segunda-feira, 31 de dezembro de 2018

Happy New Year 2019

One more year is gone, and more to come yes!!! Thanks to B., Alfred Venisom, Mauro Filipe, Vasily, Edgar Puddings, Patrick, George, Gkapageridis, Bill (24hrDejaVu), Bob (bamabob), Lawrence David, Roldo, Zapata, Caixo and so many more, and to all this blog followers,....thanks for sharing life around!!! Happy New Year 2019!


Charles Mingus - Cumbia & Jazz Fusion 1978

As Charles Mingus' career (and life) moved into its final phase, his recordings exclusively featured large (and often potentially unruly) ensembles. This CD, which contains two rather long performances originally recorded as soundtracks for films, is better than most of what followed. "c" has a large percussion section and quite a few woodwinds along with trumpeter Jack Walrath, tenor saxophonist Ricky Ford, and trombonist Jimmy Knepper while "Music for 'Todo Modo'" adds five horns to Mingus' quintet. The music is episodic but generally holds its own away from the film. AMG.

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Black Sabbath - Paranoid 1970

Paranoid was not only Black Sabbath's most popular record (it was a number one smash in the U.K., and "Paranoid" and "Iron Man" both scraped the U.S. charts despite virtually nonexistent radio play), it also stands as one of the greatest and most influential heavy metal albums of all time. Paranoid refined Black Sabbath's signature sound -- crushingly loud, minor-key dirges loosely based on heavy blues-rock -- and applied it to a newly consistent set of songs with utterly memorable riffs, most of which now rank as all-time metal classics. Where the extended, multi-sectioned songs on the debut sometimes felt like aimless jams, their counterparts on Paranoid have been given focus and direction, lending an epic drama to now-standards like "War Pigs" and "Iron Man" (which sports one of the most immediately identifiable riffs in metal history). The subject matter is unrelentingly, obsessively dark, covering both supernatural/sci-fi horrors and the real-life traumas of death, war, nuclear annihilation, mental illness, drug hallucinations, and narcotic abuse. Yet Sabbath makes it totally convincing, thanks to the crawling, muddled bleakness and bad-trip depression evoked so frighteningly well by their music. Even the qualities that made critics deplore the album (and the group) for years increase the overall effect -- the technical simplicity of Ozzy Osbourne's vocals and Tony Iommi's lead guitar vocabulary; the spots when the lyrics sink into melodrama or awkwardness; the lack of subtlety and the infrequent dynamic contrast. Everything adds up to more than the sum of its parts, as though the anxieties behind the music simply demanded that the band achieve catharsis by steamrolling everything in its path, including its own limitations. Monolithic and primally powerful, Paranoid defined the sound and style of heavy metal more than any other record in rock history. AMG.

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Gil Scott-Heron - Free Will 1972

Gil Scott-Heron's third album is split down the middle, the first side being a purely musical experience with a full band (including flutist Hubert Laws and drummer Pretty Purdie), the second functioning more as a live rap session with collaborator Brian Jackson on flute and a few friends on percussion. For side one, although he's overly tentative on the ballad "The Middle of Your Day," Scott-Heron excels on the title track and the third song, "The Get Out of the Ghetto Blues," one of his best, best-known performances. The second side is more of an impromptu performance, with Scott-Heron often explaining his tracks by way of introduction ("No Knock" referred to a new police policy whereby knocking was no longer required before entering a house, "And Then He Wrote Meditations" being Scott-Heron's tribute to John Coltrane). His first exploration of pure music-making, Free Will functions as one of Scott-Heron's most visceral performance, displaying a maturing artist who still draws on the raw feeling of his youth. The Bluebird reissue from 2001 includes eight alternate takes, best being an alternate of the title track. AMG.

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Curved Air - Air Conditioning 1970

In its initial vinyl form, Curved Air's debut album is one of the prog rock movement's most prized artifacts -- not for the music (for that, it goes without saying, is flawless), but for the picture-disc format which had never previously graced a 12" rock record. A glimmering of that sought-after magnificence lives on, of course, in the artwork which has graced every subsequent release, this Collectors' Choice reissue included. Sadly, however, no other attempt is made to replicate the original jewel; indeed, beyond a straightforward dub of the album, Air Conditioning's American CD debut is something of a disappointment. No bonus tracks, no liner notes, no remastering -- nothing, in fact, beyond one of the finest classical rock fusions of the age. Curved Air were an unwieldy beast at the best of times, an uneasy liaison between Sonja Kristina's rampant rock sensibilities and her bandmates' undisguised virtuosity. Keyboard player Francis Monkman, in particular, led the group into some genuinely uncharted territory -- it was he who named the group after a Terry Riley composition; he who consumed side two of each album for a series of wild experiments, most of which incorporate acoustic folk, free form jazz, and a hefty dose of Vivaldi. Not that this was a bad thing. Indeed, Air Conditioning rates among the great debut albums of 1970s rock, a hybrid whose breathless audacity stands in starkly good-natured contrast to the po-faced noodlings of the genre's other leading progenitors. Even in full, fanciful flight (the instrumental "Rob One" or the sawing discordant "Vivaldi"), you can hear the band enjoying themselves, as Darryl Way's violin soars to pitches unknown to rocking man, the immortally named Florian Pilkington-Miksa conjures brand new rhythms from his percussive arsenal and Monkman. Well, Monkman is as Monkman does, but even when you know what's going to happen next, a frill or a flourish still leaps out to surprise you. Kristina, meanwhile, possesses one of the most distinctive voices of the age, a virtue which is apparent from the moment she enters on the opening "It Happens Today." Hints of Grace Slick enter her delivery during the Airplane-like "Stretch," but it's a fleeting comparison. By the time you hit "Propositions," all echoed riffs and space age synth, Curved Air don't sound like anything else on earth. You do, however, notice how many subsequent bands sound a lot like them. AMG.

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Grachan Moncur III - New Africa 1969

Also put out in Europe by the BYG and Actuel labels, this British LP is fairly adventurous, featuring the originals and trombone of Grachan Moncur III. He matches ideas with altoist Roscoe Mitchell, pianist Dave Burrell, bassist Alan Silva, drummer Andrew Cyrille and (on one of the four pieces) his former boss, tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp. Three of the selections are a bit reminiscent of the John Coltrane Quartet in their modality, but it is during the four movements of the continuous "New Africa" that Moncur can be heard at his dynamic best. AMG.

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Leonard Cohen - The Songs Of Leonard Cohen 1967

At a time when a growing number of pop songwriters were embracing a more explicitly poetic approach in their lyrics, the 1967 debut album from Leonard Cohen introduced a songwriter who, rather than being inspired by "serious" literature, took up music after establishing himself as a published author and poet. The ten songs on Songs of Leonard Cohen were certainly beautifully constructed, artful in a way few (if any) other lyricists would approach for some time, but what's most striking about these songs isn't Cohen's technique, superb as it is, so much as his portraits of a world dominated by love and lust, rage and need, compassion and betrayal. While the relationship between men and women was often the framework for Cohen's songs (he didn't earn the nickname "the master of erotic despair" for nothing), he didn't write about love; rather, Cohen used the never-ending thrust and parry between the sexes as a jumping off point for his obsessive investigation of humanity's occasional kindness and frequent atrocities (both emotional and physical). Cohen's world view would be heady stuff at nearly any time and place, but coming in a year when pop music was only just beginning to be taken seriously, Songs of Leonard Cohen was a truly audacious achievement, as bold a challenge to pop music conventions as the other great debut of the year, The Velvet Underground & Nico, and a nearly perfectly realized product of his creative imagination. Producer John Simon added a touch of polish to Cohen's songs with his arrangements (originally Cohen wanted no accompaniment other than his guitar), though the results don't detract from his dry but emotive vocals; instead, they complement his lyrics with a thoughtful beauty and give the songs even greater strength. And a number of Cohen's finest songs appeared here, including the luminous "Suzanne," the subtly venomous "Master Song" and "Sisters of Mercy," which would later be used to memorable effect in Robert Altman's film McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Many artists work their whole career to create a work as singular and accomplished as Songs of Leonard Cohen, and Cohen worked this alchemy the first time he entered a recording studio; few musicians have ever created a more remarkable or enduring debut. AMG.

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domingo, 9 de dezembro de 2018

The Rolling Stones - Between the Buttons 1967

The Rolling Stones' 1967 recordings are a matter of some controversy; many critics felt that they were compromising their raw, rootsy power with trendy emulations of the BeatlesKinksDylan, and psychedelic music. Approach this album with an open mind, though, and you'll find it to be one of their strongest, most eclectic LPs, with many fine songs that remain unknown to all but Stones devotees. The lyrics are getting better (if more savage), and the arrangements more creative, on brooding near-classics like "All Sold Out," "My Obsession," and "Yesterday's Papers." "She Smiled Sweetly" shows their hidden romantic side at its best, while "Connection" is one of the record's few slabs of conventionally driving rock. The best tracks on the American edition were the two songs that gave the group a double-sided number one in early 1967: the lustful "Let's Spend the Night Together" and the beautiful, melancholy "Ruby Tuesday," which is as melodic as anything Mick Jagger and Keith Richards would ever write. AMG.

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Bruce Springsteen - The Wild,The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle 1973

Bruce Springsteen expanded the folk-rock approach of his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., to strains of jazz, among other styles, on its ambitious follow-up, released only eight months later. His chief musical lieutenant was keyboard player David Sancious, who lived on the E Street that gave the album and Springsteen's backup group its name. With his help, Springsteen created a street-life mosaic of suburban society that owed much in its outlook to Van Morrison's romanticization of Belfast in Astral Weeks. Though Springsteen expressed endless affection and much nostalgia, his message was clear: this was a goodbye-to-all-that from a man who was moving on. The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle represented an astonishing advance even from the remarkable promise of Greetings; the unbanded three-song second side in particular was a flawless piece of music. Musically and lyrically, Springsteen had brought an unruly muse under control and used it to make a mature statement that synthesized popular musical styles into complicated, well-executed arrangements and absorbing suites; it evoked a world precisely even as that world seemed to disappear. Following the personnel changes in the E Street Band in 1974, there is a conventional wisdom that this album is marred by production lapses and performance problems, specifically the drumming of Vini Lopez. None of that is true. Lopez's busy Keith Moon style is appropriate to the arrangements in a way his replacement, Max Weinberg, never could have been. The production is fine. And the album's songs contain the best realization of Springsteen's poetic vision, which soon enough would be tarnished by disillusionment. He would later make different albums, but he never made a better one. The truth is, The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle is one of the greatest albums in the history of rock & roll. AMG.

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David Bromberg - David Bromberg 1971

Years after he left Columbia University, where he majored in music, David Bromberg graduated from sideman status on his Columbia Records debut. Bromberg has paid his dues, playing guitar on Jerry Jeff Walker's chart single "Mr. Bojangles," among dozens of other recording sessions and gigs as a backup musician. Notably, he played on Bob Dylan's Self Portrait and New Morning albums, and, though uncredited, Dylan has reportedly returned the favor, contributing harmonica on this LP's searing final track, "Sammy's Song." Just before that comes the jocular highwayman romp "The Holdup," co-written by Bromberg and George Harrison, with a lead guitar part that sounds characteristic of the co-author. Those may be Bromberg's heaviest friends, but he also employs a batch of folk and country compatriots throughout the album, among them David AmramNorman Blake, and Vassar Clements. Typical of a debut album, this one finds the artist determined to demonstrate the range of his talent, and that range extends from pop/rock to bluegrass, with lots of blues and folk-blues thrown in. Brombergsings in a matter-of-fact style, often with a comic edge, although he also brings out pathos in such tracks as "Dehlia" and "Sammy's Song." The album seems to be a combination of live and studio recordings, the better to bring out the spirit of the music, and the musicians spark each other with lively performances. Bromberg may still be more of a player than a frontman, and more of a tradtionalist than a songwriter, but this disc presents a new wrinkle in some very familiar styles, suggesting that it's possible for an accomplished sideman to move downstage and take over the spotlight. AMG.

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Donovan - Hurdy Gurdy Man 1968

Having Mickie Most as producer could be a double-edged sword. On The Hurdy Gurdy Man, his over-ambitious nature and scattershot production sense occasionally sabotaged Donovan's songs rather than emphasizing their strengths. (The credits shamelessly list "Produced by Mickie Most" and "A Mickie Most Production," right next to each other.) As with the last few LPs, the program began with the hit title track (one of Donovan's best singles), a dim, dark song balancing psychedelia with the heavier, earthier rock championed during 1968 by Dylan and the Beatles. Though the next two tracks -- an eerie, trance-like "Peregrine" and the endearing acoustic number "The Entertaining of a Shy Girl" -- are excellent performances, any sense of mood is soon shattered by a hopelessly overblown music-hall showtune, "As I Recall It." This terrible problem of pacing and song placement continually afflicts The Hurdy Gurdy Man, rendering ineffective many solid songs. As for the writing, Donovan certainly wasn't expanding his songbase; as usual, the album overflowed with playful songs on girls ("West Indian Lady," "Jennifer Juniper") and pastoral themes ("The River Song," "A Sunny Day," "The Sun Is a Very Magic Fellow"). Most of these featured more inventive, sympathetic accompaniment, combined with Donovan's usual spot-on delivery. Despite the great songs and (usually) solid performances, though, The Hurdy Gurdy Man is a very difficult listen. AMG.

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Johnny Winter - The Progressive Blues Experiment 1969

Although his early Columbia albums brought him worldwide stardom, it was this modest little album (first released on Imperial before the Columbia sides) that first brought Johnny Winter to the attention of guitarheads in America. It's also Winter at the beginning of a long career, playing the blues as if his life depends on it, without applying a glimmer of rock commercialism. The standard classic repertoire here includes "Rollin' and Tumblin'," "I Got Love if You Want It," "Forty-Four," "It's My Own Fault," and "Help Me," with Winter mixing it up with his original Texas trio of Red Turner on drums and Tommy Shannon(later of Stevie Ray Vaughan's Double Trouble) on bass. A true classic, this is one dirty, dangerous, and visionary album. The set was issued in a sonically screaming 24-bit remastered edition on CD by Capitol in 2005. It contains no bonus tracks, but it leaves the original crummy CD issue in the dust. AMG.

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David Bromberg - How Lat'll Ya Play'Til 1976

David Bromberg has been such an effective sideman for so long, it could be possible to not notice what a wonderful entertainer the man is when he is at center stage. How Late'll Ya Play 'Til?, Vol. 1 catches Bromberg and a crack band having a fine time on mostly humorous tunes. Of course, Bromberg does play guitar throughout the album, but the real attraction here is his bluesy vocal turns and his razor-sharp comedic timing. Though "Will Not Be Your Fool" is his signature piece and is very well performed here, the highlight is the incredible "Bullfrog Blues." The exact nature of this hilariously rambling talking blues couldn't be conveyed in anything less than the 16 minutes that Bromberg takes to perform it, and if it could be communicated it shouldn't, because there are delightful surprises here. Like all great live albums, How Late'll Ya Play 'Til? will make you extremely sad that you weren't in the audience the night it was recorded, and determined not to repeat the error should the chance present itself. AMG.

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The Balfa Brothers - The Balfa Brothers Play Traditional Cajun Music 1965

The Balfa Brothers Play Traditional Cajun Music, Vols. 1-2 combines both of the group's original Play Traditional Cajun Music albums onto one disc. The first volume was released on Swallow Records in 1965 and helped kick-start the Cajun revival of the '60s. It's an excellent album, featuring wonderful harmonies from RodneyWill, and Dewey, as well as stellar instrumental work. The second volume, recorded and released in 1974, isn't quite as strong as its predecessor, but it is still very good and is filled with terrific music. Both albums represent the Balfa Brothers at their peak. They may have a number of very good albums in their catalog, but The Balfa Brothers Play Traditional Cajun Music, Vols. 1-2 effectively explains what they are all about. AMG.

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sábado, 8 de dezembro de 2018

Love - Forever Changes 1967

Love's Forever Changes made only a minor dent on the charts when it was first released in 1967, but years later it became recognized as one of the finest and most haunting albums to come out of the Summer of Love, which doubtless has as much to do with the disc's themes and tone as the music, beautiful as it is. Sharp electric guitars dominated most of Love's first two albums, and they make occasional appearances here on tunes like "A House Is Not a Motel" and "Live and Let Live," but most of Forever Changes is built around interwoven acoustic guitar textures and subtle orchestrations, with strings and horns both reinforcing and punctuating the melodies. The punky edge of Love's early work gave way to a more gentle, contemplative, and organic sound on Forever Changes, but while Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean wrote some of their most enduring songs for the album, the lovely melodies and inspired arrangements can't disguise an air of malaise that permeates the sessions. A certain amount of this reflects the angst of a group undergoing some severe internal strife, but Forever Changes is also an album that heralds the last days of a golden age and anticipates the growing ugliness that would dominate the counterculture in 1968 and 1969; images of violence and war haunt "A House Is Not a Motel," the street scenes of "Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hillsdale" reflects a jaded mindset that flower power could not ease, the twin specters of race and international strife rise to the surface of "The Red Telephone," romance becomes cynicism in "Bummer in the Summer," the promise of the psychedelic experience decays into hard drug abuse in "Live and Let Live," and even gentle numbers like "Andmoreagain" and "Old Man" sound elegiac, as if the ghosts of Chicago and Altamont were visible over the horizon as Love looked back to brief moments of warmth. Forever Changes is inarguably Love's masterpiece and an album of enduring beauty, but it's also one of the few major works of its era that saw the dark clouds looming on the cultural horizon, and the result was music that was as prescient as it was compelling. AMG.

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Jody Grind - One Step On 1969

Jody Grind's debut album was early progressive rock with a somewhat jazzier orientation than most such bands, though the playing was a good sight more impressive than the singing and songwriting. There's a fairly grim tone to the original material, all (save a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black") written by Tim Hinkley and Ivan Zagni, who wrench extended heavy blues and jazzy solos out of their organ and guitar, respectively. The showcase is an 18-minute, four-part suite, "One Step On," that -- like many long rock tracks of the time -- goes on for way too long, incorporating horn fanfares, lurching tempos, and operatic vocals (and, yes, a drum solo). Shown to best advantage on "Little Message" and the most appealing song on the album, "Night Today," Hinkley's skilled Hammond organ work stands up well to the keyboards of well-known early prog rockers like Keith EmersonVincent Crane (of the Crazy World of Arthur Brown), and Brian Auger. But he didn't have material or singers on the same level as any of those more celebrated musicians did, nor did he establish as strikingly identifiable an instrumental style. AMG.

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Fotheringay - Fotheringay 1970

When Sandy Denny departed Fairport Convention, insisting that she wanted to concentrate upon her own songwriting rather than pursue the band's exploration of traditional English music, she never meant she also intended abandoning the folk idiom itself. Although all but two of the songs on this, her first post-Fairport project, are indeed original compositions, it is readily apparent that, like former bandmate Richard Thompson, her greatest talents lay distinctly within the same traditions as the poets and balladeers of earlier centuries, while the fact that fully one-half of Fotheringay itself would eventually join Fairport illustrates the care that went into the band's formation. Even the group's name resonates -- "Fotheringay" was also one of Denny's best-loved Fairport songs. Listening to the album, too, one can see and hear the mothership all over the show, from the tight dynamics of "The Sea" to the simple beauty of "Winter Winds" and on to the showpiece "Banks of the Nile," a Napoleonic Wars-era ballad set firmly in the storytelling mold of "A Sailor's Life," "Tam Linn," and the post-Denny Fairport's own "Bonnie Bunch of Roses." The presence of producer Joe Boyd and guest vocalist Linda Peters complete the sense of a family affair.

Where Fotheringay and Fairport drift apart is in the instrumentation -- one of Fairport's most-endearing talents, after all, was the sense of ramshackle adventure that the bandmembers brought to their recordings. Fotheringay was far more "musicianly," packing a perfectionism that comes close, in places, to stifling the sheer exuberance of the music. The overuse of Trevor Lucas' distinctly mannered vocals, too, reveals the album in a disappointing light -- great guitarist though he was, his voice offers nothing that you could not hear in any amateur folk club, any night of the week, rendering Dylan's "Too Much of Nothing," Gordon Lightfoot's "The Way I Feel," and his own "Ballad of Ned Kelly" little more than makeweights. Such failings are completely overshadowed, of course, by the triumphs that are Denny's finest contributions -- the best of which close the album on a peak unheard since "The Sea," back at the beginning of the cycle. "The Banks of the Nile" rates among the loveliest and most evocative performances of her entire career, while the hauntingly hypnotic "Two Weeks Last Summer" and a moody "Gypsy Davey" draw out an expressiveness that had similarly been in short supply elsewhere on the record. The end result is an album that, while every Denny fan should hear it, is best experienced sliced and diced across the various compilations that purport to tell the story of Fairport Convention. Bereft of the faults that never make those collections, Fotheringay deserves every kind word that has ever been sent in the band's direction. [In 2004, Fledg'ling records released a remastered edition that included live versions of "Two Weeks of Summer," "Nothing More," "Banks of the Nile" and "Memphis Tennessee," recorded at the 1970 Rotterdam Pop Festival.] AMG.

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