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Twenty Four Hours: Oval Dreams
Label: Musea, FGBG 4297.AR, 1999.
http://www.musearecords.com/
musea@wanadoo.fr
or write:
Twenty Four Hours
Via Ripa 40
24022 NESE (BG)
Italy

          Twenty Four Hours fall somewhere in the "we admire old Floyd and
old Genesis" school of modern Italian prog. This is the band’s third offering;
the previous two records being on Mellow. The Musea promo info sheet that
came with my review copy makes no mention of previous albums. From this
I erroneously inferred that this was their debut.

          An interesting band with some good ideas, that desperately
needs a better vocalist, or to spend a lot more time in the studio working
on vocals. Despite that this is a solid album played by very good musicians.
Unfortunately it is marred by a very lack-luster middle of the record. It is
salvaged by some superior moments and a nineteen-minute long early Floyd
space-excursion that closes the album entitled "The Bastards".

          They easily could have dropped "When Your Next Of Kin Is Fun"
(the weakest original song on the CD by a long-shot) and dropped the
catastrophically bad country take on "Mother Nature's Sun" (full of out of
key vocals) and made the record stronger. They probably shouldn't have
attempted "Darkness (11/11)". There's nothing wrong with their instrumental
approach to it – in fact it's quite good -- but tackling anything by
VdGG automatically opens you up to unfavorable vocal comparisons with Peter
Hammill, and the weak vocals ultimately sink the effort. 

          This may seem awfully picky, but I'm puzzled by their determination
to sing everything in English. Italian is such a beautiful and expressive
language. It's not like singing prog in English is going to dramatically
increase record sales...why not sing in the mother tongue? I thought PFM
addressed that issue nicely on "Jet Lag" in "Cerco La Lingua".

          Had they dropped the weaker tracks, and relocated the jazzy instrumental
"Twenty-Four-Pink-Hot-Tentacles" further forward in the running order, this
would have been a substantially stronger offering. Overall this is an album
to buy if you liked both of their previous records, or if you can acquire
it cheap. Not one to go out of your way to find since it breaks no new ground,
and its 70s reference points have often been replicated better elsewhere by
others.

         Who might like it? Fans of both early Floyd and early Genesis for
whom vocals aren’t particularly important.

         Who might dislike it? Prog fans that can’t stand second rate under-produced
vocals, or are put-off by heavily accented English vocals.

The best tracks:
"Twenty-Four-Pink-Hot-Tentacles" (instrumental)
"The Bastards" (lengthy instrumental mid-section)
"The Road To Madness"*

*(The track that best represents the band’s style: "The Road To Madness".) 

Star rating: 2 ½ out of 5. I may keep it, but it probably winds up in my trade pile.

   ~ Steven Davies-Morris
1. Songs From The Northern Wind... [4:05] 2. Oval Dreams [5:44] 3. The Road To Madness [6:32] 4. The Poor [4:20] 5. Son Of War (dedicated to the victims of this last bloody war) [4:30] 6. When Your Next Of Kin Is Fun [3:50] 7. Mother Nature’s Son [2:19] 8. Darkness (11/11) [7:06] 9. Twenty-Four-Pink-Hot-Tentacles [6:07] 10. The Bastards (composed July 1987) [19:23] Personnel: Paulo Lippe – piano, synthesizers, vocals. Antonio Paparelli – electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar. Marco Lippe – drums. Nico Colucci – bass guitar. With: Giovanni Lombardi – electric guitar on track 9. Michele De Florio – percussion on track 9.

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