segunda-feira, 25 de julho de 2016

THE ROAD IS OPEN



Original released on LP Epic E 30125 (stereo)
(US, August 1970)


This is, no doubt about it, my favourite Donovan album ever. I've listen to it hundreds of times, since its release, back in 1970. Until today, the music in this wonderful album brings me the memories of the beach of my native city (LM, in Mozambique). "Riki Tiki Tavi" is the stand out track and with it's child-like lyric it's one of those really catchy songs that you can't help but sing along with.  The rest of the album flows really nicely and the more rock orientated "Celtic Rock" vibe really appeals to me. This album was quite a departure for Donovan in one way. It sterns from Donovan's post "Barabajagal" period, when he was still very much aware of his roots, while willing to experiment. His peculiar sense of humour, his charm, sincerity and singularly pleasant singing voice all combine to make this a true Donovan experience. Although it was a disappointing seller and signaled the start of Donovan's commercial decline, "Open Road" has been a new beginning for the singer. Prior to this, it was extremely difficult to find out who had played on any Donovan album; he had essentially used session musicians as necessary for each individual track.  Here, he uses an actual band (and even features them on the cover). As a result, the album has an overall flow and feeling of wholeness that had been notably absent from his previous two LPs. That, combined with the fact that the songs are consistently appealing, makes this one of his strongest albums.

domingo, 24 de julho de 2016

CURVED AIR - "Phantasmagoria"

Original released on LP Warner Bros K 46158
(UK, April 1972)

The sonic caveats which accompany Collector's Choice's other Curved Air reissues remain in force; the historical truth that what sounded timelessly groovy in 1971 is not necessarily so finger-snapping three decades later remains unimpeachable. But still, "Phantasmagoria" is a fabulous album, the culmination of all that Curved Air promised over the course of its predecessors; the yardstick by which all rock/classical hybrids should be measured. The opening "Marie Antoinette" sets the scene with lovely melody, impassioned vocal and a terrifically understated band performance which complements every syllable uttered by vocalist Sonja Kristina. The bridge into revolution («the rabble have gone insane») is breathtaking - history lessons should all sound this good, and the amazing thing is that the album has only just got started. The gentle "Melinda More or Less" is swirling, sweet folky psychedelia, while "Not Quite the Same," a somewhat self-conscious ode to masturbation, disguises its proggy inclinations with a barrelhouse 6/8 rhythm and a genuinely catchy hook. 


"Ultra-Vivaldi" updates the first album's "Vivaldi" by, apparently, letting the Chipmunks have a go at playing it. And the four-part, side-long title track switches moods, effects, and even genres (jazz, mariachi, and the avant-garde all get a look in) to create an dazzling soundscape which allows every members a moment to shine - without once stepping into the treacherous swamps of solos and virtuosity. This was the original Curved Air's final album - by the time the accompanying tour was over, only Kristina and bassist Mike Wedgwood (himself a spanking new arrival) remained to carry on the good work. As farewells go, then, it is magnificent, the band's grandest hour by far. And listening to it all these decades later, one cannot help but wonder how much grander they might have become? (Dave Thompson in AllMusic)


CCREVIVAL 1ST ALBUM

Original released on LP Fantasy 8382
(US 1968, July 5)

Released in the summer of 1968 - a year after the summer of love, but still in the thick of the Age of Aquarius - Creedence Clearwater Revival's self-titled debut album was gloriously out-of-step with the times, teeming with John Fogerty's Americana fascinations. While many of Fogerty's obsessions and CCR's signatures are in place - weird blues ("I Put a Spell on You"), Stax R&B (Wilson Pickett's "Ninety-Nine and a Half"), rockabilly ("Susie Q"), winding instrumental interplay, the swamp sound, and songs for "The Working Man" - the band was still finding their way. Out of all their records (discounting Mardi Gras), this is the one that sounds the most like its era, thanks to the wordless vocal harmonies toward the end of "Susie Q," the backward guitars on "Gloomy," and the directionless, awkward jamming that concludes "Walking on the Water." Still, the band's sound is vibrant, with gutsy arrangements that borrow equally from Sun, Stax, and the swamp. Fogerty's songwriting is a little tentative. Not for nothing were two of the three singles pulled from the album covers (Dale Hawkins' "Susie Q," Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You") - he wasn't an accomplished tunesmith yet. Though "The Working Man" isn't bad, the true exception is that third single, "Porterville," an exceptional song with great hooks, an underlying sense of menace, and the first inkling of the working-class rage that fueled such landmarks as "Fortunate Son." It's the song that points the way to the breakthrough of "Bayou Country", but the rest of the album shouldn't be dismissed, because judged simply against the rock & roll of its time, it rises above its peers. (Stephen Erlewine in AllMusic)

CREAM's SECOND ALBUM

Original released on  LP Reaction 594 003 
(UK 1967, November 10)

Cream teamed up with producer Felix Pappalardi for their second album, "Disraeli Gears", a move that helped push the power trio toward psychedelia and also helped give the album a thematic coherence missing from the debut. This, of course, means that Cream get further away from the pure blues improvisatory troupe they were intended to be, but it does get them to be who they truly are: a massive, innovative power trio. The blues still courses throughout "Disraeli Gears" - the swirling kaleidoscopic "Strange Brew" is built upon a riff lifted from Albert King - but it's filtered into saturated colors, as it is on "Sunshine of Your Love," or it's slowed down and blurred out, as it is on the ominous murk of "Tales of Brave Ulysses." It's a pure psychedelic move that's spurred along by Jack Bruce's flourishing collaboration with Pete Brown. Together, this pair steers the album away from recycled blues-rock and toward its eccentric British core, for with the fuzzy freakout "Swlabr," the music hall flourishes of "Dance the Night Away," the swinging "Take It Back," and of course, the old music hall song "Mother's Lament," this is a very British record. Even so, this crossed the ocean and also became a major hit in America, because regardless of how whimsical certain segments are, Cream are still a heavy rock trio and "Disraeli Gears" is a quintessential heavy rock album of the '60s. Yes, its psychedelic trappings tie it forever to 1967, but the imagination of the arrangements, the strength of the compositions, and especially the force of the musicianship make this album transcend its time as well. (Stephen Erlewine in AllMusic)

AMERICA - "Hideaway"

Original released on LP Warner Bros K 56236
(UK, April 1976)

"Hideaway" finds America in fine form, serving up punchy pop from a diverse range of styles. Their style is a lot more lush and orchestrated here, and they actually kind of sound like an American version of the Moody Blues. Tracks like "She's a Liar" and "Letter" have undeniable hooks and the latter has poetic lyrics. Also particularly interesting is the Dan Peek number "Can't You See" with a really strong melody. Along with his other song "Today's the Day", it keeps the acoustic flavour to their sound. And this album benefits from a couple of interesting instrumentals (the title tracks Pt.1 and 2). And it is a George Martin production. (in RateYourMusic)

AGE OF MOUSE

Original released on LP Sweet Peach SP 12001
(AUSTRALIA, 1970)

Doug Ashdown had released several albums in his native Australia in the 1960s prior to 1970's "The Age of the Mouse", which got an American release (Coral Records CRL 757514). It was slightly odd, but overall unimpressive, singer/songwriter folk-rock-pop. Vocally he sounded a little bit like a more overwrought, straighter Tim Buckley. While the production was at its essence commercial folk-rock, it was also loaded down with the kind of horns and backup vocals you'd expect to be more apt to come across on a late-'60s California pop record. "I've Come to Save Your World" he announces on one track, which can't help but beg the question: who asked you? For there's a slight sense of self-importance and over-seriousness to the singing and songs, which sometimes have a vague though not explicit judgment-day-at-hand tone, with references to Jesus Christ on the cross and the condemned being sent to death. Some more romantic ruminations like "I Remember Alice" and "Holly" break up the program, but not the ponderous mood. There's considerable ambition at work here, but the melodies are lukewarm and the lyricism not deft enough to make a lasting imprint. (Richie Unterberger in AllMusic)

sábado, 23 de julho de 2016

THE ALAMO ALBUM

 Original released on LP Atlantic SD 8279
(US, 1971)

Impressive album of southern rock, or classic rock if you wish, the Alamo do a tremendous job playing very hard in all the album. Heavy Hammond, heavy guitars, heavy drums and heavy bass. The group manages to put some special touch of avant rock in order to not look ordinary hard rock players. Impressive organ player that deserve to sing not so good his roughness add another special flavour: organ playing is as rough as the voice. Alamo is a toe tapper start to finish. This is early 70's very good hard psych blues acid rock. If early 70's hard psych blues acid rock is your thing, get this. Balls to the wall good old fashion rock'n'roll with cool dual guitars and some cool Hammond organ. (in RateYourMusic)

And Then... Along Comes the Association

Original released on LP Valiant 
VLM 5002 (mono) / VLS 25002 (stereo)
(US, July 1966)

The Association's debut album may be better listening today than it was in 1966, because it can be appreciated more - and it definitely deserves a better reputation than it has among folk-rock, psychedelic pop, and pop/rock enthusiasts. The album is usually neglected because of the Association's reputation as a soft rock outfit and the prominence of the hits "Cherish" and "Along Comes Mary," both of which are too poppy for most serious '60s archeologists. The original LP was one or two songs short of uniformly high-quality material, but that defect was compensated for by the better numbers and the production of the late Curt Boettcher. Admittedly one of Boettcher's softer creations, "And Then... Along Comes the Association" displayed the same creative use of stereo sound separation - the interlocking instrumental and vocal parts divided in discreet two-channel sound - that was to characterize his work with groups like the Millennium and Sagittarius a little later in the decade. Indeed, "And Then... Along Comes the Association" was among the earliest American rock albums to make full creative use of stereo sound and to exploit it on behalf of a group. In those days, the stereo mix on a rock album was usually little more than an afterthought by the producer and engineer (most of whom hated rock & roll), but Boettcher appreciated just what he had here, with the six singers and instrumentalists in this band, and he spread their work out in front of the listener in vivid detail, giving each "voice" (human and instrumental) a close airing, yet meshing them together as well. (Bruce Eder in AllMusic)

sexta-feira, 22 de julho de 2016

Os EP's Do Conjunto Académico João Paulo

Esta dupla coletânea constitui a obra integral do Conjunto Académico João Paulo em Ep (Extended Play), o formato pelo qual o grupo foi notabilizado nos anos 60, entre 1964 e 1968. Recorde-se a sua constituição: João Paulo (teclas), Sérgio Borges (voz), Carlos Alberto Gomes (guitarra), Rui Brasão (guitarra), Angelo Moura (baixo) e José Gualberto (bateria). Referem-se de seguida os 10 EPs aqui reunidos:

1. Conjunto João Paulo 
(EP Columbia-VC SLEM 2184, PORTUGAL 1964)
1.1  La Mamma
1.2  Hello, Dolly
1.3  Eu Tão Só (Et Pourtant)
1.4  Ma Vie
  
2. De Novo Com João Paulo e o Seu Conjunto Académico 
(EP Columbia-VC SLEM 2206, PORTUGAL 1965)
2.1  It’s Over
2.2  Se mi Vuoi Lasciare
2.3  Chove
2.4  Greenback Dollar
  
3. + 1 Disco = 4 Sucessos 
(EP Columbia-VC SLEM 2214, PORTUGAL 1965)
3.1  Se Piangi Se Ridi
3.2  Nunca Mais
3.3  Hully Gully do Montanhês
3.4  Oh Dis Marie

4. Conjunto Académico João Paulo 
(EP Columbia-VC SLEM 2225, 1965)
4.1  Capri C'est Fini
4.2  Milena (a da praia)
4.3  Diz-lhe
4.4  Non Son Degno Di Te
  
5. Eurovisão 1966 1º e 2º Prémios
(EP Columbia-VC SLEM 2230, PORTUGAL 1966)
5.1  Nunca Direi Adeus
5.2  Ciao
5.3  Ele E Ela
5.4  Balada A Uma Rapariga Triste


NOTA: No final deste 1º CD anexaram-se 3 faixas-bonus ("Jezebel", "La Nuit" e "Stasera Pago Io"), todas elas gravadas ao vivo e que constituíram as novidades do LP "Ao Vivo no Teatro Monumental" (os restantes temas desse album foram repescados dos EPs já editados até essa altura).




6. Poema de um Homem Só 
(EP Columbia-VC SLEM 2269, PORTUGAL 1967)
6.1  Poema de um Homem Só
6.2  Monday Monday
6.3  Oasis
6.4  When a Man Loves a Woman
  
7. L'Amour est Bleu 
(EP Columbia-VC SLEM 2272, PORTUGAL 1967)
7.1  L´Amour est Bleu
7.2  Puppet on a String
7.3  I Hate Those Moments
7.4  Sombras

8. O Louco 
(EP Columbia-VC SLEM 2283, PORTUGAL 1967)
8.1  O Louco
8.2  Si Lo So
8.3  Tu e Eu
8.4  I Just Don't Know What to do With Myself
  
9. Kilimandjaro 
(EP Columbia-VC SLEM 2284, 1967)
9.1  Sue-Lin a Minha Chinesa
9.2  Cosa Vuoi Da Me
9.3  Kilimandjaro
9.4  Quando Nasce o Amor
  
10. A Shadow Rounds the Tomorrow Sounds 
(EP Columbia-VC SLEM 2312, PORTUGAL 1968)
10.1  A Shadow Rounds the Tomorrow Sounds
10.2  Maman
10.3  Massachussetts

BOB FLEMING IS MR. SAX

Original released on LP HI-FI Masterpiece Master 547
(BRASIL, 1958)

NEIL YOUNG 69: THE 2ND ALBUM

Original Released on LP Reprise,
K 44073 (UK) / MSK 2282 (US)
1969, May 14


Todos sabem que foi este o album que deu a conhecer Neil Young: o segundo na sua discografia e o primeiro onde conta com o suporte musical dos Crazy Horse, um grupo descoberto (e rebaptizado – chamavam-se The Rockets) por Young logo no início de 1969. À semelhança de Bob Dylan, que encontrou no grupo The Band o seu suporte ideal, também Neil Young e os Crazy Horse foram-se revelando, ao longo dos anos, como que as faces de uma mesma moeda, dada a cumplicidade existente, sobretudo a nível musical. No campo interpretativo o coro levemente desafinado dos Crazy Horse viria a ser reconhecido como uma das características mais marcantes do grupo. Classificado em 2003 pela revista Rolling Stone em 208º lugar na lista dos melhores albuns de sempre, "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" contém três dos temas mais memoráveis de Young, “Cinnamon Girl” logo a abrir o lado A, com aquele riff fabuloso e os longuissimos “Down By The River” e “Cowgirl In The Sand” (a fechar cada um dos lados do LP original) e que ao longo dos anos seriam presenças constantes nos espectáculos ao vivo, quer em versão acústica quer em versão eléctrica. Segundo o próprio Neil Young, “Cowgirl In The Sand” foi composta em circunstâncias invulgares: «...escrevi isto com 40 graus de febre em Topanga. Deitado, a transpirar, com bocados de papel espalhados pela cama.»

Hello cowgirl in the sand
Is this place at your command
Can I stay here for a while
Can I see your sweet sweet smile
Old enough now to change your name
When so many love you is it the same?
It's the woman in you that makes
you want to play this game.

Hello ruby in the dust
Has your band begun to rust
After all the sin we've had
I was hopin' that we turn back
Old enough now to change your name
When so many love you is it the same
It's the woman in you that makes
you want to play this game.

Hello woman of my dreams
This is not the way it seems
Purple words on a grey background
To be a woman and to be turned down
Old enough now to change your name
When so many love you is it the same
It's the woman in you that makes
you want to play this game.



O que a princípio não passava dum estado febril, acabou por se transformar no grande tema do album. Estruturalmente, “Cowgirl In The Sand” é semelhante a “Down By The River”, com longos solos de guitarra crescendo gradualmente em intensidade até o eclodir da parte vocal que alivia um pouco o ambiente até começar a secção seguinte. Na realidade, Young gravou esta faixa com o máximo cuidado, de forma a conseguir uma sincronização perfeita entre as partes vocais e o trabalho de guitarras durante os coros. Em “Round & Round” Neil tem também a colaboração de Robin Lane (a sua companheira na altura), numa excelente harmonia vocal. “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” foi um album gravado em apenas duas semanas, sendo dos primeiros a introduzir o conceito “country-rock”, aqui na sua vertente muito mais rock do que country, com as guitarras a tomarem conta do barco, num caudal eléctrico onde sobressai a espontaneidade da voz de Young. Relativamente ao início da colaboração com os Crazy Horse, Young recorda: «... conheciamo-nos mal, mas sentiamo-nos excitadissimos com o que estava a acontecer. Por isso quis gravar esse ambiente que nunca é captado nas gravações. E o album é isto, um documento dos nossos começos.»


Neil Young's second solo album, released only four months after his first, was nearly a total rejection of that polished effort. Though a couple of songs, "Round Round (It Won't Be Long)" and "The Losing End (When You're On)," shared that album's country-folk style, they were altogether livelier and more assured. The difference was that, while "Neil Young" was a solo effort, "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" marked the beginning of Young's recording association with Crazy Horse, the trio of Danny Whitten (guitar), Ralph Molina (drums), and Billy Talbot (bass) that Young had drawn from the struggling local Los Angeles group the Rockets. With them, Young quickly cut a set of loose, guitar-heavy rock songs - "Cinnamon Girl," "Down by the River," and "Cowgirl in the Sand" - that redefined him as a rock & roll artist. The songs were deliberately underwritten and sketchy as compositions, their lyrics more suggestive than complete, but that made them useful as frames on which to hang the extended improvisations ("River" and "Cowgirl" were each in the nine-to-ten-minute range) Young played with Crazy Horse and to reflect the ominous tone of his singing. Young lowered his voice from the near-falsetto employed on his debut to a more expressive range, and he sang with greater confidence, accompanied by Whitten and, on "Round Round," by Robin Lane. "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" was breathtakingly different when it appeared in May 1969, both for Young and for rock in general, and it reversed his commercial fortunes, becoming a moderate hit. (Young's joining Crosby, Stills & Nash the month after its release didn't hurt his profile, of course.) A year and a half after its release, it became a gold album, and it has since gone platinum. And it set a musical pattern Young and his many musical descendants have followed ever since; almost 50 years later, he was still playing this sort of music with Crazy Horse, and a lot of contemporary bands were playing music clearly influenced by it. (William Ruhlmann in AllMusic)

quinta-feira, 21 de julho de 2016

THERE'S A MAN ON THE MOON...



It happened 47 years ago today! Neil Armstrong (1930-2012), Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins (both also born in 1930 but still alive), were the first men to go to the moon (Apollo 11 mission). I still remember watching it on TV, with my father, all night long.

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