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Fabrizio de André, Vol. 8

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Opinião do álbum

Volume 8 is a pivotal album in Fabrizio De André's discography. The darkest and most enigmatic record of his career, it is also one of his greatest works — if not the very best one. By the mid-'70s, De André's life had been spiraling down for a while in a mist of alcoholism, depression, divorce, and writer's block. At any rate, he was still discerning enough to perceive greatness in emerging Roman songwriter Francesco De Gregori, and to invite him over for a month or so in the spring of 1973. Together, De André and De Gregori wrote most of the material that would eventually make up Volume 8. Although De André had been hinting at a new, more elusive direction for his writing (as early as in the 1970s hit single "Il Pescatore," that would not sound out of place here), this is the album that ostensibly — and defiantly — confirmed a new frame of reference. If De André's first period was born under the sign of 19th century European literature, now he seemed to switch allegiance to Surrealist poetry, filtered through the contemporary eye of songwriters like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. After a decade of story-songs, character-songs, and concept albums, De André deliberately discards any narrative concerns, and instead lets his nightmares and wit run rampant. In the process, he finds a new language and imagery that would prove to be as powerful as the fairytale settings of his early songs, but definitely sound more modern. In Volume 8, De André no longer sounds like a medieval troubadour magically transplanted into our times, but just like a late 20th century songwriter, and one of avant-garde tendencies, to boot.

From the opening track "La Cattiva Strada" onwards, the saga of a mysterious evil character who, for unexplainable reasons, everyone is compelled to follow down his road, is full of ambiguity and moral ambivalence which reign supreme. Very much like Dylan circa 1965-1966, the lyrics are painstakingly long but meandering, full of phrases, wordplay, and images so stunning as to constitute the real focal point of the songs. On the other hand, the ultimate meanings are obscure, if not often nonsensical or whimsical. De Gregori's input is in evidence throughout, particularly in "Oceano," written as a response to De André's 12-year-old son Cristiano (who would grow up to be a famous singer on his own), who pestered his dad's colleague about the puzzling imagery of "Alice," one of De Gregori's most famous songs. Indeed, but for De André's singing, "Oceano" sounds exactly like an outtake from Alice Non Lo Sa. De André also made a point of including "Le Storie de Ieri," a song by De Gregori's whose recording company had initially forbid him to release due to its subject matter about growing up in a fascist state.

Besides De Gregori and Dylan, the Leonard Cohen connection can generally be felt in the orchestral arrangements by Tony Mimms, as well as in a sterling Italian version of "Nancy" that arguably surpasses the original. Predictably, De André was accused of being unable to write on his own anymore, and of trying to cash in on the success of De Gregori's breakthrough album Rimmel released the same year. Still, the two darkest, best, and most emblematic songs of this album are the only two De André wrote alone, "Giugno '73" and "Amico Fragile." De André himself considered the latter the most important song he ever wrote and his most personal, one, that spoke for none but himself. An extended inner monologue, half nightmare, half drunken stupor, delivered against a relentless string tremolo in the manner of Cohen's "Avalanche," "Amico Fragile" includes snippets of deadpan misanthropy such as: "Did you know I have lost two sons?," "Madam, you must be a rather absent-minded woman." It is certainly the most fully realized statement of De André's disgust at all the clichés, falsities, and banalities of the so-called polite society. "Giugno '73" shares many of those themes, but the tone is different since it is addressed to a former lover (presumably of a different social milieu) who, together with her family, disapproved of his friends and overall behavior. While the bitterness lingers on, it is attenuated by an unexpected sense of humor and tenderness in the face of unavoidable failure, that improbably turn a surreal breakup song into a deeply touching farewell note. Misunderstood and harshly criticized at the time of its release, 30 years later Volume 8 sounds timeless in a way no previous De André album does. An example of creative genius fighting an uncertain battle against his own demons, this record fully deserves a place next to Lou Reed's Berlin, Big Star's Third/Sister Lovers, Leonard Cohen's Songs of Love and Hate, or Syd Barrett's The Madcap Laughs. While it may not be the best place to get acquainted with De André, Volume 8 remains an unforgettable listening experience that, much like the classic cult albums mentioned above, is utterly essential to understand the greatness and originality of its creator.

Biografia

Nascido em: February/02/1940 em Genoa, Italy

Gênero: Pop

Anos em atividade: '70s, '80s, '90s

With the death of Fabrizio De André from cancer on January 11, 1999, Italy lost one of its most modern singer/songwriters. Inspired by the songwriting of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, De André's songs encompassed Genoese folk songs, French protest/social commentary, beatnik "stream of consciousness" poetry, and the soundtracks of Italian film Westerns. A native of the Genoese province of Liguria, De André was born into a wealthy family. His father's criticism of the fascists who controlled Italy caused...
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Fabrizio de André, Vol. 8, Fabrizio de André
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