13. In the Court of a Foreign King: 1970s Italian Progressive Rock in the UK



1. Le Orme, Felona e Sorona

 Philips 6323 3023 A, 1973, 33 ⅓ rpm.


Toni Pagliuca: keyboards; Aldo Tagliapietra: voice, electric bass, electric guitar; Michi Dei Rossi: drums, percussion.



Discogs (Italian edition)

Discogs (British edition)


The British edition of the LP differs from the Italian version only for the lyrics, translated by Peter Hammill, who was also responsible for the first contact of the band with Charisma Records after they toured together in Italy in 1973. Although they recorded some new parts for saxophone and flute with David Jackson in London, the opposition of the Italian record company made impossible their publication, and in the end solely the vocal tracks were overdubbed.


2. Premiata Forneria Marconi, “È Festa”

From: Storia di un minuto. Numero Uno ZSLN 55055, 1972, 33 ⅓ rpm.


Giorgio Piazza: voice, electric bass; Franz Di Cioccio: voice, synthesizer, drums, percussion; Franco Mussida: voice, acoustic, 12-string and electric guitars, mandolin; Mauro Pagani: voice, flute, violin; Flavio Premoli: voice, organ, piano, synthesizer.





Gathered among some of the best Italian pop musicians of the decade, Premiata Forneria Marconi made their debut in 1972 with Storia di un minuto (One Minute Story) and soon topped the charts with their second full-length, Per un amico (For a Friend). They used to cover songs by the most well-known contemporary British bands during their live act, and thus gained international recognition when they opened live shows in Italy for groups such as Jethro Tull, Yes, Procol Harum. One of their signature song is “È Festa”, with its characteristic mix of rock beat and tarantella, which became a hit in their performances in Italy as well as abroad.


3. Premiata Forneria Marconi, “Celebration”

From: Photos of Ghosts. Manticore/WEA K43502, 1973, 33 ⅓ rpm.


Giorgio Piazza: electric bass; Franz Di Cioccio: voice, drums; Franco Mussida: voice, guitar; Mauro Pagani: voice, flute; Flavio Premoli: voice, keyboards.





The English version of this song, re-recorded and abridged in 1973 to be marketed as a single, had some significant airplay in the U.S. and Canada and paved the way for the following phase in the history of the band. During the mid-Seventies they tried to establish their reputation also on the Anglophone market, and were labeled as representative of a distinctive way of Italian progressive rock (the so-called spaghetti rock, a label readily refused by the band), especially suited for the American audience.


3a. Premiata Forneria Marconi, “Celebration”

Live performance on TV, 1974



4. Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, “Metamorfosi”

 From: Banco del Mutuo Soccorso. Ricordi SMRL 609, 1972, 33 ⅓ rpm.


Vittorio Nocenzi: voice, organ, clarinet; Gianni Nocenzi: voice, piano, e-flat clarinet; Marcello Todaro: voice, acoustic and electric guitars; Renato D’Angelo: electric bass; Pierluigi Calderoni: drums; Francesco Di Giacomo: voice.





One of the most complex songs in their first album, “Metamorfosi” is based on the idea of continuous variation on the same musical materials, modified according to different principles and processes. The song was also an of the key moment in they live shows, as an opportunity to show off all their instrumental and vocal virtuosity and as the trigger for long improvisations, inserted in the middle of the original song structure.


5. Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, “Metamorphosis”

From: Banco. Manticore MAL 2013, 1975, 33 ⅓ rpm.


Vittorio Nocenzi: organ, sinthesizer; Gianni Nocenzi: piano, sinthesizer, clarinet; Rodolfo Malterse: voice, acoustic and electric guitars, trumpet; Renato D’Angelo: acoustic guitar, electric bass; Pierluigi Calderoni: drums, percussion; Francesco Di Giacomo: voice.




In the re-recording for the British “anthology” from their first two Italian album, the band made some slight variations in the formal shape of the song, to come out with a more complex piece and also clarify the process of metamorphosis in terms of riffs, melodies, and sounds. Perhaps influenced by their live rendition of the song, as the comparison with a later version seems to suggest (see the examples below), the reworking of the song gave the band the opportunity to further develop the idea of gradual transformation based on the altered repetition of some basic musical motifs.


5a. Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, “Metamorphosis”

Live version recorded at Teatro Verdi in Salerno, 23 April 1975; included in Seguendo le tracce. Ma.Ra.Cash Records MRC 003, 2005, cd.