terça-feira, 4 de junho de 2019

Buffalo Springfield - Buffalo Springfield 1966

The band themselves were displeased with this record, feeling that the production did not capture their on-stage energy and excitement. Yet to most ears, this debut sounds pretty great, featuring some of their most melodic and accomplished songwriting and harmonies, delivered with a hard-rocking punch. "For What It's Worth" was the hit single, but there are several other equally stunning treasures. Stephen Stills' "Go and Say Goodbye" was a pioneering country-rock fusion; his "Sit Down I Think I Love You" was the band at their poppiest and most early Beatlesque; and his "Everybody's Wrong" and "Pay the Price" were tough rockers. Although Neil Young has only two lead vocals on the record (Richie Furay sang three other Young compositions), he's already a songwriter of great talent and enigmatic lyricism, particularly on "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing," "Out of My Mind," and "Flying on the Ground Is Wrong." The entire album bursts with thrilling guitar and vocal interplay, with a bright exuberance that would tone down considerably by their second record. [Some reissues present both mono and stereo mixes of the album, and include "Baby Don't Scold Me" (which was on the first pressing of the record, but was soon replaced by "For What It's Worth").] AMG.

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Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited 1965

Taking the first, electric side of Bringing It All Back Home to its logical conclusion, Bob Dylan hired a full rock & roll band, featuring guitarist Michael Bloomfield, for Highway 61 Revisited. Opening with the epic "Like a Rolling Stone," Highway 61 Revisited careens through nine songs that range from reflective folk-rock ("Desolation Row") and blues ("It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry") to flat-out garage rock ("Tombstone Blues," "From a Buick 6," "Highway 61 Revisited"). Dylan had not only changed his sound, but his persona, trading the folk troubadour for a streetwise, cynical hipster. Throughout the album, he embraces druggy, surreal imagery, which can either have a sense of menace or beauty, and the music reflects that, jumping between soothing melodies to hard, bluesy rock. And that is the most revolutionary thing about Highway 61 Revisited -- it proved that rock & roll needn't be collegiate and tame in order to be literate, poetic, and complex. AMG.


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Moby Grape - 20 Granite Creek 1971

The story of Moby Grape has been told and re-told countless times, with its tales of excess, mismanagement, and record company screwups. By the end of the '60s the Grape was all but finished -- or so everyone thought. After an aborted attempt at a Peter Lewis solo album, producer David Rubinson was able to help engineer this re-formation of all five original members, along with extra member Gordon Stevens on various stringed instruments. Written and recorded at the Grape's communal house in the Santa Cruz mountains, the results of the experiment rendered 20 Granite Creek, an album that is rightfully the successor to the first album (1967's Moby Grape). One of the most shining examples is Peter Lewis' funky and fast "Goin' Down to Texas," which clearly illustrates the power Moby Grape had in this, one of the original three-guitar lineups. Skip Spence, who was one of the more interesting writers in the band, contributes one song, the delicate and gorgeous oriental-sounding "Chinese Song." The whole record is quite similar in feel to the Doors' L.A. Woman, another truly great, homemade comeback album. Of course, it didn't sell anything. A true crime in a never-ending saga. AMG.

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Jackson Browne - For Everyman 1973

Jackson Browne faced the nearly insurmountable task of following a masterpiece in making his second album. Having cherry-picked years of songwriting the first time around, he turned to some of his secondary older material, which was still better than most people's best and, ironically, more accessible -- notably such songs as "These Days," which had been covered six times already, dating back to Nico's Chelsea Girl album in 1967, and "Take It Easy," a co-composition with the Eagles' Glenn Frey that had been a Top 40 hit for the group in 1972. Browne unsuccessfully looked for another hit single with the up-tempo "Red Neck Friend," reminisced about meeting his wife and starting a family in the coy "Ready or Not," and, at the end, finally came up with a new song to rank with those on the first album in the philosophical title track, which reportedly was his more positive reply to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Wooden Ships." (David Crosby sang harmony.) Musically, the album was still restrained, but not as austere as Jackson Browne, as the singer had hooked up with multi-instrumentalist David Lindley, who would introduce interesting textures to his music on a variety of stringed instruments for the next several years. All of which is to say that For Everyman was a less consistent collection than Browne's debut album. But Browne's songwriting ability remained impressive. AMG.

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David Crosby & Graham Nash - Live 1977

At the time of its original release in November of 1977, Live was a disappointment. As a single LP in the wake of Wind on the Water and Whistling Down the Wire, it seemed a backhanded insult to this duo, who had a lengthy and illustrious history (on the other hand, ABC Records, who released it, was virtually out of business at the time). The music also seemed somewhat perfunctory, and the content offered almost no recent material, just an odd choice of older songs.  The 2000-vintage CD fixed some of those problems, adding two key songs and improving Live in just about every way possible. Remastered from the original tapes, the music now has a lot of presence, the vocals retaining their warmth while the electric playing of the duo's backing group, the Mighty Jitters -- featuring Danny Kortchmar on lead, David Lindley on slide guitar and violin, and a rhythm section of Tim Drummond and Russ Kunkel -- is tight and muscular, and a lot closer to the listener. The improved sound makes it easier to appreciate the performances: "I Used to Be a King" is transformed into a soaring electric number ornamented by Craig Doerge's electronic keyboard playing on the break and a rousing, raw vocal performance by Graham Nash; similarly, Crosby's "Lee Shore" is given a fresh, punchier interpretation, miles from the ethereal studio rendition -- and perhaps not preferable to that version, but definitely different from it. The CD also includes a haunting, previously unissued Crosby song, "King of the Mountain," a beautiful, angry, ironic poetic essay into the consequences of fame and isolation, with a towering, startlingly atonal performance by co-author Doerge at the piano, and one of Crosby's best vocal performances ever. "Fieldworker" has a bracing urgency and immediacy that the studio version could never match. "Simple Man" sounds stunningly intimate and personal here; Lindley's violin accompaniment to Nash's solo acoustic guitar lends it a special level of lyricism and poignancy; and Crosby's "Foolish Man" starts out smooth and cool, harmonized very subtly, and suddenly sprouts a jagged, soulful edge to his singing and a surprisingly elegant lead performance by Kortchmar, until the last verse, where singer and guitarist cut loose with a sound barrage that's electrifying. "Bittersweet," the other track new to the CD, is worth the price of the CD, a lean arrangement for piano and acoustic guitar behind a soaring vocal performance by Crosby and Nash. Only the nine-minute-plus version of "Déjà Vu" doesn't quite come off. The annotation is highly informative, explaining the choice of certain tracks and the neglect of others, and putting the release in a historical context.AMG.

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Neil Young - On The Beach 1974

Following the 1973 Time Fades Away tour, Neil Young wrote and recorded an Irish wake of a record called Tonight's the Night and went on the road drunkenly playing its songs to uncomprehending listeners and hostile reviewers. Reprise rejected the record, and Young went right back and made On the Beach, which shares some of the ragged style of its two predecessors. But where Time was embattled and Tonight mournful, On the Beach was savage and, ultimately, triumphant. "I'm a vampire, babe," Young sang, and he proceeded to take bites out of various subjects: threatening the lives of the stars who lived in L.A.'s Laurel Canyon ("Revolution Blues"); answering back to Lynyrd Skynyrd, whose "Sweet Home Alabama" had taken him to task for his criticisms of the South in "Southern Man" and "Alabama" ("Walk On"); and rejecting the critics ("Ambulance Blues"). But the barbs were mixed with humor and even affection, as Young seemed to be emerging from the grief and self-abuse that had plagued him for two years. But the album was so spare and under-produced, its lyrics so harrowing, that it was easy to miss Young's conclusion: he was saying goodbye to despair, not being overwhelmed by it. AMG.

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The Beatles - Revolver 1966

All the rules fell by the wayside with Revolver, as the Beatles began exploring new sonic territory, lyrical subjects, and styles of composition. It wasn't just Lennon and McCartney, either -- Harrison staked out his own dark territory with the tightly wound, cynical rocker "Taxman"; the jaunty yet dissonant "I Want to Tell You"; and "Love You To," George's first and best foray into Indian music. Such explorations were bold, yet they were eclipsed by Lennon's trippy kaleidoscopes of sound. His most straightforward number was "Doctor Robert," an ode to his dealer, and things just got stranger from there as he buried "And Your Bird Can Sing" in a maze of multi-tracked guitars, gave Ringo a charmingly hallucinogenic slice of childhood whimsy in "Yellow Submarine," and then capped it off with a triptych of bad trips: the spiraling "She Said She Said"; the crawling, druggy "I'm Only Sleeping"; and "Tomorrow Never Knows," a pure nightmare where John sang portions of the Tibetan Book of the Dead into a suspended microphone over Ringo's thundering, menacing drumbeats and layers of overdubbed, phased guitars and tape loops. McCartney's experiments were formal, as he tried on every pop style from chamber pop to soul, and when placed alongside Lennon's and Harrison's outright experimentations, McCartney's songcraft becomes all the more impressive. The biggest miracle of Revolver may be that the Beatles covered so much new stylistic ground and executed it perfectly on one record, or it may be that all of it holds together perfectly. Either way, its daring sonic adventures and consistently stunning songcraft set the standard for what pop/rock could achieve. Even after Sgt. Pepper, Revolver stands as the ultimate modern pop album and it's still as emulated as it was upon its original release.  AMG.

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Release Music Orchestra - Life 1974

Out of the ashes of Tomorrow's Gift, came Release Music Orchestra (RMO for short), who consisted of TG's remaining nucleus plus wind instrument player Jacobsen. Their first album, Life (74) included live recordings of their first concert, and sounded like a jazzier TG due to Rurup's electric piano and the sax. Their jazz-rock resembles much what was then done in Germany, such as Passport, Thirsty Moon, Kraan, Aera, etc.

RMO was never a stable group and many line-up changes occurred with keyboardist Rurup remaining the sole original member throughout their 5 album career, even recording one album (their third Get The Ball) without wind instruments, but reinstating them by the next album, Beyond the Limit. Their sound grew, as was often the case in those days, more like US jazz-fusion of the late 70's. Progarchives.

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Stephen Stills' Manassas - Down the Road 1973


Led by Stephen Stills, with Chris Hillman (the Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers), Paul Harris (session musician for B.B. King, Eric Anderson, and many others), Joe Lala (Blues Image), Al Perkins (Flying Burrito Brothers), Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuels (Crosby, Stills, & Nash), and Dallas Taylor (Crosby, Stills, & Nash), Manassas was one of the most talented units in music at the time. Equally at home with Latin jams, rock, blues, country, folk, and bluegrass, they were also one of the most versatile outfits in rock history.
Formed in 1971 from the sessions for what was going to be Stills' third solo album, the chemistry of the musicians he gathered was so intense that before long they were a full-fledged band. With an album completed (at hotspot Criteria Studios in Miami), the group was still without a name. Yet despite this they embarked on a small tour. At a train station in Manassas, VA, a picture of the group standing under a Manassas sign was taken, giving birth to their name and, conveniently, the album cover.
Equally at home on-stage as in the studio, the band's shows often stretched to three hours, usually in the format of an opening rock set, a solo Stills acoustic set, Hillman and Perkins playing bluegrass, another rock and country set by the band, and a closing acoustic set. Manassas' tours took them all over the world and, while in Paris in March 1972, Stills met French singer/songwriter Veronique Sanson. In the next year they would be married, with a son, Chris, born not long after (later to be a recording artist in his own right). Stills and Lala (along with later Manassas member Kenny Passarelli) would also play on her 1974 release Le Maudit.
In addition to their hectic touring schedule, studio time was logged, producing another album of songs. Unfortunately, though, the results were not as inspired as their self-titled debut. Drinking and drugs were negatively affecting the quality of their music, and much of the material recorded was unused (including a track with Stevie Wonder on lead vocals). Recording where the first album had been done at Criteria Studios, producer/engineers Ron Albert and Howard Albert eventually quit the project in frustration with the band; it was completed in Colorado and Los Angeles. In the end, Down the Road wasn't a bad album, it just didn't quite stack up to its predecessor.
Another contributing factor to the demise of the group was the ever-present shadow of Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. Atlantic Records didn't promote the Manassas albums sufficiently, viewing the band as more of a side project to Stills' involvement in CSN&Y. In 1973, in fact, CSN&Y reunited in Hawaii to put together a new album, which eventually fizzled. Stills returned to Colorado with the intent to pick up where he left off with Manassas, yet it was a little too late to put the pieces back together. Taylor was now addicted to heroin and Samuels had other commitments, making him unavailable. Not dissuaded, Stills filled the vacant slot with Kenny Passarelli, bass player with Joe Walsh's Barnstorm, on the short tour the two groups did together. The series of shows was the swan song for Manassas, as each member left to pursue different projects at tour's end. Hillman became part of the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, while Stills was soon on the road as a solo artist with a touring band featuring Donnie Dacus of Veronique Sanson's band, veteran Russ Kunkel, and keyboardist Jerry Aiello, and would record a solo album soon after.
Following the release of Down the Road, Manassas broke up. Perhaps they should have done so before recording this disc, for there is little here to recommend it. Two cuts, Chris Hillman's "Lies" and Stephen Stills' "Do You Remember the Americans," are of some worth, but the rest come off sounding like lame attempts at Latin-inflected blues jams with embarrassing lyrics to boot. For completists only. AMG.

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The Rolling Stones - December's Children (And Everybody's) 1966

The last Stones album in which cover material accounted for 50 percent of the content was thrown together from a variety of singles, British LP tracks, outtakes, and a cut from an early 1964 U.K. EP. Haphazard assembly aside, much of it's great, including the huge hit "Get Off of My Cloud" and the controversial, string-laden acoustic ballad "As Tears Go By" (a Top Ten item in America). Raiding the R&B closet for the last time, they also offered a breathless run-through of Larry Williams' "She Said Yeah," a sultry Chuck Berry cover ("Talkin' About You"), and exciting live versions of "Route 66" and Hank Snow's "I'm Moving On." More importantly, Jagger-Richards' songwriting partnership had now developed to the extent that several non-A-side tracks were reasonably strong in their own right, such as "I'm Free" and "The Singer Not the Song." And the version of "You Better Move On" (which had been featured on a British EP at the beginning of 1964) was one of their best and most tender soul covers.AMG.

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Oliver - Standing Stone 1974

An ultra-rare and expensive privately pressed album by a certain Oliver Chaplin which is an amalgam of folk, blues, progressivism and psychedelia. All the material was written by Oliver. Its highlights include Freezing Cold Like An Iceburg, which sounds very like Captain Beefheart; In Vain, which has been likened to Pink Floyd's More Soundtrack; Flowers On A Hill, which has a sort of ragtime feel; Cat And The Rat, a length piece of guitar-driven progressivism and the folky Primrose and Orbit Your Factory. His brother Chris Chaplin had been employed as a BBC Sound Engineer and worked on the BBC's Hendrix sessions, which explains why the sound quality on the 50 minute album is so good. 250 copies of the album were issued originally in a plain blue cover with black letters. When the covers came back from the printers the shade of blue was so deep the liner notes were almost illegible and an olive green sleeve was substituted. Most copies were given to family and friends but copies were passed to Radio One deejays Brian Matthew and Alan Black. The latter was keen to feature it on his show but was reluctant to do so when it wasn't available in the shops. After refusing to sign a contract for the album to be distributed through Virgin Records because he considered the record industry corrupt Chaplin returned to his native Wales. AMG.

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Nucleus - Hemispheres 1970

Nucleus began its long jazz-rock journey in 1969, when it was originally formed by trumpeter Ian Carr. They attracted a following after a successful performance at the Montreux International Festival in 1970, which led to the critical success of albums Elastic Rock and We'll Talk About It Later. The other members consisted of saxophonist Karl Jenkins, drummer John Marshall, and guitarist Chris Spedding. Spedding split after the first two albums, but the rest of the lineup lasted until 1972, when Jenkins and Marshall both left to join Soft Machine. Belladonna was the first album with only Carr, and although he enlisted the help of guitarist Allan Holdsworth, the band eventually became a solo venture for his music. They finally broke up in the mid-'80s after several Carr-only albums.AMG.

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Chico Buarque - Chico Canta 1973

 Of the early stars of MPB (música popular brasileira), Chico Buarque was one of the first to become a certifiable pop star. With his warm, nasally croon, elegant phrasing, and considerable skill at lyric writing, Buarque (who is handsome to boot) became extremely popular with women, who loved his understated sensuality. However, Buarque was uncomfortable playing the role of pop star, preferring to be seen as a serious artist. Throughout his career, he's managed to have the best of both worlds, but not without some significant bumps along the way. Still, he remains a towering figure in Brazilian pop music, one of the country's greatest singer/songwriters and interpreters of the samba.
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1944, Buarque spent his early youth in Sao Paulo and Italy. Upon returning to Brazil, Buarque artistic development was greatly enhanced by the friends of his father (the historian Sergio Buarque de Holanda) who were prominent in the early bossa nova movement. Although he immersed himself in music, specifically the new bossa nova sounds of João Gilberto, Buarque decided that a college education was more practical and he decided to study architecture at the University of Sao Paulo. That turned out to be a short-lived career choice and it wasn't long before Buarque was cutting classes and hanging out with Sao Paulo's bossa nova cognoscenti.
Buarque was 21 when his career began to take off. He recorded the single "Pedro Pedreiro," composed music for a theatrical production, and, perhaps most importantly, had three of his compositions recorded by the undisputed queen of bossa nova, Nara Leao. Not an openly polemical performer, Buarque's material did not lack social consciousness, but it did seem stylistically conservative when compared to the late-'60s sounds of the tropicalistas such as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and Os Mutantes. Despite the charges of aesthetic conservatism leveled against him (by Gil and Veloso) Buarque took a huge career chance in 1968 writing and scoring a bleak, existential play entitled Roda Viva that was critical of obsessive fan culture. The play's pop star protagonist is torn limb from limb, his flesh consumed by his fans. In a move that sounds lifted from Julian Beck's radical Living Theater, the performers would offer the audience pieces of the dead pop star's flesh to eat (it was chicken meat). Needless to say, with a military dictatorship in power, this was considered extremely controversial stuff and soldiers were sent out to disrupt performances of Roda Viva, which included destroying sets and assaulting performers, Buarque himself was jailed briefly.
After the disaster of Roda Viva, Buarque returned to Italy for a year only to return to Brazil to find most of the stars of tropicalia in exile or severely circumscribed by government censorship. In 1971, he recorded the album Construction which was a decided break from his earlier bossa nova records. This was the start of the second half of Buarque's career, which saw him writing more intense songs with complicated lyrical layers revealing social and political protest. Forced to submit his material to government censors, nearly two-thirds of his work was rejected. And from 1974-1975, the censors approved almost nothing he wrote. On a more positive note, the rift between Buarque, Veloso, and Gil was settled upon their return to Brazil in 1972, and Buarque went on to record with both of them in the mid-'70s. In the '80s, Buarque was given more compositional leeway and recorded some stunning music, along with branching out into other artistic endeavors that included writing plays and novels, as well as scoring films, all of this work consistent with his desire to re-examine Brazil's cultural past, its relationship with the present, and its limitless possibilities for the future. Through the rest of the decade indeed through the end of the century, Buarque continued to record and tour at the amazing pace of roughly a release a year. Some of these included Dança da Meia-Lua in 1988, Para Todos in 1993, 1995's Uma Palavra, and 1997's Terra. Buarque kicked off the 21st century with Cambaio in 2001, followed by a long series of live recordings and concert DVDs. He returned to the studio and released the acclaimed Carioca in 2006. He toured the album, and issued a concert version of it in 2007, then went into retreat and authored his first novel, Leite Derramado. In 2010, Buarque completed a new studio album simply titled Chico; it was released in Brazil in the summer of 2011, and in the fall was released worldwide via DRG.
For nearly 40 years, Chico Buarque has been an artist struggling with pop music and pop stardom. Always challenging, always conscious of cultural history, he remains, deservedly, a towering figure in Brazilian music.AMG.

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quinta-feira, 16 de maio de 2019

Edgar Winter's Whithe Trash - Recycled 1977

The much-anticipated reunion of Edgar Winter's White Trash brings the powerhouse vocalist Jerry LaCroix back to the forefront, allowing Edgar Winter to put more of his energy into the keyboards, saxophones and percussion. While Recycled is by no means any competition for their 1971 debut album or their subsequent live release, Roadwork, it still houses a few punches that will catch you with your guard down if you aren't careful. Extreme musicianship dominates, but a few classic covers might have helped endear this release to its listeners. After all, that was the key to the original success. AMG.

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Pete Sinfield - Still 1973

As expected, Pete Sinfield's only solo attempt has the fingerprints of King Crimson covering every track, and the end result is an obvious but rather gratifying piece of early progressive rock. With fellow Crimsonites Greg LakeMel Collins, and John Wetton helping him out, Sinfield manages to capture a sturdy-enough progressive air across the length of the album, complemented by periodic injections of classical, rock, and jazz movements. While Sinfield's vocal contributions are a little uninviting, he makes up for it with the assistance of Greg Lake for the title track, which is a spoken-word poem set to Lake's singing. "The Song of the Sea Goat" is another well-crafted piece that applies classical tendencies borrowed from Vivaldi, and Collins comes alive with some exquisite flute playing throughout "The Piper," one of the album's strongest cuts. To Sinfield's credit, his surreal lyrics are mindful and well written, with a strong regard for prog rock's fantastical milieu, and because of this the album maintains its strength when the music itself begins to falter in some areas, such as on "Will It Be You" and "Envelopes of Yesterday." Tracks like "Wholefood Boogie" and "Under the Sky" are delightful emissions of keyboard-built progressive music that are wisely infused with mild doses of blues and synth-guided rock. Although the pieces that make up Still aren't as overwhelming as most of King Crimson's repertoire at the time, they do help illustrate Sinfield's talents as an individual, since his membership within his former band was seemingly overshadowed by the other personnel. Still isn't a crucial segment of progressive rock's uprising of the early '70s, but it does make for an entertaining sidebar for anyone interested in King Crimson's stock. The album was later reissued as Stillusion, with a different track sequence and revised liner notes. AMG.

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