Occasionally spurned by prog purists as the poor relation of its Italian-language predecessors, this is nonetheless a flawless album, and one which introduced the band to a wider audience. Taken under the wing of Greg Lake, 'Photos of Ghosts' was the band's first release on ELP's Manticore label, and is essentially a re-working of the 1972 'Per un Amico' album with English lyrics, courtesy of Pete Sinfield (King Crimson, ELP), some rearrangement (most notably the exuberant near-hit 'Celebration') and a new instrumental, the haunting 'Old Rain'. Bombast mixes with European Romanticism, expressed through delicate interplay of flute and violin above the more common guitar/keyboard front line. 'Celebration' is a multi-part prog classic in around four minutes, 'Mr 9 Till 5' runs the gamut from jazz to marching band, and the title track, featuring one of Sinfield's finest lyrics, has a captivating aura of melancholy beauty. Timeless stuff! For those unfamiliar with Italian prog, this album is a good stepping-off point if you're a fan of Court/Poseidon-era King Crimson. For those wondering what happened to this great band, the Italian re-union live double from 1998 ('il best') sketches in part of the story, and subsequent studio albums - notably 'Serendipity' (2000) - show a band still prepared to take musical risks. - Oz.
I bought this album along with its predecessor "Per Un Amico" and the later "Chocolate Kings". I would happily give both of the others 5 stars but this, by comparison, is rather a disappointment.
As another reviewer has pointed out this album is, mostly, a reworking of "Per Un Amico" with english lyrics and as such the vocals sound rather forced. Whether this is due to the singer/s struggling with english or because the words do not quite match the music I don't know.
Taken in isolation this album sounds like a pretty good album within the prog genre but pales in comparison to "Per Un Amico" if you are determined to hear this band in english then get "Chocolate Kings"(the lyrics were written by the band)an album which stands with the best prog out of england.
A nice little album from this Italian combo. PFM might be likened to a sort of Italian Genesis of the day, though they were by no means a mere facsimile. This was recorded originally in Milan, but then, for the UK release, was re-recorded in London (perhaps, one can only speculate, because the original was considered a bit naff for us sonically sophisticated Brits).
The band comprised Flavio Premoli (keyboards & vocals), Franz DiCoccio (drums & vocals), Georgio Piazza (bass), Franco Mussida (guitars & vocals) and Mauro Pagani (violin & woodwinds). I remember having a chat with a few of them at the Exeter University students' bar in 1976.
The English lyrics were courtesy of Pete Sinfield (of King Crimson fame), though it's a shame they didn't have an English vocalist to sing them ~ the voices are nice enough, even lovely in places, but clearly none of the band's three vocalists had much command of English pronunciation. The best track is the one with Italian lyrics, though frustratingly no translation is offered as part of the sleeve notes ~ just a tantalising synopsis of the story they tell. Here and there, the album's a bit of a jarring mess, but the good bits are wonderful.
The DR edition (Serial No. VICP-60970) has been very well done (presumably in Japan, as all the technical notes are in Japanese), with removal of (almost all) the analogue tape hiss and the inclusion of full lyrics. If you do buy it, make sure this is the edition you go for.