In 2008 the Italian band PFM released Canta De André on CD and DVD in a nice blue digipack. It featured their tribute show to the late great Italian singer-songwriter Fabrizio De André, who passed away in 1999 at the age of 59. It was recorded live at Teatro Comunale Maria Canigla in Sulmona, Italy on March 29, 2008. Then, the band consisted of Franz Di Cioccio (lead vocals, drums, percussion), Patrick Djivas (bass) and Franco Mussida (electric, classic and acoustic guitars, lead and backing vocals). The line-up introduced Lucio Fabbri (violin, acoustic guitar, keyboards, backing vocals) as a special guest, but also guest musicians Piero Monterisi (drums) and Gianluca Tagliavini (keyboards, backing vocals) participated in order to provide for a bigger sound. PFM performed Canta De André from 2006 to 2008 and they found it worth-while to get it recorded. That would be a great way to honour a friend whom they had worked with in the past. In 2010 they again paid a tribute to De André by recording new compositions for the album A.D. 2010 - La Buona Novella (see review).
Now one year later, the record company got the idea to combine both releases in one package and name it Amico Faber. I think this new release isn't that interesting for people who already bought the other ones. Others might say that this music performed by PFM can't be compared to their earlier work. This is all true, but nevertheless Amico Faber really looks stunning. It contains a sixteen-page booklet with a lot of information and pictures, but unfortunately it's only written in Italian. However, the art work is very well done just like the three large postcards that are included. Since I already reviewed A.D. 2010 - La Buona Novella for this website, this review mainly deals with the audio and video of Canta De André.
The DVD shows a band that performs whole-heartedly the music of Fabrizio De André. Drummer Franz Di Cioccio and guitarist Franco Mussida sing all songs in an Italian singer-songwriter like style. This means that PFM sound differently compared to the music on their regular albums. However, you still can enjoy several fine solos in some of the songs like the excellent guitar solo in Amico Fragile or the awesome synthesizer solo in Maria Nella Bottega Di Un Falegname. The music also contains some folk and country elements as you can hear in Zirichiltaggia. This certainly sounds strange performed by a band like PFM. The last part of the DVD is also rather strange. You expect to see the performance of Zirichiltaggia and Volta La Carta, but due to technical problems with synchronizing sound and images the video and audio tracks of these songs have been separated. It's a pity to see this happen since the rest of the material has been filmed very well and with a proper sound.
The audio of the recordings on the CD is by all means very enjoyable and got a very good mix. The CD contains the same music as on the DVD, but curiously the sequence differs. I think this has something to do with the technical problems mentioned earlier. Despite the fact that both discs contain music that has less to do with progressive rock this release gave me a positive feeling even more than the release of A.D. 2010 - La Buona Novella. So it's evident that Amico Faber gets a higher rating. The one star extra is well-deserved because of the perfect presentation of a product that already was available.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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