sábado, 23 de abril de 2022

Norma Jean & Ray J - Raising Hell 1974

Norma Jean & Ray J’s “Raising Hell” is one helluva rare nugget. Released on the Hep-Me label in 1974, this has a remarkably polished sound and sophistication in the music to have warranted bigger names on the front of the album cover. And while Norma Jean and Ray J would never topple the likes of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, they have crude chemistry that has magic all of its very own. A wonderful wonderful left-fielder that I urge you to give a few plays for it to reel you in and in love. The excellent Superfly Records reissue 'Raising Hell' by Norma Jean & Ray J for the first time on vinyl. Thanks to "funkmysoul.gr".

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Ramsey Lewis - Sun Godess 1974

Pianist Ramsey Lewis first came to fame as the purveyor of swinging soul-jazz in the mid-'60s, but like a lot of musicians, he underwent some major changes by the end of that decade. Sun Goddess (1974), Lewis' biggest success of the decade, is miles away from the finger-snapping supper club sounds of "The In Crowd." By this time, Lewis had transformed himself into a jazz fusion funkateer, riffing on electric piano and synthesizer amid arrangements that meld jazz with funk, R&B, and yes, even touches of progressive rock. Sun Goddess is also something of a stealth Earth, Wind & Fire album, as it features most of the key players from that band, and bears echoes of EW&F's jazzier, more atmospheric side. AMG.

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Spooky Tooth - Spooky Two 1969

Spooky Two is this British blues-rock band's pièce de résistance. All eight of the tracks compound free-styled rock and loose-fitting guitar playing, resulting in some fantastic raw music. With Gary Wright on keyboards and vocals and lead singer Mike Harrison behind the microphone, their smooth, relaxed tempos and riffs mirrored bands like Savoy Brown and, at times, even the Yardbirds. With some emphasis on keyboards, songs like "Lost in My Dream" and the nine-minute masterpiece "Evil Woman" present a cool, nonchalant air that grooves and slides along perfectly. "I've Got Enough Heartache" whines and grieves with some sharp bass playing from Greg Ridley, while "Better by You, Better Than Me" is the catchiest of the songs, with its clinging hooks and desperate-sounding chorus. The last song, "Hangman Hang My Shell on a Tree," is a splendid example of the bandmembers' ability to play off of one another, mixing soulful lyrics with downtrodden instrumentation to conjure up the perfect melancholia. Although Spooky Tooth lasted about seven years, their other albums never really contained the same passion or talented collaboration by each individual musician as Spooky Two. AMG.

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The Triangle - Now How Blue Cow 1969

The Triangle was a self-described Western Blues trio from El Paso, Texas who moved to L.A. in the late sixties and found gigs playing the Sunset Strip clubs before releasing their first album in 1969. The music is Texas psych with an undercurrent of soul dominated by blazing fuzz and slide guitars. 

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Martin Circus - Acte II (1971)

One of the first -- if not the first -- French-language rock bands, Martin Circus formed in the late '60s and released a handful of respected albums prior to undergoing a makeover that resulted in one of the most enduring disco epics, the 14-minute-long "Disco Circus." The song originated on a 1979 album and was edited down to eight minutes by disco/house vet François Kevorkian. A French 12" release that same year (on the Vogue label) featured "Disco Circus" in its full glory, albeit as the B-side to "Before It Gets Dark." Also in 1979, the legendary U.S. label Prelude released another 12" with the lengthier version included. Five years later, Unidisc pressed 12" singles with the full version on the A-side and a medley of similar length on the B-side. Since its original release, "Disco Circus" has popped up on a couple compilations (Harmless' Jumpin' 2 and SPLK's Prelude's Greatest Hits, Vol. 4, both of which went out of print shortly after release) and it was also thrown onto Juan AtkinsWax Trax! Mastermix disc in the late '90s. AMG.

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Genesis - Selling England By The Pound 1973

Genesis proved that they could rock on Foxtrot but on its follow-up Selling England by the Pound they didn't follow this route, they returned to the English eccentricity of their first records, which wasn't so much a retreat as a consolidation of powers. For even if this eight-track album has no one song that hits as hard as "Watcher of the Skies," Genesis hasn't sacrificed the newfound immediacy of Foxtrot: they've married it to their eccentricity, finding ways to infuse it into the delicate whimsy that's been their calling card since the beginning. This, combined with many overt literary allusions -- the Tolkeinisms of the title of "The Battle of Epping Forest" only being the most apparent -- gives this album a storybook quality. It plays as a collection of short stories, fables, and fairy tales, and it is also a rock record, which naturally makes it quite extraordinary as a collection, but also as a set of individual songs. Genesis has never been as direct as they've been on the fanciful yet hook-driven "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" -- apart from the fluttering flutes in the fade-out, it could easily be mistaken for a glam single -- or as achingly fragile as on "More Fool Me," sung by Phil Collins. It's this delicate balance and how the album showcases the band's narrative force on a small scale as well as large that makes this their arguable high-water mark. AMG.

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Blood, Sweat & Tears - Blood, Sweat & Tears 3 (1970)

Blood, Sweat & Tears had a hard act to follow in recording their third album. Nevertheless, BS&T constructed a convincing, if not quite as impressive, companion to their previous hit. David Clayton-Thomas remained an enthusiastic blues shouter, and the band still managed to put together lively arrangements, especially on the Top 40 hits "Hi-De-Ho" and "Lucretia Mac Evil." Elsewhere, they re-created the previous album's jazzing up of Laura Nyro ("He's a Runner") and Traffic ("40,000 Headmen"), although their pretentiousness, on the extended "Symphony/Sympathy for the Devil," and their tendency to borrow other artists' better-known material (James Taylor's "Fire and Rain") rather than generating more of their own, were warning signs for the future. In the meantime, BS&T 3 was another chart-topping gold hit. AMG.

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Renaissance - Prologue 1972

The first album by the '70s (i.e. Annie Haslam) version of Renaissance is a transitional work, rooted in more standard hard rock sounds (including psychedelia) than what followed. One can spot the difference, which may please some listeners and put others off, in the fairly heavy guitar sound of "Prologue," Rob Hendry's electric instrument playing both lead and rhythm parts prominently at various times behind Annie Haslam's soaring vocals and adjacent to John Tout's piano. "Kiev" may also startle some longtime fans, since Haslam doesn't handle the lead vocals, the male members' singing being much more prominent. The ethereal, flowingly lyrical "Sounds of the Sea" is the cut here that most resembles the music that the group became known for in the years ahead, and shows Haslam singing in the high register for which she would become famous. "Spare Some Love," with its prominent folky acoustic guitar, also anticipates material (specifically "Let It Grow" and "On The Frontier") off of the group's better known second album, Ashes Are Burning. "Bound For Infinity" marked the final creative contribution by co-founder Jim McCarty, of the '60s version of Renaissance, and is pretty enough even if it doesn't fit in anywhere with their subsequent sound. And the 11-minute epic "Rajah Khan," with its elements of raga-rock, including sitar-like passages on Hendry's electric guitars and an extended VCS 3 synthesizer solo by Francis Monkman, is a more advanced and virtuoso descendant of late '60s psychedelia. It, too, has little to do with the sound that the group subsequently adopted (although it does intersect, in the most peripheral way, with "Song of Scheherazade" and some of the other Eastern-theme works that preceded it), but the track is entertaining and does show off a startlingly different type of art-rock toward which this group could have gravitated. The sound is clean, and this version of Prologue is to be preferred over Capitol's abortive attempt to reissue it in the late 1980's as In The Beginning, which cut some of the material and had totally lackluster sound. AMG.

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Coloured Balls - Ball Power 1973

A product of the working-class area of the western suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, the Coloured Balls had a ready-made, predominantly male audience. This comprised fans of the cult movie A Clockwork Orange, who also adopted the aggressive ‘skinhead’ style of closely-shaven heads and thick boots and braces. The band reflected this in their music and image. Led by Lobby Loyde (b. John Baslington Lyde, 18 May 1941, Longreach, Queensland, Australia, d. 21 April 2007, Box Hill, Melbourne, Victoria, USA), a product of the R&B/rock scene of the 60s (the Wild Cherries, Purple Hearts, the Aztecs), the Coloured Balls originally comprised Andrew Fordham (guitar/vocals), Trevor Young (drums), and Janis Miglans (bass). They covered Chuck Berry songs and wrote others around this rock ‘n’ roll rhythm complete with Loyde’s lead guitar work, all played at an eardrum-shattering volume. The band had success mainly in Melbourne; it was short-lived (1972-74) and waned as fashions invariably do, with other members including Ian ‘Bobsy’ Millar (guitar/vocals) and Peter White (drums). Loyde went solo, then relocated to the UK, released an album of guitar experimentation, learned to produce, and, following his return, produced underground and alternative bands. AMG.

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Keef Hartley Band - The Time Is Near 1970

At the time, the transformation from R&B into hard rock and prog rock seemed seamless, swept along a current of subtly shifting styles, a view today cemented by hindsight into inevitability. But all one has to do is listen to bands that fell by the wayside to see that the end result was in no way insured and that other paths beckoned, only to quickly become cul-de-sacs. Drummer Keef Hartley established his reputation upon joining British blues legends John Mayall's Bluesbreakers in 1967, performing on four of their albums before his departure the following year. That same year, Hartley formed his eponymous band around the axis of himself, bassist Gary Thain, and singer/guitarist/composer, Miller Anderson, with their musical horizons widened by a kaleidoscope cast of brass, keyboardists, and flügelhorn players. The group released The Time Is Near..., its third album, in 1970, a set that found the group moving into ever more esoteric pastures. Some critics complained the album was directionless, but au contraire, the band knew precisely where they were going and what their goal was -- to create a tapestry of sound that intricately weaves together American R&B with a decided Stax slant, intertwining funkier flavors with the brass flash of the earlier soul era, and crisscrossing it with jazz. Some songs are embroidered with a harder rock sound, others are threaded with bright splashes of Latin colors, and others still with more subdued acoustic passages. It takes several listens for the full aural impact to coalesce, a reflection of the song's lack of infectious hooks and strong melodies, a sign too of the band's growing proggy bend and jazzy leanings. But given enough time, the album begins to weave its spell, and its greatness starts to solidify. However, as a path to chart success, this album was a dead-end street; pop fans want instant gratification, and Time Is Near wasn't supplying that. But for more discerning audiences, this CD is a welcome return for a carefully crafted and gorgeously imagined set. AMG.

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Alice - Alice 1970

Recorded At The Marquee Studio, London, October 20th to 29th 1970, this record led to obvious comparisons with Jethro Tull, Traffic, Pink Floyd, and Family…featuring some excellent proto-prog, sometimes a bit similar to Comus and there are even some Faust-like melodies here and there… Alice's greatest strength was their talent for songwriting, composing songs with an instant appeal. Their music was lively and rural with some hippie vibes, maybe closest to Traffic's second album. On some tracks, Alice used warbling Leslie effects on the vocals. Along with the first Magma album, this was one of the best French albums of 1970.
Alice belonged to the first generation of French rock groups along with Alan Jack Civilization, Systeme Crapoutchik, Ame Son, and Martin Circus. Music-Emporium.

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The Seeds - Future 1967

Though the Seeds' third album, 1967's Future, was pegged by critics as the band's attempt to ride the wave of baroque/psychedelic/orchestral magic the Beatles defined with Sgt. Pepper's, the recording was actually complete before the release of the Beatles' far more popular breakthrough album, making it impossible for the influence to touch the uncannily similarly minded flower power tones of Future The Seeds had their own relatively huge smash with the raw high-pressure garage thumper "Pushin' Too Hard" the year before, and saw nothing wrong with recycling that tune's melody on more than a few songs on their first two albums. The melody and feel of that track is revisited on Future in the form of "Out of the Question" and the spooky organ of "A Thousand Shadows," but a deliberate attempt to move away from the band's by-the-numbers caveman garage rock toward something more experimental, spectral, and musical can be felt all over the rest of the album. While Sgt. Pepper's set a standard for this type of conceptual, genre-bending rock, other heavyweight contemporaries of the Seeds were already experimenting with injecting their straightforward rock & roll with mind-expanding psychedelia and uncommon orchestration. Lovethe ZombiesBlues Magoos, and the Left Banke were all getting into flutes, Mellotrons, and harps by 1967, and the Seeds themselves had hinted at a classical influence with the haunting piano solo of their earlier classic "Can't Seem to Make You Mine." Though Future sought to expand on the raw approach of earlier albums with heightened musicality, there's no real concept to tie the various pieces together. Instead, listeners were treated to a pleasant if confusing mishmash of attempted statements. There are stabs at mind-expanding psychedelic mantras like the spare raga-esque guitars and muddy bongos of "Travel with Your Mind," indulgent string sections and random-sounding harpsichords on "Painted Doll" and the waltzy, tuba-heavy "Two Fingers Pointing On You," the aforementioned garage vamps, and all of the above on the obligatory seven-minute album-closing jam "Fallin'." While it's clear vocalist Sky Saxon and company were tuned into the electricity and open-mindedness of the burgeoning hippie movement, the various experiments on Future fail to ever congeal. Even in the most orchestrated, quiet, or overwrought moments, the Seeds can't quite shake their core personalities, sounding less like they're changing directions and more like they're donning a new costume with each song, never really settling on one look before just leaving in the clothes they were wearing, to begin with. While the sidesteps into Technicolor psychedelia and overly serious orchestration are interesting and sometimes good, nothing has quite the same power as Saxon's feral howls or the burning fuzz guitar that escapes in the least calculated (and most exciting) moments of Future. AMG.

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domingo, 17 de abril de 2022

Garnet Mimms - Warm and Soulful 1966

Best known for his original rendition of "Cry Baby," later a major item in Janis Joplin's repertoire, Garnet Mimms' pleading, gospel-derived intensity made him one of the earliest true soul singers. His legacy remains criminally underappreciated since for some reason he never scored another hit on the level of "Cry Baby," but his output from the early to mid-'60s -- a blend of uptown sophistication and earthy, impassioned vocals -- has earned comparisons to Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson from hardcore soul aficionados. Mimms was actually born Garrett Mimms in Ashland, WV, on November 26, 1933. He was mostly raised in Philadelphia, and began singing in church as a boy; during his teen years, he performed with several area gospel groups, including the Evening Stars, the Harmonizing Four, and the Norfolk Four, with whom he cut his first record in 1953.

Mimms subsequently served several years in the military, and upon his release, he returned to Philadelphia in 1958 and formed a doo-wop quintet called the Gainors, whose ranks included Sam Bell and onetime Evening Star Howard Tate (later an acclaimed solo singer in his own right). The Gainors recorded singles for several labels over the next three years, including Red Top (later picked up by Cameo), Mercury (from 1959-1960), and Tally Ho (1961). Failing to produce a hit, Mimms left the group along with Bell and put together Garnet Mimms & the Enchanters, which were completed by Charles Boyer and Zola Pearnell. Thanks to Dick Clark's American Bandstand program, Philadelphia had become a haven for teen idols, and Mimms took his group to New York in 1963 in search of a more receptive scene. There they met songwriter/producer Bert Berns, who signed them to United Artists and teamed them with another songwriter/producer, Jerry RagovoyMimms quickly struck gold with the proto-soul performance of "Cry Baby," a smash hit that reached the pop Top Five and topped the R&B charts in 1963. The follow-up, a cover of Jerry Butler & the Impressions' "For Your Precious Love," hit the pop Top 40 later that year, as did the flip side, "Baby Don't You Weep." Mimms and the Enchanters parted ways in 1964; the group recorded separately with a new lead vocalist, while Mimms cut solo sides for UA steadily over the next few years. Ragovoy's productions became increasingly polished, mirroring the shift in R&B spearheaded by Motown, yet Mimms' vocals retained all the fire of his gospel training, making for a combination that was fairly unique for the time. Minor hits like "It Was Easier to Hurt Her" and "I'll Take Good Care of You" (the latter Mimms' last Top 40 hit in 1966) didn't perform nearly as well commercially as their quality seemed to indicate. In 1967, United Artists moved him to their Veep subsidiary, where "My Baby" was another inexplicable flop (it, too, was later covered by Janis Joplin on Pearl).

Mimms subsequently followed Ragovoy to Verve, where he recorded four singles to little response; ditto for his brief stint at MGM. Mimms did make one last minor chart appearance in 1977, recording for Arista as Garnet Mimms & the Truckin' Company; the disco-funk single "What It Is" was produced by Brass Construction mastermind Randy MullerMimms retired from the music business permanently after becoming a born-again Christian.

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McPhee - McPhee 1971

Sydney band McPhee, which formed in 1970, released no Singles and only one LP during its brief life, but the group has long enjoyed a cult following, and rock historian Chris Spencer describes it as "one of the most collectible (and enjoyable) Australian Albums of its time".

Jim Deverell and Benny Kaika were originally from New Zealand, and Deverell and Joyce had previously worked together as session players backing artists like Digby Richards, The Delltones, and Little Sammy & The In People. Faye Lewis had done session singing and had been a member of Luke's Walnut, the group that replaced Tully as the house band for the musical Hair in early 1970. English-born Terry Popple had been a member of late 60's UK band Tramline, who issued a couple of Albums on the Island label. He linked up with McPhee shortly after the group formed when he traveled to Australia in early 1970, and the band began working on the Sydney club and wine bar circuit. McPhee was strongly influenced by the acid-rock and progressive styles coming from the UK, as indicated by their covers of songs done by acts like Spooky Tooth and Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity, as well as the emerging west coast American sounds like Neil Young. In this respect, they operated in the same general area as contemporary groups like Melissa and Galadriel, although on record they were probably the hardest-hitting outfit of the three.

In 1971 they went into Martin Erdman's World Of Sound studio in Sydney to record an album for Erdman's independent Violet's Holiday label. The sessions yielded seven tracks that were favorites from the band's live repertoire. The two originals were the lengthy jazz-rock instrumental Out to Lunch and five cover versions, including 'heavy' renditions of Spooky Tooth's "The Wrong Time", Neil Young's "Southern Man", Ritchie Haven's "Indian Rope Man" and The Beatles' "I am The Walrus".

The album's piece de resistance was the surging rendition of "Indian Rope Man" (a Richie Havens song done in the style of the cover by British soul/R&B act Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity) highlighted by a stunning Hammond organ solo by Jim Deverell.

Released with little promotion in early 1972, the album sank without trace. Perhaps only 500 copies were ever pressed, which places it with Albums like Company Caine's fabled Dr Chop as one of the rarest of Aussie LPs of that era.

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The Savage Rose - The Savage Rose 1968

One of the most well-known rock groups from Continental Europe, Denmark's Savage Rose recorded a wealth of intriguing and eclectic progressive rock in the late '60s and '70s. In their early work, one hears faint echoes of the AirplaneDoorsPink Floyd, and other psychedelic heavyweights combined with classical jazz and Danish-Euro folk elements. Their arrangements rely heavily on an incandescent, watery organ that sounds like nothing so much as psychedelic aquarium music. The most striking aspect of the band's sound, however, was the vocals of lead singer Annisette. Her childish wispy and sensual phrasing can suddenly break into jarring, almost histrionic wailing, like a Janis Joplin with Yoko Ono-isms, and eerily foreshadows Kate Bush's style. Stars in their native land, Savage Rose also achieved a bit of underground success abroad, and several of their albums were released in North America. Between 1968 and 1978, the group released nine albums, moving from vaguely psychedelic rock and the heavily gospel-influenced Refugee to the nearly classical ballet score Dodens Triumf and the folky, nearly all-Danish Solen Var Ogsa Din (their first eight albums were sung entirely in English).

Always a radical band -- the Black Panthers even invited the group to play at a benefit for Bobby Seale after hearing one of Savage Rose's records -- they took the extremely radical step of withdrawing from the studio entirely by the end of 1970s to focus on using their music to support leftist political causes. Although they continued to make music and perform, they were often heard at benefits and free concerts, actually playing in Lebanese hospitals, schools, and refugee camps at the P.L.O.'s invitation. They eased back into recording in the early '80s with Danish-language efforts on small labels, eventually getting back into the mainstream music business with the established distribution. Their mid-'90s album, Black Angel, was their first English-language recording in many years, and a substantial Danish hit. By this time the only remaining members from the original band were Thomas Koppel and Annisette (now his wife); Koppel also records and composes symphonic music as a solo artist. AMG.

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Ray Barreto - Together 1970

While Ray Barretto's congas have graced more recording sessions than virtually any other conguero of his time, he has also led some refreshingly progressive Latin jazz bands over the decades. His records often have a more tense, more adventurously eclectic edge than those of most conventional salsa groups, unafraid to use electronics and novel instrumental or structural combinations, driven hard by his rocksteady, endlessly flexible percussion work. This no doubt reflects Barretto's wide range of musical interests and also the fact that he came to Latin music from jazz, rather than the usual vice versa route for Latin-descended musicians. Indeed, he has said that he learned how to play swing-style before he came to master Latin grooves.

Puerto Rican by extraction, Barretto took up the congas while stationed in Germany during an Army hitch. He began working with American jazz musicians upon his return to New York, eventually replacing Mongo Santamaria in the Tito Puente band for four years, beginning in the late '50s. Barretto made his debut as a leader for Riverside in 1962 and scored a crossover hit (number 17 on the pop charts) the following year on Tico with "El Watusi" (in tandem with a dance craze of the time). He tried to modernize the charanga sound with injections of brass, covering rock and pop tunes of the time as several Latin artists did then. However, Barretto made his main mark in the '60s as a super session player, playing on albums by Gene AmmonsCannonball AdderleyKenny BurrellLou DonaldsonRed GarlandDizzy GillespieFreddie HubbardWes MontgomeryCal Tjader, and several other jazz and pop albums. In moving over to the Fania label in 1967, Barretto began to achieve recognition as one of the leading Latin jazz artists of the day, eventually becoming music director of the Fania All-Stars. In the '70s, he was incorporating rock and funk influences into his music -- with only limited success -- while recording for Atlantic, and in 1981, he made a highly regarded album for CTI La Cuna, with PuenteJoe Farrell, and Charlie Palmieri as guest players. He became music director of the Bravisimo television program and took part in the multi-idiom, all-star, anti-apartheid Sun City recording and video in 1985. In 1992, he unveiled a new Latin jazz sextet, New World Spirit, which made some absorbingly unpredictable albums for Concord Picante. AMG.

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Lobby LLoyde, Coloured Balls, Billy Thorpe & Leo de Castro - Summer Jam 1973

Summer Jam was recorded at the second annual Sunbury Festival, at 3.30am on a barmy summer’s night in January 1973. By that time Coloured Balls had established an identity as one of the best bands on the Melbourne rock scene. The redoubtable Lobby Loyde (who died in 2007) was already a 10-year veteran of high esteem, having come up through the ranks of The Purple Hearts, The Wild Cherries and Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs. He’d formed Coloured Balls in March 1972, essentially as a reaction against all that was staid in local pop music. The Balls’ combination of seething, hard driving, loud rock music and proto-punk attitude had already marked out their stall as a force of barely restrained energy and motivation. Taking the Sunbury stage at such an ungodly hour proved no hindrance to the Balls, with the whole jam captured by location recording engineer John French from TCS Sound Studios. Fellow legends Billy Thorpe and Leo de Castro joined the band for ragged versions of blues rock staples ‘Help Me’ / ‘Rock Me Baby’ and ‘Going Down’. 

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sexta-feira, 15 de abril de 2022

Richard and Linda Thompson - I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight 1974

In 1974, Richard Thompson and the former Linda Peters released their first album together, and I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight was nothing short of a masterpiece, the starkly beautiful refinement of the promise of Thompson's solo debut, Henry the Human Fly. In Linda ThompsonRichard found a superb collaborator and a world-class vocalist; Linda possessed a voice as clear and rich as Sandy Denny's, but with a strength that could easily support Richard's often weighty material, and she proved capable of tackling anything presented to her, from the delicately mournful "Has He Got a Friend for Me" to the gleeful cynicism of "The Little Beggar Girl." And while Richard had already made clear that he was a songwriter to be reckoned with, on I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight he went from strength to strength. While the album's mood is decidedly darker than anything he'd recorded before, the sorrow of "Withered and Died," "The End of the Rainbow," and "The Great Valerio" spoke not of self-pity but of the contemplation of life's cruelties by a man who, at 25, had already been witness to more than his share. And though Thompson didn't give himself a guitar showcase quite like "Roll Over Vaughn Williams" on Henry the Human Fly, the brilliant solos that punctuated many of the songs were manna from heaven for any guitar enthusiast. While I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight may be the darkest music of Richard & Linda Thompson's career, in this chronicle of pain and longing they were able to forge music of striking and unmistakable beauty; if the lyrics often ponder the high stakes of our fate in this life, the music offered a glimpse of the joys that make the struggle worthwhile. AMG.

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Laurent Thibault - Mais On Ne Peut Pas Rever Tout Les Temps 1978)

Evidence that zeuhl doesn't necessarily have to be sinister martial ranting in a nonsense language, Laurent Thibault's only solo album focuses on the jazzier side of zeuhl as expressed on Magma's debut - perhaps appropriately enough, considering that Thibault was Magma's first bassist and left them before their full on "Klingon Opera" style was fully in place. Still, his bass work here demonstrates just how important a good bass line is to the zeuhl style, whilst offering a more gentle take on the whole thing - a bit like a lovechild between Christian Vander and Mike Oldfield. Though not typical of the genre, it's still worth a look.

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Edwin Birdsong - Dance of Survival 1975

Released on the tiny Bamboo label between Edwin Birdsong's tenures with Polydor and Philadelphia International, Dance of Survival remains his boldest and most metaphysical effort, channeling influences spanning from psychedelia to folk to disco to create music that seems to speak an alien language only the ass can understand. No matter how eccentric or incomprehensible Birdsong's lyrics, his grooves are profoundly universal, the Trojan horse via which his music spreads like some mutant virus. This is cosmic funk transmitted from a planet astronomers have yet to discover, adorned in bizarre production flourishes, blistering guitars and sci-fi synths, and it's somehow both instantly familiar and utterly unlike anything you've ever heard. AMG.

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