct and characteristic lead vocals of Raffaele Spanetta, her presence, style and delivery arguably one of the main reasons for the Jefferson Airplane comparisons given this band. She is a strong vocalist, and her voice does add a strong and characteristic identity to the material explored.
Conclusion. Vintage rock honing in on a late ‘60s and early ‘70s sound is the chosen hunting ground for the Old Rock City Orchestra, with blues based, carefully psychedelic-laced rock as their specialty and a slight tendency to throw in some jazz and jazz rock-tinged elements on occasion too. There's a good blend between compositions highlighting the lead vocals of Spanetta and material that is more suited to give dominating spots to the instrumentalists in the band, and the album is actually fairly widespread in terms of the different varieties of music explored too, even if most of them appears to share a common stylistic foundation. All in all, a CD that merits a spin by those with an interest in blues-based psychedelic rock as it was made sometime around 1970.
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