Jumbo - DNA (1972)

Jumbo’s second album was recorded very soon after their debut and its release happened the same year. Still on the Phillips label, but offering a rather controversial gatefold artwork (with as well as an equally debate-sparking title, musically speaking, there is a world of difference between their debut and DNA, almost a genetically modified change, if you will. With an unchanged line-up, this is a very impressive change showing how quickly they matured. Don’t be driven off by Alvaro Fella’s reputation of having a difficult voice, this is completely inaccurate as he is in the average of Italian prog singers, no more, no less! The album opens on the startling three-part sidelong suite Per Il Sig K, which is meant to be Kafka and refers to his Metamorphosis book about changing of life form (thanks to Andrea Cortese for this hint) and its 21 minutes. Right from the opening piano lines and the superb chilling flute solo following it, your mind immediately perks up: you’re about to witness something special. The wild fuzzed-out guitar finally lead you in the first movement (8-min+) proper, which is rather hard-rocking even if the guitar solo suddenly takes a bluesy-jazz twist before almost losing itself, but the band comes in timely to rescue and revive the song, this time with a harmonica instead of the flute. Starting on another flute solo (not as successful as the first) and segueing into a duo with a guitar Ed Ora Corri (roughly 9-min) is the better of the three movement, often reminding of Tull’s more eccentric moods, but plunging into a superb (again) bluesy solo session (guitar-harmonica-flute-guitar-manic laughs-organ & much more) which proves to be the centerpiece section of this suite. As this lengthy instrumental passage fades out, Dio E (a rework from their first album) ends this album on a more classical note. No doubt this Sig K suite is one of their best works, certainly equaling anything they’ve done for the next Vietato album. The flipside opens on the Miss Rand, which at first I wrongly thought was about the “fascist-leaning” writer Ayn Rand, and I will add “unfortunately not” as this character happens to burn in her house. While starting with a very proggy riff, the middle section develops into a clunky piano ragtime piece, before reprising the opening riff but slower and more dramatically. The following track depicts the damages of time on the human body and psych, and is generally calmer and more plaintive, pastoral where Fella’s voice can either disturb or rejoice the listener, but will not leave him cold. Not an immediate pleaser, this track will slowly unravel its charms to you with repeated listenings. The closing Hai Visto starts a bit confusingly until an Emersonian organ takes over, plunges the group into a classical (almost modern) theme superposed on a jazzy rhythm (could be found on Tull’s Time Was) before the song finally kicks in, Fella’s verse being interrupted by short wailing guitar solos or wild organ/flute duos. One of the big debates about Jumbo fans is whether DNA is better or not than their defining Vietato album, and there are many pros on both sides, that I prefer not to choose, both being absolutely fantastic. Easily the best Italian pair of album, even surpassing my other fave Quella Vieccha Locanda’s pair. - Review by Sean Trane (Hugues Chantraine)

Track Listings

1. Suite Per Il Sig. K - (20:46)
- Sta Accadendo Qualcosa Dentro Me
- Ed Ora Corri
- Dio E'
2. Miss Rand (5:05)
3. E' Brutto Sentirsi Vecchi (6:34)
4. Hai Visto...

Total Time:

- Alvaro Fella / vocals, acoustic guitar, sax, keyboards, percussion
- Daniele Bianchini / guitar
- Dario Guidotti / flute, mouth harp, acoustic guitar, percussion
- Sergio Conte / keyboards, vocals
- Aldo Gargano / bass, guitar
- Vito Balzano / drums, percussion, vocals
Releases information

LP Philips 6323 017 L


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