IL ROVESCIO DELLA MEDAGLIA
Pino Ballarini (vocals, flute)
Enzo Vita (guitar)
Stefano Urso (bass)
Gino Campoli (drums)
new member added:
Franco Di Sabbatino (keyboards)
as above without Pino Ballarini
Il Rovescio della Medaglia were formed in Rome around
the end of 1970 from the ashes of the beat band I Lombrichi. Enzo Vita, Stefano
Urso e Gino Campoli founded the group, that had as lead singer first Gianni
Mereu (not the guitarist of Logan Dwight), then
Sandro Falbo (from Le Rivelazioni) and
soon later Pino Ballarini, who had moved to Rome from Pescara where he played
with the groups Nassa and Poema.
Their first great success was at Viareggio Pop festival and they soon became one of the most popular live bands in Italy during the early 70's.
First LP La Bibbia, released in 1971, was basically
a very good hard-rock album with slight prog influences, recorded live in studio and accompanied by a
The second one, Io come io a year later, was in the same style, with ambitious philosophical lyrics inspired from Hegel works. A short album (less than 30 minutes) but again a really good one!
In 1973 a fifth member was added, keyboard player
Franco Di Sabbatino, also from Pescara, like Pino Ballarini, and briefly with Il Paese dei Balocchi.
With their sound enriched by the keyboards, Il Rovescio released the third album, Contaminazione, with the help of argentine composer Luis Enriquez Bacalov, who had already worked with New Trolls for their Concerto Grosso and Osanna.
The album was obviously more in a symphonic direction, and was also released in an English-sung version and issued in many foreign countries, to try to launch the group abroad. The English language album appeared in Italy in 1975 only, when the band had already split up.
By this time the band was being renowned for their
powerful performances, always played at the loudest possible volume and helped
by a unique sound system. This is what the Contamination LP liner notes
said about it (originally written in English, mistakes and all...): "Their
instrumentation is among the moste interesting in Europe. The 6000 watt Mack
vocal equipment is quadrophonic and is equivalent to 36 track amplifiers. The
console table is really a portable recording studio with filters, compressors,
etc. The guitar, the battery and the keyboards have 900 watt amplifiers. The
keyboards consist of a vertical B Hammond organ, a harmonium, an eminent for the
reproduction of strings, two VCS synthesizers, a 200 Harp [it was probably
an ARP], and two mini moog synthesizers. The lighting equipment is also
important. There are 50 spotlights which produce colors and special effects. On
a special screen behind the group, slides and films are projected to produce
abstract musical effects.".
Not bad for an Italian band, and no one else in Italy had such a powerful live act!
But... in December 1973 the stealing of their big and expensive PA brought the band close to the end, with Pino Ballarini leaving for Switzerland (briefly replaced by Michele Zarrillo from Semiramis) and the others continuing as an instrumental-only band. The live album Giudizio avrai, privately released by the band in the late 80's, contains a recording from this period, with the band's sound dominated by the keyboards.
Last release is a single from 1975 (there's a mention on its cover of a new album, but this was never released), then the band had various line-up changes up to 1977.
Bassist Stefano Urso founded Europe, authors in the
early 80's of an album (Bubble BLU-19609) and some singles in pop/rock style.
In early 90's guitarist Enzo Vita reformed the band with a new line-up and released a new CD called Il ritorno, different from their past production and more AOR-inspired, as its followers Vitae (recorded earlier) and Microstorie, issued in 2011. A new line-up, also led by Enzo Vita and featuring the musicians of the group RanestRane (Massimo Pomo - guitar, Riccardo Romano - keyboards, Maurizio Meo - bass and Daniele Pomo - drums) played in Japan in 2013 at the Italian Progressive Rock Festival and the concert recording, featuring the whole Contaminazione with an orchestra, was issued on CD in 2014 as Live in Tokyo.
A new album by the line-up led by Enzo Vita, Tribal domestic issued in 2016, saw a return to the 70's sound, with original singer Pino Ballarini guesting on the track L'apocalisse.
|La Bibbia||RCA (PSL 10521)||1971||includes 8-page 11" round booklet|
|RCA/Contempo (NL 74112)||1989||reissue with same cover design and insert|
|Sony Music/BMG (88985 36555 1)||2017||new remastered reissue|
|Io come io||RCA (PSL 10545)||1972||gatefold cutout cover with single lyric sheet glued in - very first copies came with a metal medallion in the hole on the cover - three different issues exist (see below)|
|BMG (88697 36948 1)||2008||reissue with the same cover as original and metal medallion|
|Contaminazione||RCA (DPSL 10593)||1973||gatefold laminated cover|
|RCA/Contempo (NL 74511)||1990||reissue with same gatefold cover|
|Contamination||RCA (TPL1-1049)||1975||same album as above, English version with single cover|
|Giudizio avrai||Rovescio della Medaglia (RDML 75)||1988||gatefold cover, early copies had an embossed logo, later ones came with no logo on front cover|
|Tribal domestic||Sony/BMG (88985 36754 1)||2016||new studio album|
|La Bibbia||RCA (ND 74112)||1989||reissue of 1971 album -
also available as part of the limited 5-CD box set Rock progressivo italiano (RCA ND 74116-5)
|BMG (74321-98162-2)||2003||as above with mini LP cover - now deleted|
|Sony/BMG (88697-34362-2)||2008||new reissue with standard jewel case|
|Contaminazione||RCA (ND 74511)||1990||reissue of 1973 album - now deleted|
|Sony/BMG (88697-34365-2)||2008||new reissue with standard jewel case|
|Il ritorno||DB (1771 20013-2)||1995||new album by revamped RDM|
|Io come io||RCA/Pick Up (74321-22082-2)||1994||reissue of 1972 album - 2000 copies - now deleted|
|RCA (74321-22082-2)||1999||as above - 500 copies - now deleted|
|BMG (74321-98166-2)||2004||as above with mini LP gatefold cutout cover - now deleted|
|Sony/BMG (88697-34364-2)||2008||new reissue with standard jewel case|
|Vitae||Vinyl Magic/VM2000 (VM 069)||1999||1993 album|
|Contamination||BMG (82876-54410-2)||2003||reissue of 1975 album with mini LP cover - now deleted|
|BMG (88697-85369-2)||2011||as above with mini LP cover|
|Microstorie||Sony (88697-97698-2)||2011||new studio album|
|Live in Tokyo||Immaginifica (ARS IMM/1024)||2014||live recording from 2013 with orchestra|
|Tribal domestic||Sony/BMG (88985 36754 2)||2016||new studio album|
SINGLES (with picture sleeve except where noted)
|Let's all go back
|Frog (FRS 3001)||1975|
PROMO-ONLY AND JUKEBOX SINGLES (with blank cover)
|La mia musica
La grande fuga
|RCA (PM 3730)||1973||promo-only with no cover|
|La mia musica||RCA (JBPM 3736)||1973||juke-box single - backed with Renato Zero/No mamma no|
Both the original and the 1989 reissue of La Bibbia contain a
round booklet representing a golden medallion, with live pictures of the band.
While the cover reissue is easy to distinguish because of the barcode, Contempo logo and smooth cardboard, the booklet is almost identical to the original, and only a side-to-side comparison can help tell one from the other. As original booklets are often missing, many collectors replaced them with the reissue booklet.
Io come io has never been reissued on vinyl, original has
a thin cardboard gatefold cover with a large hole in the middle where a
medallion, made of bronze or brass, was housed in very few early copies, a real rarity among collectors,
and a very expensive one indeed!. Apparently, according to the press
advertisements issued at the time of its release, 7000 copies of the album came
with the medallion, created by the florentine artist Brandimarte (whose
signature is visible on the back of the originals).
Two different kinds of medallion exist, one has a golden bronze colour, the other is much darker. Both are original and have the artist's signature on the back.
The gatefold cover contains a single sheet glued in the centre, which has the lyrics printed on the back. Three different versions exist of the front side of this sheet, see the pictures below:
-the first one is almost completely black on the front side and the sheet can be folded in four parts; this was the one used to contain the bronze medallion;
-a second one has a large picture of the band on front, and this can be viewed through the centre hole on the cover;
-a third one, the rarest of them all, has a picture reproducing the medallion that can be seen through the hole.
This LP was reissued for the first time on vinyl by BMG in 2008, in a limited pressing having the same cover as the original and a reproduction of the medallion, this time in silver/grey metal.
Contaminazione and Contamination have
different covers, the second one being an English-sung version released for foreign markets.
Some copies of Contaminazione contained a small insert (approx.14.5x9.8cm) with a quotation on popular music by Marcel Proust, which was also included on other contemporary RCA albums (among these Festa Mobile/Diario di viaggio della Festa Mobile, Rustichelli e Bordini/Opera prima, Perigeo/Abbiamo tutti un blues da piangere and Maurizio Monti/L'amore).
Giudizio avrai was a privately released, self-produced live album recorded in 1975 and including an instrumental-only performance. It came in a dark-looking brown gatefold cover with an embossed band logo in the centre, but later copies had a standard gatefold cover with no logo on the front side.
The 1975 single, Let's all go back (incidentally this was the only single the band ever made), mentioned on its cover an album on the Frog label with catalogue number FRL 0101, but this was never released.
No counterfeits exist of the group's albums.
An unofficial CD entitled RDM Live 74 was issued in Italy in 50 numbered copies in 2013 (Only Fifty label, no.OF001) with the recording of a concert in Messina from 1974.
La Bibbia and Contaminazione (Italian version) were issued in Venezuela by
RCA, the first of them (LPVS 1540 - year 1975) had the band's name translated in
El Reverso de la Medalla and the title La Biblia (but the record is sung
in Italian), the latter containing a translation of the liner notes.
Contaminazione has been reissued on vinyl in Japan in 1987 (Edison CR-10008) and in Korea in 1992 (Si-Wan SRML-1002), while its English-sung equivalent Contamination exists in US (on Peters label) and German and canadian RCA issues (with same number as the corresponding English sung issue released in Italy).
An old Korean bootleg reissue of Contaminazione also exists, with single cover and cat.no 15 (unknown label reproduced RCA design).
All the Rovescio albums except Giudizio avrai have been issued on CD;
two different issues came out on RCA for Io come io, the first one in
1994 was co-produced by the Pick Up record shop (credited on back cover), a
second one came out in 1999, both were very limited pressings and carry the same
catalogue number and year.
La Bibbia 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 (including, among others, Contamination).
The CD was announced by BMG as being also available with standard jewel case (cat.no. 74321-98161-2) but was probably never issued in this form.
In Japan La Bibbia, Io come io (the latter with a reproduction of the original bronze medallion on the cover) and Contaminazione have been reissued by BMG in 2004/2005, with mini-LP covers. Catalogue numbers are BVCM-37582, BVCM-37583 and BVCM-37503 respectively. Contaminazione had already been reissued on CD by the japanese label Edison (ERC-32010) in 1989 and by the korean label Si-Wan in 1992 (no.SRMC-1002).
La Bibbia - LP + booklet
|Io come io - an original complete copy with bronze medallion|
|Io come io - bronze medallion closeup, front and rear side (dark metal variation)|
|Io come io - original medallion, rear side signature detail|
|Io come io - original medallion (gold variation)|
|Io come io - the medallion, 2008 reissue|
|Io come io - LP cover (all black and with inner picture)|
|Io come io - inner sheet without colour picture and folds|
|Io come io - inner sheet with central colour picture|
|Io come io - 8-track cartridge|
|Contaminazione - LP|
|Contamination (English language - Italian issue) - LP||Contamination (English language - US issue) - LP|
|Giudizio avrai - LP with embossed logo|
|Let's all go back - 7" single cover|
|Live in Tokyo - CD|
Click on the pictures to enlarge
|Rovescio della Medaglia - Sandro Falbo at Kilt, Rome 1971|
|Rovescio della Medaglia - Viareggio Pop Festival (with Gianni Mereu), May/June 1971|
Thanks to Luigi Papi, Corrado Donati of Mondocafe, Nicola Di Staso, Fabio Paolotti, Antonio Calcagno and Giancarlo Del Papa for information and pictures