Tom Hayes 17-March-2001 The Trip at a Glance

The Trip were but one of many Italian bands combining rock, classical, jazz, pop, and folk to produce what is now known as the Italian rock renaissance. While most of their fellow countrymen were in their own sealed world, trying to outdo each other in the creative sweepstakes, The Trip were more impressionable, mostly by influences outside of Italy. Perhaps this is due to having full time English members? All four of their albums are completely different and bear the stamp of another international group or movement. The Trip were also one of the few Italian bands to utilize English vocals, and are therefore considered more collectable by the typical xenophobic psychedelic fan.

The Trip's self-titled debut was pretty much a typical American-styled psychedelic rock effort indistinguishable from countless other bands. All the standards are brought out, and in the end mediocrity wins out. Considered their best album by psych collectors.

Caronte, The Trip's second effort, sees the band highly impressed with Deep Purple and Jimi Hendrix with a slight look inwards at bands like the New Trolls and Le Orme perhaps. The focus here is the heavy organ work combined with some tasteful hard rocking guitar. After a somber beginning, the opening title track can only be called 'groovy' with the bouncy organ melody and accompanying guitar riffs. But it's quite the toe tapper! The follow up, "Two Brothers", straddles between hard rock, progressive rock, and the long jams Deep Purple were doing in their live shows. These jams are complete with organ drones, mindless rhythms, and noisy guitar. Side two starts with the pointless Beatlesque ballad "Little Janie." Best to leave this kind of pop music to the masters, boys. So the most promising title on the disc proceeds - "L'Ultimo Ora e Ode a J. Hendrix." This track starts in a blues rock mode a la Garybaldi, the expected break goes for some circus-style organ and heavy fuzz guitar soloing (uh - like Hendrix?). The next sequence is a faux-classical 1920's movie bit with pipe organ and electric guitar substituting for a violin. Through it all I see Charlie Chaplin losing the girl, falling on his ass, and then winning over the damsel in distress. "Caronte II" follows and we're back in groovesville. Overall, this is probably The Trip's most independent album though still wearing their influences more than they should.

On their third, Atlantide, The Trip looks squarely at Emerson Lake and Palmer for inspiration. Tossing guitarist William Gray, the newly formed keyboard trio lineup could not resist temptation. So we have all the elements of ELP bombast: Dramatic Ben-Hur anthemic sequences offset by jazzy keyboard jamming and even the requisite ten-minute drum solo. Some of this is exhilarating, and yet at the same time, frustrating. I hear a band with high musical talent trapped within the confines of another man's mind.

In 1973, with Morgan Fisher in Rome recording The Sleeper Wakes (aka Brown Out), The Trip must've been in attendance at the recording studio. So out comes their fourth release Time of Change. After three albums on a major label it looks like The Trip had to settle for the major Italian independent Trident Records for its final recording. Even with Morgan's influences, The Trip were finally able to surpass the influence to create a truly beautiful work. The side-long opener "Rhapsodia" is a stunner. A truly romantic whimsical progressive rock piece with brilliant keyboard work (especially piano) and great vocals, and the rhythms are more energetic this go 'round. The four shorter tracks on side two are very similar with the focus on piano, and are sure to maintain that smile attained on the opener. Special mention goes to "De Sensibus," a more experimental rock composition for keyboards and percussion. What a positive album, one to make your day a happier one. Easily their finest hour!

All The Trip's albums have been pressed on CD and LP. For vinyl collectors, this is a blessing. Caronte and Time of Change feature wonderful gatefolds while Atlantide has a triple fold out map of the mythical continent that opens in the middle! Both Caronte and Atlantide were originally reissued by the Italian label Contempo but are now out of print. However the latter has also been issued in Korea by Si-Wan so get it while it's still around! Time of Change just recently received its first LP reissue by the high quality Italian label Akarma. Originals of all are very expensive, especially the first three albums.

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