Reviewed by MJBrady on 22 Sep 2003
PFM was one of Italy's more prominent progressive rock bands during the prolific 70's. One of the few bands from there that had some of their records readily available here in the US. Still they were not a household word during this period, but the bands musical output speaks for itself when one choses to take the road of rediscovery by finding out about the great Italian bands of that golden era of prog.
I was able to find a few PFM vinyl issues in a used record store a few years back. Although I was a prog and fusion fans from this era, I admit that most of the Italian bands, or non - UK European prog and fusion had escaped my attention until a few years back. So I began a small endeavor to discover what all of the glowing reviews were all about. Chocolate Kings was my first such album of note, and to my surprise, I in fact would agree that this music does merit much of the press that progressive media has been giving it.
The music itself has a perfect blend of acoustic and electric ensemble play, with more than gracious amounts of instrumental playfulness. Yet again there are vocals, the singers voice is in a similar tone to Gabriel & Collins. This band owes nothing in the way of inspiration to the more known bands from the 70's, the combination of keys, drums, guitars, violins, percussions is totally original. PFM no doubt had the musical capabilities to perform daring music that transcended many cultural, as well as genre styles, and nothing seems contrived, they have a warm genuineness to their sense of composition, taking melody and execution to it's limits.
Chocolate Kings does not rate by many as the bands best output, this point is considered by most that are well listened of their output, Per Un Amico, L'Isola Di Niente, Storia Di Un Minuto are excellent pieces of classic progressive by PFM, and are great places to start when considering not only PFM, but Italian progressive for that matter. Chocolate Kings has English lyrics, and somewhat of a British progrock sound, that may help some warm up to the music. But many have found that lyrical language barriers or not, these guys played some very cool music. For my ears, Chocolate Kings may not represent the bands very best music, but it is not far off, there are many segments of instrumental play going on that have a very distinguished sound, somewhat of a prog meets fusion affair. And what musicians! If you are one that listens to music with an open mind, and enjoy great musicianship, and don't mind hearing the dated feel of recording standards (Good for it's day), This is a very nice album of straight up, no apologies progressive rock.