sexta-feira, 18 de abril de 2014

Flabbergasted Freeform Radio Hour # 8

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FLABBERGASTED FREEFORM No.8
April 2014

Well it's about time for another podcast.  I hope you enjoy it.  You can listen to it on either Mixcloud or Soundcloud, or get yourself a direct download from the link at the bottom.






in 320 

  in FLAC

terça-feira, 8 de abril de 2014

Chanson - Chanson (1978) 24/96khz

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CHANSON
"Chanson"
1978 Ariola Records  SW-50039

A1     Don't Hold Back    4:23
A2     I Can Tell    7:03
A3     I Love You More     3:49
B1     Why     4:25
B2     Did You Ever    4:33
B3     All The Time You Need    5:10

LINEAGE: Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 - dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced (for 16-bit). Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

James Jamerson Jr - lead vocals and bass guitar
David Williams - lead vocals, guitar
David Paich - Keyboards
Jeff Porcaro - drums
Eddie Bongo Brown - congas, bongos
Ollie Brown - percussion on "Did You Ever"
Al McKay - guitar
Steve Porcaro - Synthesizer on "All The Time You Need"
Linda Evans - lead vocal on "I Can Tell"
Horns - Donald Myrick, Michael Davis Michael Harris, Louis Satterfield, Fred Jackson Jr., Willian Green, Oscar Brashear, George Bohannon
Backing Vocals – Julia Tillman, Lorna Willard, Marti McCall


 Recorded At – Kendun Recorders
 Mixed At – Kendun Recorders
 Mastered At – Allen Zentz Mastering
 Arranged By – Benjamin F. Wright Jr.
Art Direction, Illustration – John Georgopoulos
Published by Kichelle Music/Jamersonian Music/Cos-K Music ASCAP.
Produced for MK Productions.

   
    Concertmaster [Strings] – Janice Gower
      Contractor – Don Myrick
    Coordinator [Production Coordination] – Susan Evans

    Engineer [Recording and Mixing] – Richard Heenan
    Executive Producer – Marc Kreiner, Tom Cossie

      Mastered By – Brian Gardner
    Photography By [Back Cover] – Art Maruyama
    Photography By [Front Cover] – Sam Vinci
        Typography [Lettering] – Tom Nikosey

Recorded and mixed at Kendun Recorders.
Mastered at Allen Zentz Mastering Inc.


"Chanson" was a project of  James Jamerson Jr. - son of the great Motown legend James Jamerson, and who had played with a bunch of Motown bands in his own right, including the 70s incarnation of the Temps - and David Williams, who had played with The Dells.  The two standout tracks were released on the single - "Don't Hold Back," the manically funky anthem to the 70s philosophy of "if it feels good do it" (actually a lyric in the chorus, shamelessly) with which they had a reasonably big hit and which features a classic breakdown in the middle, and the slower tune "Did You Ever," which sounds like it might have been aiming for the Quiet Storm radio format.  Ollie Brown's percussion on that tune is some of the most quiet conga playing I have ever heard and the whole tune works real nicely.  "I Can Tell" is straight-up disco-funk with lots of conga and a nice vocal from Linda Evans.    "I Love You More" is a  modern soul number with a funky verse, a pop hook in the chorus, and a tight little flute riff.  Side One only lasts about fifteen minutes (the whole album clocks in a half an hour).  So at this point you would get up and refresh your drink, powder your nose or whatever other rituals compel you, and when you flipped the record over hopefully you wouldn't notice that the next song "Why" has the exact same chord pattern as the last tune.  Except it sounds more like Billy Ocean or maybe the Doobie Brothers covering a song by Billy Ocean.  It's not bad but at this point you start to wonder if some of this record isn't a kind of "paint by numbers" modern soul / R+B album.  The mellow "Did You Ever" brings things back from the brink and keeps it interesting, and the album goes out on another slow-burner, "Take All The Time You Need". 


The playing is all super-tight and the arrangements are solid but lean, with a live-band sound to all of it even though there are some string overdubs.  I particularly like how they favored using acoustic piano over keyboards, kind of an unusual production choice for an album of this kind in 1978.  The few synth patches here and there stand out because of that, but in a good way, like in the lead off track.  All in all, this group had potential but sort of prove that oodles of talent and tight grooves can only get you so far without the stellar songwriting available to the environment nurtured Jamerson's dad.  The whole thing has a pretty radio-friendly sound, and the first track will stay stuck in your head for days, but the rest of the tunes may need a little superglue or chewing gum.  They made one more album, which I have but about which I can literally remember nothing at all.  Which leads me to believe this is the better of the two, although I suppose I can dig that one out again sometime.

P.S. - Louis Satterfield of Earth Wind and Fire toots a horn on this record.

terça-feira, 1 de abril de 2014

Nara Leão - "Descontrolada" (1976) unreleased single!



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Well this is a new thing for the blog, the first time I have ever hosted a "leaked" track unavailable elsewhere, and hopefully it won't get us shut down after managing to survive this many years.  The track below was deemed unsuitable for release on the rarities discs included with the recent 2103 Nara Leão boxset, and was passed along to me by an audio engineer in friend in São Paulo who made me swear never to share it with anyone except at home through a stereo.  Well that guy turned out to be a royal prick so I am disregarding the promise now.

In the mid-1970s, Nara had gone into semi-retirement in order to raise her children and eventually pursue a degree in psychology.  I suppose the urge to perform in someone as creatively powerful as Nara doesn't just go dormant, and the retirement didn't last all that long by today's standards. These days it is normal for pop stars to release one record every three years, because they are mostly overpaid lazy fucks,   but it must have seemed an eternity to her fans back in the day.   She returned to recording with a deliberately nostalgic work looking back to the golden age of Brazilian song, hence the title, Meu Primeiro Amor ("My First Love").  It is a great record but probably came across a bit anachronistic in  light of the whirlwind of changes - social, musical, political - that had swept across Brazil in the decade leading up to it: changes which, of course, Nara played pivotal and multiple roles as a cultural and musical icon.  Given how the newly-uncovered track featured here lay buried for almost forty years with no indication that it ever existed, it is difficult to say if this recording session was simply an attempt by Nara to musically invent herself, to experiment with new sounds, or maybe to make a little cash with a more contemporary-sounding single.  Whatever the case, she apparently did not care for the resulting recording and disowned it.

For the session, she chose João Donato to work out the arrangements and take on production duties  (he would later end up producing her next album, Os Meus Amigos São Um Barato ).   The complete personnel on this track is unknown, but what little was written on the insert inside the tape reel documents that the session involved Hyldon and Cassiano on guitar, both seminal figures in the Brazilian soul scene of the mid-70s, and the melody sounds like one or both of them may have a writing credit here.  And though I can't prove it, I swear I can hear their friend Tim Maia on backing vocals.  Normally his voice overtakes everyone else on every session he was ever on, however, so maybe they just kept him really far from the microphone or made him sing in the hallway.  The tune starts out with a throwback nod to her bossa-cum-capoeira heyday, but the intro is just an illusion that does not prepare the listener for what comes next: some of the most funky pieces of music to be made in Brazil in the mid-70s, music that is so forward-thinking it wouldn't sound out of place on the radio decades later.   All that being said, as incredible as it is to have an unissued track from Nara Leão with these unlikely collaborators, I can understand why she chose not to release it.  Her voice just isn't particularly suited to funk and soul music, and although she did have a reputation for iconoclasm in the 60s, perhaps in the mid 70s she opted not to jeopardize her good standing as a canonical MPB singer by attempting a polemical style like funky samba soul, especially with such sexual overtones.  She even chose to sing, rather awkwardly, in English, which would have further enraged much of her devoted following.

So here is the track, titled "Descontrolada", and if it doesn't get this blog shut down for good, I hope to see you all soon in another post.  If the gods have mercy, I promise to post more often than I have been lately.


quinta-feira, 27 de março de 2014

Bettye Crutcher - Long As You Love Me (1974)

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Bettye Crutcher
Long As You Love Me
Original release 1974 Enterprise / Stax
Reissue 2013 Ace Records
Remastered by Duncan Cowell at Sound Mastering

01 - As Long As You Love Me
02 - When We're Together
03 - Passion
04 - A Little Bit More Won't Hurt
05 - Sunday Morning's Gonna Find Us In Love
06 - Sugar Daddy
07 - Call Me When All Else Fails
08 - Up For A Let Down
09 - So Lonely Without You
10 - Sleepy People

BONUS TRACKS

11 - So Glad To Have You
12 - Don't You Think It's About Time?
13 - Make A Joyful Noise
14 - We've Got Love On Our Side
15 - Walk On To Your New Love
16 - I Forgive You

Rhythm by Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section
Horns and strings by The Memphis Symphony Orchestra

Produced by Bettye Crutcher and Mack Rice
Arranged by Johnny Allen
Engineers - Pete Bishop, Jerry Masters, Steve Melton
Cover design and creative direction - The Stax Organization
Mastering - Larry Nix
A Very Special Thanks to: Bobby Womack
Photography - Frederic Torna
---------------------------------------------------------


Unless you are the type who habitually reads the credits on album jackets, you've probably never heard of Bettye Crutcher.  A victim of both a chauvinistic industry and a mismanaged label at the end of its lifespan, as a recording artist her one and only album fell between the cracks of Stax and has been relegated to a cult object for the last few decades.  It was finally issued on CD last year, together with a smattering of bonus tracks that include a few demos - this is, as far as we know at present, the entire recorded legacy of Bettye as a performer.

As a writer, however, she left a much larger body of work.  She penned a ton of hits for the likes of Johnny Taylor, Carla Thomas, Soul Children, William Bell, The Staple Singers and others.  She formed part of a triad of writing partners, We Three, that was a bit like the Stax version of The Corporation, cranking out great tunes for their roster of artists.  For this album she worked with Mack Rice as a writing and producing partner, and the material is more low key, with even the funkier tunes coming out mellow. 

Fabulous production and arrangements, filled with just enough patches of strings and horns and Isaac Hazey flute riffs, would make this a joy to listen to even if the songs were mediocre.  But the songs are excellent and Bettye has an alluring personality as a singer.  Like a sort of southern soul Carole King, her voice isn't quite ideal for the funkier tunes on the album but she approaches them with enough charm to make them work.  You might notice that a lot of her vocals are double-tracked to give her voice a thicker sound (this is a studio technique that I like quite a bit, so mind you I am not bashing it).  The opening track is probably the strongest thing here and sets the bar really high, meaning that what follows may take a few listens for its goodness to fully reach you.  There are no throw-away tunes on it, and a lot going on to keep your ears busy and happy.  Swinging effortlessly between deep southern funk, delicate ballads, and AM-radio pop-soul bliss, it is baffling that this album received no attention at the time.  It may not qualify for breathless declarations of "lost genius soul classic" but it is easily as good as dozens of other albums released in 1974 that received critical and financial compensation, and a lot of it really is brilliant.

Unlike Carole King, there are no re-recordings of her famous compositions recorded by other artists, and the liner notes shed no light as to why not (artistic choice of Bettye's, or contractual stuff with other Stax artists?).  In fact Stax shamefully did not even release a single off this album in the US (they did release "Sugar Daddy," a track I do not feel is representative of Bettye as a performer, a year later in the UK).  Just as puzzling is the existence of four completed recordings of very high quality that never saw the light of day until this reissue, where they are included as bonus tracks.  "So Glad To Have You" and "Don't You Think It's About Time" are exhilarating songs that would have been ideal singles.  Four tracks, two A and B sides - these aren't even rough mixes, but rather polished, finished product.  Liner note author Tony Rounce muses that it might have been Bettye's life situation as a single mother, unable or unwilling to go out on the road, that made Stax reluctant to promote her.  But Stax was so close to bankruptcy at this point that it is almost a pointless exercise to try and guess the logic behind anything going on in their disorganized offices.  Two demos tacked on to the end of the disc are solid, but we know nothing about them - when and where and with who they were recorded.  But as I said at the outset, this disc represents the entire legacy of Bettye as a recording artist unless someone finds some tape reels hidden away under their bed, so you'd better enjoy every last second of it.
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Bettye sitting in between We Three partners Homer Banks and Raymond Jackson and a stack of what look like Universal Audio compressors.

domingo, 16 de março de 2014

Tim Maia - Tim Maia (1977) (repost)

tim maia
tim maia



Because a neo-colonial gringo record label released a compilation of Tim's material a while ago, heavily promoted by hipster-indie icons to sell CDs and overpriced vinyl to the trendy gentrifiars of American urban spaces, all of my Tim Maia blog posts got shut down on the same day.  I am reposting them for historical, archival purposes complete with my inane writings of the time they were originally posted.  Make sure to read all the appreciate comments and you will thank me later. 


1 Pense menos

(Paulo Ricardo - Tim Maia)

2 Sem você

(Paulo Ricardo - Tim Maia)

3 Verão carioca

(Paulo Roquete - Reginaldo Francisco - Paulo Ricardo - Tim Maia)

4 Feito para dançar

(Paulo Ricardo)

5 É necessário

(Tim Maia)

6 Leva o meu blue

(Tim Maia)

7 Venha dormir em casa

(Tim Maia)

8 Música para Betinha

(Carlos Simões - Reginaldo Francisco - Paulo Ricardo - Tim Maia)

9 Não esquente a cabeça

(Carlos Simões - Tim Maia)

10 Ride twist and roll

(Tim Maia)

11 Flores belas (Instrumental)

(Tim Maia)

12 Let it all hang out

(Tim Maia)


Tim Maia - Vocal, drums, congas, acoustic guitar, percussion
Paulo Ricardo R. Alves - 6 and 12-string guitars, vocals,
Reginaldo Francisco - Acoustic and electric piano, organ, arp, vocal
Paulo Roberto R. Nazareth - guitar & vocal
Carlos Simões - bass
Geraldo - trumpet
Darci Seixas - trombone
Sebastião - alto saxophone
José Mauricio - guitar, vocal
César Fernando - congas, vocal
Paulo do Couto - cowbell
Guto Graça Mello - string arrangements

Production, horn and vocal arrangements - Tim Maia

Released on Som Livre 1977, reissue


According to Nelson Motta's biography of Tim Maia, "Vale Tudo," this record had a working title of "Verão Carioca" and marks the period where Tim began imbibing large quantities of coke. Whatever, Motta's book is in fact poorly written, lacking any kind of sources, or even a comprehensive discography (or a partial one, for that matter). What is for certain is that this is the record where disco begins to be felt in his music in a positive way. Rug burners like "Feito Pra Dançar" nestle alongside heavy funk like "E Necessario." Another highlight is "Não Esquente a Cabeça" which has memorable hooks and melodies, and tasty electric piano and guitar work over a smokey post-bossa pan-latin groove. It's probably the catchiest song on here. This is prime material by polymath Tim Maia -- producer, multi-instumentalist, and arranger on this record.


Motta does relate an anecdote about the rehearsals for the album, when there was construction going on right next door and all the songs ended up being arranged to the tempo of a jack-hammer. There is a reference to this on the 'thank you' section of the original album's back cover.


domingo, 2 de março de 2014

Ataulfo Alves - Vida de Minha Vida, Vol. 1 (1933 -1956)

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VIDA DE MINHA VIDA - ATAULFO ALVES VOL. 1
Ataulfo Alves 1993 Revivendo (RVCD 086)

1 Sexta-feira (Almirante, 1933)
2 Saudades do meu barracão  (Floriano Belham, 1935)
3 O coração não envelhece  (Ataulfo Alves e Seu Estado Maior, 1950)
4 Teus olhos  (Aurora Miranda, 1939)
5 Mulher, toma juízo (Gilberto Alves, 1938)
6 Canção do nosso amor  (Déo. 1939)
7 Não irei lhe buscar (Ataulfo Alves e Suas Pastoras, 1944)
8 Fale mal, mas fale de mim  (Aracy de Almeida. 1939)
9 Até breve  (Sylvio Caldas, 1937)
10 Vida de minha vida  (Ataulfo Alves, 1949)
11 Mensageiro da saudade  (Elisete Cardoso, 1950)
12 Eu não sabia  (Anjos do Inferno, 1943)
13 Rainha da beleza  (Orlando Silva, 1937))
14 Mártir no amor  (Ataulfo Alves e Suas Pastores, 1945)
15 Mulher do Seu Oscar  (Odete Amaral, 1940)
16 Mil corações  (Nuno Roland, 1938)
17 Quanta tristeza! (Carlos Galhado, 1937)
18 Quem me deve me paga  (Ataulfo e Suas Pastores, 1956)
19 Errei sim (Dalva de Oliveira, 1950)
20 Pelo amor que eu tenho a ela  (Francisco Alves, 1936)
21 Pai Joaquim d'Angola  (Ataulfo Alves e Suas Pastoras, 1955)



Produced by Leon Barg
Engineering - Ayrton Pisco

Recordings originally made for the following labels: Odeon, RCA Victor, Columbia, Star, and Sínter


 Ataulfo Alves was a badass.  He was one of a rare handfull of samba composers of his generation who also had a successful career as a recording artist at the same time, and was amazing in both roles.  He had striking good looks and stage charisma, a marvelous singing voice, and his arrangements of his own tunes are some of the funkiest things you'll hear from the golden age of samba.  These two volumes from Revivendo (a label that is to older "Velha Guarda" music what Chronological or Yazoo are to U.S. music) do a fantastic job of presenting some of his own recordings alongside hits by huge icons of the day like Francisco Alves, Silvio Caldas, Aracy de Almeida, Almirante, Orlando Silva and others.  They all bring tremendous vivacity to his work.  Both Carmen Miranda AND her sister Aurora are represented.  Another rarity of note is one side of Elizete Cardoso's very first 78 rpm recording.  Apparently the release was recalled "for technical reasons" (no idea what that means), and no indication is given of what was used for this CD - in spite of the date being 1950, the sound is much worse than the tracks dating from the 30s.  Anyway it is cool to have it.

I love the Revivendo label.  The sound is typically very good, avoiding the pitfalls of trying to "polish" these old gems with heavy-handed noise reduction and so on.    I wish they would hire a decent graphic designer, though.


Ataulfo deserves a long blog post celebrating his life and work.  But it is carnaval right this second and what are you doing at home on the internet anyway?  If you aren't in a carnivalesque country, at least put on some music and dance around your room.

It is hard to pick a few tunes off this for a short playlist because, seriously, they are all great.  But here are a few, including one performed by the Anjos do Inferno, a group whose name translates into "Hell's Angels" which is kind of funny since they couldn't be more temporally or culturally removed from the biker gang or from Roger Corman exploitation flicks.   These are Hells Angels you could invite over for tea.  

 

domingo, 16 de fevereiro de 2014

Caetano Veloso & Banda Black Rio - Bicho Baile Show (1978)

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 Caetano Veloso and Banda Black Rio
Bicho Baile Show (1978)

1.  Intro
2. Odara
3. Tigresa
4. London, London
5. Na Baixa do Sapateiro
6. Leblon via Vaz Lobo
7. Maria fumaça
8. Two Naira fifty Kobo
9. Gente
10. Alegria, alegria
11. Baião
12. Caminho da roça
13. Qualquer coisa
14. Chuva, suor e cerveja

Producedy by Caetano Veloso and Banda Black Rio.  Recorded by Mazola at the Teatro Carlos Gomes, Rio de Janeiro, 1978


Long-time readers of this blog may be surprised to see this post, because there seems to be a mistaken assumption that I somehow strongly dislike work of Caetano Veloso.  This is not true but is a direct result of my "trolling" the public, and particularly the gringo public, by saying that I in general I would rather reach for a Jorge Ben record, any day of the week, over most Caetano records.  That statement was actually about Jorge Ben and the degree to which his music has not been regarded as "culturally significant" art as has someone like Veloso, but the ensuing comment thread turned into something completely different.  I still stand by the original statement, but I gave up "trolling" in my New Years Resolutions, so why not let's have a blog post that treats Caetano a bit more seriously than all that.

In recent years it is not uncommon to hear fans of Caetano employing a "you have to be able separate the art from the artist" argument, which puts him in the same uneasy company as famous film directors accused of child molestation or rape, so I'm not sure if that is a line of reasoning that works for him in the long run.  And the fact is that this kind of compartmentalization might be more valid if the man himself didn't insist on being such a public figure, and continuously baiting the Brazilian public with polemical statements.  Why can't he just be the reclusive genius I want him to be?  Well, if he did that, then he also wouldn't really be Caetano. Fair enough.  But artists who make a point to that kind of high profile are also fair game for a little malicious snark from the likes of bloggers, especially when these artists start spouting reactionary inanities and conservative bullshit.  Granted he has not gone all Ted Nugent or anything (yet) but  in the words of one Frank Vincent Zappa (in self-parody), "shut up and play your guitar" already.  Even Caetano's own mother wished he would shut up and stop giving interviews.   I could ignore his provocations more easily if it didn't seem partly a maneuver to stay "relevant" in the public eye long after his stopped creating music of any real consequence, records that more often than not are embarrassing to listen to, with attempts to sound contemporary by singing Nirvana songs, or "rapping" on his mediocre 'Tropicália 2' record with Gil, or be "alternative" by channeling 1980s U2 in a record made in the late-2000s.  When Bob Dylan suddenly converted to evangelical Christianity, he made a fantastic gospel-tinged album, so it was easier for me to swallow whatever nonsense was going on with him personally.   Perhaps this will sound laden with "ageism", but flailing around on stage like a ragdoll and writhing on stage in near-fetal position (c.f. the film of Phono 73, his performance of  "Asa Branca") is perhaps edgy performance art when you are in your twenties and its 1973 (emphasis on "perhaps", by the way), but running around the stage and out into the audience and high-fiving audience members like some kind of faux-Tropical-Springsteen when you reach your 60s just seems kind of desperate (c.f. Caetano on his tour for the album "Cê"

Iconoclasm has always been a major weapon in Caetano's trick bag, and for the most part it has served a useful and important function, engaging with contemporary debates about culture and authenticity and subverting orthodoxies.  He did this during the televised song festivals when he and Gilberto Gil "went electric" in the moment of Tropicália, angering cultural nationalists who thought of electric guitars as weapons of imperialism;  He did this during the Phono 73 concert by bringing Odair José, a famous singer of so-called "low quality" romantic pop-rock or brega on stage for a duet of one of Odair's big compositions of the day; and he did it with his album Bicho from 1977 and the live show that promoted it.  Now regarded almost universally as a classic of 1970s post-Tropicália MPB, it may be difficult for the outsider to fathom how it could have caused controversy or polemic in it's day.  Many critics and cultural gatekeepers seemed to hate it.  In an echo of complaints from similar quarters ten years earlier, objections were raised to his appropriation of "foreign" sounds, in this case funk or disco (sort of, but only from a disco-phobic perspective).  In fact both Bicho and Gilberto Gil's Refavela were inspired by a trip to Lagos, Nigeria, for the Festival of Black Arts in 1977.  Gil's record has a proto-world beat sound to it, and is celebratory, energetic, and uplifting in the way you might expect.  Bicho on the other hand tended to be more ponderous, sonically murky, and emotionally mood, but also full of inspired songs with engaging arrangements and brilliant lyrics (this goes without saying for Caetano, and is the one saving grace on even his most musically stale records).  (** see the important note at the bottom if you've never heard this album..)

I'm not sure how much of the live show for Bicho was planned before the album was released, or if the show was Caetano's way of upping the ante even further with his detractors.  For his backing band he chose the ensemble Banda Black Rio.  Now, I happen to like Banda Black Rio quite a bit, but once again here was a group that challenged what it meant to make "Brazilian music" and had some commercial success while doing it (which music critics from seemingly all countries repeatedly used to marginalize or ignore certain kinds of music during the 70s and 80s).  Stylistically they shared as many similarities with Earth Wind and  Fire or The Crusaders as they did with Dorival Caymmi, making largely instrumental records filled with jazz-funk-fusion which they tempered with dendê and coconut.



I remember when I first heard about the existence of this record and was so excited to hear it, only to feel a big disappointment.  Had I just set my expectations too high? Maybe but I don't think that's all of it.   I think it is more that this collaboration was one of those ideas that sounds better on paper.  At first listen the whole show sounds almost kind of unrehearsed, but the musicianship is of course impeccable and there's not really a note out of place - Brazilian musicians of this caliber just don't "do" unrehearsed.  Maybe it was over-rehearsed to death, then?  It's not so much like polishing a diamond as sanding all the facets down.  Banda Black Rio were maybe just incapable of injecting the needed emotion into their playing to make these collaboration work.  Their own first few albums were, by and large, instrumental affairs.  Several of the tunes here have these wonderfully moody intro bits that make you think you are about to hear some seriously heavy stuff, and then the song kicks in and just kind of stays at a plateau of sameness.  They get several pieces all to themselves where they stretch out and do that thing they do - playing classics of the canon like Ary Barroso's "Na baixo do sapateiro" and Luiz Gonzaga's "Baião" and turning them into funky rumb-shakers wherein their soloists let loose their formidable jazz chops.   It's a shame they can't muster the same level of presence into the material with Caetano, because these are some of his best songs.  The opening cut Odara ought to literally blow us away, but it just lacks the urgency of the album version, a track that is most likely the deepest funk Caetano has ever put his name to.  This live version sounds like Caetano performing with a pickup band in a casino, albeit in 1978 which means I still would have thoroughly enjoyed it.  Interestingly the next track, the mellow Tigressa, comes across much more convincingly and could be (or could have been:?)  my favorite thing on the whole record.  Perhaps because Caetano's acoustic guitar sets the pace - the guy is a master of lilting downtempo stuff like this that isn't quite a ballad but simmers along nicely.  His astoundingly well-crafted lyrics, and his way of working a melody all sustain this evocative portrait, and then Banda Black Rio even manage to fuck that all up by going into double-time at the end of the tune, instead of just staying in the same tempo and laying into it, swinging it a little harder.  These guys could have benefited from a summer camp retreat with Isaac Hayes (hell, who couldn't?).   Now although I am putting the blame on them them here, I will admit that I wasn't hanging around at the rehearsals, and I have no doubt in my mind that the arrangement would not be this way if Caetano wasn't okay with it.  In fact he may have insisted on it:  here again might be that particular aspect of his iconoclasm that starts to try my patience, pushing an idea farther than it probably deserves to go in the interest of his larger masterplan, turning on the boogie with a song that plainly doesn't need it.

 "London, London", his most famous tune from his "exile" recorded under the colors of the Union Jack, works far better than it ought to given all the above circumstances.  Enough to rekindle my hope for this venture.  It's solid.  Then three consecutive instrumentals from Banda Black Rio while Caetano goes backstage or maybe out in the alleyway to have sex in a taxi cab (he is fond of getting it on in taxi cabs, as seen here in this 1983 film).  BBB sounds damn good here on both the originals and reinterpretations.  Then comes another tune that seems ON PAPER like it would work really well.  "Two Naira Fifty Kobo" is one of my favorite songs on "Bicho," and this ... just... doesn't... work.   Mind you, I saw Caetano perform the same song twenty-two years later with a different arrangement and that one sucked too.  Maybe I am just being a bastard here - How he dare he mess with MY song! It's his and he can do what he wants with it, fair enough.  When I saw that show I thought his rendition of the song was watered-down and tepid and a product of a decade of drifting towards 'world music'-isms; had I only known this 1978 version at the time, I would have realized he had managed to water it down plenty in just a year after first recording it. 

"Gente" is a song that naturally lends itself to the jazzed up execution of this band, but (not to repeat myself or anything) it just isn't anywhere near as strong as the version performed for the Doces Bárbados show.  In fact this ventures into just plain cheesy territory with some of the choices of instrumental embellishments and flourishes.   But wait, there's more - you haven't yet heard the disco-funk interpretation of the song that forever changed the course of contemporary Brazilian music, "Alegria Alegria," the anthem of Tropicália.  At this point I begin to suspect that Caetano is just trolling us and trying to piss people off.  (And hence, I don't mind trolling a certain component of his devotees).  Is he serious?  One never knows with him.  This song serves no purpose unless it is to illustrate "we did it because we can."  More instrumental tunes.  I'd like to think Caetano is offstage doing some blow but he was probably writing off editorials to send to the New York Times or Le Monde or something.  Then he comes back and they phone in a version of Qualquer Coisa, a perfectly good song from his album of the same name, but which in this version has all the period charm of the plaid wallpaper we used to have my basement in the house where I grew up.  If you looked at it while listening to music and let your focus go soft, you might sometimes have a vision of a kilted Scotsman sporting a giant afro.  If only this track left such an enduring memory.  Or any memory at all.  I've already forgotten it.  Then the album ends with a frevo, "Chuva, suor e cerveja," which I think Caetano also recorded for that carnaval album he made with a whole bunch of frevo on it, I don't remember and I'm too lazy to check right now.  Hell if you actually made it this far into "Bicho Baile Show" and still care, you win the Stalwart Listener Award and I tip my hat to you.

Of course don't let ME tell you what to think, give it a spin!  I feel badly now, like I should attach a motto to this blog, "Ruining Your Favorite Music Since 2008."  I swear I thought I was going to write a fairly positive piece about this album when I decided to blog about it, reassuring my readers that I do in fact have a healthy appreciation for Mr. Veloso.  I thought I'd pick a less obvious choice, but I guess there is a reason why this record is seldom talked about.  I promise to pick a better one next time.

Fun drinking game, at least?  Take a shot of your favorite artisinal cachaça (Caetano won't be having any Pitú) every time he meows like a cat or yelps like a dog!  Just don't drive home, kids.  Take a taxi.  And hope Caetano isn't in the back making out with anybody when you climb inside.


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 ** Note:  If you have not yet had the pleasure of hearing 'Bicho', which is truly a great album, do yourself a favor and make sure you seek out the *original* mix and now the godawful travesty that is the last reissue of the record.  This is not just me being a purist here -  As murky as the original mix might have been in certain spots, it is far superior to what he did on remixing it.  In part, that remix involved splashing everything with reverb to presumably make it sound more "modern" than the very dry 1977 mix, and the drums sound like they could have been re-recorded (although I don't think they were) with an awful gated-drum sound that could have come off a record from 1991.  The result is a completely different aesthetic experience, so seek it out in its original.  

terça-feira, 28 de janeiro de 2014

Jamelão - A Voz do Samba Vol. 2 (2002)

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Jamelão
A Voz do Samba, Volume 2
2002 Warner Brasil (092745933-2)


1. Vingança   
2. Nervos de aço   
3. Ela disse-me assim   
4. Exemplo   
5. Volta   
6. Nunca   
7. Meu natal   
8. Torre de babel   
9. Meu barraco   
10. Loucura   
11. Cadeira vazia   
12. Esses moços (Pobres moços)   
13. Quem há de dizer   
14. Sozinha
   
All songs composed by Lupicínio Rodrigues, with the following tracks featuring co-authors: "Meu Barraco" with Leduvy de Pina; "Cadeira Vazia"  and "Quam Há De Dizer"  with Alcides Gonçalves. 

Original recordings spanning from 1959 to 1987.


------------------------

In my last post on Jamelão, Volume 1 of this anthology, I was pretty emphatic in my disinterest for hearing an entire hour of samba-enredos back to back, as well as my belief that the record didn't really do justice to Jamelão.  The man himself would probably have disagreed with me; at least regarding the first part of this complaint, because he was in fact exalted as a master of the form of samba enredo.  But I'll continue to stand by the second half of my gripe:  the "Jamelão I know and love" is right here on THIS disc, which begins in the 1950s and is comprised entirely of compositions from his friend Lupicínio Rodrigues.  The 50s were an auspicious time for Jamelão:  he moved from the Sintér label to Discos Continental and began working with the wonderful Orchestra Tabajara, with whom he criss-crossed Brazil and made it as far as France on tour.  It was while touring with Tabajara that he crossed paths with Lupicínio in Porto Alegre, and soon after the two began a partnership that would make their names practically synonymous with each other.  A great many artists have recorded memorable versions of Lupicínios work, some preceding Jamelão like Orlando Silva and Francisco Alves, and many who followed him - two tracks on this collection, "Nervos de aço" and "Volta" both received impressive renditions by Paulinho da Viola and Gal Costa, respectively, which I happened to be listening to recently because I have become fixated on the magical year of 1973 for some reason.  The list of other renditions of these tunes would doubtless be quite large, but it was the voice of Jamelão that made Lupicínio Rodrigues a household name and etched him in the collective consciousness.  Orchestra Tabajara, who had relocated from Paraiba to Rio right about the time Jamelão approached them with songs to record, pull off some swinging performances with inventive arrangements.  Pianist and bandleader Severino Araújo,  could give the ubiquitous Maestro Gaya a run for his money.  The brass charts are all delicious, and check out the jazzy interplay on "Vingança" or "Meu barraco."  

This collection is so good that I even like the tracks recorded in the 1980s, so often a decade of embarrassment for artists whose careers began elsewhere in time.   As is sadly typical of Brazilian reissues, this collection is sparse on detailed notes, apart from a brief text written by the stalwart Tarik de Souza.   Seems like typical record label suits skimping on the artistic patrimony of a giant like Jamelão who deserves better.  The dodgy mastering job is credited to a generic "Oficína de Áudio e Video", and some of the cuts from the 60s sound like they had reverb added to them.   This was probably done to give more continuity to the collection - indeed, it is hard to distinguish what decade each song was recorded in without peeking at the credits - but this is also due as much to the infallible integrity of Jamelão and Orchestra Tabajara, without the "help" of any digital enhancement.   

Sometime this year I will post some of the Continental LPs I have Jamelão. I posted about the first disc in this series here.  And you can find more of his stuff at Orfãos do Loronix.

segunda-feira, 30 de dezembro de 2013

Flabbergasted Freeform Radio #7

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Happy New Year to everyone! 

It is completely accidental, but there is a preponderance of songs from 1973 in this podcast. Perhaps for next New Years the podcast will be heavy on tunes from 1974...

Playlist will be up in about a week. My compulsive obsession about surprises and spoilers prevents me from sharing it here until every man, woman, and child has heard podcast first.

 320

 FLAC

quarta-feira, 25 de dezembro de 2013

Wilson Simonal - Na Odeon 1961 - 1971 (2004)

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WILSON SIMONAL
Wilson Simonal na Odeon 1961-1971

9 CD Boxset
Released on EMI, 2004


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Disc 1 - Tem Algo Mais and A Nova Dimensão do Samba  (1963-64)


1- TUDO DE VOCÊ
2- AMANHECENDO
3- TELEFONE
4- SAUDADE
5- SAMBA CROMATICO
6- MENINA FLOR
7- LAGRIMA FLOR
8- BALANCO ZONA SUL
9- MENINO TRISTE
10- MEU COMPORTAMENTO
11- SAMBA E VERBO
12- MANHA NO POSTO SEIS
13- NANA
14- MAIS VALIA NAO CHORAR
15- LOBO BOBO
16- SO SAUDADE
17- ELA DIZ QUE ESTOU POR FORA
18- SAMBA DE NEGRO
19- JEITO BOM DE SOFRER
20- ELA VAI, ELA VEM
21- RAPAZ DE BEM
22- INUTIL PAISAGEM
23- CONSOLACAO
24- NANA
25- MAIS VALIA NAO CHORAR


 
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Disc 2 -  Simonal and S'imbora (1965)

 1- GAROTA MODERNA
2- SELECAO DE SAMBA DE ARY BARROSO
3- SO TINHA DE SER COM VOCÊ
4- MARINA
5- MESTICO
6- AS MOCAS DO MEU TEMPO
7- RIO DO MEU AMOR
8- OPINIAO
9- JUCA BOBAO
10- CHUVA
11- DUVIDO DIVIDIR
12- BRUXARIA
13- MANGANGA
14- FICA MAL COM DEUS
15- SONHO DE CARNAVAL
16- SAMBA DO CARIOCA
17- DUAS CONTAS
18- SE TODOS FOSSEM IGUAIS A VOCÊ
19- LADEIRA DO PELOURINHO
20- BALANCO ZONA SUL
21- NOS DOIS
22- O APITO NO SAMBA
23- O TEU AMANHA
24- LENDA
25- LADEIRA DO PELOURINHO

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DISC 3 - Vou Deixa Cair and Tempos De Pilantragem (1966-67)

1- VENTO DE MAIO
2- MEU LIMAO MEU LIMOEIRO
3- O CARANGO
4- MINHA NAMORADA
5- SEM VOCÊ EU NAO VIVO
6- ENXUGUE OS OLHOS
7- MARIA
8- A FORMIGA E O ELEFANTE
9- MAMAE PASSOU ACUCAR EM MIM
10- FRANQUEZA
11- TEM DO
12- SAMBA DO MUG
13- SE VOCÊ GOSTOU
14- A BANDA
15- DISPARADA
16- QUEM SAMBA FICA
17- MASCARA NEGRA
18- TRIBUTO A MARTIN LUTHER KING
19- DEIXA QUEM QUISER FALAR
20- ELA E DEMAIS
21- BALADA DO VIETNAM
22- O MILAGRE



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DISC 4 - Show Em Simonal (1967)

1- BARRA LIMPA
2- RODA
3- THE SHADOW OF YOUR SMILE
4- CANTIGA BRAVA
5- ESTRELA PRINCIPAL
6- ROCINHA ESTUPIDA (SOMETHING STUPID)
7- CONSOLACAO
8- O MORRO NAO TEM VEZ
9- O QUE FACO P´RA ESQUECER
10- PEGUEI UM ITA NO NORTE
11- UN HOMME ET UNE FEMME
12- NEM VEM QUE NAO TEM
13- MEXIRICO DA CANDINHA
14- QUEM TE VIU QUEM TE VE
15- CONSELHO
16- ARUEIRA
17- MEU LIMAO MEU LIMOEIRO
18- TRIBUTO A MARTIN LUTHER KING
19- ESTA CHEGANDO A HORA



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DISC 5 - Alegria, Alegria Volumes 1 and 2 (1967-68)

1- OS ESCRAVOS DE JO
2- AGORA E CINZA
3- VESTI AZUL
4- AOS PES DA CRUZ
5- BELINHA
6- PRA QUE ?
7- NEM VEM QUE NAO TEM
8- FIM DE SEMANA EM PAQUETA
9- PARA PEDRO
10- ESTA CHEGANDO A HORA
11- REMELEXO
12- DISCUSSAO
13- ALEGRIA, ALEGRIA
14- PATA PATA
15- SA MARINA
16- CAE CAE
17- MANIAS
18- RECRUTA BIRUTA
19- NESTE MESMO LUGAR
20- ZAZUEIRA
21- NAO TENHO LAGRIMAS
22- DE COMO UM GAROTO APAIXONADO PERDOOU POR CAUSA DE UM DOS MANDAMENTOS
23- CARTAO DE VISITA
24- PARAÍBA
25- GOSTO TANTO DE VOCÊ
26- VAMOS S'IMBORA
27- NAMORADINHA DE UM AMIGO MEU







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 DISC 6 - Alegria, Alegria Volumes 3 and 4 (1969)


1- SILVIA LENHEIRA
2- MUSTANG COR DE SANGUE
3- MENININHA DO PORTAO
4- SILÊNCIO
5- PRECE AO VENTO
6- WHAT YOU SAY
7- MOCA
8- ALELUIA, ALELUIA
9- MAMAE EU QUERO
10- MEIA-VOLTA (ANA CRISTINA)
11- PENSANDO EM TI
12- ATIRA A PRIMEIRA PEDRA
13- MULHER DE MALANDRO
14- SE VOCÊ PENSA
15- MAQUILAGEM
16- PORQUE HOJE E DOMINGO
17- EVIE
18- BRASILEIRA
19- OLHO D'AGUA
20- CANCAO DA CRIANCA
21- EU FUI NO TORORO
22- QUE MARAVILHA
23- UMA LOIRA
24- QUEM MANDOU
25- PAÍS TROPICAL
26- ADIOS, MUCHACHO v
 


 
-----------------

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DISC 7 - Simonal and Jóia (1970-71)

1- SEM ESSA
2- DESTINO E DESATINO DE SEVERINO NONÔ NA CIDADE DE SAO SEBASTIAO DO RIO DE JANEIRO ( OH YEAH! )
3- COMIGO E ASSIM
4- O MUNDO IGUAL DE CADA UM
5- SISTEMA NERVOSO
6- NA BAIXA DO SAPATEIRO
7- MORO NO FIM DA RUA
8- DEIXA O MUNDO E O SOL ENTRAR
9- AI VOCE COMECA A CHORAR
10- NAO TEM SOLUCAO
11- NA TONGA DA MIRONGA DO KABULETÊ
12- OURICO
13- AFRICA, AFRICA
14- DE NOITE NA CAMA
15- GEMEDEIRA
16- IMPOSSIVEL ACREDITAR QUE PERDI VOCE
17- TRISTEZA
18- TUDO E MAGNÍFICO
19- LAMPIAO EM PROSA E VERSO
20- GAROA DIFERENTE
21- VOCÊ ABUSOU
22- NA GALHA DO CAJUEIRO
23- FOTOGRAFIA



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DISCs 8 and 9 - Singles, lados B e raridies (Singles, B-sides, and rarities)


1- TEREZINHA
2- BIKINIS E BORBOLETAS
3- EU TE AMO
4- BEIJA MEU BEM
5- TEM QUE BALANCAR
6- OLHOU PRA MIM
7- ESTA NASCENDO UM SAMBA
8- GAROTA LEGAL (You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby)
9- FALE DE SAMBA QUE EU VOU
10- WALK RIGHT IN
11- SO DANCO SAMBA
12- NAO PODE SER
13- EU SOU MAIS EU
14- DE MANHA
15- DAS ROSAS
16- CUIDADO CANTOR
17- TA POR FORA
18- MAMAE PASSOU ACUCAR EM MIM
19- MAMAE PASSOU ACUCAR EM MIM ( Versao em Espanhol inedita )
20- A PRACA
21- SAMBA DO CRIOULO DOIDO
22- A ROSA DA RODA
------------------------------------------
1- TEREZINHA DE JESUS
2- A SAUDADE MATA A GENTE
3- CORRENTEZA
4- PAÍS TROPICAL
5- ECCO IL TIPO CHE IO CERCAVO
6- NO CLARAO DA LUA CHEIA
7- AS MENININHAS DO LEBLON
8- KIKI
9- EU SONHEI QUE TU ESTAVAS TAO LINDA
10- AQUI E O PAÍS DO FUTEBOL 11- HINO DO FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DA CANCAO
12- CANCAO Nº21
13- QUE CADA UM CUMPRA COM O SEU DEVER
14- RESPOSTA
15- BRASIL EU FICO
16- OBRIGADO PELE
17- O XOTE DAS MENINAS
18- MADALENA
19- A NOITE DO MEU BEM  


========================================
 208 songs
Nearly-complete artwork (booklet will not scan)
Composer credits embedded in ID tags
Correct Portuguese orthographic characters in ID tags
This box is out of print
========================================

So a few days ago, stuck in a mire of holiday malaise, I considered closing this blog completely.  Five years is a long time to keep one of these things going, even though I don't update it as often as I would like.  I took it offline temporarily, and the only way to do that was to "restrict" access to blog authors, but the settings here made it look like it became an invitation-only place.  Don't worry, you were not excluded from the club, it was just a party of one.

I reconsidered.  Thanks to M. for being reasonable when I couldn't manage it, and to the handful of people who sent messages.  They were much appreciated.

To make up for the brief lapse in judgment, I am sharing this behemoth of a boxset.  I have contemplated doing to many, many times, but always felt this massive burden of having to write some insightful and elegiac homage to Simonal and so I never felt up to the task.  This is in addition to feeling like I had to write reviews of every album here.  The guy was putting out two records a year for a ten-year span, so excuse me if this write-up consists only of saying "Hey this is really good and you should check it out."  Simonal had been one of Brazil's most popular singers before some unfortunate altercations with his accountant and/or the military government put him on the wrong side of history for a few decades.  A documentary film about his career as well as this boxset - both mostly spearheaded by his sons - managed to reset the scales of justice a little.  The guy was a force of nature, with a croony swagger that could evoke casino show-biz performances, chilling on the beach, or cruising in your favorite fashionable low-mileage automobile.  This is the part of the write-up where I could just start dropping names to emphasize how important he was, so why not just get right to it - Carlos Imperial, Elis Regina, Som Três and César Camargo Mariano, Orlandivo, Stockhausen, Jorge Ben ... Mug.  

I am not even going to try and start singling stuff out, because some internaut hipster will inevitably come along and leave comments to the effect of "I can't believe you didn't mention X, Y, or Z, which is so obviously the best thing here yadda yadda", like some people did for the Marcos Valle posts I did a few years ago.  And then I would start thinking about closing the blog again.  So to hell with it, it's Christmas, you got this stuffed in your stocking and if that's not enough then I  can insert a piece of coal in your orifice of choice.

This is a lot of music.  It will take anyone a while to digest it.  One of these days I might start posting some needledrops of individual records, as I have mono pressings of some of these that sound quite different - in those days, a stereo hi-fi was basically a piece of furniture with speakers built in, so stereo panning tended to be quite dramatic by today's standards.  I think the mono mixes have a little more UMPH in many cases.  So whenever I get around to that, I will give more individualized comments on these records.

Did I mention this is filled with rarities?  Almost every disc has some bonus tracks, and then the final 2-CD set is entirely comprised of - you guessed it! - singles, B-sides, and rarities.  In some cases this means we get versions of the same song in Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian by who cares. 

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