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8 Jan 2017

Hero "Hero" 1974 Italy Prog Art Rock










Hero  "Hero" 1974 Italy Prog Art Rock
full

A lost group from the progressive rock movement of Italy in the 1970's that has finally seen the light of day with the recent reissue of their only album, 1972's self titled album. The group included Robert Deller (keyboards, vocals), Massimo Pravato (guitar, bass), and Umberto Maschio (drums). They left Italy after forming for Germany where they took up residency in Munich where they recorded their album. Massimo Pravato was killed in a car accident in 1973. The album was released in 1974 only in Germany and until last years reissue of the album on CD it was forgotten and went largely unnoticed.

Their self titled album is good example of a solid hard prog with nice keyboard work Noteable for in an era that had many 'short' albums the album was lengthy clocking in at over 46 minutes.

The group is worth a listen. Would recommend only to those who have money to burn and are looking for really hidden albums in the Rock Progressivo Italiano genre. That said.. having owned the reissue for about six months.. it still get regular rotation. Good group and wouild have liked to have seen what they might have followed this up with............

This one goes on my lost gem shelf. One of the weirdest albums I've heard in a while but I've taken quite a liking to it. At first play you might really think this sucks but it is a definite grower.

It might be categorized as Italian symphonic but to my ears this is lost hard psych rock. Very strange, like mixing Sabbath riffs with Jan Dukes de Grey, Traffic pacing, and some Morrison darkness in the lyrics.

Another view of the sound is as follows: "Musically I would consider Hero a combination of art rock with a heavy progressive feel, there are vibes from Gong, Van Der Graaf Generator, early Floyd and King Crimson most definitely, but there is also a dark doomy sound to it as well." [end quote from www.Italianprog.com]

The 9-minute standout track "Clapping and Smiling" is really quite a departure from the earlier tracks, featuring a lovely piano and folksy acoustic guitar for the first third. Then things again get powerful with hard vocals, Bill Ward style drumming and guitar that begs to be played loud. That final third of the song slows down again and gets pretty spacey and reminds me a little of Syd Barrett were he fronting a hard rock band! I told you this was weird stuff!

The album closes with a nice acoustic piece called "Buzzard" which serves to smooth out the previous sonic assaults and talk us in off the ledge. The final lyrical line is: "My pain will serve to be something." Before the album was even released their guitarist Massimo was killed in an auto wreck adding further weight to the strange mood of this work.

The playing is both amateurish-sounding in places and yet still quite compelling overall. The LP-sleeve reissued CD is very nice with a band history and bonus track. Vocals are in English.

Hero is an album that has become a prized keeper for me but I understand it will appeal to a relatively small portion of this site. For me this is a 4-star album but for many of you it will be 2-3 I would guess. If you are really into early 70s dark and weird hard rock that defies easy categorizing, Hero might blow your mind. Or perhaps just irritate your family....by Finnforest .....

 I had an interesting journey with this album. My first listen was in my vehicle and I knew this was an italian band but that's all I knew. Anyway I got through the first track and popped it out being disappointed that something that sounded so early seventies had English vocals and just sounded like a heavy Proto-Prog band. Well fast forward a couple of weeks and I decide to spend some time with it in order to do this review. The big change in my attitude towards this album came when I realized that this wasn't RPI, this was heavy Psychedelic music with that Krautrock spirit. As soon as I understood this I fell for it. So imagine my surprise when after i've done my review I read on the "net" that this band moved to Germany for a couple of years and recorded this album there in 1972 with a German record label. Maybe surprise isn't the right word but I felt really happy about myself (haha). Believe me it doesn't happen often. Sadly the singer died in an accident in 1973 the year before this was released.
This is a concept album and I found some the lyrics quite moving as it deals with childhood stuff. "Merry Go Round" opens with cymbals as tasteful guitar plays over top and reserved vocals join in. The vocals don't stay reserved for long though as it kicks in after 1 1/2 minutes. Heavy SABBATH-like guitar here as the contrasts continue. "Crumbs Of A Day" opens with drums, bass, guitar and floating organ. Vocals before 2 minutes then it picks up. Nice. "Sunday Best" has spacey keys and the vocals arrive before 1 1/2 minutes as it kicks in. It becomes pretty laid back each time the vocals stop. "Seminar" is a fairly aggressive song with prominant organ and guitar. Vocals come and go.

"Children's Game" is raw and aggressive at times. "Knock" has vocals that sort of shout out the lyrics. Not a big fan of this. It becomes powerful after 1 1/2 minutes followed by vocals and a more melodic soundscape. "Clapping And Smiling" has acoustic guitar and piano to start as reserved vocals join in. We get some passion before 4 1/2 minutes and some nice guitar a minute later. The music stops then spoken words come in then it builds. The guitar is great later. "Dew-Drops" is experimental and psychedelic early on. Drums start to lead as the organ joins in. Killer sound after 3 minutes. A calm 4 1/2 minutes in. It picks up a minute later with organ then the guitar comes in. Hell yeah ! "Buzzard" ends it with picked guitar and spoken words....by Mellotron Storm ...

Guitarist Massimo Pravato, from near Venice, had played since the late 60's in various groups in the Padova area, The Bart's Group and I Delfini. Around 1970 he joined a group from Udine, Upupa, that included the english born keyboardist Robert Deller, and he played with them for a couple of years, until the two of them split and formed a trio with drummer Umberto Maschio, also from Padova.
The yet unnamed group moved to Germany, having a residency in a Munich club thanks to Deller's father, and they recorded their album in 1972 having had a contact with the Poliband music group (that was specialised in children music) that owned the Pan label. Despite the death of Massimo Pravato in a car accident in 1973, the album was released a year later, but went largely ignored.
A nice album by a little known group, the LP was only released in Germany, but unlike the Atlantide album Francesco ti ricordi, it's very hard to find even from german dealers.
Hero is a very long album, over 46 minutes, and contains nine songs in the 4-5 minute range, with the only exceptions of the 9-minute Clapping and smiling and the 7-minute long Dew-drops, in a rural hard prog style with english lyrics, well sung by Deller. The sound is not particularly original but a very pleasant listen overall.
An Umberto Maschio playing percussion with guitarist Jacopo Gianninoto from Vicenza is Hero's drummer's son....Italian Prog.......

Line-up / Musicians
- Robert Deller / keyboards, vocals
- Massimo Pravato / guitar, bass
- Umberto Maschio / drums

Tracklist
1 Merry Go Round 4:21
2 Crumbs Of A Day 4:41
3 Sunday Best 5:57
4 Seminar 3:17
5 Children's Game 5:02
6 Knock 4:52
7 Clapping And Smiling 9:05
8 Dew Drops 7:03
9 Buzzard 1:48
Bonus Track
10 Buzzard (Acoustic Version) 3:36

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..