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PFM: Paper Charms

The Italian band’s complete BBC recordings 1974-1976 – molto buono!

PFM have often been cited as the best Italian prog band of the 1970s, but even that doesn’t serve to give them enough credit.

Premiata Forneria Marconi (to give them their full name) were among the true inspirations of the era, and you can hear it on this triple-disc set, subtitled The Complete BBC Recordings 1974-1976. The Beeb performances compiled here show the band were more than capable of transcending their Crimson, Tull and Yes influences, and that they could stand apart from the crowd. The first CD sees PFM in concert for Radio One during 1975, showcasing songs like Four Holes In The Ground and Alta Loma 5 ’Till 9 (the latter including a snippet from the William Tell Overture). Here you can tell just what a fascinating band they are, something equally obvious a year later with another Radio One live recording that takes up the second CD. The DVD comprises footage from The Old Grey Whistle Test, getting its first official release here, and this is what really makes the box set. Each of these rare appearances is spellbinding, as PFM warm to the task and overcome the trademark austerity of the Whistle Test’s spartan studio. A fine box set, and a fine tribute to a great band.