Maxophone - s/t. 1975 Italy

Late to the game, Maxophone's album missed the heyday of the Italian progressive rock movement by about two years. To add more doubt, Produttori Associati was a pop label that hadn't shown much interest in progressive rock, having only released the very obscure jazz rock Duello Madre album prior. Despite these setbacks, Maxophone's sole album is a fastball-down-the-middle for the style. Everything is here: Complex compositions, memorable melodies, dizzying meters, large symphonic sound, a myriad of analog keyboards (incl. Hammond organ, piano), biting electric guitar leads, soft acoustic guitar soundscapes, flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, French Horn, tuned percussion, and fantastic vocals in Italian. If you're a fan of the style, then it's hard to imagine Maxophone not satisfying on many levels. As is usually the case, be careful not to judge based on the English language version. Hear it in Italian, as it was originally intended, and then draw your conclusion. The 1977 45 single (added as a bonus to later reissues) is geared more towards orchestrated pop, and it clearly shows Maxophone had walked away from progressive rock by then, as just about everyone else in Italy had during those days.

Personal collection
CD: 2005 Arcangelo (Japan)

The original album is housed in a splendid gatefold cover. True Italian originals are scarce and in demand, like all original progressive rock albums from there. Watch out for German originals on the same label. Some dealers like to sneak those in as originals - which they are - but still not quite the same (though I might add - would still make a great addition to the collection - and costs about 33% of the real thing). You can distinguish by the catalog number, and that the label is orange instead of the original black (the original is the first photo). The English version was released in America on the California based PAUSA (Produttori Associati USA) label (second scan). Like most folks here in the States, this was my introduction to the album. Like most Italian albums, hearing the English language version is going to be an inferior experience. And as such, I wasn't overly impressed, but kept it around long enough to replace it with the first CD to hit the market which was the Japanese Crime version. Now I could hear the album as it was originally intended in glorious Italian, and the album jumped a couple of points as a result. I eventually replaced that version with the first Japanese mini-LP that replicates the original down to the last detail (including a rare sticker). Maybe one day I'll get the Italian original, but it's not of the highest priority right now.

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