In 1970 the debut album of the Italian band Gleemen was released. At the time t he band was led by guitarist extraordinaire Pier Nicoḷ 'Bambi' Fossati, a Jimi Hendrix aficionado. Gleemen's eponymous album was typical for the late sixties including music influenced by psychedelic music with raunchy blues vibes and dynamic hard rock, but above all Hendrix-inspired guitar solos duelling with the Hammond organ. A year later the same line-up played music with a slightly more progressive edge, and they changed their name in Garybaldi. Until 2013 we didn't notice any lifesigns of the band, so the return of Gleemen to the music scene with the brand new studio album Oltre ... Lontano, Lontano came more or less out of the blue.
It's a bit strange to review their second album after more than forty (!) years of absence, even more when you know that only keyboardist Lio Marchi is missing from the original line-up. He was replaced by Giovanni Pastorino. The other original members are 'Bambi' Fossati (guitar, vocals), Maurizio Cassinelli (drums), Angelo Traverso (bass) and Marco Zoccheddu (guitar); they are assisted by several guest musicians. However, not only the line-up is almost the same, but this also applies to the cover artwork both done by an artist named Peppa! He once again created a fish on which people fight their enemies. T he shape of the fish has remained the same, but the human figures have grown older. However, after 43 years the message is still the same: the struggle against the musical culture in Italy!
In a way this also applies to the music on Oltre...Lontano, Lontano. Many musical styles from the late sixties and the early seventies are present, but this time performed in a more contemporary style. You'll still hear that the guitarist has been strongly inspired by Jimi Hendrix. Good examples are In Una Stanza and Schizoid Blues. Furthermore it seems that great guitarists like Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana have been influential either. Just listen to songs as Solo Amore, Anima Di Gomma and La Grande Carovana and you will probably agree. Apart from the many blues, psychedelic and hard rock influences, the influences of prog rock can be noticed as well. Listen for instance to La Grande Carovana and the beautiful ballads Canzone Dei Cuori Semplici and Il Venditore Di Palloni, of which the first one has some nice Hammond organ passages. Sometimes the pop-like tunes of the sixties come to the surface as you can hear in Stelle Di Vetro and Nel Mio Cortile .
The ten tracks on the album are all sung in Italian, and may not be everybody's cup of tea because half the album contains very bluesy songs while others have a more retro rock feel. However, I believe that there are still prog rock lovers who will enjoy this second album by Gleemen. Concerning myself, I had some fine moments while listening to Oltre...Lontano, Lontano!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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