Back in 2014 I was pleasantly surprised by the album Play Me My Song (see review). An album made by the Italian piano virtuoso Francesco Gazzara. On this double album Francesco paid tribute to the music of Genesis in an excellent way. Now several years later he again released as Gazzara Plays Genesis an excellent successor to his first Genesis cover album. He named it Here It Comes Again . Again, just like Play Me My Song, named after a line in the lyrics of The Musical Box. A track taken from Nursery Cryme released in 1971.
Once again the artist Ugo Micheli has produced a new watercolour for the cover in gatefold format. A cover on which you can see references to the album covers released by the original band. Like the tree taken from Wind & Wuthering (1976). Or the lady with the fox head dressed in a red dress taken from Foxtrot (1972). Or the shadow figures taken from A Trick Of The Tail (1976). Or the open window taken from Duke (1980). Finally you can also see images which refer to the live performances of Supper's Ready. Like the flowerhead and the Magog mask. All of the images on this beautifully housed cover have something to do with the songs which again get the Gazzara treatment.
Inside this gatefold format cover you can see also pictures of all of the participants who have helped Francesco to come up again with a fine album of beautiful Genesis covers. Furthermore each songs gives you the details of who plays what kind of instruments on them. All those guest musicians helped Gazzara out on the electric guitar, bass, flute violin, viola, double bass, sax, clarinet, percussion and cello. Our leading artist playing himself on the Mellotron, bass pedals, Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes, synthesizers, melodic and harpsichord. And of course on his main leading instrument the Grand piano.
So what to expect on this more than seventy minutes long album? The new Gazzara Plays Genesis album contains some very interesting new piano-orchestral arrangements of the large Genesis back catalogue. The new precious Genesis gems are this time around taken from the period 1971until 1980. Those who are not familiar with Francesco Gazzara plays Genesis it is wise to tell that all of the songs recorded are fine instrumentals. Most of the time it's the piano who replaces the vocal parts originally done by Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins but also the guest musicians take care of those parts.
It's very difficult to mention any highlights because everything is of an extremely high level what you hear on this album. Right from the start with the full version of The Musical Box (on Play Me My Song only The Musical Box Coda version could be enjoyed as a bonus track), it is enjoying with a capitol E. Francesco is on top of his game when you hear him playing on the piano. But also his parts on the bass pedals and Hammond are a delight to hear. Just as the parts played on the electric guitar and flute, reminding me of the original parts on the original album versions. But it gets even better when it is followed by a complete version of Supper's Ready. The whole 23 minutes are a feast for your ears. Copying the original parts with instruments used when they recorded this epic piece of music certainly adds a lot to the excellent cover of this classic Genesis track. Therefore it is a must to hear the bass pedals, Mellotron and most of all the Hammond B3 organ. Like you can hear on the solo done on Apocalypse in 9/8 (featuring the delicious talents of Gabble Ratchet). Bravissimo Gazzara! Also the next piece is wonderfully done. I Know What I Like gets interesting by adding some extra percussion instruments to get more rhythm on this composition. Also the mix of Dance On A Volcano/ The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (intro) is superb! And what about using a real cello on Afterglow together with some amazing Mellotron and bass pedal parts. Or just listen to the emotional version of Guide Vocal wonderfully played only on a Bechstein Grand piano! Well I can go on raving about all the special treatments Francesco comes up with on all of the ten tracks he recorded with his guests for this excellent tribute album. But I will not because it would make this review way too long. But believe me this musician just knows how to entertain you the best way possible!
My final words on my review of his previous Genesis tribute album were: “Anybody who wants to hear the music of Genesis made during their best period in a kind of different way, just can't afford to avoid this release. I had the same kind of musical pleasure listening to the songs on Play Me My Song as when I heard all of the original versions many years ago. So bravo to Francesco Gazzara for entertaining me with his interpretations of all those famous Genesis tunes!”. Well for this new release I can just copy the text with only changing the title of the album. Sometimes it is that simple! Even though the music is far from simple in many ways. I guess both albums deserve a place next to all of my Genesis CDs!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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