Campo di Marte - s/t. 1973 Italy

Campo di Marte - s/t. 1973 United Artists

CD reissues: 1994 Mellow; 2006 BTF (mini-LP); 2009 Belle Antique (Japan mini-LP)

LP reissues: 1974 United Artists (Argentina and Uruguay); 2007 BTF

Packaging details: My main copy of this is the original Italian LP, that I picked up in a trade in the early 90s. The South American versions have a slightly altered cover, and are far cheaper in price than the Italian original. I did trade out the Mellow CD for the BTF CD - details of the latter are below. Presumably the Japanese reissue restores the original running order, but I haven't seen one yet.

Review: Originally published in Gnosis on October 6, 2006

Campo di Marte (named for a piazza in their native Florence) are representative of the top-tier of one-shot Italian progressive rock wonders of the early 1970s, and weighs in strongly against Museo Rosenbach, De De Lind, Alusa Fallax, Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno and others. Amongst the usual instrumentation of guitar, keyboards (mellotron, organ, piano), bass and drums, Campo di Marte add flute and French Horn, the latter being particularly original for the scene. Strong dynamic shifts occur frequently, with pleasant flute and acoustic guitar sections frequently contrasted by psychedelic guitar runs atop some bombastic organ. Vocals are kept to a minimum, and are usually filtered to add to the alienation of the music. The melodies are memorable, and the band has a good sense of the groove during jam sessions, pointing to a stronger than usual jazz background. This latter quality is not always a given when talking classic Italian progressive rock. Like most in the genre, Attention Deficiency Disorder apparently runs rampant throughout the crew – especially when it comes to keeping time.

With BTF’s latest mini-LP reissue, the story becomes clearer: The original United Artists release not only has the wrong titles, but in complete reverse order from what was intended. The label wanted the “heavy stuff up front” to grab the listener. So could it be that record executives had worse ADD than the musicians? At the last minute, bandleader Enrico Rosa was forced to do a quick name change, and simply titled each ‘I Tempo’ through ‘VII Tempo’. So the reissue not only provides the best sounding version to date (though it appears the master tapes are lost), but also reorders and re-titles the songs appropriately, making for a smoother listen. The album now flows accordingly: ‘Prologo’ parts 1 to 3, ‘Riflessione’ parts 4 to 5 and ‘Epilogo’ parts 1 and 2 (‘Tempo’ 5 to 7 and 1 to 4 respectively. Put down your drink and you’ll get it). Campo di Marte’s one showing to the world is an extraordinary tour-de-force, and represents one of the finest Italy has to offer. And that’s saying something given the competition.

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