domingo, 27 de junho de 2021

Caetano Veloso - Qualquer Coisa 1975

On Qualquer CoisaCaetano Veloso still wasn't the superstar he became in the '80s when he turned himself into a mainstream pop artist. This album sounds underground in its voice/violão renditions, parsimony in the arrangements, and absence of luxury effects or electronics -- in other words, the focus is on Veloso's guitar, voice, melodies, and lyrics. His wonderful cool interpretations for "Qualquer Coisa," "Samba e Amor," "A Tua Presença Morena," "Drume Negrinha," "Jorge da Capadócia," "Eleanor Rigby," "For No One," "Lady Madonna," and "La Flor de la Canela," among others, became classics. AMG.

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NRBQ - NRBQ 1969

NRBQ have evolved considerably over the course of a career that's lasted over 50 years and isn't done just yet. But the band's self-titled debut album, originally released in 1969, is joyous evidence that their originality and spark were there right from the very start. Cut several years before NRBQ settled into their "classic" lineup, here founders Terry Adams (keyboards and vocals) and Joey Spampinato (bass and vocals) are joined by lead singer Frank Gadler, guitarist Steve Ferguson, and drummer Tom StaleyGadler and Ferguson's musical personalities put a different spin on this music than NRBQ would generate a few years down the line, when Al Anderson's guitar work and songwriting would become a key part of their recipe. Here, they sound more like a boogie band than they did when they hit their stride, albeit one with a very individual approach. But the group's trademark eclecticism and sense of fun are very much in evidence. The album's opening one-two punch of Q-approved reworkings of Eddie Cochran's "C'mon Everybody" and Sun Ra's "Rocket #9" demonstrate both their musical reach and the depth of their influences, Adams' crazy-quilt melodic ideas and inspired keyboard work are featured on "Kentucky Slop Song" and "Stay with We," Spampinato contributes a first-class rocker in "You Can't Hide" (NRBQ would revisit the song on 1980's Tiddlywinks), and Steve Ferguson's estimable guitar work and songwriting bona fides ("I Didn't Know Myself," "Stomp," and "Fergie's Prayer") are a reminder of what a potent force he was in the band's early days. NRBQ is the work of a band that sometimes sounds like it's still finding its way in the recording studio, and Eddie Kramer's production sometimes lacks the punch the musicians needed. But even though NRBQ would make better albums in the future, their debut is the work of a group that already had a sound all its own and a love of music that was wildly infectious, and this is an often overlooked gem in the Q's catalog. AMG.

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Eric Clapton - Eric Clapton 1970

Eric Clapton's eponymous solo debut was recorded after he completed a tour with Delaney & BonnieClapton used the core of the duo's backing band and co-wrote the majority of the songs with Delaney Bramlett -- accordingly, Eric Clapton sounds more laid-back and straightforward than any of the guitarist's previous recordings. There are still elements of blues and rock & roll, but they're hidden beneath layers of gospel, R&B, country, and pop flourishes. And the pop element of the record is the strongest of the album's many elements -- "Blues Power" isn't a blues song and only "Let It Rain," the album's closer, features extended solos. Throughout the album, Clapton turns out concise solos that de-emphasize his status as guitar god, even when they display astonishing musicality and technique. That is both a good and a bad thing -- it's encouraging to hear him grow and become a more fully rounded musician, but too often the album needs the spark that some long guitar solos would have given it. In short, it needs a little more of Clapton's personality. AMG.

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Robin Trower - For Earth Below 1975

For Earth BelowTrower's third solo album, is heavily induced with a blues-rock formula that withstands the duration of the eight tracks and arrantly displays his slick guitar mastery. His subtle yet dominant fusion of blues and hard rock styles not only inflicts character throughout each song, but also demonstrates how effective an instrument the guitar can become when the proper techniques are applied. Much like Twice Removed From Yesterday but not as diverse as Bridge of Sighs, this album has Trower sounding a tad more velvety around the edges, with the blues element sometimes governing the entire piece, an asset to the album's complete texture. The opening "Shame the Devil" and "A Tale Untold" best exemplify his distilled playing style, while a song like "Gonna Be More Suspicious" represents how focused a musician he really is, making each chord pour into the next so that the sound becomes totally viscous. James Dewar, who plays bass and sings vocals, contributes aptly to the low end of the music, filling in where needed, while drummer Bill Lordan helps out on percussion. Finishing off with the sultry but dimensioned aura of "For Earth Below," the album wraps up with a wholehearted satisfactory feel. The albums that followed For Earth Below began to stray slowly from being blues-influenced to a sound that contained a mainstream feel, with fragments of bright rock adding a sheen to his raw guitar repertoire. AMG.

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Steely Dan - Countdown to Ecstasy 1973

Can't Buy a Thrill became an unexpected hit, and as a response, Donald Fagen became the group's full-time lead vocalist, and he and Walter Becker acted like Steely Dan was a rock & roll band for the group's second album, Countdown to Ecstasy. The loud guitars and pronounced backbeat of "Bodhisattva," "Show Biz Kids," and "My Old School" camouflage the fact that Countdown is a riskier album, musically speaking, than its predecessor. Each of its eight songs have sophisticated, jazz-inflected interludes, and apart from the bluesy vamps "Bodhisattva" and "Show Biz Kids," which sound like they were written for the stage, the songs are subtly textured. "Razor Boy," with its murmuring vibes, and the hard bop tribute "Your Gold Teeth" reveal Becker and Fagen's jazz roots, while the country-flavored "Pearl of the Quarter" and the ominous, skittering "King of the World" are both overlooked gems. Countdown to Ecstasy is the only time Steely Dan played it relatively straight, and its eight songs are rich with either musical or lyrical detail that their album rock or art rock contemporaries couldn't hope to match. AMG.

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Soft Machine - Fifth 1972

As the Soft Machine moved further away from rock on Third and Fourth, drummer/vocalist Robert Wyatt's dissatisfaction with the band's direction grew and, by the time sessions started for Fifth in late 1971, he had left permanently to form Matching Mole. While the instrumental Fourth had forayed deep into jazz-rock territory, Fifth found the Soft Machine working almost completely in the jazz idiom. At the time of Wyatt's departure, keyboardist Mike Ratledge commented that the band's co-founder had "never enjoyed or accepted working in complex time signatures." However, Wyatt's replacement -- Phil Howard -- didn't prove to be the kind of timekeeper Ratledge and bassist Hugh Hopper had in mind and his free jazz orientation led to his dismissal during the recording of the album. Howard's propulsive rhythms nevertheless make a vital contribution to memorable Ratledge compositions like "All White" and "Drop" as they gather momentum and coalesce into driving grooves. "All White" is focused largely on Elton Dean's sax performance while "Drop" ultimately showcases the intense busy fuzz of Ratledge's organ. In places on Fifth, there does seem to be an element of tension between the more structured approach of Ratledge and Hopper and the free-form inclinations of Dean. The looser style of Dean's squalling sax playing is foregrounded particularly on "As If" -- another Ratledge piece. A certain constituency among Soft Machine fans tends to concentrate on the band's earlier releases and to consider everything from Fourth onward less compelling. That attitude has something to do with not being especially interested in jazz, so it's not entirely fair to dismiss this album without qualifying such a judgment. Anyone expecting to hear a rock album or a jazz-rock album will probably be disappointed with Fifth. This is essentially a jazz record, more concerned with texture and interplay than with song-based structures. AMG.

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Lost Nation - Paradise Lost 1970

Lost Nation were formed in Detroit, Michigan, their sole album "Paradise Lost", originally released 1970 in the US on Rare Earth RS 518. Late psych album , crossing over to progressive rock with some of the organ/guitar jams. Recalls another Michigan group - the more known SRC, especially on their "Traveler's Tale" album. Album is melodic in a heavy style with plenty of organ, including Hammond B3. Great riffing and soloing and always fun, in the style of what people now call “proto-prog”. 

Essentially it is an amalgam of late psych rock, early Prog and hard rock. There were lots of bands from the period 1968-71 that encompassed these three elements, played in an atmosphere of early Deep Purple with a touch of Beggars Opera, lots of tasty guitar improvisation! remind me of most, this is a real killer in case you are into US hard psych into prog albums. Thanks to!

AMG. listen here or here

Rory Gallagher - Deuce 1971

Released in November 1971, just six months after his solo debut, Rory Gallagher's second album was the summation of all that he'd promised in the wake of Taste's collapse, and the blueprint for most of what he'd accomplish over the next two years of recording. Largely overlooked by posterity's haste to canonize his next album, Live! In EuropeDeuce finds Gallagher torn between the earthy R&B of "Used to Be," a gritty blues fed through by some viciously unrestrained guitar playing, and the jokey, country-billy badinage of "Don't Know Where I'm Going," a too-short snippet that marries Bob Dylan to Ronnie Lane and reminds listeners just how broad Gallagher's sense of humor was. Reflecting the laid-back feel of Rory Gallagher, "I'm Not Awake Yet" is a largely acoustic piece driven as much by Gerry McAvoy's gutbucket bass as by Gallagher's intricate playing; "There's a Light", too, plays to Gallagher's sensitive side, while stating his mastery of the guitar across a protracted solo that isn't simply spellbinding in its restraint, it also has the effect of adding another voice to the proceedings. But such notions of plaintive melodicism are utterly exorcised by the moments of highest drama, a sequence that peaks with the closing, broiling "Crest of a Wave." With bass set on stun, the drums a turbulent wall of sound, and Gallagher's guitar a sonic switchblade, it's a masterpiece of aggressive dynamics, the sound of a band so close to its peak that you can almost touch the electricity. Of course, that peak would come during 1972-1973 with the albums upon which Gallagher's reputation is today most comfortably set. Deuce, however, doesn't simply set the stage for the future, it strikes the light that ignites the entire firestorm. AMG.

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Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills 2 (1971)

Flushed with the success of his first solo effort and the continuing adulation from his role in the supergroup CSNYStephen Stills must have felt like he could do no wrong, and in many instances, his second solo disc proves him right. The superb "Marianne" and "Change Partners" more than satisfy the listener, while the dark and brooding "Know You Got to Run" and the prophetic "Fishes and Scorpions" are prime examples of his power as a singer and a songwriter. But when he misses the mark, as on "Ecology Song," he misses it by a mile and then some. Besides that cut, "Bluebird Revisited" is pure self-indulgence that someone of his craft and technique should have known better than to include here -- or anywhere. But with CD players, one can omit anything offending and concentrate on what's good about Stephen Stills 2. Cut the disc in half, and you have a very enjoyable listening experience. As for the rest, well, let's just say you've been warned. AMG.

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Omara Portuondo - Omara 1974

Omara Portuonda is the grand old lady of Cuban music. While her early recordings made her a star in Cuba, her participation in the 1996 album and video documentary, The Buena Vista Social Club, brought her to international attention. Her solo album, The Buena Vista Social Club Presents Omara Portuondo, released in 2000, reinforced her status as one of Cuba's greatest musical ambassadors.A native of Havana, Portuondo was one of three daughters born to a baseball player on the Cuban national team and a woman of Spanish heritage who left the comfort and support of her wealthy family home to marry the man she loved. Her parents' singing provided the soundtrack for her early life. As a youngster, she sang in school choirs and music classes.

Heavily influenced by an older sister, Haydee, a dancer at the Tropicana cabaret, Portuondo attended many of the troupe's rehearsals. When the ensemble found itself short one dancer, in 1945, she was recruited to fill the vacancy. The experience launched her on a career as a dancer and she formed a successful partnership with Rolando Espinosa. Portuondo balanced her dancing with singing engagements with friends, including Cesar Portillo De La Luz, Jose Antonio Mendez, and pianist Frank Emilio Flynn, calling themselves Loquimbambla Swing. The group helped to pioneer the filin style of music that blended bossa nova and American jazz. For a while, she also performed with Orquestra Anaconda.

In 1952, Portuondo joined with her sister and Elena Burke to form a vocal group, Cuarteto d'Aida. The group's sound was established with the addition of pianist and director Aida Diestro and female vocalist Moraima Secada. Although she released her debut solo album, Magia Negra, in 1959, Portuondo continued to work with the group.

Cuarteto d'Aida's fortunes were drastically effected by the Bay of Pigs crisis in 1961. Although they had become frequent performers in Miami, FL, they were prevented from returning as the relationship between Cuba and the United States collapsed. While Portuondo returned to her homeland, continuing to perform with Cuarteto d'Aida until 1967, her sister elected to remain in the United States.Although she performed with Orquestra Aragon in the 1970s, Portuondo had settled into semi-retirement by the mid-'90s. Her plans to slow down her career were altered after Ry Cooder, who was in Cuba recording with the Chieftains, heard her sing in 1995. When he returned, the following year, to produce The Buena Vista Social Club, Portuondo was invited to become a featured vocalist with the all-star group. In 1998, Portuondo recorded a duo album, Desafios, with Cucho Valdes. AMG.

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O'Donel Levy - Black Velvet 1972

As its title portends, Black Velvet boasts a smooth, rich texture absent from O'Donel Levy's subsequent Groove Merchant sessions -- its mellow, stoned-soul sensibilities nevertheless complement the guitarist perfectly, affording him the space to weave a series of righteously beautiful solos. Like so many Groove Merchant efforts, the album relies far too much on the pop charts for material -- pap like "You've Made Me So Very Happy," "I'll Be There," and "Theme from Love Story" turns up like bad pennies -- but the arrangements are lovely, spotlighting contributions from organist Charles Covington, reedist Fats Theus, and trumpeter Billy SkinnerLevy also proves himself a composer of some distinction, contributing a pair of charming originals, "Granny" and "Nature's Child." AMG

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Elvin Bishop - Let It Flow 1974

For his fourth album, Elvin Bishop organized a new backup group and switched to Capricorn Records. Capricorn was known as the standard bearer of the Southern rock movement--the Allman Brothers BandThe Marshall Tucker Band, etc.--and Bishop was able to emphasize the country/blues aspects of his persona and his music in the move from Marin County, California, to Macon, Georgia. The guest artists included the Allmans' Dickey BettsMarshall Tucker's Toy CaldwellCharlie Daniels, and Sly Stone, and Bishop turned in one of his best sets of songs, including "Travelin' Shoes" (with its Allmans-like twin lead guitar work), which became his first charting single, just as the album was his first to make the Top 100 LPs. AMG.

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segunda-feira, 21 de junho de 2021

The Sir Douglas Quintet - The Return of Doug Saldana 1971

Since the Sir Douglas Quintet's records were so consistently satisfying and worked such a similar territory -- a loose-limbed, freewheeling eclecticism that encompassed rock & roll, blues, country, and R&B in unequal measures at varying times -- it can be hard drawing distinctions between their records. Certainly, there was a leap in quality and consistency when they moved to Smash, particularly after their tremendous Mendocino record, but each followed similar territory, with subtle shifts in either tone, subject, or music. Even so, their final Smash record, 1971's The Return of Doug Saldaña, is a special record that leapfrogs over the competition and arguably stands as their best record -- the best representation of their musical aesthetic, their richest collection of music, their best collection of songs. Part of its appeal is that it stretches beyond the signature Tex-Mex sound they laid down with Mendocino; there is no song that captures that wild, wide-open sound, complete with the simple chord changes and careening organ. No, here the Sir Douglas Quintet wind up emphasizing their musical roots -- whether it's the roadhouse blues jam of "Papa Ain't Salty" or the '50s rock & roll pastiche of "She's Huggin' You, But She's Lookin' at Me," a cinematic pastiche that's the American equivalent of David Bowie's similarly romanticized "Drive-In Saturday" -- while settling into the post-hippie hangover of the early '70s, as the dreams of the late '60s die. Witness how the raving opener, "Preach What You Live, Live What You Live," finds its counterpart in the sweetly resigned "Stoned Faces Don't Lie," and how it covers both spectrums of emotion, as Doug Sahm and his group embrace ideals while simultaneously finding them dwindling away. This is the subtext in an album that finds a surplus of great Texas music, from the breezy "Me and My Destiny" and a cover of "Wasted Days, Wasted Nights" to the folky narrative of "The Railpak Dun Done in the Del Monte" and the loose blues of "The Gypsy."  No other record by the Sir Douglas Quintet has such a consistently great set of songs or captures their ambition and skill as well as this, which is why it is arguably not only their finest record, but also one of the great lost records of its era, holding its own with the best of such similarly minded groups as the Band. A fantastic record that's just waiting to be discovered. [The 2002 reissue on Acadia/Evangeline contains two bonus tracks, the typically wonderful "Michoacan" and "Westside Blues Again."] AMG.

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Laura Nyro - The First Songs 1973

This disc contains a dozen of the first songs that singer/songwriter Laura Nyro ever recorded. They were issued originally as More Than a New Discovery (1967) for the folkie Forecast division of the primarily jazz-oriented Verve Records label. When Columbia Records bought Nyro's back catalog, they reissued the material under the title The First Songs in 1973 as a stopgap release during her self-imposed exile from 1971 until 1976. Pop music enthusiasts will recognize many of the songs, as they became international hits for other artists. "Wedding Bell Blues" and "Blowing Away" are signature tunes for the Fifth Dimension. "And When I Die" likewise became best known by Blood, Sweat & Tears. "Stoney End" and "I Never Meant to Hurt You" both are notable from Barbra Streisand's respective cover versions. For The First SongsNyro is accompanied by a small pop combo. Her duality as composer and performer demonstrate her influence from pop music's golden Tin Pan Alley to the more modern Brill Building style. Nyro's ability to synthesize the introspection of a classic torch ballad with an undeniable intimacy inherent in her lyrics is evident on "Buy and Sell," as well as "Billy's Blues" -- which both exemplify her uncanny marriage of jazz within a uniquely pop music structure. Also immediately discernable is that these tunes were far from simplistic, dealing with the organic elements that tether all of humanity, such as love, death, loss, and even redemption. While artists such as Tim Buckley and Joni Mitchell were attempting to do the same, much of their early catalog is considerably less focused in comparison. For example, "Lazy Susan" incorporates the same acoustic noir that would become the centerpiece of her future epics "Gibsom Street" and the title track to New York Tendaberry. There are a few differences between this release and More Than a New Discovery. In addition to altering the title and cover art, The First Songs revises the running order and renames "Hands Off the Man" to "Flim Flam Man." Beginning in 2002, Sony/Legacy commenced an exhaustive overhaul of Nyro's classic '70s albums. In addition to remastered sound, newly incorporated artwork, and liner notes, the series also boasts "bonus tracks" where applicable. Both casual listeners, as well as seasoned connoisseurs, can find much to discover and rediscover on these seminal sides from Laura Nyro. AMG.

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Marvin Gaye - What's Going On 1971

What's Going On is not only Marvin Gaye's masterpiece, it's the most important and passionate record to come out of soul music, delivered by one of its finest voices, a man finally free to speak his mind and so move from R&B sex symbol to true recording artist. With What's Going OnGaye meditated on what had happened to the American dream of the past -- as it related to urban decay, environmental woes, military turbulence, police brutality, unemployment, and poverty. These feelings had been bubbling up between 1967 and 1970, during which he felt increasingly caged by Motown's behind-the-times hit machine and restrained from expressing himself seriously through his music. Finally, late in 1970, Gaye decided to record a song that the Four TopsObie Benson had brought him, "What's Going On." When Berry Gordy decided not to issue the single, deeming it uncommercial, Gaye refused to record any more material until he relented. Confirmed by its tremendous commercial success in January 1971, he recorded the rest of the album over ten days in March, and Motown released it in late May. Besides cementing Marvin Gaye as one of the most important artists in pop music, What's Going On was far and away the best full-length to issue from the singles-dominated Motown factory, and arguably the best soul album of all time. Conceived as a statement from the viewpoint of a Vietnam veteran (Gaye's brother Frankie had returned from a three-year hitch in 1967), What's Going On isn't just the question of a baffled soldier returning home to a strange place, but a promise that listeners would be informed by what they heard (that missing question mark in the title certainly wasn't a typo). Instead of releasing listeners from their troubles, as so many of his singles had in the past, Gaye used the album to reflect on the climate of the early '70s, rife with civil unrest, drug abuse, abandoned children, and the spectre of riots in the near past. Alternately depressed and hopeful, angry and jubilant, Gaye saved the most sublime, deeply inspired performances of his career for "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)," "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)," and "Save the Children." The songs and performances, however, furnished only half of a revolution; little could've been accomplished with the Motown sound of previous Marvin Gaye hits like "Stubborn Kind of Fellow" and "Hitch Hike" or even "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." What's Going On, as he conceived and produced it, was like no other record heard before it: languid, dark, and jazzy, a series of relaxed grooves with a heavy bottom, filled by thick basslines along with bongos, conga, and other percussion. Fortunately, this aesthetic fit in perfectly with the style of longtime Motown session men like bassist James Jamerson and guitarist Joe Messina. When the Funk Brothers were, for once, allowed the opportunity to work in relaxed, open proceedings, they produced the best work of their careers (and indeed, they recognized its importance before any of the Motown executives). Bob Babbitt's playing on "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" functions as the low-end foundation but also its melodic hook, while an improvisatory jam by Eli Fountain on alto sax furnished the album's opening flourish. (Much credit goes to Gaye himself for seizing on these often tossed-off lines as precious; indeed, he spent more time down in the Snakepit than he did in the control room.) Just as he'd hoped it would be, What's Going On was Marvin Gaye's masterwork, the most perfect expression of an artist's hope, anger, and concern ever recorded. AMG.

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