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Extract from forthcoming book AROUND EUROPE IN 180 PROGRESSIVE ROCK GROUPS see PROJECTS for details

ACQUA FRAGILE, from Parma, Italy, was founded by Bernardo Lanzetti (vocals, guitar), Gino Campanini (guitar) and Piero Canavera (drums), all ex Gli Immortali (The Immortals). They were joined by former I Moschettieri bassist Franz Dondi and keyboard player Maurizio Mori. They came to the attention of fellow Italian progsters PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) and were signed to the Numero Uno label.

PROG ALBUM CHOICE: There is nothing much to choose between their first two albums, but I am going to opt for sophomore album MASS-MEDIA STARS (1974) (not released in the UK), which was even better than the group’s creditable debut, opening with prog classic and live favourite ‘Cosmic Mind Affair’, with some beautiful synth play and clever variations. On the second song, Lanzetti’s vocal resembles Peter Gabriel and the music has a definite early Genesis leaning. The title track is a complex Yes like track with a prominent rhythm section. Both albums are sung in English and are excellent examples of classic melodic prog.

2ND CHOICE: ACQUA FRAGILE (1973) opens with ‘Morning Comes’, a prog classic with mastery of ‘light and shade’, a pastoral opening with nice bass lines, the guitar becoming heavier with Genesis like organ chords and flailing electric guitar passages. ‘Comic Strips’ sounds straight out of the Gentle Giant songbook with a unique twist demarcated by Bernardo Lanzetti’s distinctive vocal tremolo ‘warble’ (nearest comparison Roger Chapman). On songs like ‘Science Fiction Suite’ a Yes influence is detectable, especially in the melodies and harmonies (Lanzetti insists the group was actually using ‘the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young code’), while album closer ‘Three Hands Man’ is a complex and powerful piece putting ACQUA FRAGILE right up there with the best of the 70s prog bands.

Joe Vescovi (ex The Trip) replaced Mori in 1974 and Lanzetti left to join PFM in 1975 and made telling contributions to their ‘Chocolate Kings’ and ‘Jet Lag’ albums. Although Lanzetti was briefly replaced by Roby Facini (ex Dik Dik) the group split in 1975. Lanzetti later sang with MANGALA VALLIS.

Following a revived interest in the group Esoteric followed their remastered CD editions of ACQUA FRAGILE’s first two albums by releasing an album of new material, forty-four years after their first one! Lanzetti, Canaveri and Dondi all featured and legendary lyricist Pete Sinfield supplied some lyrics (on ‘Raindrops’) along with Steve Hackett collaborator Nick Clabburn. A NEW CHANT (2017) showed that the group had lost none of their technical ability or inventiveness with the passing of the years and the album was well received by reviewers, including myself! Bernardo Lanzetti’s ‘How Come’ is a highlight and ‘All Rise’ reminded us of Gentle Giant in the nicest possible way! PJ

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