Claudio Ambrosini (vocals)
Daniela Ambrosini (vocals)
Eva Ferro (vocals)
Gloria Ferro (vocals)
Nello Marini (vocals)
Rosanna Mavian (vocals)
Enrico Sopelsa (vocals)
Claes Cornelius (guitar)
Sergio De Nardi (keyboards)
Lamberto Lanfré (piano)
Paolo Zannella (flute)
Roberto Giannelli (bass)
Silvio Zanoni (drums, percussion)
Giorgio Bassanese (percussion)
Frank Playwright (percussion)
A 15-piece group from Venezia, that can be hardly
described as a prog band, Venetian Power were in fact a theatre group formed by
composer Claudio Ambrosini to represent his The arid land play in
A musical group was also created by Ambrosini with danish guitarist Claes Cornelius (a popular session musician at the time in Italy) and an LP was released with the soundtrack. Among the musicians the former keyboardist of Le Stelle di Mario Schifano, Nello Marini.
The idea for the album came to producer and engineer Ermanno Velludo with
Claes Cornelius (from The Blues Right Off) that was just coming back to Italy after a year in the USA, and
they decided to help Claudio Ambrosini in his musical adaptation of T.S.Eliot's The
waste land, recording it in Velludo's own small studio.
Having been denied an authorization to go ahead by Eliot's publishers Faber & Faber in London, Ambrosini had to change a part of the script that was renamed The arid land.
With a group of Venetian musicians and singers, the first version of the soundtrack was very primitive but thanks to Ermanno's wizardry it sounded as if recorded in a major studio. The recording was indeed a soundtrack for a first rendition of the musical, that was multi-level, multi-action and a 360 degree theatrical event (later to be replicated at the Contemporary Music Biennale in Venice in a much bigger setting.
CBS records in Milano were interested in releasing the soundtrack and the whole thing was re-recorded at Milano Recording, CBS's own studio. The cover was made with a painting by the surrealistic sci-fi artist Mario de Luigi, who had long specialized in depicting Venetian vistas in a future state of decay, this seemed the most appropriate cover artwork in the essence of the subject matter of the musical.
This is by no means a prog album, and its soundtrack origins are evident from
the large vocal parts (on the human kind evolution, with no less than seven
singers!) and mainly acoustic musical background.
Lyrics are half Italian and half English, and the result can be a bit boring (in the Jesus Christ Superstar style) for a prog fan's ears.
In the wake of the release of the album there were also some interest by the TV, where Venetian Power appeared as a group, but they were never anyway intended to be a regular touring outfit and The Arid Land was not followed by further releases under that name.
Guitarist Cornelius returned back to Denmark in 1974, working since then in the music biz.
|The arid land||CBS (S-64796)||1971||gatefold laminated cover|
|BTF/Vinyl Magic (VMLP159)||2014||same as above|
A rare and expensive album, The arid land had a gatefold laminated cover and was never reissued on CD.
The only vinyl reissue ever made is by, releaased in 2014 with the same gatefold cover as the original.
No counterfeits exist or foreign issues.
The picture by Ludovico De Luigi used for the cover, Parnassus, Apollo e Papileo Macaon, is exposed in the Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice.
The arid land - gatefold cover
|The arid land - label|
Click on pictures to enlarge
A big Grazie! to Claes Cornelius for his friendly help on the
Venetian Power history and the picture above.
Also thanks to Valerio D'Angelo for additional information and pictures.