Artist

IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO

1969-70
Marco Cecioni (vocals, guitar)
Lino Ajello (guitar)
Michele Cupaiuolo (bass)
Giancarlo Stinga (drums)

1971-73
Gianni Leone
(keyboards, vocals)
Lino Ajello (guitar)
Vito Manzari (bass)
Giancarlo Stinga (drums)

Formed in Naples in late 60's, with the initial name of Battitori Selvaggi, playing in Nato bases in Italy. 

They changed name to Il Balletto di Bronzo with the first line-up, with two good singles in 1969 and 1970 and even recording some tracks in Spanish (released in 1988 as a single and in 1990 on the Il re del castello LP) and their first album, Sirio 2222. The album is now considered as one of the rarest of the Italian prog era, and is halfway between late 60's psych-influenced pop and prog.

The long suite Missione Sirio 2222 is one of the best tracks, while most of the others are in the 3-minute typical length of the time. Some collectors consider it as one of the best in the Italian prog field, others think it's still not a mature group's work. Without doubt a very important one.

In 1971 keyboardist Gianni Leone (from the very first Città Frontale) jeoined the group, that played for a short time as a five .piece. Then, when Cecioni and Cupaiuolo quit, qith the entrance of bassist Vito Manzari (from the Rome band Quelle Strane Cose Che) a new Balletto was born, much more in a symphonic vein and dominated by his keyboards.
Second album Ys (from the name of a legendary town in Brittany), released in 1972 on Polydor, is a masterpiece, giving the group the success they deserved. An English-sung version, partly already recorded, was never finished.

Group disbanded in 1973 due to internal contrasts, and the last concerts and a final single, La tua casa comoda, were played by Leone and Stinga as a duo. Gianni Leone had a short solo career under the name of Leo Nero, the others went to live in Sweden and disappeared from the Italian music scene.

Gianni Leone has reformed the band in late 90's with bassist Romolo Amici and drummer Ugo Vantini from the neo-prog group Divae on whose 1995 CD Gianni had played; they made a series of concerts from which the live CD Trys has been recorded.
In 2008 the DVD Live in Rome, filmed in 2007 with a line-up including Leone with bass player Marco Capozi and drummer Adolfo Ramundo, is the first video document ever released by this historical band.

 

LP
Sirio 2222  RCA (PSL 10459)  1970 glossy hard cover
  RCA/Contempo (NL 71819) 1988 reissue with same cover design and label
  BMG (88697 36950 1) 2008 new reissue in numbered series
Ys Polydor (2448 003) 1972 gatefold with 4-page lyric booklet
  Polydor special (2449 017) mid 70's reissue with single cover
  BTF/Vinyl Magic (VMLP164) 2014 reissue with the same cover design as the original
Il re del castello RCA/Raro! (NL 74650) 1990 7-track compilation with unreleased recordings - limited 1500 copies, of which 500 on yellow vinyl
On the road to Ys AMS/BTF (AMS 42LP) 2011 vinyl edition of Ys (English version) with an extra track - standard version on black vinyl, liimted edition on red vinyl with 2 postcards signed by Gianni Leone
 

CD

Sirio 2222  RCA/Contempo (ND 71819) 1988 reissue of the 1970 album - now deleted
  RCA/BMG/Vinyl Magic (74321-26546-2) 1995 as above - now deleted
  BMG (74321-98442-2) 2003 as above with mini-LP cover - now deleted
  Sony/BMG (88697-34359-2) 2008 new reissue in standard jewel case
  Sony/BMG (88697-97690-2) 2011 as above with mini-LP cover
Ys (English version) Mellow (MMP 112) 1992 2 tracks mini-album
Ys Polydor/Mellow (519 388-2) 1993 reissue of 1972 album with 2 bonus tracks from the 1973 single - now deleted
  Polydor (523 693-2) 1994 as above with 1 bonus track
  Universal (0602527121772) 2009 new reissue with 2 bonus tracks and mini-LP single cover - part of the box set Progressive Italia - Gli anni '70 vol.1
Trys Mellow (MMP 367) 1999 live recording from 1996
 

VARIOUS ARTISTS COMPILATION ALBUMS

Progressivamente
(with Marcia in sol minore and Donna Vittoria)
Progressivamente/AC Forum (ACF 001) 1997 limited edition CD compilation with unreleased tracks - also includes Divae, Virtual Dream, Fluido Rosa, Revelation and others
 

SINGLES (all with picture sleeve except where noted)

Neve calda
Cominciò per gioco
ARC-RCA (AN 4193) 1969 A-side from Sirio 2222
Sì, mama mama
Meditazione
RCA (PM 3549) 1970 B-side from Sirio 2222
La tua casa comoda
Donna Vittoria
Polydor (2060 053) 1973 both unreleased tracks
 

PROMO-ONLY AND JUKEBOX SINGLES (with blank covers)

Neve calda (excerpt) RCA Disco refrain (EM 42) 1970 promotional EP with 16 short extracts from RCA albums and singles - picture cover
Sì, mama mama
Meditazione
RCA (JBPM 3549) 1970 orange label juke box version of 1970 single
Primo incontro
Secondo incontro
Polydor (2060 053) 1972 promo-only
Ys Polydor (AS 164 - 2448 033) 1972 promo-only - contains an excerpt from the album of the same title - coupled with Demis Roussos/My reason
Neve calda ARC (AN 4193) 1988 1-sided single - 500 numbered copies with plain white cover - bonus with the Raro magazine
Sì, mama mama (Spanish)
Nieve calda
RCA (AN 7645) 1988 1000 numbered copies with plain white cover - given free to Raro magazine subscribers

 

Sirio 2222 was originally released on RCA Italiana blue label, promo white label copies exist. The thick cover has a glossy front.
Two tracks from the album, Neve calda and Ti risveglierai con me, were chosen to be
used in the soundtrack of Mario Bava's film Cinque bambole per la luna d'agosto, released in 1970 (the soundtrack LP, Cinevox MDF 33/33, only contains the compositions by Piero Umiliani), but only Ti risveglierai con me can be heard at the end the film during the credits. This song has been included in a slightly longer version than the one on Sirio 2222 on the latest CD reissue of the Cinque bambole per la luna d'agosto film soundtrack, released by Cinevox in 2008 (cat. no.MDF636, digipack deluxe edition).
The official reissue from 1988 on RCA label, identical to the original, came in collaboration with the Florence label Contempo, and can easily be recognised by a different catalogue number and thin cardboard cover.
In 2007 a new vinyl reissue appeared, apparently in a 500 copies limited pressing (though this number doesn't appear anywhere on the cover) on Profondo Nero (cat.no.P/NERO1001). It is almost certainly a bootleg, the record company even put on the cover a fake Venice address. The label on the record are adhesive (not glued as on every official vinyl) and contain a mistake in the track listing. The audio quality is good, not far from the original album.
A new official reissue of Sirio 2222 was released in 2008 by BMG, in a limited numbered series.

The album has been reissued on CD in March 2003 by BMG with mini-LP cover and obi, as part of their "Dei di un perduto rock" series, and later repressed in October of the same year when a second batch of those CD's came out.
The CD was announced by BMG as being also available with standard jewel case (cat.no. 74321-98373-2) but was probably never issued in this form.

Original copies of Ys have a 4-page 12" booklet glued in the laminated gatefold cover, containing lyrics and drawings. Two different editions exist of the Polydor label. the first one contains the name of Nora Mazzocchi as composer of both lyrics and music, in the second variation Cristiano Minellono is credited as co-author of the lyrics. In both cases the composers' names are not correct, but the group members were not registered with Siae and could not be credited as composers. It's likely that the name of Minellono has been added subsequently and that the label carrying his name is a second issue.
The Polydor Special budget series reissue had a different single cover and no insert. The recent BTF reissue faithfully reproduces the original cover and lyric insert.
The Italian CD reissue of Ys also includes a bonus track from their 1973 single La tua casa comoda. A new reissue, sold as part of the Progressive Italia - Gli anni '70 vol.1 box set (Universal 0602527121765 - year 2009) contains the same bonus track and another, the single B-side, Donna Vittoria.
No counterfeits exist of this album.

The English version of Ys was issued on CD in 1992 and on LP in 2011, the latter contains an unreleased live recording of La tua casa comoda as bonus track.

One of the four uncredited female singers on Ys, Giusy Romeo, lately had a successful solo career with the name Giuni Russo. Along with her, Gianni Leone and Gianchi Stinga also took part in the recording of an album by Adriano Celentano, I mali del secolo (1972).
The musicians of Balletto di Bronzo also played in the musical background of two poetry albums, Metràpolis by Guido Ballo and Viaggio verso il nord by Roberto Sanesi, both from 1972.

The Il re del castello compilation was released by Raro magazine in conjunction with RCA and includes seven tracks from the 1969-70 period. Four of these are Spanish language songs (Accidente, Eternidad, Nieve calida, Sì mama mama, the first two had already appeared on a 1988 promo single), another is the unreleased Italian version of Accidenti, a song originally released in the same year by Il Supergruppo, and the last two are the instrumentals Il re del castello and Neve calda.
The album was released in 1500 copies, the first 500 of which had yellow vinyl.

Sirio 2222 was reissued in 2014 by the US label Lion Productions on LP and CD (cat. nos. LION LP 135 and LION CD 677). The vinyl edition includes a foldout insert.

Ys has been reissued in Japan (Polydor 23MM0149) with the same gatefold cover and in Korea on vinyl (Polydor 849 355-1/RG 2230 and also Si-Wan SRML 0007, black vinyl and later yellow) and CD (Si-Wan SRMC 0007).
A German issue on Polydor also exists, with a single cover and cat no.2480 127.

Also from Japan, a mini-LP compilation called Italian rock single compilation (Polydor/Edison DMI 23134) released in 1987, included both sides of the 1973 single La tua casa comoda along with Latte e Miele and Locanda delle Fate singles tracks unreleased on LP.
A bootleg single
La tua casa comoda/Donna Vittoria was released in Mexico in the 90's; this had a nice picture cover (no label and with cat.no YX 7586, year 1978, and Made in Japan writings on the back, but all this information is totally false!!).
In Argentina a compilation released in 1970, Festival San Remo 70 (RCA AVLP 3900) included Accidenti with the Spanish name of Accidente. A promo single was released (cat.no.RCA Victor 31A-1671) coupling Accidente and Eternidad.
A late addition to the south American discography of Il Balletto di Bronzo is a promotional single released in Chile in 1971, reputedly in a limited pressing of just 250 copies (RCA Victor 94-0708) coupling the Spanish versions of Nieve calida
and Sì, mama mama. Both had lyrics by Carmen Garcia Lecha.
In Venezuela the single Neve calda/Cominciò per gioco (incorrectly written Comincil 'per gioco) was released in 1970 on RCA (cat.no. 45-198) with company sleeve.

 
Sirio 2222 - front cover and label
Ys - front cover
Ys - inner view
  
Ys - label variations
Ys - Polydor Special reissue front cover
Il re del castello - front cover
Neve calda - 7" single cover Sì, mama mama - 7" single cover
La tua casa comoda - 7" single cover Trys CD
Accidente - 7" promo single (Argentina)
Nieve calida - 7" promo single (Chile)
La tua casa comoda - 7" bootleg single (Mexico)

 

 

Together with Osanna's Palepoli these two are rendered as the hardest albums to listen to. Honestly at first Ys seemed like a dissonant album that my ears couldn't stand but after more listens it is deemed as an incredible masterpiece.
Introduzione begins with an incredible atmosphere then developing into a complex array of chaotic rhythms that go beyond any imagined horror movie soundtrack. Primo incontro starts in the same line as the opener, guitars now jumping from left to right channel, boisterous drumming, chaotic keyboards and very strange vocals. The end of the songs includes a weird harpsichord solo that will give you the chills. Secondo incontro on Side B (LP) begins with the most interesting and oddest arrangements mixing a calm melody and then bursting into total chaos including searing flutes and crazied hammond organ. It then adds some piano and finally in the middle of chaos it breaks to a bass solo to then develop into a intricate semi slow paced number with some chorused voices. Finally Terzo incontro ed Epilogo are the rarest songs in this LP, begining with chaos then it develops into jazzy piece with vocals. After this I am afraid it is harder to describe, slow bass lines with some piano, effects and moog sounds here and there.
Ys is a very interesting album, no melody at all but the obscure music is so original and great that you'll never listen to anything similar. The CD version makes some mistakes: Introduzione only lasts about 11min., the lyrics will tell you when Primo incontro begins. Secondo incontro is about 7'30 min. it includes tracks 3 and 4 from the CD. Finally Terzo incontro ed Epilogo is only one song not two lasting about 11 min.

  Juan Carlos Lopez

 

 



Click on pictures to enlarge

 
 
Live at RARF (Rio Art Rock Festival) in Rio de Janeiro 2000
Pictures by Carlos Vaz
Gianni Leone con Osanna & David Jackson
Live in Rome, Stazione Birra - 26-Jan-2009
David Jackson & Gianni Leone con gli Osanna
Live in Rome, Stazione Birra - 26-Jan-2009
  
    
Il Balletto di Bronzo
Prog Exhibition 2011 - Roma 21-Oct-2011

 

A very well made non-official website on Il Balletto di Bronzo can be visited at http://www.ballettodibronzo.too.it/  
A blog dedicated to the group, with help from Gianni Leone himeslf can be found at http://progwalls.blogspot.com/
Original guitarist Marco Cecioni, since many years an appreciated graphic artist in Sweden, has a website, www.cecioni.com

 

 

Thanks to Humberto Luna from www.progresiva70s.com, Marcelo A. Lilienheim, Roberto Ornelas Ramirez, Pedro Leal, Fabio Meini, Guilherme Tofani, Luiz Claudio Cals Brugger for pictures and information included in this page.
Many thanks to Carlos Vaz for the pictures.