Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: World Music, Pop, Rock
Original Release Date: January 1976 This item is not a re-mastered version.
Original Release Date: January 1976
This item is not a re-mastered version.
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Jim Richmond | 09/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Chocolate Kings features the addition of lead singer Bernardo Lanzetti. This expanded the group to six musicians. Lanzetti sounds like a mixture of Peter Gabriel and Gentle Giant's Derek Shulman. All lyrics are in English.
Musically, this album is rich in progressive rock arrangements and songwriting. It is a wonderful mix of keyboards, guitars, violin, flute, drums, and vocals. Six fairly long songs make up the album. This album should be in every prog-rock fan's collection. Too bad the album isn't more readily available.
Buy this album, even if it means applying force to the scoundrels and scallywags who should do a better job of supplying quality music to the masses."
"Kings" is Aces
Ryle Shermatz | Cedar Rapids, IA | 01/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm slack jawed with amazement to read the disrespect this INCREDIBLE lp gets from some of my fellow reviewers. For those who have been curious enough about this band and LP to read this far, let me state up front that this recording is ABSOLUTELY one of the greatest prog-rock masterpieces of all.
To summarize as quickly as possible, let me first praise the incredibly skillful musicianship of ALL. To single out any of the quintet for plaudits obscures another, but suffice it to say that even causual listening will quickly amaze you with the dexterity with which the group tears through some incredibly complex material.
I'll be the first to concede that being a great musician alone doesn't guarantee a great record, but in this case, the considerable maestro-horsepower is harnessed to a chariot of five INCREDIBLE songs that seriously thrust "Chocolate Kings" into the upper echelons of progressive rock. A previous reviewer correctly pointed out the haunting violin/keyboard theme of the opening track, "From Under;" strong stuff indeed. Even more impressive to me is track 2, "Harlequin," certainly one of the most tightly-compacted lyrical/instrumental expressions of human anguish ever committed to record. The gentle acoustic guitar & flute opener is garnished with light keyboards, ramping up tension to the furious middle section full of propulsive drumming/bass with snarling keyboard/guitar/violin riffs trading lines with Lanzetti's totally in-the-moment vocal delivery.
Here I must take SERIOUS exception to any slagging of Bernardo Lanzetti's vocal prowess. YES, his command of English was rudimentary, but what an expressive, forceful set of pipes he brought to PFM. I know that our personal appreciation of singers is highly subjective, but from the very first hearing, his powerful voice IMMEDIATELY grabbed me and still moves me now.
To my ears this album has NO weaknesses, except to concede that much of the power of the EXCELLENT lyrics is lost in Bernardo's shaky phonetic rendition. Some vinyl LP's do come with lyric sheets, and they truly do enhance the experience by enabling our full appreciation of the highly insightful lyrics of Marva Jan Morrow, who I never heard of before (or since, to the best of my knowledge). I wonder whether Morrow wrote these lyrics first as stand alone poems and Pagani (flautist/violinist) and Mussida (guitarist) wrote the music around them. The lyrics certainly stand as potent, fully realized works of art independent of the music they were fused to, so it's unfortunate that Bernardo's expression-over-enunciation delivery obscures them so badly. (Write me if you're interested in seeing a lyric sheet.)
The credits reveal that this LP was very much the compositional brainchild of flautist/violinist Mauro Pagani, and unfortunately it proved to be his swan song with PFM. He left the band to do a very mediocre solo album, and PFM replaced him with another violinist, Gregory Bloch, who could bring none of the compositional fire to the band that Pagani provided for "Chocolate Kings." I vividly remember how anxiously I anticipated the follow-up to "Chocolate Kings" back in 1976, and how DISSAPOINTED I was by the all-too aptly titled "Jet Lag" that abruptly brought the band halfway down the pinnacle they'd ascended in '74 with "Chocolate Kings."
Of course PFM still soldiers on, as a quartet, (Bernardo is long gone, unfortunately) and they certainly command respect among us prog-heads as they continue to record and tour, though I confess I haven't kept up with them since the mid 1980's. Still nothing can ever obscure the blinding brilliance of "Chocolate Kings." I say with ABSOLUTE conviction that if you're interested enough to give this underappreciated band a try, THIS IS THE CD TO BUY.
An excellent album by PFM
Jeffrey J.Park | Massachusetts, USA | 03/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1976 release is just fantastic and shows PFM starting to head in the direction of jazz rock that would come to full fruition on Jet Lag (1977). Chocolate Kings is still very much a progressive rock album however, with fantastic playing all around and featuring ex-Acqua Fragile lead singer Bernado Lanzetti for the first time. Although all PFM albums had a high standard of playing, this album seems to pull out all of the stops and as such, ranks among some of my favorite albums by the band.
The lineup on Chocolate Kings includes Franz Di Cioccio (drums, percussion and backing vocals); Patrick Djivas (Gibson "ripper" bass); Franco Mussida (electric and acoustic guitars, backing vocals); Mauro Pagani (flute, violin); Flavio Premoli (Hammond organ, piano, electric piano, synthesizers); and Bernado Lanzetti (lead vocals in English). The individual and ensemble virtuosity on this album is simply stunning - these guys are all incredible players (I love the aggressive, trebly tone that Patrick gets out of his Gibson). Bernado Lanzetti has a very unusual vocal style that is definitely an acquired taste - there is a great deal of vibrato in his singing and the quality of his voice is somewhat hoarse (it sounds like he sings from his throat rather than his diaphragm). Still, his voice does not bother me too much - the playing is just incredible and more than makes up for it.
The five tunes on Chocolate Kings range in length from 4'39 to 8'30 with four of the five tracks in the 7-8 minute range. In large part, this album is comprised of very high energy progressive rock with enough jaw-dropping playing to keep all prog fans very entertained. There are some nice dynamic contrasts too and the arrangements are simply top notch. I think that of all the tunes, the title track is the closest the album comes to even vaguely resembling a pop track (it actually reminds me somewhat of Celebration from Photos of Ghosts, 1973) although it too is still over-the top prog with breathtaking soloing.
All in all, this album is very highly recommended along with Storia di un Minuto (1972), Photos of Ghosts, The World became the World (1974), and Jet Lag."