… And then there was PFM’s live album “Cook.”

The review for this album at allmusic.com reads as follows:  “They didn’t really (“cook”), at least not at this live set, recorded at a concert in New York’s Central Park. The material lacks the power and beauty of their best studio work, and performance lacks the power and energy needed to sustain a live album, and the recording itself seems distant. Completists may want it, however, as the only live document left behind by this most interesting progressive band.”

It leaves me wondering — what recording were they listening to?

PFM is from Italy.  The initials stand for Premiata Forneria Marconi, the bakery that originally sponsored them.  “Cook” was just one of those albums where the cover art alone grabbed my attention, but the music contained in the vinyl album kept it … for life.

By the time I started listening to it, the vinyl copy on hand was already scratched and worn, to the point that it was just given to me by the time my first year of college had ended.

Premiata Fornería Marconi performing live. Not...
Image via Wikipedia

I proceeded to take it home and finish the job of totally wearing it out with repeated playing.  Unfortunately, it’s an album that’s darn near impossible to find these days without paying a very high price for an import copy.  Fortunately, I managed to find an import copy in a trade years ago at “little or no cost to me.”

Audiophiles do these kinds of things.

PFM’s “Cook” can be many things all in one recording.  To me, it starts out with some “fire” with the tune “Four Holes In The Ground.”

There is classic beauty blending with jazziness in “Dove … Quando.”

There is one of the most breathtaking guitar solos you’d ever want to hear from Franco Mussida in the song “Just Look Away.”

There is fire yet again in the song “Celebration” that seems to be all about doing just that (you’ll have to forgive the lead-in garbage from the video below, the music after the garbage is pure magic).

It ends all too soon with the jaw-dropping complexity and simple groove, all wrapped into one, of “Mr. 9 ’till 5” and “Altaloma Five Till Nine.”

When I listen to these songs again, I realize that it’s no wonder that the vinyl copy we had all those years ago got worn out so badly.


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