Thursday, January 22, 2009

Get yr latte pass: The Easybeats, "Friday on My Mind" (1967) & Premiata Forneria Marconi, "Impressioni di Settembre" (1972)

Legendary shit in Australia and the UK that never particularly made it in the States. The Easybeats were, in the mid-'60s, the most famous band in Australia by no small margin, and "Friday on My Mind" was among their biggest hits, for obvious reasons: it's a perfectly constructed pop single, with not a single hair out of place. The kinetic, moddish guitar intro; the combination of lust and vulnerability in the vocal; the artful baroque cadences in the harmonic progression, especially leading into the chorus; that perfectly-placed two bar kick-drum break separating the last two choruses; and, as for most great pop songs that rely on a youthful adrenaline rush, the foreboding of the awful comedown that one can never escape but that is lost, if only for a moment, in the blind and crazed force of excitement. Genius.

Premiata Forneria Marconi (more often called PFM by fans; the name was taken from a bakery that apparently funded their early efforts) are generally held to be the most representative exponents of Italian symphonic prog, and this track from their '72 debut Storia di un Minuto is a decent one-shot introduction: autumnal Romanticism, medieval and Renaissance references, combination of rustic acoustic guitar and flute with buzzy synths and washes of Mellotron, and the very bel canto tendency toward grandiosity that singer Flavio Premoli shares with other Mediterranean vocalists--I think of Demis Roussos (Aphrodite's Child) or Francesco DiGiacomo (Banco del Mutuo Soccorso). I've never thought the group quite as remarkable as their reputation would suggest (this is a band that garners frequent greatest-of-all-time shouts in the nerdy circles among which I obviously travel): they have the habit of writing what are essentially the same four or five songs over and over, and their omnipresent melodramatic romanticism tends to preclude much play of ambiguities or emotional depth, but I like them well enough in small doses, and "Impressioni di Settembre" is a particularly neat encapsulation of what they do well.

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