quarta-feira, 10 de outubro de 2018

Robert Palmer - Some People Can Do What They Like 1976

Robert Palmer's third album is a blue-eyed soul disc that sits comfortably alongside Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley and Pressure Drop. This time, Palmer drops the orchestrations that tarted up portions of Pressure Drop in favor of a stripped-down yet stylish sound that shows off his ability to create a romantic, soulful mood. Highlights include "One Last Look," a lush breakup ballad that features a catchy, harmony-drenched chorus, and "Keep in Touch," a romantic tune that highlights Palmer's vocal style at its seductive height over a jazzy yet mellow melody built on a complex background vocal arrangement. Another standout track is "Man Smart, Woman Smarter," a tongue-in-cheek look at the battle between the sexes that deftly blends pop melodicism with reggae rhythms. The downside of Some People Can Do What They Like is that it often favors mood over hooks and this leads to music that is listenable yet falls short of being truly compelling: funky mood pieces like "What Can You Bring Me" and "Hard Head" successfully evoke a sultry mood but never take that mood in an interesting melodic direction. Another problem track is "Off the Bone," an effects-drenched instrumental snippet that serves no purpose other than to fill up two minutes of the album's running time. Despite these occasional lapses, Some People Can Do What They Like remains a solid and likable outing with enough memorable moments to please anyone who enjoys blue-eyed soul at its most silky and elegant. AMG.

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Quintessence - In Blissful Company 1969

While it's easy to dismiss Quintessence's first album, In Blissful Company, as hippie-dippy nonsense, that would be throwing the baby out with the bath water. Granted, there are several moments when the mix of jazz-rock and Indian influence go well over the top, as on "Ganaga Mai," and no one is going to mistake these guys for, say, Shakti. But they were still far ahead of their time, if you consider this from more of a world music perspective. And there's pleasure to be had from "Notting Hill" (in both versions -- the CD appends the very different single version, plus the non-album B-side, "Move Into the Light"). There's no doubt they believed in what they were doing, and lead guitarist Alan Mostert does add some stirring lines into the mix under Raja Ram's vocals and flute. It's certainly pleasant, progressive in its own way, and while there's a certain sloppiness and muddiness to much of the playing (in best hippie fashion), that actually adds to its appeal in a perverse way. They did develop over the course of four more albums, but never became a major attraction, and in some regards this remains a high point. AMG.

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The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - In My Own Dream 1968

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band's In My Own Dream -- their fourth official release -- marked the point where the band really began to lose its audience, and all for reasons having nothing to do with the quality of their music. They'd gotten past the loss of Michael Bloomfield in early 1967 (which had lost them some of their audience of guitar idolaters) with the engagingly titled (and guitar-focused) Resurrection of Pigboy CrabshawIn My Own Dream has its great guitar moments, especially on "Just to Be with You," but throughout the album, Elvin Bishop's electric guitar shares the spotlight with the horn section of Gene DinwiddleDavid Sanborn, and Keith Johnson, who had signed on with the prior album and who were more out in front than ever. More to the point, this album represented a new version of the band being born, with shared lead vocals, and the leader himself only taking three of the seven songs, with bassist Bugsy Maugh singing lead on two songs, Bishop on one, and drummer Phillip Wilsontaking one. What's more, there was a widely shared spotlight for the players, and more of a jazz influence on this record than had ever been heard before from the group. This was a band that could jam quietly for five minutes on "Drunk Again," building ever so slowly to a bluesy crescendo where Bishop's guitar and Mark Naftalin's organ surged; and follow it with the title track, a totally surprising acoustic guitar-driven piece featuring SanbornDinwiddle, and Johnson. The playing is impressive, especially for a record aimed at a collegiate audience, but the record had the bad fortune of appearing at a point when jazz was culturally suspect among the young, an elitist and not easily accessible brand of music that seemed almost as remote as classical. "Get Yourself Together" was almost too good a piece of Chicago-style blues, a faux Chess Records-style track that might even have been too "black" for the remnants of Butterfield's old audience. It also anticipated the group's final change of direction, when it blossomed into a multi-genre blues/jazz/R&B/soul outfit, equally devoted to all four genres and myriad permutations of each. AMG.

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