When musicianly Italian prog princelings PFM – Premiata Forneria Marconi to you, Giacomo – called their 1975 live album Cook, it neatly alluded to the culinary origins of their name, while underscoring their reputation as the hottest live band this side of the ovens and temperament in Ramsay’s godforsaken kitchen.
Originally issued by ELP’s Manticore label, Cook now comes to you with two extra courses, thereby presenting PFM’s full set from their Schaefer Central Park Music Festival performance in New York in August 1974. This results in a certain amount of rather unnecessary repetition over the three discs, but completists who have an OCD thing about strict chronology will be well served, as will refuseniks who oppose the editing process as a matter of principle.
Intimations of déjà vu aside, Cook finds the band in exhilarating form, and is a heady souvenir of the days when rock bands brought Mellotrons on the road with them and would break into, say, the William Tell Overture as a matter of course: PFM do just that to round out a raucous reading of Alta Loma Five ’Till Nine, featuring a bow-snapping violin solo by Mauro Pagani. Best of all is a pell-mell Celebration: sole entrant in the “rock tarantella” category?