Acqua Fragile – Mass-Media Stars (1974)

FrontCover1Acqua Fragile was an italian progressive rock band, active from 1971 to 1975. The band was established in the city of Parma. Bernardo Lanzetti, leader and vocalist of the band, is best known for his work with Premiata Forneria Marconi and has played in many other progressive rock acts, including neoprogressive band Mangala Vallis.

The first lineup of the band, named “Gli Immortali” (“The Immortals”) comprised Bernardo Lanzetti (vocals), Gino Campanini (electric guitar), Piero Canavera (drums), Maurizio Mori (keyboards) and Franz Dondi (bass guitar). Of those, Dondi was the most established musician, as he had formerly played in another small band, “I Moschettieri” (“The Musketeers”) which had released a single and opened for Rolling Stones.

At the beginning of the 1970s, Gli Immortali were noticed by members of the PFM (one of most successful italian rock bands of the times), and PFM’s manager Franco Mamone adopted Lanzetti’s group as well, which had by then changed its name to “Acqua Fragile”. With Mamone’s help, Acqua Fragile were hired to open for progressive rock prominent acts such as Soft Machine, Uriah Heep and Gentle Giant.

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In 1973 the band released a first, eponymous album for independent record label Numero Uno. This debut work was clearly inspired by British progressive rock bands Genesis and Gentle Giant, and had English lyrics, something quite unusual for Italian bands at the time, even more so since the album was not released outside of Italy. Even Lanzetti’s voice sounded very much like that of Peter Gabriel.

The next album Mass Media Stars (1974) was released in both Italy and the United States, a move that was intended to leverage from PFM’s recent success overseas. At about the same time the new keyboardist Joe Vescovi (formerly with The Trip) moved in. Shortly thereafter Lanzetti, leader and vocalist of the band, left to join PFM for their next album Chocolate Kings. The band replaced Lanzetti with Roby Facini (former member of Top 4 and Dik Dik), but this did not revive the success of Acqua Fragile. The band eventually split in 1975.

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After the breakup, Acqua Fragile members pursued independent projects. Lanzetti has had a relatively successful solo career and later joined neoprogressive group Mangala Vallis. Dondi and Canavera played in several groups (including a Beatles tribute band). Dondi has recently[when?] founded a new project, called “Acqua Fragile Project”, as a revival act in honor of Acqua Fragile. (wikipedia)

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And here´s their second album:

This is such a catchy and melodic album that is played at a very high level and includes vocals in English from Bernardo Lanzetti. I don’t even detect an accent which might be because at 14 years of age he spent a year living in Texas, then a few years later he would go back for another 6 months. He knows the English language well. I’m surprised he doesn’t have a Southern drawl though (haha). He does kind of warble when he sings which I find amusing. It reminds me of the vocalist on the SPLIT ENZ debut. Mellotron on 4 of the 6 tracks doesn’t hurt.

“Cosmic Mind Affair” sounds good when it kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes. The keyboards sound amazing 2 minutes in and check out the vocals that follow. Guitar after 2 1/2 minutes. A calm before 5 minutes then it kicks back in one more time. I must admit I tired of this song very quickly. “Bar Gazing” has acoustic guitar and vocals reminding me of GENESIS. It kicks in after 2 minutes. Some nice intricate electric guitar around 3 minutes. Harmonies follow. I like it !

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“Mass-Media Stars” has so much going on here early on. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in and i’m really reminded of YES on this one including the guitar. “Opening Act” opens with vocals only then the music and vocal melodies follow. Harmonies and vocals are next and themes are repeated on this one. “Professor” opens with the guitar and drums standing out. Vocals a minute in and it’s uptempo.Tempo changes will continue to be contrasted. “Coffee Song” ends it in a great way after two so-so tunes. Intricate guitar to start then the vocals take over as the guitar is strummed. Mellotron joins in. The bass and drums become prominant. Beautiful stuff. Love how he warbles here. (by Mellotron Storm)


Gino Campanini (guitar, mandolin, vocals)
Piero Canavera (drums, percussion, guitar, vocals)
Franz Dondi (bass)
Bernardo Lanzetti (vocals, guitar)
Maurizio Mori (keyboards)
Claudio Fabi (piano on 04.)


01. Cosmic Mind Affair 7.17
02. Bar Gazing 5.04
03. Mass-Media Stars 6.49
04. Opening Act 5.33
05. Professor 6.47
06. Coffee Song 5.49

Music: Piero Canavera
Lyrics: Bernardo Lanzetti