domingo, 26 de fevereiro de 2012

John Hiatt - Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns 2011

Since John Hiatt and the major labels decided to go their separate ways around the turn of the century, his approach to record making has been direct and organic; most of his albums have sounded as if Hiatt and his sidemen put them together without a lot of fuss, placing the emphasis squarely on Hiatt's dependably strong material and tough, flinty vocal style. But 2011's Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns is a more polished and ambitious affair than Hiatt has delivered in years. The sessions were produced by Kevin Shirley, who has previously worked with Aerosmith, the Black Crowes, Dream Theater, and Journey, and though his approach isn't especially intrusive, the sound of this record is certainly more luxurious, with the guitars sounding bigger, the drums booming a bit louder, and strings and keyboards decorating several tracks and the arrangements, gaining a greater sense of drama along the way. The latter is fitting, since the songs on Dirty Jeans have a more melodramatic tone than most of Hiatt's recent work, particularly "Damn This Town"'s tale of a shattered family, the romantic lament of "Don't Want to Leave You Now," "Down Around My Place"'s elegy to a world gone to seed, and Hiatt's belated meditation on 9/11, "When New York Had Her Heart Broke." While Hiatt's accompanists play in a strong, confident manner (especially guitarist Doug Lancio, drummer Kenneth Blevins, and Russ Pahl on pedal steel), Shirley's production tries to build atmosphere and dramatic tension out of echo and reverb, and sometimes his artful approach is a bit much, particularly since most of these numbers would certainly sound powerful with a more Spartan approach. But this delivers another 11 songs from one of America's best working tunesmiths, no small thing, and it shows Hiatt's craft is still potent, while his singing hasn't been this effective in years. In many respects, Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns shows that John Hiatt is well served by a more hands-on production, though one might also imagine Kevin Shirley isn't necessarily the best person to do the job. AMG.
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Papa John Creach - Papa Blues 1992

Violinist Papa John Creach first came to the notice of rock fans when he joined Jefferson Airplane and its spin-off group, Hot Tuna, in 1970. By that time, he was already in his early fifties, a veteran of jazz and blues associations, while his fellow bandmembers were still approaching 30. Nevertheless, using an electrified violin, Creach added a new psychedelic edge to the Airplane in its final days. The band split in 1972, by which time Creach had begun to release solo albums on its custom label, Grunt. The Airplane was reorganized and relaunched as Jefferson Starship, and Creach was with it through its million-selling Red Octopus album in 1975. He continued to make solo albums through 1992, when he released Papa Blues. Papa John Creach died of heart failure in 1994 at the age of 76. AMG.
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Roger Waters - The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking 1984

When dissected carefully, The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking becomes a fascinating conceptual voyage into the workings of the human psyche. As an abstract peering into the intricate functions of the subconscious, Waters' first solo album involves numerous dream sequences that both figuratively and symbolically unravel his struggle with marriage, fidelity, commitment, and age at the height of a midlife crisis. While the songs (titled by the times in which Waters experiences each dream) seem to lack in musical fluidity at certain points, they make up for it with ingenious symbolism and his brilliant use of stream of consciousness within a subconscious realm. Outside from the deep but sometimes patchy narrative framework, the music slightly lacks in rhythm or hooks, except for the title track that includes some attractive guitar playing via Eric Clapton. David Sanborn's saxophone is another attribute, adding some life to "Go Fishing" and "The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking." But it's truly the imagery and the visual design of the album that is front and center, since the importance lies in what Waters is trying to get across to the audience, decorated somewhat casually by his singing and the music. With Pink Floyd, the marriage of Waters' concepts and ideas with the talented musicianship of the rest of the band presented a complete masterpiece in both thought and music, while his solo efforts lean more toward the conceptual aspects of his work. With this in mind, The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking continues to showcase Waters' unprecedented knack of addressing his darkest thoughts and conceptions in a most extraordinary fashion. AMG.
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56 Hope Road - Drop it all 2004

56 Hope Road is a band bonded like a family, and as a result, their music has an unmistakable honesty and openness. Uncanny, intuitive communication creates an easy interplay on stage, making even the most layered tunes sound effortless. They allow the joy of spontaneous creativity to color their song-based arrangements - neither losing their musical center, nor restricting its growth. The music is acoustic funk at its finest with sounds reminiscent of G-Love and Special Sauce, Richie Havens, MMW, Grateful Dead, Paul Simon and Gomez. This Chicago-based “acoustic funk explosion” is known for clever songwriting, lush vocal harmonies and one of the tightest rhythm sections on the scene. Formed in 1999, 56 Hope Road is made up of vocalist/guitarist Dave Hamilton, drummer Greg Fundis, upright bassist Chad Sanders, saxophonist Casey Fitzpatrick, and often augmented by vocalist Anne Katzfey, and percussionist Matt Katzfey.
56 Hope Road was recently announced the #1 Road Warrior Band by the renowned online musical resource, as well as HomeGrown Music Network, gaining national attention for their energetic live shows and relentless tour schedule totaling 660 shows throughout 2007, 2006 and 2005. Rising stars on the festival scene and national touring circuit, 56 Hope Road has appeared at High Sierra Music Festival, Summercamp, 10,000 Lakes, Wakarusa and has supported a variety of national artists such as Stevie Wonder, Dave Matthews Band, Page McConnell of Phish, Tom Cochrane and Red Ryder, ekoostik hookah, Umphrey's McGee, Tea Leaf Green, Devon Allman, Spyro Gyra, Verve Pipe, Bob Schneider, Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise, Drums and Tuba, Campbell Brothers, Jazz Mandolin Project, The Samples, and DJ Le Spam.
56 Hope Road has released 4 full-length albums on their independent label Albino Deer Records working with such industry moguls as GRAMMY nominated engineers as producer Rick Barnes (Smashing Pumpkins, Liquid Soul), Steve Albini (Nirvana, Page & Plant), and Mark Rubel (Hum and Poster Children). 56 Hope Road released their most recent album “Law of Attraction” early 2008 to critic acclaim. “Law of Attraction” left Richard Milne from WXRT in Chicago to wonder if 56 Hope Road had visited the crossroads and sold their soul. Their songs have been featured regularly on Sirius Radio Channel 17 Jam_ON, as well as WXRT Chicago, United Airlines Radio, various college and community radio stations across the country, National Public Radio, the soundtrack to “A Place in France,” in an upcoming film “Road to Woodstock,” and a Fox Sports Net Pilot/Warren Miller production “Destination Wild.”
The name 56 Hope Road pays homage to the positive influence Bob Marley's message and music has on the world.
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V.A. - Trainspotting OST 1996

Trainspotting concerns the adventures of a group of young, nearly criminal, drug-addicted Scottish friends. The novel, written by Irvine Welsh, became one of the most popular books in the British indie scene in the early '90s and was adapted to film in 1996 by the makers of Shallow Grave. Appropriately, an all-star collection of British pop and techno stars -- everyone from Blur, Pulp, and Elastica to Leftfield, Primal Scream, and Underworld -- contributed to the soundtrack, which also features a couple of oldies by veteran punk godfathers like Lou Reed ("Perfect Day") and Iggy Pop ("Lust for Life," "Nightclubbing"). The entire soundtrack holds together surprisingly well, as the techno tracks balance with the pop singles. Every song, whether it's Pulp's deceptively bouncy "Mile End" or Brian Eno's lush "Deep Blue Day," is quite melancholy, creating an effectively bleak, but oddly romantic, atmosphere for the entire record. With the exception of the oldies, every song is rare or especially recorded for the soundtrack, and nearly every one is superb. Primal Scream's title track sees them returning to the dub/dance experiments of Screamadelica with grace, while Damon Albarn's first solo song, "Closet Romantic," is as good as any of Blur's waltzes. But the finest new song is Pulp's "Mile End," with its jaunty, neo-dancehall melody and rhythms and Jarvis Cocker's evocative, haunting lyrics. That song, more than anything else on the soundtrack, captures the feeling of the film. AMG.
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sexta-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2012

Grand Jeu sur V.A. - The Ultimate Top 5 Dancefloor

On arrive à la fin du Grand Jeu et je suis content d'avoir participé, ça été trés enrichissant à tous les niveaux! Je vous assure qu' il y a 5 tracks (si je me suis pas trompé... oops!), non ...non! Oui ... oui  5 tracks! Les quels? Vous saurez, a vous de découvrir, chers amis! À +!

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quinta-feira, 23 de fevereiro de 2012

George Harrison And Friends - The Concert for Bangladesh 1971

En voilá un qui devrait figurer au Grand Jeu, malgré qu'il soit aussi une première et pas une dernière, premier concert avec un but bénéficieux et malheureusement pas le dernier ce que montre comme nous avons grandi comme êtres humains ou le contraire?

Hands down, this epochal concert at New York's Madison Square Garden -- first issued on three LPs in a handsome orange-colored box -- was the crowning event of George Harrison's public life, a gesture of great goodwill that captured the moment in history and, not incidentally, produced some rousing music as a permanent legacy. Having been moved by his friend Ravi Shankar's appeal to help the homeless Bengali refugees of the 1971 India-Pakistan war, Harrison leaped into action, organizing on short notice what became a bellwether for the spectacular rock & roll benefits of the 1980s and beyond. The large, almost unwieldy band was loaded with rock luminaries -- including Beatles alumnus Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Badfinger, and two who became stars as a result of their electric performances here, Leon Russell ("Jumpin' Jack Flash"/"Youngblood") and Billy Preston ("That's the Way God Planned It"). Yet Harrison is in confident command, running through highlights from his recent triumphant All Things Must Pass album in fine voice, secure enough to revisit his Beatles legacy from Abbey Road and the White Album. Though overlooked at the time by impatient rock fans eager to hear the hits, Shankar's opening raga, "Bangla Dhun," is a masterwork on its own terms; the sitar virtuoso is in dazzling form even by his standards and, in retrospect, Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, and Alla Rakha amount to an Indian supergroup themselves. The high point of the concert is the surprise appearance of Bob Dylan -- at this reclusive time in his life, every Dylan sighting made headlines -- and he read the tea leaves perfectly by performing five of his most powerful, meaningful songs from the '60s. Controversy swirled when the record was released; then-manager Alan Klein imposed a no-discount policy on this expensive set and there were questions as to whether all of the intended receipts reached the refugees. Also, in a deal to allow Dylan's participation, the set was released by Capitol on LP while Dylan's label Columbia handled the tape versions. Yet, in hindsight, the avarice pales beside the concert's magnanimous intentions, at a time when rock musicians truly thought they could help save the world. AMG.
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Weather Report - Weather Report 1971

Here we have the free-floating, abstract beginnings of Weather Report, which would define the state of the electronic jazz/rock art from its first note almost to its last. Their first album is a direct extension of the Miles Davis In a Silent Way/Bitches Brew period, more fluid in sound and more volatile in interplay. Joe Zawinul ruminates in a delicate, liquid manner on Rhodes electric piano; at this early stage, he used a ring modulator to create weird synthesizer-like effects. Wayne Shorter's soprano sax shines like a beacon amidst the swirling ensemble work of co-founding bassist Miroslav Vitous, percussionist Airto Moreira, and drummer Alphonse Mouzon. Zawinul's most memorable theme is "Orange Lady" (previously recorded, though uncredited, by Davis on Big Fun), while Shorter scores on "Tears" and "Eurydice." One of the most impressive debuts of all time by a jazz group. AMG.
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David Gilmour - David Gilmour 1978

By the time of David Gilmour's solo debut, he had not only established himself several times over as an underrated, powerful guitarist in Pink Floyd, but as a remarkably emotional singer, his soothing approach perfectly suited to such songs as "Wish You Were Here." The self-titled album, recorded with journeyman bassist Rick Wills and Sutherland Brothers drummer Willie Wilson, later to be part of the touring Floyd lineup for its Wall dates, isn't a deathless collection of music in comparison to Gilmour's group heights, but is a reasonably pleasant listen nonetheless. Certainly it's much more approachable than Animals, released earlier that year, eschewing epics for relatively shorter, reflective numbers. While Gilmour wrote the vast majority of the songs himself, the most successful number was co-written with Unicorn member Ken Baker: "There's No Way Out of Here," an agreeably dreamy, wistful song featuring an attractive acoustic slide guitar/harmonica hook. That it sounds a bit like a Pink Floyd outtake certainly doesn't hurt, but one figures Roger Waters would have tried for some heavily barbed lyrics to offset the melancholy. Throughout the album Gilmour sounds like he's having some jamming fun with his compatriots in his own particular blues-meets-the Home Counties style, adding keyboard overdubs here and there (his efforts are passable, but it's understandable why he's known for his guitar work first and foremost). Numbers of note include "Cry From the Street," with its fully rocked-out conclusion, the sweetly sad "So Far Away," one of his best vocal showcases, and the concluding "I Can't Breathe Anymore," capturing the recurrent Pink Floyd theme of isolation quite well. While one would be hard-pressed to hum a memorable melody outside of "There's No Way Out of Here," it's still a good enough experience for those who enjoy his work. AMG.
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quarta-feira, 22 de fevereiro de 2012

Grand Jeu sur Dr John (The Night Tripper) - Gris-Gris 1968

Avant dernier tour du Grand Jeu, aprés un thème polémique mais peut-être le plus riche entre tous, cette fois c'est La dernière séance et comme tout dans la vie est une dualité, j'ai pensé justement comme ça, donc au lieu de la dernière on aura la première, la première séance d'un génie de la musique. Dés le début  Dr. John nous a montré, donné de son génie et l'a répandu dans toute son oeuvre, et il continue un aprés les autres à nous en gratifier!

Although he didn't become widely known until the 1970s, Dr. Johnhad been active in the music industry since the late '50s, when the teenager was still known as Mac Rebennack. A formidable boogie and blues pianist with a lovable growl of a voice, his most enduring achievements have fused New Orleans R&B, rock, and Mardi Gras craziness to come up with his own brand of "voodoo" music. He's also quite accomplished and enjoyable when sticking to purely traditional forms of blues and R&B. On record, he veers between the two approaches, making for an inconsistent and frequently frustrating legacy that often makes the listener feel as if "the Night Tripper" (as he's nicknamed himself) has been underachieving. 

In the late '50s, Rebennack gained prominence in the New Orleans R&B scene as a session keyboardist and guitarist, contributing to records by Professor LonghairFrankie Ford, and Joe Tex. He also did some overlooked singles of his own, and by the '60s had expanded into production and arranging. After a gun accident damaged his hand in the early '60s, he gave up the guitar to concentrate on keyboards exclusively. Skirting trouble with the law and drugs, he left the increasingly unwelcome environs of New Orleans in the mid-'60s for Los Angeles, where he found session work with the help of fellow New Orleans expatriate Harold Battiste.Rebennack renamed himself Dr. John, the Night Tripper when he recorded his first album, Gris-Gris. According to legend, this was hurriedly cut with leftover studio time from a Sonny & Cher session, but it never sounded hastily conceived. In fact, its mix of New Orleans R&B with voodoo sounds and a tinge of psychedelia was downright enthralling, and may have resulted in his greatest album. 

He began building an underground following with both his music and his eccentric stage presence, which found him conducting ceremonial-type events in full Mardi Gras costume. Dr. John was nothing if not eclectic, and his next few albums were granted mixed critical receptions because of their unevenness and occasional excess. They certainly had their share of admirable moments, though, and Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger helped out on The Sun, Moon & Herbs in 1971. The following year's Gumbo, produced byJerry Wexler, proved Dr. John was a master of traditional New Orleans R&B styles, in the mold of one of his heroes, Professor Longhair. In 1973, he got his sole big hit, "In the Right Place," which was produced by Allen Toussaint, with backing by the Meters. In the same year, he also recorded with Mike Bloomfield and John Hammond, Jr. for the Triumvirate album. 

The rest of the decade, unfortunately, was pretty much a waste musically. Dr. John could always count on returning to traditional styles for a good critical reception, and he did so constantly in the 1980s. There were solo piano albums, sessions with Chris Barber andJimmy Witherspoon, and In a Sentimental Mood (1989), a record of pop standards. These didn't sell all that well, though. A more important problem was that he's capable of much more than recastings of old styles and material. In fact, by this time he was usually bringing in the bacon not through his own music, but via vocals for numerous commercial jingles. It continued pretty much in the same vein throughout the 1990s: New Orleans super sessions for the Bluesiana albums, another outing with Chris Barber, an album of New Orleans standards, and another album of pop standards. 

In 1994, Television did at least offer some original material. At this point he began to rely more upon cover versions for the bulk of his recorded work, though his interpretive skills will always ensure that these are more interesting than most such efforts. His autobiography, Under a Hoodoo Moon, was published by St. Martin's Press in 1994, and in 1998 he resurfaced with Anutha Zone, which featured collaborations with latter-day performers includingSpiritualizedPaul WellerSupergrass, and Ocean Colour Scene.Duke Elegant followed in early 2000. Additional albums for Blue Note followed in 2001 (Creole Moon) and 2004 (N'Awlinz: Dis Dat or d'Udda). Sippiana Hericane, a four-song EP celebrating his beloved hometown of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, arrived in November of 2005. Mercernary, an album of covers of songs made famous by Johnny Mercer, appeared on Blue Note in 2006. City That Care Forgot followed in 2008. The Night Tripper persona was revived for 2010's Tribal, which featured guest spots from Derek Trucks,Allen ToussaintDonald Harrison, and the late Bobby CharlesDr. John also contributed to French electronic artist Féloche's international hit single "Gris Gris John" the same year.

The most exploratory and psychedelic outing of Dr. John's career, a one-of-a-kind fusion of New Orleans Mardi Gras R&B and voodoo mysticism. Great rasping, bluesy vocals, soulful backup singers, and eerie melodies on flute, sax, and clarinet, as well as odd Middle Eastern-like chanting and mandolin runs. It's got the setting of a strange religious ritual, but the mood is far more joyous than solemn. AMG.
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The Nice - Hang on to a Dream 2004

This double-CD set assembles together all of the Immediate Records recordings of the Niceunder one cover, reshuffling the contents of their self-titled third album in order to make it all fit. That means that it isn't a chronological experience (at least, not without some shifting between discs near the end of each), but otherwise it is musically very rewarding and, in keeping with the spirit of the band's music, a lot of fun. The volume level is not quite as high as one would have hoped on a CD of this vintage, but the source material is still very clean and there's a lot of detail with minimal extraneous noise (compared with early CD issues of this material) if one decides to push the amplification. It's also interesting to hear the Nice evolve from a psychedelic quartet to a progressive rock trio and get bolder and more intense on their instruments as they go along, culminating with the live Fillmore East performances from the third album. The annotation is reasonably thorough, and the whole package gives one a good overview of one of the groups that successfully bridged the gap from flower power to art rock, and in the process never forgot that the music was supposed to be fun as well. AMG.
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Omar Sosa - Prietos 2001

Pianist Omar Sosa and his band fuse divergent musical influences on the CD Prietos. Sounds from Morocco, Ecuador, Venezuela, Ivory Coast, Brazil, the United States, and Burkina Faso coalesce with musical sensibilities from Sosa's homeland of Cuba. Especially striking onPrietos is the intertwining of hip-hop verse with traditional sounding Yoruban lyrics and Afro-Cuban rhythms. Though the contrast between the urban U.S. art form and the time-honored Cuban tradition may appear to be bit incongruous, Sosa and his crew of talented musicians make it flow on such tunes as "Takes a Second." A bevy of instruments -- including Moroccan qarqabas and bendirs, Venezuelan tambor redondos and quitiplas, and Brazilian berimbaus -- add layers of ear-catching textures to the standard Latin big-band sound. Prietos, which means "dark" in Spanish, is a coherent CD that combines music from Africa and the Africa Diaspora without coming across as contrived or forced. It's a testament to the African experience in the New World, and a product of Sosa's creative approach to music making. AMG.
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Nick Mason - Fictitious Sports 1981

Columbia, apparently attempting to cash in on Pink Floyd's explosion in popularity, released this album in 1981 under Nick Mason's name when in reality he's simply the drummer in this incarnation of Carla Bley's ensemble; Ms. Bley composed all the music and lyrics for this project. It's possibly her most overtly pop-oriented album, with all eight songs featuring vocals by Soft Machine alumnus Robert Wyatt. The music, by Bley's standards, is fairly pedestrian if occasionally catchy, though the lyrics are often wryly amusing. 

So we have songs about failed car motors and a skeptic's encounter with a flying saucer, and one dedicated to unappreciative audiences titled "Boo to You Too." Though the band is staffed with several fine jazz musicians, the music has more of a rock or jazz-rock feel, largely due to the spotlight on guitarist Chris Spedding, who evidences slick, if relatively uninteresting, chops. To the extent the songs succeed, Wyatt can take much of the credit. His engagingly hoarse voice is capable of both wrenching sincerity and mordant humor; pieces like "Do Ya?," where he is asked to tortuously squawk the line "God knows I try!," would collapse entirely with a less convincing vocalist. The closing cut, "I'm a Mineralist," is the one that leaves a lasting impression. Conflating geology and minimalism, it includes lines like "Erik Satie gets my rocks off/Cage is a dream/Philip Glass is mineralist to the extreme," before launching into a note-perfect rendition of some pointedly bland Glassian measures. For Pink Floyd completists, this album might provide a glimpse into an alternate universe of which they were otherwise unaware, but fans of Bley's earlier masterpieces like Escalator Over the Hill are likely to emerge somewhat disappointed. AMG.
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Vangelis - Chariots Of Fire 1981

Vangelis' electronic score for a film set in 1930s Britain seemed an odd match at first, but the title theme, with its echoing, manipulated rhythm box and melodic hook, became one of the most popular theme songs of the early '80s. Just hearing the opening 30 seconds conjures up -- for those who have seen the film -- shots of men running on the beach in slow motion, and has been borrowed, adapted, and ripped-off ever since. Suffice it to say that the other six tracks here can't quite match the punch (if that's the word for something so fey) of the title theme. Much of the rest is very sappy, if often melodic, proto-smooth jazz with a burnish of electronic screeches, washes, and fuzzy fake strings. If it works for the insular "Five Circles," it doesn't for "100 Metres," which so desperately wants to be Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance" but can't quite get there with its watery synths -- suddenly you realize what a full orchestral arrangement could have added. Side two is a side-long "suite" of the themes on side one, created, one feels, to fill up space. Vangelis went on to snag more soundtrack work, notably Blade Runner. AMG.
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Morphine - The Night 2000

Morphine's fourth studio release, 1997's Like Swimming, was a bit of a disappointment when compared to such stellar earlier releases as Cure for Pain and Yes. After singer/two-string bassist Mark Sandman died of a heart attack on-stage in 1999, many Morphine fans assumed that Like Swimming would be the band's swansong -- thankfully, it wasn't. The Boston trio completed their fifth album just prior to Sandman's untimely passing, entitledThe Night, and it's definitely an improvement over its predecessor. Whereas many of the songs on their previous album sounded unfinished and rushed, The Night sounds like a fully realized work. In fact, the band took time to focus on expanding their minimalist sound to include other instruments (cello, violin, upright bass, oud, organ) and new approaches (female backup singers, string arrangements), while Sandman produced the album himself. Highlights include the ghostly "Souvenir," the Middle Eastern sounds of "Rope on Fire," the sultry album-opening title track, and the up-tempo (by Morphine standards, anyway) "Top Floor, Bottom Buzzer." The Night shows that Morphine was just entering a new phase of their career, and it's a shame that Mark Sandman is no longer with us to follow through on this promising new direction. AMG.
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Robert Fripp - Exposure 1979

Conceived as the third part of an MOR trilogy that included Peter Gabriel's second album and Daryl Hall's Sacred SongsExposure is concerned with a marketplace that Fripp saw as hostile to experimentation and hungry for product. Strangely, then, Exposure is one of his most varied and successful rock albums, offering a broad selection of styles. "Water Music I and II" is pure Frippertronics; "Disengage" and "I May Not Have Had Enough of Me But I've Had Enough of You" are angular, jagged rock like he would make with the reformed King Crimson; "North Star" is a soulful ballad led by Daryl Hall on vocals, and a less bombastic version of "Here Comes the Flood" with Peter Gabriel singing makes a melancholic ending.Peter HammillTerre Roche, and Narada Michael Walden also add vocals to a pleasant experiment in pop, Fripp style. AMG.
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Gabby Pahinui with Ry Cooder - Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band-Vol 1 1994

One of the classic Hawaiian albums, and possibly the point where island consciousness and music first touched a wider audience, this was first released in 1975, and its return on CD is very welcome. It's not perfect -- the heavy lacing of strings on "Pu'uanahulu" and on the sentimental "Moonlight Lady" are things of their period which really haven't stood the test of time -- but it's about as close as the '70s produced, with some glorious singing from almost everyone concerned and some brilliant guitar work, especially from Gabby on "Moanl Ke'ala," where his Hawaiian steel rings above the song like bells. Recorded in 1974 in an isolated part of North Kona, this offers the real Hawaii, beyond the tourist areas, and the legacy of guitar music that was a century and a half old. Having Ry Cooder as a guest certainly helped it receive slightly wider notice at the time (and at almost every moment since its release, too), although he plays just a peripheral role. The emphasis is on Gabby Pahinui and his band and on the interplay of voices and guitars -- in addition to his sons, Pahinui's band included two world-class slack key players, Sonny Chillingworth and Leland Isaacs. The music is best when they steer away from the overly sentimental material, which can sometimes confuse -- "Hawaiian Love" sounds as if it's going to be maudlin, but resolves as a glorious instrumental, while on the other hand the upbeat "Wahini U'l" gets bogged down with unnecessary strings that detract from its innate loveliness. The wonderful "Oli Komo" chant, with its log drums, returns everything to basics before the album closes with "Ipo Lei Manu," as laid-back and restful as a Hawaiian sunset. Even though not everything is perfect, it's a wonderful document of its time, and shows a great talent like Pahinui at the top of his form. AMG.
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Adrian Belew - Twang Bar King 1983

Diversified and relentlessly creative -- giving space to new artistic and emotional expression -- this second solo album from guitarist Adrian Belew expands upon his already remarkable solo debut, though more than a few will be confused and put off by the opener, the Beatles' classic "I'm Down." Belew's inventiveness, both as a guitarist and as a songwriter, keep this album fresh and exciting at nearly every turn. One remarkable track, "She Is Not Dead" -- with lyrics sung over a backward version of "Hot Sun" from Lone Rhino-- has lyrics that fondly remember a departed loved one, astonishing in their beauty and depth of emotion. "The Rail Song" laments the disappearance of trains, referring to the rail system with the endearing pronoun "she." Psychotic, manic-paced instrumental "Paint the Road," utilizing Belew's signature MIDI guitar sounds, moves with a fury that will leave the listener gasping for breath. Musically still drawing from his experience with Talking Headsand BowieBelew is finding his own voice here and moving toward (though not completely capturing) a sound that is uniquely his. AMG.
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terça-feira, 21 de fevereiro de 2012

Ronald Shannon Jackson - Red Warrior 1990

Forsaking the keyboard and saxophone lineups of many of his Decoding Society bands, composer/drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson uses a three-guitar and two-bass group on Red Warrior, creating a dense musical backdrop for his inspired arrangements. The "stripped down" band configuration is reflected in the loose, jam session feel of the record, which, unlike the earlier, more sonically varied album Decode Yourself, includes a good number of blues-based tracks ("Ashes," "Gates to Heaven," and "In Every Face"). This is not to say Red Warrior is a straightforward record, by any means. As is Jackson's inclination, the mix is expanded with plenty of jazz improvisation, weaves of effects-riddled guitar lines, complex head statements, and, of course, the drummer's pan-stylistic rhythmic support. The album also contains a variety of material, including the "Mahavishnu Orchestra meets Dr. John," New Orleans shuffle blues "Red Warrior" and the sprawling, free-form "Elders." Excellent contributions are made by the entire band, which includes guitarists Jef Lee Johnson, Steve Salas, and Jack DeSalvo and bassists Ramon Pooser and Conrad Mathieu. Red Warrior is just one of several, very impressive releases to be put out in the last two decades by Jackson, who, like contemporary composer Henry Threadgill, has unforgivably been overlooked and unsung all these years. AMG.
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Trilok Gurtu - Living Magic 1991

With Jan Garbarek (saxes), Nana (per), Daniel Goyone (k). This is a septet doing Indian, Turkish, Scandinavian, and Brazilian world fusion, which is very well conceived. One of Garbarek's better efforts as collaborator or leader. AMG.
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