Saturday, January 30, 2010

Baden Powell & Vinicius de Moraes - Os afro-sambas (1966) (320)

There are countless records which people might point to as capturing the sound of MPB, samba, tropicalia and other Brazilian music styles of the 1960s and 70s. Os afro-sambas is yet another landmark in the development of the Brazilian sound. The lyrics are written by "O Poetinha" Vincius de Moraes, absolutely the premier voice of Brazilian poetry and music of the time (which, to Brasileiros, are almost the same anyway). The music features guest vocals from Betty Faria on a number of tracks and lots of Yoruba and Afro-Brazilian instrumentation such as agogôs, atabaques, and various drums and flutes related to the mixed religion of candomblé. The album is indeed an early example of what would become a central theme for much tropicalia and samba influence Brazilian pop, the worship of the Orixas, deities such as Iemanjá and Oxóssi. The opening track and tribute to the Orixá of plant and foliage, "Canto de Ossanha" quickly became a samba standard. The album is short, concise and composed of a singular but magnificent musical thought whose influence continues to be heard in the contemporary music of Brazil and elsewhere.


1. Canto de Ossanha
2. Canto de Xangô
3. Bocoché
4. Canto de Iemanjá
5. Tempo de Amor
6. Canto de Pedra Preta
7. Tristeza e Solidão
8. Lamento de Exu


Vinicius de Moraes, Quarteto em Cy and Coro Misto, vocals
Pedro Luiz de Assis, tenor sax
Aurino Ferreira, baritone sax
Nicolino Cópia, flute
Baden Powell, guitar
Jorge Marinho, bass
Reisinho, drums
Alfredo Bessa, atabaque
Nelson Luiz, atabaque (pequeno)
Alexandre Silva Martins, bongos
Gilson de Freitas, pandeiro
Mineirinho, agogô
Adyr Jose Raimundo, afoxé

Sessions produced by Roberto Quartin and Wadi Gebara
Recording engineer: Ademar Rocha


Friday, January 29, 2010

Albert Ayler - Live In Greenwich Village: The Complete Impulse Recordings (1965) (320)

In my opinion, this is the most solid example of what free jazz can and should be. Albert Ayler stretches the sound capabilities of the tenor saxophone, making just about every noise imaginable. Through his shrill wailing you can hear a wide influence of musical traditions, from demented marches to despairing funeral dirges and everything in between. The Brothers Ayler work together in creating a primitive interpretation of the melodies, and compliment each other well when they harmonize. When you think it sounds like a child practicing, Albert will throw in an incredible line that demonstrates his musical sophistication. Albert and Don are matched by an equally out-there string section, who battle their instruments with the same tenacity as the Aylers. And the drumming...I need to find more albums with Beaver Harris on them. Just when you think you know what jazz is, Albert Ayler defies every conception of the term. His vast influence on John Coltrane can be heard on Trane's Impulse! recordings (to be posted soon...)

Albert Ayler, tenor saxophone
Don Ayler, trumpet
Michel Sampson, violin
Bill Folwell & Henry Grimes, basses
Beaver Harris, drums

Recorded at The Village Vanguard,
New York City on December 18, 1966.

Original sessions produced by Bob Thiele
Recording engineers: Rudy Van Gelder (Disc one, #1), George Klabin (all others)

Label: Impulse!
IMPD2-273, IMP 22732

Download Disc 1
Download Disc 2

Kraftwerk - Radio-Activity (1975) (320)

I once asked the internet for suggestions of ambient/atmospheric music conducive to intense studying, and a friend of a friend vicariously suggested Kraftwerk's "Radio-Activity". Although I have always had love for Kraftwerk, it was when they triumphantly saved my exam grades that I actually felt grateful to the music. I think my ability to allow the music to become a secondary sensorial perception to the sight-oriented act of studying (many claim that you can't effectively read or listen to music if you try to do both at once) has to do with the fact that the album is split between German and English, and also that it gave me the sensation of beaming knowledge itself into my cranium, that made it perfect for this situation. Still, it bears a listen on its own, as long as you don't tire easily of weird sounds and Moogs. The lyrics and theme (of radioactivity and the activity of radios all at once) are very clever and although some of the tracks are a little indulgent, they're sandwiched between winners like the title track and the album closing "Ohm Sweet Ohm". Enjoy!


1. Geiger Counter
2. Radioactivity
3. Radioland
4. Airwaves
5. Intermission
6. News
7. The Voice of Energy
8. Antenna
9. Radio Stars
10. Uranium
11. Transistor
12. Ohm Sweet Ohm

Kling Klang, 1975


Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Isley Brothers - Winner Takes All (1979) (320)

This double LP from 1979 finds the Isleys with a slightly more polished sound than in the earlier releases I've posted here. The opening track "I Wanna Be With You" sets the tone for an album of fairly simple, but infectious crisp funk and midtempo jams. Some criticize this album for its forays into disco-y dance grooves, but, well, it was 1979. Unlike many double albums, which can be overly self-indulgent and even rambling, I actually think this record has a largely unrecognized cohesiveness. The seamless change from the ultra-romantic slow jam "You're The Key To My Heart" to a slightly more uplifting "You're Beside Me" is compelling. Ernie steps back from the guitar wizardry on this album to play with percussion, giving the album a fresh, clipped sound with maracas and timbales. Other gems which might go unnoticed include the stellar "Let Me In Your Life" and of course the infinitely funky "Mind Over Matter". Enjoy!


1. I Wanna Be With You, Parts 1 & 2
2. Liquid Love, Parts 1 & 2
3. Winner Takes All
4. Life in the City, Parts 1 & 2
5. It's a Disco Night (Rock Don't Stop), Parts 1 & 2
6. (Can't You See) What You Do to Me
7. Let's Fall in Love, Parts 1 & 2
8. How Lucky I Am, Parts 1 & 2
9. You're the Key to My Heart
10. You're Beside Me, Parts 1 & 2
11. Let Me In Your Life, Parts 1 & 2
12. Love Comes and Goes, Parts 1 & 2
13. Go for What You Know
14. Mind over Matter, Parts 1 & 2


Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Coup - Genocide & Juice (1994) (320)

"Fuck nah, I ain't got no Grey Poupon"

Think about the term "conscious hip hop" for a second. Chances are you're picturing a sweater-wearing, Oprah-approved rapper. What happened to the militant calls to arms from Public Enemy and KRS-One? Here's a throwback to the good ol' days, with The Coup's Genocide & Juice, a mix of social commentary and straight gangsterism. Boots Riley and E-Roc paint a picture of the everyday struggle - hassled by the laws, getting their shit jacked by the "Repo Man", and trying to turn "four dollars into four hundred". The two sound most fed up on "Gunsmoke": "Whole system's stacked like a loaded bowel, 'cause ain't no billionaires on the murder trial". This song's particularly pissed-off and potent, but G&J is equally light-hearted as it is aggressive - listen to Boots mack for free hamburgers on "Fat Cats, Bigga Fish", and the two spit at an elitist billionaire party on "Pimps (Free Stylin' At The Fortune 500 Club). Sorry, but The Coup are just more effective than this dude.


1. Intro (G-Nut Talks Shit From The Gut)
2. Fat Cats, Bigga Fish
3. Pimps (Free Stylin' At The Fortune 500 Club)
4. Takin' These
5. Hip 2 The Skeme
6. Gunsmoke
7. This One's A Girl
8. The Name Game
9. 360 Degrees
10. Hard Concrete
11. Santa Rita Weekend (Feat. Spice 1 & E-40)
12. Repo Man
13. Interrogation (Feat. Osagyefo & Point Blank Range)
14. Outro


Friday, January 8, 2010

The Isley Brothers - The Heat Is On (1975) (320)

The Isleys are, to me, one of the most important groups for the second half of the twentieth century, and you can look forward to posts of a few more of their essential recordings over the next month or so. One of the most recognizable Isleys albums and the first to reach #1 on the Billboards, The Heat Is On is one of the the group's tightest releases. Six tracks of hard funk ("The Heat is On" and the classic "Fight the Power" stand out), rocking guitar by Ernie, and sexy soul ballads like "Sensuality" make for a concise album which in many ways represents the perfect convergence which defines the Isley Brothers, their musical integrity crossing with sincere popular appeal. This version features a live version of "Fight The Power" as well.


1. Fight The Power (Parts 1 & 2)
2. The Heat Is On (Parts 1 & 2)
3. Hope You Feel Better Love (Parts 1 & 2)
4. For The Love Of You (Parts 1 & 2)
5. Sensuality (Parts 1 & 2)
6. Make Me Say It Again Girl (Parts 1 & 2)
7. Fight The Power (Parts 1 & 2) (Live)

T-Neck/Epic, 1975