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Bufalo Bill

Francesco De Gregori

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Album Review

The extraordinary commercial success of Rimmel changed De Gregori's career forever. For starters, its follow-up, Bufalo Bill, was never going to be an easy task. De Gregori has admitted his fondness for this record, made during one of the happiest, most confident periods of his life. At the same time, if success brought confidence, it also involved a degree of public exposure that the usually reclusive De Gregori despised. In some ways, particularly in its music, Bufalo Bill was conceived as a sort of antidote to Rimmel. When looking at the album from this perspective, it is striking how Bufalo Bill seems much more a logical continuation to the album that preceded Rimmel, the obscure Francesco De Gregori, rather than to the 1975 pop blockbuster. The full band arrangements and concise, catchier compositions that characterized Rimmel give way to more freely structured songs, with long, ambiguous texts and virtually no choruses. Love songs are conspicuously absent as well. Bufalo Bill does seem to have a running theme, the portrait of a boy child, sometimes a village idiot, sometimes naïve, sometimes even cruel, who encounters the unsentimental world of adults, with mixed results ranging from self-discovery to death. As in most De Gregori's albums, Bufalo Bill includes one or two forgettable tracks, a few hidden treasures — in this case "Atlantide" and "Ipercarmela" — and a handful of classics. The latter category here is made up of the title track, the tale of the famous wild frontier man forced by time and disappointment to become a circus attraction in his latter years; "Festival," a harrowing, desolate tirade about the suicide of singer Luigi Tenco at the San Remo Festival; and the simply magnificent closer, "Santa Lucia." A humble hymn dedicated to all those who are struggling with life, this is unquestionably one of De Gregori greatest, most beautiful songs. A simple piano and voice arrangement, a sweet melody, a message of hope miraculously devoid of any pretentiousness or sappiness, "Santa Lucia" is the rare kind of song that would justify quoting the entire text, and alone worth the price of any album — it should be clear, however, that even without it Bufalo Bill remains essential listening for De Gregori fans.

Biography

Born: 04 April 1951 in Rome, Italy

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Born in 1951 in Rome, singer/songwriter Francesco De Gregori grew up listening to and being inspired by American musicians Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen as well as Italian artist Fabrizio De André. It was the latter who heard De Gregori recording songs at a famous studio in Rome, and was impressed enough to began helping the young singer. In 1972, after De Gregori signed to IT, Theorius Campus, an LP with Antonello Venditti, was released. Unfortunately, critics were unimpressed with the album, a sentiment...
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Bufalo Bill, Francesco De Gregori
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