Neapolitan band CITTA FRONTALE, which had close ties to OSANNA, existed in two different forms during the 1970s. The first version formed in 1970 and included keyboardist Gianni Leone, who subsequently left to join IL BALLETO DI BRONZO. The original CITTA FRONTALE was short-lived and didn't make any recordings; after a brief period of live work they split to form OSANNA, with the notable inclusion of wind player Elio D'Anna who really helped to shape their sound. OSANNA recorded four studio albums before they in turn disbanded due to internal strife in 1974; D'Anna and Danilo Rustici emigrated to England where they formed UNO. Following OSANNA'S split, original members Lino Vairetti and Massimo Guarino reformed CITTA FRONTALE with a new line-up that included former SAINT JUST guitarist Gianni Guarracino. In 1975 they released their sole album "El Tor" with the following line-up: Lino Vairetti (vocals, guitar, Mellotron, harmonica), Gianni Guarracino (guitar, synthesizer, vocals), Enzo Avitabile (saxophone, flute, vocals), Paolo Raffone (keyboards), Rino Zurzolo (bass), Massimo Guarino (drums, percussion, vibes, vocals).
The new model CITTA FRONTALE retained some elements of the OSANNA sound, although the music on "El Tor" is less complex and a bit tame in comparison. The band's liberal use of electric piano and saxophone provides a slight hint of fusion in places, while some KING CRIMSON and FRANK ZAPPA influences break through intermittently. However, the album is predominantly acoustic and is melodic almost to the point of being commercial; CITTA FRONTALE'S compositions seem to be grounded in Mediterranean folk music and are even reminiscent of CAT STEVENS at times.
"El Tor" is a concept album or rock opera inspired by the cholera epidemic that spread across Italy in 1973; the album title comes from the popular name for a strain of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The lyrics apparently underline the band's strong concern with social and political issues and deal with the theme of a society torn apart, not by physical sickness, but by exploitation and oppression. "El Tor" has been criticized in some quarters because the lightweight nature of the music doesn't match the drama of the lyrics, although Vairetti's spirited vocals go some way toward balancing that criticism. Flute and saxophone are the main lead instruments, and while Avitabile's performances are good his sax-playing isn't as wild as that of D'Anna on OSANNA'S albums. Although CITTA FRONTALE were an offshoot of the heavier OSANNA, they weren't quite in the same league.
Some of the band members attended the Academy of Arts in Naples and Lino Vairetti named CITTA FRONTALE after a sculpture in the Academy, while Massimo Guarino designed the cover of "El Tor". The album itself would make a worthwhile addition to any Italian prog collection, although fans of OSANNA may be a bit disappointed with its lack of complexity. CITTA FRONTALE disbanded after the release of "El Tor", due to the apathy of critics and public alike. Vairetti and Guarino went on to reform OSANNA, Guarracino and Zurzulo became session musicians, while Avitabile pursued a fairly successful solo career and released a number of solo albums.
Release / Label:
Warner Fonit – 3984 27120-2 - Year unknown
1. Alba Di una Citta'(instrumental) (3:03)
2. Solo Uniti (4:57)
3. El Tor (6:31)
4. Duro Lavoro (6:24)
5. Mutatione (6:51)
6. La Casa del Mercante "Sun" (4:06)
7. Milioni di Persone (3:39)
8. Equilibrio Divino? (6:37)
Total Time: 44:08
- Enzo Avitabile / flute, sax, vocals
- Massimo Guarino / percussion, vocals
- Gianni Guarracino / guitars, Moog, vocals
- Paolo Raffone / keyboards
- Lino Viaretti / keyboards, lead vocals
- Rino Zurzulo / bass