Banco concluded the year by recording a soundtrack, Garofano Rosso ("Red Carnation"), based on Elio Vittorini's novel of the same name. Released on the Manticore label in early 1976, the instrumental album is a showcase for both Vittorio and Gianni Nocenzi's compositions, and the band's performance. They next took to the studio to record an even headier concept, based roughly on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Issued in Italy as Come In Un' Ultima Cena, the English version carried the title As In A Last Supper and was again released on Manticore Records. The opening track "At Supper, For Example" immediately reveals the strength of the work. Francesco Di Giacomo's voice soars along with the melody, with the band providing perfect accompaniment. The blatant hook of "The Spider," under a more typical progressive arrangement, follows. The obvious classicism of "John Has a Good Heart, But..." leads into the altogether heavier "Slogan," with the Nocenzi brothers' keyboards at the fore. After its protracted introduction, "They Say Dolphins Speak," slides into an enchanting modern groove, with Di Giacomo's voice following suit. The balance of the record continues in similar fashion, alternating between the gentle calm of "The Night Is Full" and the symphonic splendor of "Towards My Door." The album is perhaps the most fully conceived and executed from Banco—thanks, in part, to its excellent production, again engineered by Peter Kaukonen. The band toured Europe with Gentle Giant following the record's release, but it would be another two years before the band's next album appeared, partly due to Manticore's financial collapse. Di Terra, released in 1978, was an outlier; mostly orchestral, it's a large-scale work that generally eschews the rock of the band's earlier career for something far more, well, orchestral, and with excellent results. For the next few years, Banco experimented with different musical directions. Canto Di Primavera followed in 1979, but swung too far to the "pop" end of the spectrum, while the live Capolinea offered funky versions of songs from their catalog. Banco del Mutuo Soccorso then ditched both their progressive leanings (and most of their name) for an altogether more populist sound, which carried the band well into the 1980s.
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Taken from The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock, here is an Album of the Week to enjoy and discuss.
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"Always ready with the ray of sunshine"