Audion #47

Autumn 2002 A4 40 pages

- Film Music
(9 reviews)
Volcano The Bear & others
Sat 29th June 2002
, etc.


original (last 227 copies)



UK £4.90




Europe £8.35




World £9.40


Example article

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.

New Trolls

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 uniquely
Hendrix-inspired guitarist Nico Di Palo who gained the reputation of the first Italian guitar hero. On the other hand, however, they were tied by their reputation as a major pop act. Thus, very little of their early output is of interest to progressive fans, not even their debut album SENZA ORARIO SENZA BANDIERA (from 1968) which had lyrics written for them by pop singer Fabrizio De André, nor their second eponymous album, a compilation of tracks from their singles.

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,
backed-up by multi keyboards and sizzling guitar, and one of the most cleverly executed of drum solos.

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
Italo-Canadian Frank Laugelli replaced Giorgio on bass, it was nevertheless a logical development. Mostly sung in English, their songwriting talents were proved as exemplary, with a brilliant collection of complex prog ballads and instrumental work-outs on the first LP, and a more improvised, heavy and partly live second LP. The tension of the music on this album is quite extraordinary.

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
multi-keyboard and guitar fronted passages, every element a refinement and development on the two albums before.

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

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