Autumn 2002 A4 40 pages
DWELLER AT THE
original (last 227 copies)
a little bit of Spaghetti... the entangled Napoli & Genova 70's prog scenes...
New Trolls, Nuova Idea, Osanna, Nova
Back in the early days of planning our series of international music encyclopedias, I had the notion to feature graphical family trees of all the artists concerned. But, when compiling "The Crack In The Cosmic Egg" I found that the idea was all too time consuming, and thus I resigned to the fact that I'd only do such things in special articles in Audion. However, in order to sort-out the complex "spaghetti junction" that is the prolific New Trolls and Osanna families, I went ahead to see if representing such a complex history was possible. I ended up with two trees that interlinked and a story that also involved Nuova Idea and Nova. So, rediscovering this when embarking on our Italian encyclopedia I decided to do an article on this inventive mini-scene for Audion.
The Italian progressive rock scene in the 1970's was a phenomenon that was unique in the history of rock music, in that musicians from pop and the avant-garde all had their parts to play, a meeting of disparate talents that led to many innovative and original creative trends unexplored in any other country. The most popular exponents: PFM (Premiata Forneria Marconi), Banco (Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso) and Le Orme, all had their roots in pop, went on to reinvent themselves as innovative prog acts, and then when the popularity of prog subsided they went back to earning their bread and butter as more safe pop-rock. New Trolls were another such band, however their international success only spread to Spain, France and Germany. Osanna, however, jumped on to the scene with a classic album, remained consistent for four albums, and then disbanded. They had some international success, notably with releases in the USA, and spawned the internationally famous Nova. The other band focused on here, Nuova Idea, were rooted in the beat scene, and remained virtually unknown until 1990's CD reissues. Actually, the story is more complex than that, as you'll see in the articles, family trees, etc., below.
Historically complex, the New Trolls' story is full of line-up changes, splits, struggles between band members, etc. All this, whilst also being one of the most popular bands in Italy, starting as beat, via psychedelia, progressive, and back to pop.
The official roots of the band stem back to The Trolls, a pop band fashioning themselves after The Troggs, formed in Genova (a seaside resort on the northern Riviera) circa 1964 (as far as I can tell). In their early days they were basically a live cabaret band, playing at bars and clubs on the Italian Riviera. I've no idea what the line-up of the original band was. I have the 1966 line-up as: Vittorio De Scalzi (guitar), Giorgio d'Adamo (bass), Gianni Belleno (drums) and Pino Scarpettini (keyboards, vocals). However, after just one single (a big hit apparently) three members split-off in 1967 forming a parallel band. According to one source, this split happened after a music paper ran a poll for the best "dream" Italian pop band. As winners, the chosen quintet decided to give it a try and were an instant success. As ¾ of The Trolls, the logical name New Trolls was chosen, avoiding confusion with Pino Scarpettini and his new backing band, who continued as The Trolls, with a number of international hits redone Italian style, circa 1967-69.
After a few dates supporting the Rolling Stones, the
New Trolls secured a deal with the major-independent Cetra Records, debuting
with the single Sensazioni in 1967,
the first of lots of singles in fact. On one hand, The New Trolls were
reputedly the very best of live acts in Italy at the time, notably because of
The "New Trolls as we know them" debuted
in 1971 with an unlikely album, CONCERTO GROSSO PER I NEW TROLLS. Why
unlikely? Well, it was a release with two distinct very different halves.
Side 1 was a grand-opus symphonic suite, with music and orchestral
arrangements by composer Luis Enriquez Bacalov. This involved lyrics hijacked
from William Shakespeare, and a music that blended an extraordinary range of
elements: majestic rock ballads, complex classical instrumentals, and
psychedelic rock. The concoction was indeed a groundbreaking landmark,
defining New Trolls, and presenting Nico Di Palo as a most extraordinary
guitarist. The original LP cover tells us that this is a film soundtrack,
which is not so surprising when you know that Bacalov (a cohort of Ennio
Morricone) is prolific as a soundtrack composer. Intriguingly, one track
features during a love scene in the film "Milano Calibro 9" for
which the soundtrack was actually scored by Bacalov and Osanna! Side 2, the Concerto Grosso itself captures them
live, raw and instrumental, with an extended improvised development on one of
their hit singles, complete with some dazzling heavy drives,
With such a successful reinvention of the band, it
was clear where the New Trolls were to go, combining a wide array of rock and
progressive styles into their unique concoction. The double album SEARCHING
FOR A LAND, amounted to another ambitious milestone, with a slight change of
focus, notably because
I think the use of English vocals didn't have the desired commercial
effect, in that it alienated Italian fans, and thus further releases tended
to focus on Italian lyrics, with English vocals on selected tracks only.
Thus, the next album UT had a very different focus. In fact, it was far more
instrumental, with lengthy
realm of the Ibis
It would seem that everyone in the band was coming up with new ambitious ideas, so much so that a major split occurred that was similar to the one that gave birth to the New Trolls! It would seem that Vittorio De Scalzi had become leader of the band, and he wanted to pursue a more classical-rock orientation, whereas the rest of the band wanted to develop the heavy side. Thus, four-fifths of the band left! They established Nico Gianni Frank Maurizio issuing the album CANTI D'INNOCENZA, CANTI D'ESPERIENZA which more or less sounded like New Troll's UT continued, but with a heavier edge, along with more wild guitars and outlandish
semi-operatic/semi-metal styled vocals. It was pure excess, and obviously not what they could do under the New Trolls name. It would seem, however, that the first name billing didn't latch-on as a good group name, and thus they became Ibis (apparently the result of a readers' poll in "Ciao 2001" magazine) and took on English drummer Ric Parnell (ex-Atomic Rooster). The resulting album SUN SUPREME, is a rare masterpiece, sung in English and with more than a notable nod to Yes. It sported one suite per LP side, one a complex powerful opus welding classic Yes and New Trolls into a new form (spine tinglingly powerful and emotional) the other a vast spacious work with a subtle underlying tension that always threatens to break out but never really does. Recognised internationally as a classic these days, the Italians themselves failed to latch-on to it. The second Ibis thus attempted to relaunch the band with an eponymous album, that had dual guitars (no keyboards) and (excepting the album's closer Keep On Movin') lyrics in Italian. Back to the New Trolls UT sound, and also excellent (excepting the dodgy Dedicated To Janis Joplin blues, also issued as a single!) it was to be the heaviest of all New Trolls' family albums.
Article by Alan Freeman
To read the complete article - buy the magazine! There are also additional selected page images on Bookogs.