The Samurai Of Prog -
The Spaghetti Epic 4

(CD 2022, 67:43, Seacrest Oy SCR-1035)

The tracks:
  1- Dead Or Alive(6:04)
  2- Mira Al Cuore(23:39)
         - i. The Cave
         - ii. The Call Of Vengeance
         - iii. A Crash Of Thunder
         - iv. The Final Battle
         - v. Ramon's Death
         - iv. For A Fistful Of Dollars
  3- La Resa Dei Conti(20:10)
         - i. Epilogue
         - ii. The Robbery
         - iii. The Prison
         - iv. Epilogue
  4- Snakebite(8:07)
  5- The Fabulous Felipe And His Dancing Squirrels(3:07)
  6- High Noon(6:31)

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Wait a minute! The Spaghetti Epic? Doesn't that sound familiar? I guess it does!
The Spaghetti Epic 4 made by The Samurai Of Prog is the continuation of a series of settings or reinterpretations of some Spaghetti Westerns.

First let me tell you that a Spaghetti Western is a sub-genre of Western movies. Very different compared to the traditional U.S. Westerns. It began in European films in the early 1960s and was soon dominated by Italian productions. The most well known are of course the films with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill. But also the movies which Sergio Leone made with accompanying Ennio Morricone soundtracks are well known. The most popular movies are A Fistful Of Dollars (1964), For A Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966). Also known as the Dollars Trilogy with Clint Eastwood as the leading actor.

In 2004 the French label Musea released, in collaboration with the Finnish paper Colossus, the double CD The Spaghetti Epic 1, Six Modern Prog Bands For Six '70 Prog Suites. In 2007 it was followed by The Spaghetti Epic 2, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and finally in 2009 The Spaghetti Epic 3, The Great Silence was released. The concept at the time was to capture the classic scenes and the typical music of Italian Westerns and to translate them into progressive rock tunes by several progressive rock acts. One of the main persons behind this musical project was Marco Bernard, one of the founding members of The Samurai Of Prog.

Therefore maybe it isn't that strange that a fourth part of The Spaghetti Epic is now released by The Samurai Of Prog. And listening to albums made by them means listening to excellent progressive rock songs dedicated to the golden era of the genre. A tribute to the progressive rock bands of the Seventies. Retro prog in full glory! And of course with lots of Mellotrons, Hammond organs and Minimoogs! Who doesn't like that! This new release, The Spaghetti Epic 4, is no difference to the golden formula.

Normally the core of The Samurai Of Prog consists of three musicians. Namely the earlier mentioned Italian bassist Marco Bernard, US multi-instrumentalist Steve Unruh and Finnish drummer Kimmo Pörsti. However Unruh is not present on this album strangely enough. But we already do know that without him Bernard and Pörsti can come up with excellent albums. Because they already released several albums as a duo under the name of Bernard & Pörsti. Well on this release they found in Marco Grieco (keyboards, acoustic & electric guitars, sound effects), with whom they already worked with on other releases, a true partner in crime! But also other guest are welcomed as usual.

This almost seventy minutes long album is without doubt a feast for my ears on which the earlier mentioned golden formula is mixed with recognisable musical parts reminding me of the earlier mentioned Morricone. Together with the many sound fragments of gunshots, locomotives, and saloon piano parts you certainly get back in the time when the famous Spaghetti Westerns were made. Using instruments such as trumpet, banjo, flute and viola gives the album a Western atmosphere. In addition, the album gets a clear Italian movie feelling through the Italian vocals done by vocalists Tommaso Fichele and Stefano Galifi .

Once again it has to be said that Ed Unitky's illustrations are the icing on the cake and perfectly complement everything what is mentioned above.

As for the music on this album. With the two epics Mira Al Cuore and La Resa Dei Conti, the progressive rock lover gets just what he wants! Both long tracks live from very long guitar solos, each of which impresses in its own way. Done by Juhani Nisula (Time Traveller) and Marcel Singor (Kayak). Of course next to the impressive keyboard parts. Also the shorter pieces give so much pleasure to everybody who hears them. Furthermore David Myers' solo piano piece has become a recognisable and very enjoyable part on almost every album released so far. The short The Fabulous Felipe and His Dancing Squirrels is no exception to the rule! If you want names to compare the great compositions to, I will provide them. Acts such as Le Orme, ELP, PFM, Kansas, Steve Hackett, Banco and Genesis are never far away. Therefore musically everything is carried out not only with the western-country soundtrack touch but the heroes of the past come along as well.

If you want to move away from the usual progressive rock releases and also have a soft spot for Westerns, we warmly recommend the album The Spaghetti Epic 4. The Samurai Of Prog succeeds in combining progressive rock with a Western feeling the best way possible. With their varied compositions, the musicians succeeded in creating a special mixture of soundtracks, folk, country and progressive rock. So bravo to everybody involved for creating another top album for The Samurai Of Prog! Certainly one of the highlights for 2022!

**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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