Lucio Battisti's first album with the Numero Uno label

Lucio Battisti's first album with the Numero Uno label

The sixth album by Lucio Battisti, “Humanly man: the dream”was published on 24 April 1972. We celebrate the anniversary by publishing the review of the album written for us by Ivano Rebustini.

April 1972: Lucio Battisti's career starts again from here, after the appetizer single “La canzone del sole/ Anche per te”; well, appetizer so to speak, especially thinking about the B side, which Francesco De Gregori will have no qualms about performing live again.

Published in November '71, it is Battisti's first album for Numero Uno, the label founded by Mogol with his father Mariano Rapetti, the producer Sandro Colombini and Franco Dal Dello, which Lucio joined once his previous contract expired. For Ricordi he had produced four albums and twelve 45s, reaching first place in the charts six times, but the old record company reacted with the anger of the betrayed lover, and released a useless single in March '72, “Elena no ”, after having already tried to break the eggs in the basket with the laughable “Volume 4” and another 45, “The three truths”, in October '71. When “Humanly man: the dream” was released, Battisti had recently turned 29; created “in the midst of artistic maturity”, it is the milestone of a journey that will end in February 1980 with “Una giorno uggiosa”, the last album together with Mogol. After the interlocutory “And already”, September '82, whose lyrics were written by his wife Grazia Letizia Veronesi under the pseudonym of Velezia, the splendid “Don Giovanni” inaugurated the collaboration with the shady lyricist in April 1986 – sorry – Pasquale Panella: the new couple will give birth to five albums, minimalist covers, electronic sounds, melody increasingly cornered, old fans increasingly disconcerted, until “Hegel”, in the autumn of '94, will deliver the definitive blow . But that's another story, interrupted forever on September 9, 1998.

If some signs of the still distant future can be felt, for example in the final, instrumental “Il Fuoco”, four minutes and ten seconds of distorted guitar and little else, “Humanly man: the dream” – which, after weeks and weeks at the top, it will be the second best-selling 33 rpm of '72 – it is however a Baptist (and Mogolian) record to the core, starting from the first song, “I giardini di marzo”, which is a bit like the new “Pensieri e words” (two verses above all: “When leaving school the boys were selling their books/I stood there looking at them, trying to find the courage to imitate them”): delicate guitar arpeggios, double voices and a certain symphonic tone, supported by the strings arranged by the parsley Gian Piero Reveberi.

Continuing live, “Innocenti evasioni” belongs to the more rhythmic genre; here Lucio has fun with the wah-wah pedal (“ua ua” in the liner notes) and Mogol introduces the theme of fire, with which – as we have seen – the album will close and which also characterizes Caesar Monti's cover, brother of Pietruccio Montalbetti of Dik Dik.

Everyone stands at attention for song number three: “…and I think of you” is one of the highest points of Battistina's (and Mogolian's) production. Written for Bruno Lauzi, who had recorded it in '70 as the back of “Mary oh Mary”, it is no coincidence that the song would have been taken up left and right, from Mina to Johnny Dorelli, from Ornella Vanoni to Raf, from Viola Valentino – not all donuts succeed with the hole – to Tanita Tikaram, the revelation of “Twist in my sobriety”, who in '96 would have sung it in English, faithfully titling it “And I think of you”. Simple piano introduction, almost Umberto Bindi-style, the piece takes off after a couple of minutes with a chorus à la “Tutti Insieme”, the famous program produced by Battisti and Mogol for Rai, but ends in an intimate key, with Lucio humming .

At this point the title track arrives, instrumental only. Or rather: the song opens with an amateurish and limping whistle, nothing like specialists like Daisy Lumini, whistler for Morricone. Then Lucio sings, but with his mouth closed. And so, thirty years before the hopelandish provocation of Sigur Rós, Battisti teaches us that in the end it may not be important “what” you sing, but the emotions (ahem) that are transmitted by singing. With all due respect to Mogol, equally credited as the author, but perhaps those “mmm mmm” are not simple “mmm mmm”.

“Comunque bella” refers to the melodic-intimate vein with guitar, except that at the most beautiful moment Gabriele Lorenzi's Hammond from Formula 3 enters to remind us how Lucio always looks ahead. If you want to nitpick, he can vaguely remember both “Emotions” and “La canzone del sole”; Battisti is curious as he also plays the part of “she”, returning “dressed in rain with a look distorted by a night of love”. Still beautiful.

Someone will have had fun, someone will still have fun listening to “The Lion and the Hen”.

Let's say that you have to appreciate Mogol's very particular “humour”; for the rest we are in the field of the joke in music, and on the other hand “everyone has their part / knowing how to live is an art”. As for “Sognando e risognando”, we will find it a month later on the back of “Storia di un man e di una donna” by Formula 3, but above all it will give the title to the album released in September by the trio, present at the grand – si fa that is to say – complete (in addition to Lorenzi, the drummer Tony Cicco and above all the guitarist Alberto Radius) in this first album by Lucio for Numero Uno. Female voice on “Operazione Trionfo” (who knows why she never duetted with a “real” singer?), the piece is a classic “Battisti whim”. “Fire”, as mentioned, recalls the experimental sphere; Mogol's signature remains (evidently the author of the “oh” which arrives about halfway), the question remains as to why. Even if – we should all have learned this, but sometimes we fall back – Battisti is the man you should never ask.