segunda-feira, 24 de outubro de 2016


Original released as Warner Bros LP WS 1893
(US, November 1970)

01. Box Of Rain (Hunter/Lesh) 5:18
02. Friend Of The Devil (Dawson/Garcia/Hunter) 3:24
03. Sugar Magnolia (Hunter/Weir) 3:19
04. Operator (McKernan) 2:25
05. Candyman (Garcia/Hunter) 6:13
06. Ripple (Garcia/Hunter) 4:09
07. Brokedown Palace (Garcia/Hunter) 4:09
08. Till The Morning Comes (Garcia/Hunter) 3:09
09. Attics Of My Life (Garcia/Hunter) 5:14
10. Truckin’ (Garcia/Hunter/Lesh/Weir) 5:17

Produced by The Grateful Dead and Robin Hurley
Co-producer: Audio – Steve Barncard
Art Direction: Kelly (Mouse Studios)
Rear photo: George Conger
Recorded at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco, CA (9/70)

They recorded just three studio albums in their final 15 years, but back in 1970 the Grateful Dead somehow managed to assemble their two best works all within the space of five months: "Workingman’s Dead" and this one, their trully masterpiece. With a new producer (the 20-year old Steve Barncard, who’d recorded Garcia’s famous pedal-steel overdub for the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young hit “Teach Your Children” some months earlier) the band set up in Heider’s upper-level Studio C, birthplace of classic recordings by the likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, and CSN&Y. Even with drummer Bill Kreutzmann perched just a few feet away, Barncard insisted on cutting the band’s acoustic guitars live. «That was so important – especially when there would be any interplay between the two acoustic guitars,» Barncard recalls. «The reason those rhythm tracks are so tight is because they were set up really close together, just sitting in these plastic chairs facing each other, with very little obstruction. I may have had a few small baffles around the drums, but that was it. When they were recording, they liked to be able to look at each other’s fingers, pick up on accents, and do forth. The interplay was a very big part of those sessions.»

Everything in this album it is a joy to listen to: rich in acoustic instrumentation, well-rounded backing vocals, and a subtle electric presence. "American Beauty" established the group as more than a house band for its charismatic stoner leader, Jerry Garcia (there is not a single Garcia guitar solo on the whole record). For the first time, the Dead seemed a cohesive unit with a battery of accomplished singer-songwriters, including Phil Lesh and Bob Weir. There is no “jamming” on the album, it’s all about the songs, and the perfomances serve them beautifully. Expertly played, with some gorgeous harmony singing, this is an intricate album. Its influence has resonated in successive generations of musicians but back in 1970 "American Beauty" proved to be a good career move. It ended with the existing dichotomy between those that worshiped or simply hated the Grateful Dead. Since then, there was no more reasons to extreme feelings: the band’s fans becomed united in the love for the Dead. Forty six years after, "American Beauty" remains as one of the absolute masterpieces of the pop/rock universe.

GRATEFUL DEAD: "Workingman's Dead"

Original released on LP Warner Bros 1869
(US, February 1970)

As the '60s drew to a close, it was a heavy time for the quickly crumbling hippie movement that had reached its apex just a few years earlier in 1967’s Summer of Love. Death and violence were pervasive in the form of the Manson murders, fatalities at the Altamont concert, and the ongoing loss of young lives in Vietnam despite the best efforts of anti-war activists and peace-seeking protesters. Difficult times were also upon the Grateful Dead, unofficial house band of San Francisco’s Summer of Love festivities and outspoken advocates of psychedelic experimentation both musical and chemical. The excessive studio experimentation that resulted in their trippy but disorienting third album, "Aoxomoxoa", had left the band in considerable debt to their record label, and their stress wasn't helped at all by a drug bust that had members of the band facing jail time. The rough road the Dead were traveling down seemed congruent with the hard changes faced by the youth counterculture that birthed them. 

Fourth studio album "Workingman's Dead" reflects both the looming darkness of its time, and the endless hope and openness to possibility that would become emblematic of the Dead as their legacy grew. For a group already established as exploratory free-form rockers of the highest acclaim, "Workingman’s Dead"'s eight tunes threw off almost all improvisatory tendencies in favor of spare, thoughtful looks at folk, country, and American roots music with more subdued sounds than the band had managed up until then. The songs also focused more than ever before on singing and vocal harmonies, influenced in no small way by a growing friendship with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The band embraced complex vocal arrangements with campfire-suited folk on "Uncle John's Band" and the psychedelic cowboy blues of “High Time.”

Before they blasted off into hallucinatory rock as the Grateful Dead, several founding members had performed as Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, a group that played traditional jug band music with earnest, heartfelt appreciation. Those early influences came into sharp focus on the bluegrass rhythms and hillbilly harmonies of "Cumberland Blues" and the glistening pedal steel and shuffling drums of "Dire Wolf." The more rocking songs add to the album's brooding feel with "New Speedway Boogie" directly addressing the violence at Altamont, and "Casey Jones," which appeared at first to be a lighthearted celebration of cocaine, but was really a lament for troubled times that felt like they were spinning off the rails. The abrupt shift toward sublime acoustic sounds on "Workingman's Dead" completely changed what the Grateful Dead meant to their listeners at large. The enormous risk they took in changing their sound entirely resulted in a heartbreakingly beautiful, unquestionably pure statement and one of the more important documents of its time. They’d continue this trend on the even more roots-minded "American Beauty", recorded later the same year, but the limitlessness, fearlessness, and true power of the band began here. (Fred Thomas in AllMusic)

domingo, 23 de outubro de 2016


Original Released on LP Warner Bros WS 1907 
(US, 1971)

When Peter, Paul and Mary split to pursue solo careers in the early '70s, Mary Travers was the first out of the gate with "Mary", issued in early 1971. As the most popular and photogenic member of the trio, commercial expectations might have run highest for Travers, but she was at a disadvantage in being a far less prolific songwriter than Peter Yarrow or Noel Stookey. Indeed, she wrote just a little material (co-writing two songs) on this LP, which in broad terms saw her cast as an interpreter of songs by contemporary songwriters with a touch of arty orchestration, somewhat in the mold of records of the period by fellow veteran folk boom vets Judy Collins and (to a lesser degree) Joan Baez. Generally speaking, however, she didn't address material by composers as strong as Collins and Baez had, "Mary" featuring songs by Rod McKuen, Elton John, Paul Simon, and others, including some by John Denver (whose "Follow Me" gave her a minor hit single, and who also plays guitar on the album). More than Yarrow or Stookey, Travers suffered when taking the solo vocal spotlight for an entire album, not being as strong or varied a singer as, say, Collins or Baez. All those shortcomings noted, this is still an acceptable recording of its style (and the only Travers solo album to join the Top 100), if perhaps one of more interest these days to Peter, Paul and Mary fans than anyone else. It's certainly on the earnest side - even more so than Peter, Paul and Mary's 1960s output - including new versions of a couple of songs she recorded as a member of that group, "The Song Is Love" and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face."

Original Released on LP Warner Bros BS 2609 
(US, 1972)

Original Released on LP Warner Bros BS 2677 
(US, 1973)

MARY TRAVERS (1936-2009)

Mary Allin Travers was born on November 9, 1936 in Louisville, Ky., the daughter of journalists who moved the family to Manhattan’s bohemian Greenwich Village. She quickly became enamored with folk performers like the Weavers, and was soon performing with Seeger, a founding member of the Weavers who lived in the same building as the Travers family.

Travers joined forces with Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey in the early 1960s, to form the trio PETER PAUL & MARY. They debuted at the Bitter End in 1961, and their beatnik look - a tall blonde flanked by a pair of goateed guitarists - was a part of their initial appeal. As The New York Times critic Robert Shelton put it not long afterward, “Sex appeal as a keystone for a folk-song group was the idea of the group’s manager, Albert B. Grossman, who searched for months for ‘the girl’ until he decided on Miss Travers.”

Their debut album came out in 1962, and immediately scored a pair of hits with their versions of “If I Had a Hammer” and “Lemon Tree.” The former won them Grammys for best folk recording, and best performance by a vocal group. "Moving” was the follow-up, including the hit tale of innocence lost, “Puff (The Magic Dragon)” - which reached No. 2 on the charts, and generated since-discounted reports that it was an ode to marijuana.

Album No. 3, “In the Wind,” featured three songs by the 22-year-old Dylan. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” both reached the top 10, bringing Dylan’s material to a massive audience; the latter shipped 300,000 copies during one two-week period. “Blowin’ In the Wind” became an another civil rights anthem, and PETER PAUL AND MARY fully embraced the cause. They marched with King in Selma, Ala., and performed with him in Washington.

In a 1966 New York Times interview, Travers said the three worked well together because they respected one another. «There has to be a certain amount of love just in order for you to survive together,» she said. «I think a lot of groups have gone down the tubes because they were not able to relate to one another.» With the advent of the Beatles and Dylan’s switch to electric guitar, the folk boom disappeared. Travers expressed disdain for folk-rock, telling the Chicago Daily News in 1966 that «it’s so badly written. ... When the fad changed from folk to rock, they didn’t take along any good writers.»

But the trio continued their success, scoring with the tongue-in-cheek single “I Dig Rock and Roll Music,” a gentle parody of the Mamas and the Papas, in 1967 and the John Denver-penned “Leaving on a Jet Plane” two years later. They also continued as boosters for young songwriters, recording numbers written by then-little-known Gordon Lightfoot and Laura Nyro. In 1969, the group earned their fifth and final Grammy for “Peter, Paul and Mommy,” which won for best children’s album. They disbanded in 1971, launching solo careers - Travers released five albums - that never achieved the heights of their collaborations.

Over the years they enjoyed several reunions, including a performance at a 1978 anti-nuclear benefit organized by Yarrow and a 35th anniversary album, “Lifelines,” with fellow folkies Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Dave Van Ronk and Seeger. A boxed set of their music was released in 2004. They remained politically active as well, performing at the 1995 anniversary of the Kent State shootings and performing for California strawberry pickers.

Travers had undergone a successful bone marrow transplant to treat her leukemia and was able to return to performing after that. «It was like a miracle,» Travers told The Associated Press in 2006. «I’m just feeling fabulous. What’s incredible is someone has given your life back. I’m out in the garden today. This time last year I was looking out a window at a hospital.» She also said she told the marrow donor «how incredibly grateful I was.» But by mid-2009, Yarrow told WTOP radio in Washington that her condition had worsened again and he thought she would no longer be able to perform. She died in September 16, aged 72.

sábado, 22 de outubro de 2016


Original released on LP Decca LK 4605 (mono)
(UK 1964, April 16)

The Rolling Stones is as pivotal a moment as John meeting Paul or Nirvana knocking Michael Jackson off No. 1. Jagger, Richard (as he was credited then), and co. weren’t strangers to the studio when they began their debut in January 1964. They’d already scored hits in 1963 with Chuck Berry’s “Come On” and Lennon and McCartney’s “I Wanna Be Your Man”. Confident songwriters, however, they were not. Judging initial efforts unsuitable for the Stones, Jagger and Richard gave them to Marianne Faithfull and Gene Pitney. Of the album’s originals, “Now I’ve Got A Witness” and “Little By Little” (credited to the collective nom de plume Nanker Phelge) are indebted to, respectively Marvin Gaye’s “Can I Get A Witness” and Jimmy Reed’s “Shame, Shame, Shame,” while “Tell Me (You’re Coming Back)” (presented here in both versions*) is almost a Merseybeat pastiche. But relying on covers did not do Sinatra or Elvis any harm, and the Stones established a reliable template: take a blues tune; make it harder and faster and scarier. In The Beatles’ wake, the result was a smash. In America, London Records added “England’s Newest Hit Makers” to a sleeve that, in Britain, boldly bore no information bar the label’s logo. London also replaced Bo Diddley’s “I Need You Baby (Mona)” with a hit take on Buddy Holly’sw “Not Fade Away”. The Rolling Stones is not as good as material they would release in ensuing years – or even months. But its arrogant raunchiness had a seismic impact on polite pop then – and continues to echo today.

*NOTE: Early pressings of the UK release of the debut album mistakenly included the piano-less version of "Tell Me" (the 2:52 version); all subsequent releases have featured the version with piano. The full-length (4:06) recording of this piano version, which appeared on the standard UK LP after the mistake was corrected, has an abrupt ending before the performance of the song finishes. Most other LP and CD versions of the UK debut album — as well as the Stones' debut US album, originally subtitled but later officially called "England's Newest Hit Makers" — contain an edited version of this recording, which fades out at around 3:48. In June 1964 "Tell Me" was released as a single in the USA only. The single edit is 2:47. It peaked at # 24 for two weeks, and lasting in the Billboard Hot 100 for a total of 10 weeks.[citation needed] The B-side was a cover of the Willie Dixon song "I Just Wanna Make Love to You". The "Tell Me" single was re-released on various Rolling Stones compilation albums, including "Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass)", "More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies)", "30 Greatest Hits", and "Singles Collection: The London Years". Over the years, the 3:48 edit has replaced the 2:47 single edit on such compilations; for example, the 1989 edition of "Singles Collection: The London Years" has the single edit, while the 2002 edition has the longer version.


quinta-feira, 20 de outubro de 2016

CCREVIVAL: "Green River"

Original released on LP Fantasy 8393
(US 1969, August 3)

If anything, CCR's third album "Green River" represents the full flower of their classic sound initially essayed on its predecessor, "Bayou Country". One of the differences between the two albums is that "Green River" is tighter, with none of the five-minute-plus jams that filled out both their debut and "Bayou Country", but the true key to its success is a peak in John Fogerty's creativity. Although CCR had at least one cover on each album, they relied on Fogerty to crank out new material every month. He was writing so frequently that the craft became second-nature and he laid his emotions and fears bare, perhaps unintentionally. Perhaps that's why "Green River" has fear, anger, dread, and weariness creeping on the edges of gleeful music. This was a band that played rock & roll so joyously that they masked the, well, "sinister" undercurrents in Fogerty's songs. "Bad Moon Rising" has the famous line "Hope you've got your things together/Hope you're quite prepared to die," but that was only the most obvious indication of Fogerty's gloom. Consider all the other dark touches: the "Sinister purpose knocking at your door"; the chaos of "Commotion"; the threat of death in "Tombstone Shadow"; you only return to the idyllic "Green River" once you get lost and realize the "world is smolderin'." Even the ballads have a strong melancholy undercurrent, highlighted by "Lodi," where Fogerty imagines himself stuck playing in dead-end towns for the rest of his life. Not the typical thoughts of a newly famous rock & roller, but certainly an indication of Fogerty's inner tumult. For all its darkness, "Green River" is ultimately welcoming music, since the band rocks hard and bright and the melancholy feels comforting, not alienating. (Stephen Erlewine in AllMusic)

quarta-feira, 19 de outubro de 2016

"Luta meu amor, meu dezreizinhos de gente..."

Edição original em LP Diapasão 16021
(PORTUGAL, 1979)

Canadiana de nascimento, foi nos anos 70 uma das actrizes de "Hair", em Paris, onde conheceu Sérgio Godinho e com quem se relacionou pessoal e artisticamente. Ambos passaram vicissitudes, designadamente no Brasil, onde foram presos e depois expulsos. Vaguearam pela Europa e até ao 25 de Abril viveram como hippies em Vancouver. Sheila Charlesworth participa em diversos álbuns de Sérgio Godinho, nem que seja com "coros, sanduiches e amor" (e também nos de Vitorino e Júlio Pereira) e em 1977 edita o seu primeiro álbum a solo, "Doce de Shila". Dois anos mais tarde, edita o segundo e último álbum, "Lengalengas e Segredos". Nos anos 80 participa em peças infantis na Casa da Comédia. Ainda tentou um terceiro álbum, para o qual José Afonso lhe tinha escrito uma canção, mas a K7 desapareceu. Concluindo que nada mais tinha para dizer, Shila virou-se para outros mundos e nos anos 90 decidiu que o que queria ser era cozinheira e abriu uma empresa de catering a que deu o nome de "Doce de Shila" (Luís Pinheiro de Almeida)

Esta é a história de uma mulher invulgar, que foi casada com Sérgio Godinho, hoje unidos por netos. Sheila é do mundo, mas vive em Portugal desde 1976. É de muitas artes e de nenhuma. Gosta que a deixem estar. Mesmo que seja a única habitante num prédio quase em ruínas, em pleno Chiado. Era uma vez uma menina, que nasceu no Canadá, sob um telhado protector, coberto de neve. Os pais, conservadores, chamaram-lhe Sheila. E ela cresceu como as outras meninas de uma sociedade bem comportada. Não vem ao caso dizer o ano, pois isso seria denunciador de um detalhe que não lhe interessa. Digamos só que num país distante, chamado Portugal, já vigorava a ditadura. Estava tão distante daqui, como das estrelas atrás de uma lente telescópica, apontada da janela do seu quarto, quando era já menina e o centro das atenções, que era exactamente a posição que mais lhe agradava. Sempre foi assim. Nunca teve grande interesse no "business", mas adorava dar "show". Em casa dos pais, o natal era o seu palco predilecto, enquanto o esplendor dos "sixties" não se apresentou a Sheila, que os recebeu de braços abertos na transição da adolescência. Quando completou os míticos 18 anos, disse aos pais qualquer coisa que no íntimo liberal eles já sabiam: Tinha que ir. Tantas coisas chamavam por ela, que na altura foi incapaz de enumerá-las. Chamou-lhe mundo. E para lá foi, com a benção hesitante dos pais e com o pretexto de se encontrar. O seu método de transporte era deixar-se transportar, ficando, partindo, sem plano e sem tempo, com a leveza "flower power". Algures nasceu uma mulher belíssima, cabelos louros, longos, os mesmos olhos azuis, que mantêm o brilho intacto, tantos meridianos depois.

Antes dessa longa viagem, quando ainda estudava no Canadá, foi também modelo e bailarina. Em trânsito, aprendeu as artes do mergulho em águas tropicais, experimentou a substância das viagens, foi parar a Londres, onde foi modelo, e transitou para Paris, onde fez teatro. E onde conheceu um rapaz chamado Sérgio Godinho, um português exilado, a transbordar de palavras, actor e poeta, sem arbitrariedade na ordem dos factores. E a suas vidas ficaram unidas para sempre, ainda que hoje sejam talvez os netos que mais as une. Estavam ambos no elenco do musical "Hair", produção francesa, pós-Maio de 68. Esta peça, um tributo à cultura hippie, era como a sua representação num espelho, desempenhando os papéis de si próprios. Quando a peça foi em digressão para a América do Sul, Sheila Charlesworth e Sérgio Godinho partiram para a América do Norte, para viver numa comuna no Canadá, para onde Sheila regressara uma mulher muito diferente, que seria mãe pouco mais tarde, sob os signos de "peace and love". Só voltariam a viajar no sentido pleno em 1976, quando Sérgio Godinho regressou a Portugal e Sheila conheceu o país pela primeira vez, em ambiente pós-revolucionário e resquícios de cinzentismo.

E aqui ficou, muito mais do que em qualquer outro sítio. Sheila sempre andou ao sabor das coisas. Em 1977, foi "Doce de Shila", nome artístico, que era o tema principal do seu primeiro disco, Long Play de 33 rotações, com letras de Sérgio Godinho, seu marido. Entre mil coisas, nas artes plásticas, no artesanato, em programas de televisão, na cozinha gourmet, a sua vida caminhou de mãe para avó, sempre hippie à sua maneira, estruturalmente livre e feliz proprietária de uma autocaravana. Há pessoas assim. São frágeis e fortes. E quase sempre inquebráveis. De outra maneira não seria explicável a sua actual situação, que já dura há anos a fio. Sheila vive no Chiado, numa das zonas mais caras de Lisboa, mas vive só, num prédio de cinco andares, que está a rebentar pelas costuras. Mesmo. Tem sido uma longa e dura luta contra quem gostaria que ela já não ali estivesse, como aconteceu a todos os antigos inquilinos do prédio, os seus vizinhos. Nesse prédio, fica o seu mundo, lá em cima no quarto andar, onde há umas roldanas para facilitar o transporte de coisas. Há estruturas em equilíbrio instável de pré-ruína, há buracos por toda a parte, chove dentro de sua casa, mas nada a demove. Por alturas do Natal, que continua a ser a sua época predilecta, Sheila encarna outra personagem. É a Mary, "Mary" Christmas, explica. Não é que hoje em dia seja propriamente "Merry", mas também não é por isso que deixa de ser Christmas. Sheila decora o prédio como se fosse o seu presépio privado, vivendo numa espécie de caos com artefactos natalícios. Tem um olhar muito próprio, adocicado, que lhe permite enfrentar as maiores batalhas, nem que estas sejam legais para defender o território onde vivem as suas memórias e os seus sonhos. Ali. Mesmo em frente ao Grémio Literário. (Luís Pedro Cabral in Expresso, 24/12/2010)
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