segunda-feira, 26 de setembro de 2022

Dom Um Romão - Spirit of the Times 1973

Dom Um Romão became a professional in the late '40s, playing the drums at dance orchestras, later being hired by the Rádio Tupi's orchestra. He was responsible for taking Elis Regina from TV to the Beco das Garrafas (Rio's 52nd Street), where, in 1955, he formed his Copa Trio (which also had pianist Toninho and bassist Manuel Gusmão). In the same period, he was hired by the Vogue nightclub. In 1958, he participated in the bossa nova initial milestone, Elizeth Cardoso's album Canção do Amor Demais. In 1961, Romão played with Sérgio Mendes in his Brazilian Jazz Sextet, which performed in the South American Jazz Festival (Uruguay). In 1962, with Sérgio's Bossa Rio Sextet, he participated in the Bossa Nova Festival at the Carnegie Hall. With Cannonball Aderley, he recorded Cannonball's Bossa-nova (Riverside). With the Copa Trio, he performed in the historic bossa nova show O Fino da Bossa, at the Teatro Paramount (1964). It was the first time that bossa nova was launched in the city of São Paulo. His first album, Dom Um, is from the same year. With pianist Dom Salvador and pianist Miguel Gusmão as the new formation of the Copa Trio, he accompanied several singers at the Bottle's nightclub, at the Beco das Garrafas, including the Quarteto em Cy. Joined by Jorge Ben, they became the Copa 4. Philips released his Dom Um in the same year. In 1965, he participated in Flora Purim's (then his wife) opening album, Flora É MPB (RCA). In the same year, he was invited by Norman Granz to move to the U.S. again, where he performed with Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto, following them to Europe. A most requested session man, he recorded many albums, including one with Tom Jobim. Romão joined Sérgio Mendes's Brasil 66, recording the LP Fool on the Hill (A&M), and touring Brazil (1966). In the next year, he participated in the LP Francis Albert Sinatra & Antônio Carlos Jobim. Leaving Sérgio Mendes's group, he recorded with Tony Bennett (The Movie Song Album), among others. In 1971, Romão replaced Airto Moreira in the Weather Report. Dom Um Romão came in 1972. 

In 1973, he released Spirit of the Times and toured with Blood, Sweat and TearsHotmosphere was released in 1976. Owner of Black Beans studios in New Jersey, he moved to Switzerland in the early '80s. His Dom Um Romão Quintet performed abroad and backed many important artists like Blood, Sweat and Tears and Tony BennettSaudades was released in 1993, and in 1998, he recorded the CD Rhythm Traveller in Brazil. AMG.

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Grachan Moncur III - Evolution 1964

One of the New Thing's extremely few trombonists and a greatly underappreciated composer of tremendous evocative power, Grachan Moncur III got his first major exposure on Jackie McLean's groundbreaking 1963 masterpiece, One Step Beyond. Toward the end of the year, most of the same musicians reconvened for Moncur's debut as a leader, Evolution; McLean, vibist Bobby Hutcherson, and drummer Tony Williams are all back, with Bob Cranshaw on bass and an extra voice in trumpeter Lee Morgan, moonlighting from his usual groovy hard bop style. While Moncur takes a little more solo space here, the main emphasis is on his talent as a composer. The four originals are all extended, multi-sectioned works (the shortest is around eight minutes), all quite ambitious, and all terrifically moody; much of the album sounds sinister and foreboding, and even the brighter material has a twisted, surreal fun-house undercurrent. Part of that is due to the accuracy with which the musicians interpret Moncur's vision. Hutcherson provides his trademark floating chordal accompaniment, which is crucial to the overall texture; what's more, the album features some of McLean's weirdest playing ever, and some of Morgan's most impressively advanced, as he makes the most of a situation he longed to be in more often. Of the pieces, "Monk in Wonderland" is the most memorable; its whimsical, angular theme is offset by Hutcherson's mysterious vibes, which create a trippy effect in keeping with the title. "Air Raid" is alternately ominous and terrifyingly frantic, and the funereal title track keeps time only in the pulse of the horns and the backing, which is based entirely on whole notes. With such an inventive debut, it's a shame Moncur didn't record more as a leader, which makes Evolution an even more important item for fans of Blue Note's avant-garde to track down. AMG.

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Dusty Springfield - The Look of Love 1967

A true mixed bag, from the sensual title track to the melodramatic "If You Go Away," and some fine soul stylings in between, most notably "Small Town Girl" (check out the choruses) and "I've Got a Good Thing." This is the last of Springfield's Philips albums to be released in America (she signed with Atlantic in the U.S. soon after, and the label declined to release most of her Philips' output here). 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 of advanced compositions. It's well worth several listens. AMG.

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Phil Manzanera - Diamond Head 1975

Phil Manzanera's first post-Roxy foray into solo albums is a terrific all-star affair that still holds up enormously well. Calling on favors from Roxy members present and past, and those from the Cambridge/British art rock scene, Manzanera assembled a supergroup for every song. Robert Wyatt sings Spanish gibberish on the opener "Frontera," a rewrite of his own "Team Spirit." Brian Eno teams up for the sunny "Big Day" and the nonsensical "Miss Shapiro," both of which would not have been out of place on his own early solo albums. John Wetton (of several groups including Family and Asia) sings a duet with Doreen Chanter (of the Chanter Sisters and the Joe Cocker Band), and Bill MacCormick of Matching Mole and Quiet Sun sings his own "Alma," the album's closing ballad. Fans of any of the singers above, not to mention Manzanera, whose party this is, won't be disappointed. A majority of these tracks went on to form the set list for 801 Live. AMG.

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sábado, 24 de setembro de 2022

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention - We're Only In It For The Money 1968

From the beginning, Frank Zappa cultivated a role as the voice of the freaks -- imaginative outsiders who didn't fit comfortably into any group. We're Only in It for the Money is the ultimate expression of that sensibility, a satirical masterpiece that simultaneously skewered the hippies and the straights as prisoners of the same narrow-minded, superficial phoniness. Zappa's barbs were vicious and perceptive, and not just humorously so: his seemingly paranoid vision of authoritarian violence against the counterculture was borne out two years later by the Kent State killings. Like Freak Out, We're Only in It for the Money essentially devotes its first half to satire, and its second half to presenting alternatives. Despite some specific references, the first-half suite is still wickedly funny, since its targets remain immediately recognizable. The second half shows where his sympathies lie, with character sketches of Zappa's real-life freak acquaintances, a carefree utopia in "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance," and the strident, unironic protest "Mother People." Regardless of how dark the subject matter, there's a pervasively surreal, whimsical flavor to the music, sort of like Sgt. Pepper as a creepy nightmare. Some of the instruments and most of the vocals have been manipulated to produce odd textures and cartoonish voices; most songs are abbreviated, segue into others through edited snippets of music and dialogue, or are broken into fragments by more snippets, consistently interrupting the album's continuity. Compositionally, though, the music reveals itself as exceptionally strong, and Zappa's politics and satirical instinct have rarely been so focused and relevant, making We're Only in It for the Money quite probably his greatest achievement. AMG.

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Gong - You (Radio Gnome Invisible, Pt. 3) 1974

You is the final installment in Gong's legendary Radio Gnome Trilogy, and it marks an important turning point for the band. By 1974, the psychedelic hippie/folk-rock element of the sound that was leader Daevid Allen's most important contribution was beginning to disappear. In its place was a more sophisticated musical vision that owed as much to jazz-rock fusion as to fellow space rockers like Pink Floyd and Hawkwind. Ironically, this is Gong's most "spacy" album, full of extended, ethereal passages that would inspire future generations of space rockers. The sound was equally defined however, by the jazzy flights of saxophonist Didier Malherbe and the sinuous rhythms of bassist Mike Howlett and drummer Pierre Moerlen (the band would eventually become the fusion-oriented Pierre Moerlen's Gong). Allen's songs still provide a crucial link to the rest of the trilogy, though the conceptual/mythological aspect is less crucial to You. AMG.

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Caravan - Waterloo Lily 1972

Before the recording of Waterloo Lily, David Sinclair departed Caravan to join forces with Soft Machine skinsman Robert Wyatt and form Matching Mole. With the subsequent arrival of former Delivery member Steve Miller and an overwhelming jazz influence, the edgier progressive rock and folk elements that were so prevalent on their previous albums are somewhat repressed. The band's performance level did not suffer in the transition. In fact, the addition of Miller only punctuates Caravan's previously honed improvisational skills. Beginning with Waterloo Lily's leadoff title track, there is a sound more akin to the jazzier efforts of TrafficMiller's "Nothing at All" incorporates the jazz fusion even further as the long instrumental introduction more than hints at Steely Dan circa Katy Lied. The up-tempo staccato bop featuring Miller's electric piano accents, when juxtaposed with Pye Hastings' liquid-toned electric guitar could easily be mistaken for that of Walter Becker and Donald Fagan. The remainder of the album centers on a couple of pieces that evoke the sound and spirit of the previous Caravan outings. Most reminiscent of the classic sound is Hastings' epic "The Love in Your Eye" suite. The track recalls the laid-back intensity and phenomenal improvisational synergy of earlier tracks such as "For Richard" and "Where, but for Caravan Would I," while wisely incorporating Miller's formidable jazz chops to give the instrumental sections sustained substance throughout. The remastered CD offers three additional compositions circa the Waterloo Lily sessions. "Pye's June Thing" and "Ferdinand" are two of Hastings' acoustic demos. A considerably more complete "Looking Left, Looking Right" is a treasured recovery from the vaults. Originally vaulted due to the time limitations of vinyl, this track, along with "Pye's Loop" -- which acts as a coda to "Looking Left..." -- mark their debut release here. AMG.

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Jim Post - Colorado Exile 1973

Jim Post first came to prominence in and around the early 1970s with his album on Fantasy Records called Jim Post "Colorado Exile'. produced by Jim Post and Ed Bogas. The album contains inspired song come verse, recalling the wonder of the wilderness and the glory of the mountains and woods of Colorado.


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quarta-feira, 21 de setembro de 2022

Sugar Bear - Sugar Bear 1970

Another private pressing from the 70s, this time a charming chunk of rural rock from the sunshine state. Originally released on No Label Recordings, this four-piece from Florida (named after the hip American 70s singin'n'guitar-playin' cartoon character, Sugar Bear) has managed to produce an album of high originality which defies categorization.

In terms of musical styles, ''rural rock'' probably covers just about everything, from rock'n'roll to the blues and plain ol' country
rock in the style of The Outlaws or Pure Prairie League, of course, there are some psychedelic touches, think a cross line between Jefferson Airplane and Byrds with drops of Santana.

Today’s “Sugarbear” consists of Ivan Bailey on bass, John McLaughlin on lead guitar, and Eric Chick on drums. Ivan and John have been together for about 44 years. Started out in Miami as “The Goldtones”, later changed to “The Roustabouts”. Moved to the Ocala area and became “The Merger” and in 1972 changed the name to “Sugarbear”.

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Van der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts 1971

Van der Graaf Generator's fourth album, Pawn Hearts was also their second most popular; at one time this record was a major King Crimson cult item due to the presence of Robert Fripp on guitar, but Pawn Hearts has more to offer than that. The opening track, "Lemmings," calls to mind early Gentle Giant, with its eerie vocal passages (including harmonies) set up against extended sax, keyboard, and guitar-driven instrumental passages, and also with its weird keyboard and percussion interlude, though this band is also much more contemporary in their focus than Gentle GiantPeter Hammill vocalizes in a more traditional way on "Man-Erg," against shimmering organ swells and Guy Evans' very expressive drumming, before the song goes off on a tangent by way of David Jackson's saxes and some really weird time signatures -- plus some very pretty acoustic and electric guitar work by Hammill himself and Fripp. The monumental "Plague of Lighthouse Keepers," taking up an entire side of the LP, shows the same kind of innovation that characterized Crimson's first two albums, but without the discipline and restraint needed to make the music manageable. The punning titles of the individual sections of this piece (which may have been done for the same reason that Crimson gave those little subtitles to its early extended tracks, to protect the full royalties for the composer) only add to the confusion. As for the piece itself, it features enough virtuoso posturing by everyone (especially drummer Guy Evans) to fill an Emerson, Lake & Palmer album of the same era, with a little more subtlety and some time wasted between the interludes. The 23-minute conceptual work could easily have been trimmed to, say, 18 or 19 minutes without any major sacrifices, which doesn't mean that what's here is bad, just not as concise as it might've been. But the almost operatic intensity of the singing and the overall performance also carries you past the stretches that don't absolutely need to be here. The band was trying for something midway between King Crimson and Genesis, and came out closer to the former, at least instrumentally. Hammill's vocals are impassioned and involving, almost like an acting performance, similar to Peter Gabriel's singing with Genesis, but the lack of any obviously cohesive ideas in the lyrics makes this more obscure and obtuse than any Genesis release. AMG.

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Supa - Supa's Jamboree 1971

Richard "Richie" Supa (born Richard Goodman) is an American songwriter and guitarist best known for his work with Aerosmith, The Rascals, and Richie Sambora.

Supa released several albums under his own name, including Supa's Jamboree (1971, Paramount 6009), Homespun (1972, Paramount PAS 6027), Lifelines (1976, Epic PE34277), and Tall Tales (1978, Polydor PD-1-6155). Richard's song "Stone County Wanted Man", which appeared on the Supa's Jamboree album, was recorded by Johnny Winter for his Saints & Sinners album. A longtime friend of Aerosmith, he has made a number of musical contributions to the band and has offered moral support. He temporarily replaced Joe Perry when he left the band in 1979 and contributed guitars to the studio album Night in the Ruts (1979). Additionally, Supa wrote or co-wrote several Aerosmith songs, including the hits "Chip Away the Stone" (1978), "Lightning Strikes" (1982), "Amazing" (1993), and "Pink" (1997), among others.

Supa co-wrote most of the songs on Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora's second solo album Undiscovered Soul. He wrote the song "Misery" for the album Missundaztood by Pink, on which Aerosmith's singer Steven Tyler features. Supa also collaborated and co-wrote the songs "My Interpretation", "Your Sympathy" and "Instant Martyr" from Mika's debut album Life in Cartoon Motion. He also co-wrote "Back on Earth" for singer Ozzy Osbourne. Supa is now the director of creative recovery at Recovery Unplugged Treatment Center, where he uses music to help addicts in recovery.

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Carlos Santana & Mahavishnu John McLaughlin - Love Devotion Surrender 1972

A hopelessly misunderstood record in its time by Santana fans -- they were still reeling from the radical direction shift toward jazz on Caravanserai and praying it was an aberration -- it was greeted by Santana devotees with hostility, contrasted with kindness from major-league critics like Robert Palmer. To hear this recording in the context of not only Carlos Santana's development as a guitarist, but as the logical extension of the music of John Coltrane and Miles Davis influencing rock musicians -- McLaughlin, of course, was a former Davis sideman -- this extension makes perfect sense in the post-Sonic Youth, post-rock era. With the exception of Coltrane's "Naima" and McLaughlin's "Meditation," this album consists of merely three extended guitar jams played on the spiritual ecstasy tip -- both men were devotees of guru Shri Chinmoy at the time. The assembled band included members of Santana's band and the Mahavishnu Orchestra in Michael ShrieveBilly CobhamDoug RauchArmando PerazaJan Hammer (playing drums!), and Don Alias. But it is the presence of the revolutionary jazz organist Larry Young -- a colleague of McLaughlin's in Tony Williams' Lifetime band -- that makes the entire project gel. He stands as the great communicator harmonically between the two very different guitarists whose ideas contrasted enough to complement one another in the context of Young's aggressive approach to keep the entire proceeding in the air. In the acknowledgement section of Coltrane's "A Love Supreme," which opens the album, Young creates a channel between Santana's riotous, transcendent, melodic runs and McLaughlin's rapid-fire machine-gun riffing. Young' double-handed striated chord voicings offered enough for both men to chew on, leaving free-ranging territory for percussive effects to drive the tracks from underneath. Check "Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord," which was musically inspired by Bobby Womack's "Breezing" and dynamically foreshadowed by Pharoah Sanders' read of it, or the insanely knotty yet intervallically transcendent "The Life Divine," for the manner in which Young's organ actually speaks both languages simultaneously. Young is the person who makes the room for the deep spirituality inherent in these sessions to be grasped for what it is: the interplay of two men who were not merely paying tribute to Coltrane, but trying to take his ideas about going beyond the realm of Western music to communicate with the language of the heart as it united with the cosmos. After three decades, Love Devotion Surrender still sounds completely radical and stunningly, movingly beautiful. AMG.

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quarta-feira, 14 de setembro de 2022

Spirit - Future games - A Magical Kahauna Dream 1977

Also the title of a Fleetwood Mac album from 1971, Mercury certainly let Randy California's ideas flow across a number of releases in the mid-to-late-'70s, this particular release dated 1977. As with the best of California's work, there are flashes of inspiration and brilliance, the title track a perfect example of the upside. A collaboration with Kim Fowley entitled "Buried in My Brain" is California at his most self-indulgent. The effects and foundation for the song are good, but his vocals wander hither and yon. They don't get better on "Bionic Unit," also written with Fowley and co-engineer Blair Mooney. Connected by sound effects, the artist moves into his Jimi Hendrix mode, tracking Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower." Spirit, with California at the helm, continued to work this Hendrix connection, which certainly wasn't a bad thing. The expressive and creative guitar lines would have made an instrumental version of "All Along the Watchtower" a real treat. What happens instead is California having fun but not thinking in terms of Top 40 airplay as Dave Mason did to some limited success with this Dylan title. "Would You Believe" goes back to the great stuff Randy California is capable of. Not commercial, but original and inviting. "Star Trek Dreaming" is exquisite, but a bit short, and side two is rife with excerpts from the Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk turns into his ex-girlfriend Dr. Lester. There are so many bits and pieces of Star Trek interspersed on side two it is a wonder that Paramount didn't sue. There are many thank yous on the back, to Dr. Demento (Randy California's ex-roommate), to backing vocalist Terry Anderson, but no credit to Gene Rodenberry. On one level, a major lawsuit would have been helpful, they could have yanked the Star Trek bits off, creating a collector's item and bringing some attention to this good, but not great, record. Randy California appears half-naked on the back cover, a blatant and egotistical move, almost claiming that he is Spirit. Keep in mind this came a year after the reunion known as Farther Along, which brought John Locke and Mark Andes back into the fold, along with his brother, Sprit contributor, and Jo Jo Gunne member Matt Andes, but no Jay Ferguson. These 1970s Mercury albums, from 1975's sublime Spirit of '76 double LP and its same-year follow-up, Son of Spirit, to the aforementioned Farther Along, make good companion pieces to the work on Epic records that brought the group their initial fame. Randy California references his big FM hit "Nature's Way" on the beginning of the album as he does elsewhere in his career, while side two drifts off into some Star Trek dementia. "Freakout Frog" and "The Romulan Experience" are interesting, with bits of "All Along the Watchtower" thrown in for good measure. "Monkey See Monkey Do" could have been a great novelty hit...that is...on the planet Romulus. It's a fusion of nuttiness and pop that sounds inspired by drugs and a Dr. Demento program. Randy California's work with stepfather Ed Cassidy is unique and important, but they would have been better off calling some of the products Randy California solo, and that's what this is. There are some great moments here, "The Journey of Nomad" as the album closes, along with "Stars Are Love" and "Kahauna Dream," which open the album. Mr. California's obsessions with science fiction and the place of his untimely passing, Hawaii, are here on these grooves, two decades before his passing. AMG.

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The Flock - Dinosaur Swamps 1970

This follow-up was a major disappointment after such a strong debut. Aside from "Big Bird," this release strays dangerously from the first album's synergistic but tricky blend of rock, jazz and classical. The personnel are the same as on the first album, but they veer off into jazzy tangents and disappear into the treacherous morass of jazz-rock fusion that claimed so many other talented musicians. It's a rotten shame considering their bright beginning. AMG.

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