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Thread: Banco's Come in Un'Ultima Cena - How Does It Compare

  1. #1
    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
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    Banco's Come in Un'Ultima Cena - How Does It Compare

    I stumbled across this release in my collection this week. Athough the band is composed of the classic line up, including Francesco Di Giacomo's emotional and complelling vocals, it is clearly different. This is a departure for the band, more commerical and concise tracks. There is still very beautiful violin and piano interplay and the vocals remain prominent and strong. Il Ragno stands very tall as a Banco signature song.

    How does this effort compare to Darwin or lo Sono Nato Libero? On a broader level, Banco is likley more complex and operatic than the rest of the Big Three Italian bands. They are truly original and unique compared to PFM and Le Orme.

    The central question is how does Come In Un'Ultima Cena rank among Banco's works?
    What can this strange device be? When I touch it, it brings forth a sound.

  2. #2
    I think it's the best album they ever produced, with Darwin a close 2nd! Just make sure it's the Italian version.

  3. #3
    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by betty humpter View Post
    I think it's the best album they ever produced, with Darwin a close 2nd! Just make sure it's the Italian version.
    Interesting. Besides the production, how do you view the music compared to their other works?
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  4. #4
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    I think I'm in a small minority, but I think it's their best album. More delicate and refined, with some exquisitely beautiful passages.
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    Haven't listened to this one in a few years, but the last time I did play it, I decided it was a much better album than I remembered. Agree that the Italian vocal version is better. I'll give it a spin tonight, can't recall if it seemed more commercial than previous albums.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by moecurlythanu View Post
    I think I'm in a small minority, but I think it's their best album. More delicate and refined, with some exquisitely beautiful passages.
    Yep!

  7. #7
    I love Come in Un'Ultima Cena, but there's something that keeps it from being a top favorite Banco album for me. Honestly, I think it's the production, not the music. To my ears, there's just something a bit indistinct about this record. It doesn't hit as hard as the earlier albums, even though the music is often quite rocking. I play this album a lot, probably as much or more than my favorites, Darwin and Di Terra. But still, it never quite resonates with me the way the others do. That said, it's a killer record, and I put it near the top of Italian Prog, with basically all of the classic Banco albums. Il Ragno is definitely the highlight for me.

    If I had to rank them I'd probably go:

    Darwin
    Di Terra
    Io Sono Nato Libero
    S/T & Come in Un'Ultima Cena basically tied
    Canto di Primavera
    Garofano Rosso

    After that, who cares.

    Of the "big three" Italian bands (PFM, Le Orme and Banco), Banco is by far my favorite. It think they're at a totally different level. That dual keyboard attack is the real distinguishing feature for me, and I think their compositions are incredibly well thought out. The only Italian band that equals or tops Banco in my book is AREA, which is a whole different animal.

    Bill

  8. #8
    It’s good, but not my favorite. It’s definitely prog with the same complex writing as earlier albums, but it’s lacking. I think a lot of the songs are a bit indistinct. As aforementioned, “Ragno” is the only classic. I like the sound of the “dolphins” ballad. I have difficulty remembering anything else about the album apart from the chanting on “Slogan.” Admirable, but not up to the standard of earlier successes.
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  9. #9
    'aang 'hoot' Don Arnold's Avatar
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    I have an Italian version LP, and agree there's some beautiful music on tap here. There's something about the music on this one that draws me in. It may be partly due to the flow, and a subtle tension build, that never bursts out of the box, but is tightly contained and wrapped within some great melodies.

    I find it difficult to rank/compare this one to other Banco records. Much of their 70's output is top notch Prog.

  10. #10

  11. #11
    Interesting question, as I've been on a total Banco-roll myself this last week.

    While nothing else of theirs really touches Darwin! or Libero (IMO), I think the trope on the "classic first three" should be officially extended to the "four" and include Ultima Cena. Seriously. While it's apparently less immediately adventurous than those first three, at least in scope, it's arguably even more dense in construction. And the overall mood is, well, pretty damn distinguished in sheer refinement. The first two tracks on side 2 are among their best ones, and its end note is astounding in that it really sums up the parts, if not in melody then in pure atmosphere.

    A great, great effort, and I have a soft spot for Garofano and ...di Terra as well, although they are very different endeavours to this one.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
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  12. #12
    To me this ranks just a bit lower than the holy triad of the first 3 albums (but didn't I say the same about PFM and Chocolate Kings? hmmm). Mainly for production reasons, it rocks less than the 3.

    I think my favorite is the first. Metamorfosi is my go-to song when I need Prog.

  13. #13
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    The first three were perfect tens. This one is a step down unfortunately. Still good but not the same level of brilliance. 7.5/10
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  14. #14
    Member TheH's Avatar
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    Banco had an inredible run of Albums in the 70s. All their Albums up to and including Canto Di Primavera are Top notch.

    "Ulima Cena" is a Beauty, not as deeply complex as the first three but denser (as said before).

    I would have liked to hear more from this Album played live...

  15. #15
    Any thoughts on the Manticore album they put out as "Banco"? Basically a collection of re-arranged/re-recorded tracks from the 1st and Io Sono Nato Libero, plus a couple of new tunes, all in English. Weirdly, nothing from Darwin! Back in the 70s, there was a gigantic warehouse in Austin, Texas that sold cheap lps, paperbacks, comics, magazines etc, and I found about 50-60 copies of this lp stashed away-wish I'd bought them out instead of getting just one. I also have the Japanese cd of this. The production is much better, and I prefer these arrangements also (although I suspect it's because this was my introduction to them).

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by M Sary View Post
    Any thoughts on the Manticore album they put out as "Banco"? Basically a collection of re-arranged/re-recorded tracks from the 1st and Io Sono Nato Libero, plus a couple of new tunes, all in English. Weirdly, nothing from Darwin! Back in the 70s, there was a gigantic warehouse in Austin, Texas that sold cheap lps, paperbacks, comics, magazines etc, and I found about 50-60 copies of this lp stashed away-wish I'd bought them out instead of getting just one. I also have the Japanese cd of this. The production is much better, and I prefer these arrangements also (although I suspect it's because this was my introduction to them).
    That's the first Banco album I got. It's great in my opinion, in particular the new version of Metamorfosi. I haven't listened to it since I got the Italian albums, but I did love it back then and I cannot think of a reason why one wouldn't. The same goes for PFM Photos of Ghosts.

  17. #17
    ^ Banco was the first one I got as well, simply because it apparently was -everywhere- to be seen; in cut-out bins, flee markets, secondhand stores, at record fairs et al. Granted I only really knew P.F.M. and The Trip at that point (from the grand world of "RPI", I mean), I didn't immediately take to Banco; it was too perfectionist, too glossy, while at the same time also too bombastic for my tastes. Until I sat down and truly listened to it, finding how there was a highly sophisticated slant beyond most other continental "symphonic" progressive acts I knew back then (approx. 1993). I'd even say they surpassed the most obvious sources (ELP, Tull, GGiant) in forming a genuinely integral and coherent style. I prefer the versions on Libero, although "Outside (R.I.P)" becomes pretty much a brand new affair altogether and the "Metamorfosi" rendition aims for something far more orchestral than the original take from the debut.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
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  18. #18
    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the feedback on this album. It sounds like there is quite a bit of apprecation for this release and real love for the band in general. I think Darwin is their pinnacle but all of the classic line-up produced quality symphonic music.

    This is likely my favourite track ever by an Italian band:

    Last edited by mozo-pg; 1 Week Ago at 06:32 AM.
    What can this strange device be? When I touch it, it brings forth a sound.

  19. #19
    It's slightly more dense than their lauded earlier albums. A grower. Certainly in the Banco upper tier.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by M Sary View Post
    Any thoughts on the Manticore album they put out as "Banco"? Basically a collection of re-arranged/re-recorded tracks from the 1st and Io Sono Nato Libero, plus a couple of new tunes, all in English. Weirdly, nothing from Darwin!
    It was my first taste of Banco as well. “Metamorphosis” is the definitive version for me. That extended piano cadenza is divine. I don’t really get why the production/quality of the source tape on “L’albero del pane” is so poor compared to the rest of the album.
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  21. #21
    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    I love Come in Un'Ultima Cena, but there's something that keeps it from being a top favorite Banco album for me. Honestly, I think it's the production, not the music. To my ears, there's just something a bit indistinct about this record. It doesn't hit as hard as the earlier albums, even though the music is often quite rocking. I play this album a lot, probably as much or more than my favorites, Darwin and Di Terra. But still, it never quite resonates with me the way the others do. That said, it's a killer record, and I put it near the top of Italian Prog, with basically all of the classic Banco albums. Il Ragno is definitely the highlight for me.

    If I had to rank them I'd probably go:

    Darwin
    Di Terra
    Io Sono Nato Libero
    S/T & Come in Un'Ultima Cena basically tied
    Canto di Primavera
    Garofano Rosso

    After that, who cares.

    Of the "big three" Italian bands (PFM, Le Orme and Banco), Banco is by far my favorite. It think they're at a totally different level. That dual keyboard attack is the real distinguishing feature for me, and I think their compositions are incredibly well thought out. The only Italian band that equals or tops Banco in my book is AREA, which is a whole different animal.

    Bill
    Thanks for the cogent suymmary Bill. You really addressed my questioss. We're allso in agreemnt on the pinnacle of the band's career, Darwin. In my view. Banco is the top of the hill for Italiant progressive rock. I own a 4 CD Area box set - don't like the vocals - but I'll pull it out and spin them again. I saw Banco in Montreal at FMPM - remember it like yesterday. Feel so lucky.

    Any other big fans of the YouTube clip I posted a few spots back?
    What can this strange device be? When I touch it, it brings forth a sound.

  22. #22
    Member jefftiger's Avatar
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    Yes, I love 750.000 anni fa... l'amore? They played it towards the end of their Nearfest 2001 performance (http://www.studiomlive.com/nearfest2001/banco.html)

  23. #23
    Member jefftiger's Avatar
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    I also recommend giving their 2-CD 1990s re-recording of their first two albums a listen (Da Qui Messere Si Domina La Valle). The re-interpretations are fairly faithful. Not essential, but pleasant.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by mozo-pg View Post
    I own a 4 CD Area box set - don't like the vocals - but I'll pull it out and spin them again.
    I hear that, Stratos is something of an acquired taste. I love his "outlandishness!" I often do not like wild experimentation, but for whatever reason AREA makes it more "musical" to me. There's also plenty of good 'ol Prog Rock and Fusion in their catalog too. So they're not always over the squonking edge, Even Stratos.


    Quote Originally Posted by mozo-pg View Post
    I saw Banco in Montreal at FMPM - remember it like yesterday. Feel so lucky.
    I saw them at both Prog Fest and NEAR Fest. The Prog Fest performance was outstanding. NF was good, but they had some sound issues with the drums. It got cleaned up eventually, but it distracted me at first.

    Quote Originally Posted by mozo-pg View Post
    Any other big fans of the YouTube clip I posted a few spots back?
    Oh, hell yeah! I love 750.000 anni fa... l'amore?! Not sure it's my favorite Italian Prog track ever, but for a more sedate, romantic type of piece, it may well be. But, La conquista della posizione eretta..., now THAT may well be my favorite Italian track! But there are so many to choose from.

    Bill

  25. #25
    ^ Stratos being an "acquired taste". So is Di Giacomo's voice; I know several listeners who keep nagging that it (somehow) "ruins the otherwise fine music". And the guys in RRR/Samadhi, Procession (and Arti e Mestieri), Nuova Idea (on Clowns) and many others apparently also do that.

    It's basically -all- about habitus. Little or near-to-nothing else.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

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