terça-feira, 12 de janeiro de 2021

Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band - The Spotlight Kid 1972

On The Spotlight KidCaptain Beefheart took over full production duties. Rather than returning to the artistic aggro of Trout Mask/Decals days, Spotlight takes things lower and looser, with a lot of typical Beefheart fun crawling around in weird, strange ways. Consider the ominous opening cut "I'm Gonna Booglarize You Baby" -- it isn't just the title and Beefheart's breathy growl, but Rockette Morton's purring bass, Zoot Horn Rollo's snarling guitar, Ed Marimba's brisk fade on the cymbals again and again, and more. The overall atmosphere is definitely relaxed and fun, maybe one step up from a jam. Marimba's vibes and other percussion work -- including, of course, the marimba itself -- stand out quite a bit here as a result, perhaps, brought out from behind the drums and the more straightforward work on Clear Spot. Consider "When It Blows Its Stacks," with its unexpected breaks into more playful parts, or "Alice in Blunderland"'s admittedly more aimless approach, but vibing along well nonetheless. Sometimes things do sound maybe just a little too blasé, but Beefheart at his worst still has something more than most groups at their best. Spotlight does have one stone-cold Beefheart classic -- "Grow Fins," an understated number with fine harmonica and a brilliant lyric about getting so tired of his woman that the best option is to take to the sea and fall in love with a mermaid. Another song, though, does have an all-time great title -- "There Ain't No Santa Claus on the Evenin' Stage." Definite fun touch -- the cover photo of Beefheart looking great in a classic Nudie suit, outlined in yellow light to boot. AMG.

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Otis Redding - Love Man 1969

While Otis Redding was already one of the biggest stars in soul music when he died in a tragic plane crash in 1967, as is some times the case his star rose considerably after his passing, and this 1969 release dusted off a set of unreleased tracks Redding had cut in 1967, one of which (the title cut) went on to become a sizable chart hit. Love Man doesn't hold together quite as well as Redding's best proper albums, such as Otis Blue and Complete and Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul, but it also manages to avoid sounding like a collection of out-takes and leftovers; as an album it's significantly stronger than the average R&B release of similar vintage, due to Redding's indefatigable energy and conviction as a vocalist and the ever-indomitable groove of Steve Cropper, Al Jackson, Jr., and the other members of the Stax Records studio crew. If Love Man is flawed, it's not a matter of execution so much as material; while Redding's originals are good, none are quite up to the standards of "Cigarettes and Coffee" or "My Lover's Prayer", and covers like "A Lover's Question" and "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" are not ideally suited to Redding's style. But even the flawed material helps prove just how strong Redding's work was, even under less than ideal circumstances, and Love Man makes it clear he never gave less than %110 percent in the studio. AMG.

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Julius Hemphill - Coon Bid'ness 1975

This historic LP includes a 20-minute performance with altoist Julius Hemphill, trumpeter Baikida Carroll, baritonist Hamiet Bluiett, cellist Abdul Wadud and drummer Philip Wilson ("The Hard Blues") taken from the same session that resulted in Dogon A.D. In addition, there are four briefer tracks that feature Hemphill, Bluiett, Wadud, altoist Arthur Blythe, drummer Barry Altschul and the congas of Daniel Zebulon. The music throughout is quite avant-garde but differs from the high-energy jams of the 1960s due to its emphasis on building improvisations as a logical outgrowth from advanced compositions. It's well worth several listens. AMG.

The Chambers Brothers - Love, Peace and Happiness 1969

The brothers seemed to really believe in the title track's message, and they earned style points by including white drummer Brian Keenan, making them one of the few racially mixed American bands. This album, originally released as a double LP, is half studio and half live. The studio sides reflect the message with titles such as "Have a Little Faith" and "To Love Somebody." But the brothers lose their way in covers of songs by the Bee Gees and Marvin Hamlisch, and the epic title track never coheres like "Time Has Come Today." The live sides are better, with stronger material, including "I Can't Turn You Loose" and "People Get Ready." The boys have some fun with the encore, a barbershop medley. AMG.

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Al Stewart - Past, Present And Future 1973

As good as portions of it were, Orange was essentially a transitional effort, the necessary bridge to Past, Present & Future, the record where Al Stewart truly begins to discover his voice. This is largely through his decision to indulge his fascination with history and construct a concept album that begins with "Old Admirals" and ends with "Nostradamus" and his predictions for the future. A concept like this undoubtedly will strike prog warning bells in the minds of most listeners but, ironically, he has stripped back most of the prog trappings from Orange, settling into a haunting folk bed for these long, winding tales. If anything, this results in an album that is a bit too subdued, but even so, it's apparent that Stewart has finally found his muse, focusing his songwriting and intent to a greater extent than ever before. Now, the key was to find the same sense of purpose in record-making -- he didn't quite get it here, but he would the next time around. AMG.
 

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domingo, 10 de janeiro de 2021

Nadia Cattouse - Earth Mother 1969

Nadia Cattouse (born 2 November 1924 in Belize City, British Honduras) is an actress, singer and songwriter. She is best known for her acting roles in many British television programmes including Play for Today, Crown Court, Dixon of Dock Green and Johnny Jarvis. As a singer in the 1960s she performed at Les Cousins folk and blues club in Greek Street, London. With Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor she made Songs of Grief & Glory (1967). Her album Earth Mother (1970) was partly recorded at the 1969 Edinburgh Festival. She features on the compilation Cult Cargo: Belize City Boil Up (2005).

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Rare Earth - Get Ready 1969

Rare Earth's Motown debut is as well-oiled as a new V-8, and so are its liner notes: "In this age of ego-tripping freak bands, Rare Earth has stood pretty much alone. Each cat stands handsomely tall as if from a fashion rack at Carnaby. They do their gig; do it well -- and split." Smirking aside, the band turns in a smoothly harmonized "In Bed" and a chugging rhythm section for "Train to Nowhere." But the core of this release is a live side-long monster version of "Get Ready." It's as driven by the crowd's rapturous response as by the various solos, and the snake-charmer sax improv by Gil Bridges is easily the highlight of the album. AMG.

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Rod Stewart - An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down 1969

On his debut album (titled An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down in Britain, and The Rod Stewart Album in America, presumably because its original title was "too English" or cryptic for U.S. audiences), Rod Stewart essays a startlingly original blend of folk, blues, and rock & roll. The opening cover of the Stones' "Street Fighting Man" encapsulates his approach. Turning the driving acoustic guitars of the original inside out, the song works a laid-back, acoustic groove, bringing a whole new meaning to it before escalating into a full-on rock & roll attack -- without any distorted guitars, just bashing acoustics and thundering drums. Through this approach, Stewart establishes that rock can sound as rich and timeless as folk, and that folk can be as vigorous as rock. And he does this not only as an interpreter, breathing new life into Ewan MacColl's "Dirty Old Town" and defining Mike d'Abo's "Handbags & Gladrags," but also as a songwriter, writing songs as remarkable as "Blind Prayer," "An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down," and "Cindy's Lament." The music and the songs are so vivid and rich with detail that they reflect a whole way of life, and while Stewart would later flesh out this blueprint, it remains a stunningly original vision. AMG.
 

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Third Eye - Searching 1969

Progressive rock group formed in Durban (South Africa) in 1968. The music is heavy, the lyrics full of political statements, more psychedelic, and a bigger step down into the musical underground. The 14 minutes track "Awakening" is really amazing with tons of great organ parts and extra heavy fuzz-guitar. 

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Blossom Toes - If Only For A Moment 1969

Brian Godding and Jim Cregan were still Blossom Toes' chief songwriters on their second album, but the LP stands in bold contrast to their debut in sound and attitude. Having scuttled the orchestras and developed their chops in the two-year interlude, the record bears the influence of heavy California psychedelia and Captain Beefheart with its intricate, interwoven guitar lines and occasional gruff dissonance. The more serious instrumental approach spills over to the lyrics, which are somber and at times even gloomy, occasionally reflecting the social turbulence of the late '60s, with their uncertain tenor and references to ominous "peace loving men" and "love bombs." Far less uplifting than their debut, the weighty approach is leavened by the close harmonies and sparkling guitar interplay. While not as memorable as the first album, it's above-average late-'60s psychedelia that almost acts as the downer flip side to the stoned, happy-face ambience of their early work. AMG.

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Wadada Leo Smith - Divine Love 1979

Composer, improviser, and musical theorist Wadada Leo Smith had been approached by ECM for years before he finally relented. His recorded documents had previously been issued on his own Kabell label, but the desire to circulate his work eventually resulted in Divine Love being created for Manfred Eicher's label. His working group at the time (Dwight Andrews on alto flute, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone, and percussion; Bobby Naughton on vibraharp, marimba, and bells) is the featured ensemble on the two bookend works, while "Tastalum," a piece for three muted trumpets, places Smith in the company of Lester Bowie and Kenny Wheeler. From 1970 on, Smith's scores have been obsessively well-considered. The music for Divine Love moved along two distinct lines of demarcation that are amply illustrated. The first was rhythm units; the strategy involves balancing each note produced with an equivalent unit of silence. The second, "Ankhrasmation," is a plotted method of "scored improvisation" wherein he conveys ideas to other musicians with room left for personal interpretation and exploration. The album's two long-form bookends -- the title track and "Spirituals: The Language of Love" -- exemplify the former, while the latter theory animates "Tastalun" at the album's center. The flowing, suite-like structure of the set delivers music to the listener with a cyclical, almost ritualistic feel which deepens considerably with subsequent listens. Drifting through the waves of Naughton's mallet percussion on the title track, each cry and whisper from brass, reed, and wind instruments, mbira, vibes, bells, and gongs, arrives from the ether but is fully present, seemingly without origin or, for that matter, a horizon. On the much briefer "Tastalun" (under seven minutes), SmithBowie, and Wheeler act spontaneously but with intention, framing the gauzy lines of the composition while deliberately making them permeable, like controlled breathing. It is among the most harmonically astute and emotionally resonant of Smith's compositions. On the closing "Spirituals: The Language of Love," bassist Charlie Haden joins Smith's trio in re-examining all that has transpired up to this point in order to rediscover the album's spark of creation, then transforms it. Traces of modal blues, age-old pop melodies, Afro-Caribbean folk songs, and more emerge to be folded into Smith's ethereal quilt of space, silence, and sound. This work demanded a special type of concentration and economy from the performers. They ably resisted the myriad temptations of '70s vanguard jazz to insist that the negative spaces -- no notes, just the ghost traces of those that came before -- got equal say in developing conversations. While Naughton's vibes and marimbas added a nearly pervasive sense of unforced lyricism, warmth, and beauty, it is Andrews' alto flute that provides listeners the emotional center on the album. Smith acts as conductor, soloist, and his own sideman here; he opens the field on Divine Love through the authority of his players, each of whom receives the colorful possibilities he presents with unguarded openness and the desire to expand on them. AMG.

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Jerry Corbitt - Corbitt 1969

Jerry Corbitt was an American guitarist, harmonica player, singer, songwriter, and record producer. He is best known as a founding member and guitarist of the rock band the Youngbloods. 

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Blues Image - Blues Image 1969

The Blues Image was a one-hit wonder Latin-tinged pop/rock band, that one hit being "Ride Captain Ride," which made the Top Ten and sold a million copies in 1970. The group was formed in Tampa, FL, in 1966 by Michael Pinera (b. September 29, 1948, Tampa, FL) (guitar, vocals), Manuel Bertematti (b. 1946, Tampa, FL) (percussion), and Joe Lala (b. Tampa, FL) (drums). Malcolm Jones (b. Cardiff, Wales) (bass) joined in 1966, followed in 1968 by Frank "Skip" Konte (b. Canyon City, OK) (keyboards). The band moved to New York City in 1968 and managed a club called the Image. Then they moved to Los Angeles, where they signed to Atlantic Records' Atco division in February 1969, and released their self-titled debut album. This was followed by Open (1970), which featured "Ride Captain Ride." But the Blues Image never followed their hit. Pinera left, replaced by Kent Henry (guitar) and Dennis Correll (vocals). Then the Blues Image broke up. A third album, Red White & Blues Image, was compiled from outtakes. Skip Konte joined Three Dog Night, while some other band members reformed as MannaPinera later was a member of Iron Butterfly, then Ramatam, and, with Bertemattithe New Cactus Band. He also formed a band called Thee Image and worked as a solo artist. Lala became a Los Angeles session player and worked with Joe Walsh and the various manifestations of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, among others. AMG.

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Ray Charles & Quincy Jones - Genius+Soul=Jazz 1960

One of the best early-'60s examples of soul-jazz crossover, this record, like several of his dates from the period, featured big-band arrangements (played by the Count Basie band). This fared better than some of Charles' similar outings, however, if only because it muted some of his straight pop aspirations in favor of some pretty mean and lean, cut-to-the-heart-of-the-matter B-3 Hammond organ licks. Most of the album is instrumental and swings vivaciously, although Charles does take a couple of vocals with "I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town" and "I've Got News for You." Yet one of those instrumentals, a cover of the Clovers' "One Mint Julep," would give Charles one of his most unpredictable (and best) early-'60s hits. AMG.

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Bonzo Dog Band - Urban Spaceman 1969

The band's second release, while perhaps not as delightful as their debut disc Gorilla, is still an enormously worthy listen. Songs here are still wonderfully bizarre and funny, clearly hinting at such over-the-top parody-minded acts as Monty Python's Flying CircusR. Stevie Moore, and They Might Be Giants. There are no covers here as there were on their prior album, but many well-recognized styles are successfully burlesqued on this record. "Trouser Press" is an intentionally wimpy soul takeoff. The brief "Kama Sutra" is a funny parody of the Jimmy Jones hit "Handy Man." "Rockalizer," which savages psychedelic-era Beatles and related bands, is also a plausible precursor in spots for Blood, Sweat & Tears' "Spinning Wheel." Television background music provides some of the inspiration for "Rhinocratic Oaths." "We are Normal" begins as a fragmented nonsense number redolent of free jazz and collage-style tape pieces and morphs into a fast garage-psychedelic rock song. "Hello Mabel" hearkens back to the smooth days of Rudy Vallee. "Can Blue Men Sing the Whites?" spoofs 1960s electric blues numbers. "Postcard" is primarily a lounge mood-music selection. And "My Pink Half of the Drain" betrays a cornucopia of influences, including vaudeville and urbane French movie music. Note that the Bonzos album entitled The Doughnuts in Granny's Greenhouse is for all practical purposes the same release as this one, lacking only the track "I'm the Urban Spaceman." AMG.

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