Formula 3 - Sognando e Risognando. 1972 Italy
1972 Numero Uno
Select CD reissues: 1987 Nexus (Japan); 1990 BMG; 1993 Si-Wan (Korea); 2003 BMG (Japan mini-LP); 2014 Sony/RCA
LP issues & reissues: 1972 RCA (Brazil); 1972 Vogue (France); 1973 Numero Uno (Germany); 1981 Seven Seas (Japan); 1990 Numero Uno; 1993 Si-Wan (Korea)
Formula 3 were a band from Milan, and who were actually the most popular rock band in Italy prior to PFM landing on the scene. Primarily they served as a vehicle for famous pop singer Lucio Battisti, and as such, their music was embraced by various generations of Italians at the time. Sognando e Risognando is their 3rd effort, and is a radical departure from what came before it. Mostly the music on this album is a mix of progressive hard rock (with some wonderful guitar breaks) and space rock, with some of that feel-of-Italy singer-songwriter sprinkled throughout. It's a unique blend, more about the atmosphere than pyrotechnics. As such the album tends to be dismissed by scan-through-listeners wowed by the razzle-dazzle of classic Italian prog. Given that it's an early effort, prior to the Italian progressive rock machine really taking off, deep divers will recognize the sounds of early Il Rovescio della Medaglia, Panna Fredda, Planetarium, and even Garybaldi. History hasn't been kind to Formula 3 however. Whereas fellow popular artists of their era such as Premiata Forneria Marconi and Banco del Mutuo Succorso continue to be lauded as eternal classics, Formula 3 has largely been cast aside and forgotten. While it's true they were no match for the other two listed, they certainly are in league with more obscure artists that today are held in high esteem. Don't ignore this one - and give it a fair listen, without expecting the next Semiramis or Museo Rosenbach.
As you can see, I've had quite a bit of various ownership of this title. I first bought the original in the late 1980s when one could still be found in a nicely stocked used record store. While originals are certainly not as expensive as the biggees, it's not a common album either, and has become costly over time. The gatefold has an opening at the top for the LP itself. The Japanese LP is a standard gatefold but otherwise it's the same. I haven't done a sound check to compare the two. The Japanese mini-LP replicates the Numero Uno to the last exact detail. I recently sourced the 2014 Sony remaster (which triggered this latest listen), and did a side by side sound compare to the Japan mini. Contrary to those who believe all mini's sound poor (a silly notion anyway, as if packaging makes a mastering sound bad), the Japanese master easily wins this time. So into the sell bin went the 2014 copy.
The original French LP uses the same cover. The 3rd photo is the Brazilian press. Until doing research for this entry, I didn't realize Numero Uno even had an office in Germany, much less sporting a different cover (last photo). Guessing the wheel-through-the-woman cover was a bit much for some local audiences back then....