One of the greatest bands in the Italian prog field, Osanna came from Naples, formed in 1971 by the members of I Volti di Pietra and Città Frontale (another band with the same name came from Osanna ashes and recorded El Tor) whose keyboard player Gianni Leone has gone to Balletto di Bronzo. Reeds player Elio D'Anna came from Showmen, the others didn't have significant experiences.
During their four years lifespan Osanna failed to create, as many critics have pointed, the perfect album, but left us four very good LP's, among which Palepoli deserves a particular mention.
L'uomo, their first album, released in a memorable triple gatefold cover, already contains their distinctive elements, the nice voice of Lino Vairetti (with interesting lyrics indeed), the aggressive flute of Elio D'Anna, fluid guitar playing by Danilo Rustici and the solid rhythm section of Lello Brandi and Massimo Guarino. Taken from this album the tracks L'uomo and In un vecchio cieco were also released as a single, both starting with an acoustic guitar introduction followed by guitar and flute riffs.
The band also had an intense live activity, with band members all dressed in long vests and with their faces painted. The collaboration with theatrical groups produced interesting shows, unique for the Italian audience of the time. They also played with Genesis in their early Italian tour, and who knows if the Osanna stage show has somehow inspired Peter Gabriel...
In June 1971 the band won the first prize at "Festival d’Avanguardia e Nuove Tendenze" in Viareggio, along with Premiata Forneria Marconi and Mia Martini.
Second album, Preludio, tema, variazioni, canzona, also known as Milano calibro 9 from the name of the film for which it was chosen as soundtrack, is a step backward, with few band compositions mixed with composer Bacalov's orchestral themes. Some of the Osanna tracks are beautiful, though, like the first three Variazione.
Third album, and their best one, Palepoli, from 1973 sees the band at their peak. The album only contains three long tracks and is housed in a nice gatefold whose inner picture is based on the band live stage background. The starting track, Oro caldo, mixes the band typical style with folk chants from their native city Naples. while Stanza città and the side long Animale senza respiro all give space to the good playing of the band members. In many writers' reviews one of the best Italian prog albums.
Unfortunately things didn't go well between the group's members and the band came to a split during the Landscape of Life recording sessions, producing a sparse album. Housed in a great cover designed by drummer Massimo Guarino, with an inner gatefold painting by singer Lino Vairetti (some of the band members came from the Naples Academy of Arts and also had an artistic career), the album contains some nice tracks, but suffers from the lack of a real band playing it.
The band was trying to play abroad and the album was also intended for the foreign markets, so five of the seven tracks are in English, but due to the split it had to be finished with the help of Corrado Rustici (Danilo's younger brother from Cervello) and drummer Enzo Vallicelli (then with Uno).
Danilo Rustici and Elio D'Anna, with drummer Enzo Vallicelli, went to England to form Uno, while remaining members Lino Vairetti and Massimo Guarino gave a new life to their old band Città Frontale, this time with new musicians and recorded an album in 1975 called El Tor.
Things were not so good for both the newly formed bands and Osanna reunited in 1977 with new members Enzo Petrone (that had played with Lino Vairetti in I Volti di Pietra and later with Moby Dick) and Fabrizio D'Angelo, but their album Suddance is very far from their best days. After the last split Danilo Rustici formed Luna.
A further reunion of the bands with some of the original members brought to some concerts in the 90's, and a new CD has been made in 2002 containing old tracks in a re-recorded form.
The last release is an interesting CD+DVD set distributed by BTF taken from the December 2001 reunion concert (not 2003 as stated on the cover), and also including four new studio recordings. The latest Osanna incarnation includes original members guitarist Danilo Rustici and singer Lino Vairetti along with bass player Enzo Petrone from the 1977 line-up and newcomers Gennaro Barba (drums), Gigi Borgogno (guitar), Luca Urciuolo (keyboards) and Vito Ranucci (sax).
The revived Osanna sound is much funkier than ever before, and even the old songs suffer from the new arrangements, though sometime the energy of the old band emerges again.
In 2008 the group has released a CD single featuring two old tracks rearranged with a new sound, L'uomo and 'A zingara. For some concerts they were helped by the Van Der Graaf Generator saxophonist, David Jackson. With this line-up, after many concerts, the new album Prog family was released in early 2009, containing reworkings of old Osanna tracks, along with their version of Van Der Graaf Generator's Theme one.
As said above, some of the band members also had an artistic career in different fields, Lino Vairetti being an appreciated painter. He also designed the marvellous cover for the Tempo di Percussione 1975 album.