Alphataurus - s/t. 1973 Italy

The Italian progressive rock scene between 1972 and 1974 seemed to foster a culture in which bands would compete to determine who could be more imaginative, which group could create the most exciting, intelligent and challenging album to date. Historically, Italy has always had this mindset. The painters, poets, sculptors and other artisans of the Renaissance dueled frequently to catch the eye of Popes, Kings, mighty nobles and other magistrates of the era. With this is in mind, Alphataurus were one of the better contenders, a clear winner to create the frescoes for the small village church.

Like all worthy Italian bands of 1973, Alphataurus on their self-titled debut, featured top notch musicians to play guitars (electric and acoustic), bass, drums, and an arsenal of keyboards (organ, synths, piano, spinet, vibraphone). And, of course, the requisite dramatic, powerful vocals in the Italian language. The music alternates between heavy and soft, and is at most, heavy rock with hundreds of time signature changes, not to mention navigating through the style changes which include classical, blues, jazz, Italian pop of the 19th century and hard rock. How this all meshes seamlessly is the brilliance of the Italian progressive rock Renaissance. The five long tracks here all display these wonderful qualities and represent yet another classic of the day. Stylistically, they compare most to Banco del Mutuo Succorso.

Fortunately, it wasn't just the music that called for high levels of creativity. The album art work was but one more exciting component of the movement. And here, Alphataurus moves to the top of the class. The original on Magma Records features a triple fold out cover of an olive branch-carrying dove dropping nuclear bombs out of its hatch while an inferno takes place below. A jaw dropper.

Personal collection
LP: 1992 Si-Wan
CD: 2003 Arcangelo

One of the most extraordinary covers of them all (as stated above), the original is a amazing triple FOC, and is now extremely rare and sought after. I was never fortunate enough to own one, and now the price is exorbitant. My first copy was the single sleeve Japanese LP on King that I picked up the late 1980s. I eventually replaced that with the triple FOC on Si-Wan, and still own this copy today. Si-Wan later repressed this as a single sleeve and is relatively common. The triple cover Si-Wan press was highly sought after until the 2009 BTF version finally put another triple version on the market at a reasonable price. Likewise the CD has flourished in the mini-LP market due to the cover. Once again I started with the King jewel case edition before grabbing the Arcangelo version which is my current copy. Other mini-LPs have followed since.

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