Wednesday, July 31, 2013

tropicália: ou panis et circencis

This coalition of Brazilian artists combined aspects of psychedelia, pop, folk, and bossa nova into the culmination of a cultural cannibalism for this magnificent musical manifesto.  'Tropicália: ou Panis et Circencis'  takes its name from the Tropicália (AKA Tropicalismo) art movement that encompassed theatre, poetry, and music bridging the popular and the avant-garde while merging traditional Brazilian culture with foreign influences; as well as from the song "Panis et Circencis" (bread and circuses) written by Veloso and Gil and recorded by Os Mutantes.  

The movement was influenced by The Manifesto Antropófago (Cannibal Manifesto) by Brazilian poet and sophist Oswald de Andrade, who proposed that Brazil's greatest strength came from its ability to "cannibalize" other cultures to create something new.  In this way Brazil could hold onto its national identity while embracing the cosmopolitan.  

Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso steered this ship in collaboration with Os Mutantes, Gal Costa, Nara Leão, and Tom Zé; with arrangements by Rogerio Duprat and lyrical contributions from Torquato Neto, Artur de Sales, João Antônio Wanderley, and José Carlos Capinam.  The music was a marriage of traditional forms such as bolero, samba, and bossa nova with jazz, rock, and psychedelia bringing these divergent streams into an all inclusive carnival.  'Tropicália: ou Panis et Circencis'   can be seen as the Brazilian answer to 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'.  This Brazilian lonely hearts club band is assembled on the album cover much like on the Beatles' album:  Gil is seated on the floor with a photo of Capinan; Rogério Duprat is on his left with a chamber pot, with Gal Costa and Torquato Neto to his right;  Caetano Veloso sits above Gil with a picture of Nara Leão; and standing in the back row are Os Mutantes (Arnaldo Baptista, Rita Lee, Sérgio Dias Baptista, and Cláudio César Dias Baptista)

In the era of military dictatorship, the avant-garde implications of their free form foolishness was revolutionary.  The subversive political content on the album questioned the 1964 coup that led to the  overthrow of President João Goulart by the Armed Forces with support from the United States.  Veloso and Gil would later be jailed and then exiled by the government for their politics.  'Tropicália: ou Panis et Circencis' stands as a powerful statement of the uplifting and inspirational power of artistic freedom and a landmark in the history of Brazilian music.

'Tropicália: ou Panis et Circencis'

full album:

1.  00:00 "Miserere Nobis" (Capinam, Gilberto Gil) Gilberto Gil 3:44
2.  03:47 "Coração Materno" (Vicente Celestino) Caetano Veloso 4:17
3.  08:02 "Panis et Circencis" (Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil) Os Mutantes 3:35
4.  11:37 "Lindonéia" (Caetano Veloso) Nara Leão 2:14
5.  13:51 "Parque Industrial" (Tom Zé) Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Os Mutantes e Tom Zé 3:16
6.  17:07 "Geléia Geral" (Gilberto Gil, Torquato Neto) Gilberto Gil 2:31
7.  20:52 "Baby" (Caetano Veloso) Gal Costa e Caetano Veloso 3:31
8.  24:22 "Três Caravelas (Las Tres Carabelas)" (Algueró Jr., Moreau. Versão: João de Barro) Caetano Veloso e Gilberto Gil 3:06
9.  27:28 "Enquanto Seu Lobo Não Vem" (Caetano Veloso) Caetano Veloso 
10. 30:02 "Mamãe, Coragem" (Caetano Veloso, Torquato Neto) Gal Costa 2:30
11. 32:31 "Bat Macumba" (Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil) Gilberto Gil 2:33
12. 35:04 "Hino ao Senhor do Bonfim" (Artur de Sales, João Antônio Wanderley) Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil e Os Mutantes 3:39

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Lou Reed challenged his newfound audience with the bleak and brutal beauty of this much maligned musical tragedy of jealousy and rage.  He had found international success with the unlikely hit single 'Walk on the Wild Side' from his second solo album 'Transformer';  but for the followup he was unwilling to come up with radio friendly fodder to please his label RCA.  He said at the time:   “This is going to totally destroy them. I told people I was gonna do that. They throw me in so many categories. This one will show them I’m not kidding.”

'Berlin' was recorded with producer Bob Ezrin at Morgan Studios in London and Record Plant Studios in New York.  The drug fueled sessions featured Lou Reed on vocals and acoustic guitar; Bob Ezrin on piano, mellotron, production, and arrangement; Michael Brecker on tenor sax; Randy Brecker on trumpet; Jack Bruce and Tony Levin on bass; Aynsley Dunbar and B.J. Wilson on drums; Steve Hunter on electric guitar; Allan Macmillan on piano and arrangement; Blue Weaver on piano; Gene Martynec on acoustic guitar, synthesizer and vocal arrangement; Jon Pierson on bass trombone; Dick Wagner on background vocals and electric guitar; Steve Winwood on organ and harmonium; and Steve Hyden, Elizabeth March, Lou Reed, and Dick Wagner as the choir.  

Reed considered the album to be his finest work and he and Ezrin made plans to produce a stage version of the dark and dramatic tale of Jim and Caroline.  Those plans were scraped when the album was panned by critics.  RCA was so shocked by the songs about addiction, depression, domestic violence, prostitution, and suicide that they didn't want to release it.  Reed would later confess:    “There are people I’ll never forgive for the way they fucked me over with 'Berlin'. The way that album was overlooked was the biggest disappointment I ever faced ... I pulled the blinds shut at that point. And they've remained closed ... 'Berlin', you know, we tried. It's such a simple idea that it barely qualifies as an idea: Instead of all the songs having different characters, why not have the characters come back and deal with each other? How much simpler can it get?...People never really got to hear 'Berlin' because of the critics. Then critics ask you if you feel vindicated by other critics. I didn't like critics then, and I don't like them now. There you go. I've always been outside the mainstream, and it stayed that way...I followed up my one big hit with Berlin; 'Berlin' has got this rap that it's depressing. Are you joking me? You can't handle it? You ever read 'Hamlet'? Who are you talking to that's so stupid? Are you joking? You're kidding me...I don't think anybody is anybody else's moral compass. Maybe listening to my music is not the best idea if you live a very constricted life. Or maybe it is. I'm writing about real things. Real people. Real characters. You have to believe what I write about is true or you wouldn't pay any attention at all. Sometimes it's me, or a composite of me and other people. Sometimes it's not me at all...You know, I wanted to be an actor. That was my real goal. But I wasn't any good at it, so I wrote my own material and acted through that. That's my idea of fun. I get to be all these things in the songs. But I present it to you like: This is how it is. Simple. But a guide to doing things that are wrong and right? I mean, Othello murders Desdemona. Is that a guide to what you can do? The guy in 'Berlin' beats up his girlfriend. Is that a guide to what you can do? Is that what you walk away with? I don't think so. Maybe they should sticker my albums and say, 'Stay away if you have no moral compass.'"

'Berlin' only charted at number ninety-eight in the US; but it made it to number seven in the UK.  Bitter over the disappointment, Reed would refuse to play songs from the album for decades.  Thirty-three years later, he performed the album in its entirety for a stage production at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn. The show was produced by Bob Ezrin and Hal Willner with set design by painter Julian Schnabel and a film directed by Lola Schnabel projected on the stage.  The production was a critical success and was performed at venues all over the world.  In 2008, a DVD was released of the show:  'Berlin: Live At St. Ann's Warehouse'.

"Berlin"   3:23

"Lady Day"   3:40

"Men of Good Fortune"   4:37

"Caroline Says I"   3:57

"How Do You Think It Feels"   3:42

"Sad Song"   6:55


full album:

All tracks composed by Lou Reed.

Side one
1. "Berlin"   3:23
2. "Lady Day"   3:40
3. "Men of Good Fortune"   4:37
4. "Caroline Says I"   3:57
5. "How Do You Think It Feels"   3:42
6. "Oh, Jim"   5:13
Side two
7. "Caroline Says II"   4:10
8. "The Kids"   7:55
9. "The Bed"   5:51
10. "Sad Song"   6:55


LOU REED'S BERLIN a film by JULIAN SCHNABEL / TRAILER from Gio Jas on Vimeo.

  'Berlin: Live At St. Ann's Warehouse'

01 "Berlin"
02 "Lady Day"
03 "Men Of Good Fortune"
04 "Caroline Says (I)"
05 "How Do You Think It Feels?"
06 "Oh, Jim"
07 "Caroline Says (II)"
08 "The Kids"
09 "The Bed"
10 "Sad Song"
11 "Candy Says"
12 "Rock Minuet"
13 "Sweet Jane"

Monday, July 29, 2013

you & me

The Walkmen found their comfort zone with the intimate and intense unfolding of this tortured travelogue.  During the whirlwind of touring and activity that followed their leap to Warner Bros.' Record Collection label for 'Bows + Arrows'the band appeared on the television show 'The O.C.' and collectively wrote a novel together, 'John's Journey'.  'A Hundred Miles Off' followed and then a cover of the entire 'Pussy Cats' album by Harry Nilsson and John Lennon.  They were forced to close down their own Marcata studio when the building was purchased by Colombia University and began recording their new album 'You & Me' in various studios.  The sessions were recorded by Chris Zane at Gigantic Studios, Manhattan; Paul Maroon at Brutalis Studios, Philadelphia; and John Agnello at Water Music, Hoboken and Sweet Tea Studios, Oxford, Mississippi featuring Hamilton Leithauser on vocals and guitar; Paul Maroon on guitar and piano; Walter Martin on organ and bass; Peter Bauer on bass and organ; and Matt Barrick on drums.  

 Leithauser reveals:    "The title was the last thing we came up with. But it definitely added something to the finished product. We all felt it really fit the vibe, both in terms of the music and the lyrics, that we had been going for. It wasn't something that was planned from the outset or while we were recording the album. And I wouldn't say that there is a specific 'you' or a specific 'me'. The title just summed things up nicely and concisely... We spent a lot of time coming up with the pacing for the record. That was really important to us this time around. We've had a number of reasons why we've sequenced albums in certain ways, and we've made big decisions on that front that were both good and bad. We wanted to make sure that the pacing-- and the number of songs-- really added something to the record. For a long time we had about 10 or 11 songs done-- we could have released it in that form. But it just didn't seem right. So we did a bunch more; I think we did about seven more songs, and we didn't end up using all of them. But we did use some of them. And only when we got to about 15 or 16 songs, we began to feel that we could construct a good record out of the material. And then we tried about 20 or 25 different orders for the songs we wanted to put on the album. We did some eight-song versions, some 12-song versions, in all sorts of orders. In the end, we sort of took the kitchen-sink approach with 14 songs, and the pacing was important to let people know that it was going to be a big, long record. It's a record that really needs the listener to settle in and relax...It was important that the record stand out as a whole album. There's not really a single... and I think pacing it slowly emphasizes that it's meant to be listened to in its own entity.  And another thing that I'm really happy about is that, in the mastering, we didn't just blast everything out, you know? It's the quietest of our records, by a long shot...You're always trying to find new stuff and new inspiration. If you don't really push and you don't try something that feels exciting, then it's not worth doing. And in terms of the new record, there was a lot of talk right from the beginning of trying to do some calypso-sounding songs, and we had a few songs that were based on these calypso-like riffs, and they were really exciting for a while. And while those songs really didn't pan out, that was sort of our jumping-off point. The other thing that really got us going was when Paul started playing the trumpet and the viola. He started dressing up our recordings with his horns and it started sounding really, really good."

'You & Me' was initially made available as a digital download on the Amie Street music site for five dollars with the proceeds going to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.  The album went to number twenty-nine on Billboard's Top Digital Albums chart in its first week of sales.

"On the Water" – 3:10

"Postcards from Tiny Islands" – 4:04

"Red Moon" – 4:02

"Canadian Girl" – 4:05

"Four Provinces" – 4:02

"The Blue Route" – 4:26

"New Country" – 3:44

"I Lost You" – 3:32

"If Only It Were True" – 3:07

'You & Me' 

full album:

"Dónde está la playa" – 3:55
"Flamingos" (for Colbert) – 1:11
"On the Water" – 3:10
"In the New Year" – 4:22
"Seven Years of Holidays" (for Stretch) – 3:40
"Postcards from Tiny Islands" – 4:04
"Red Moon" – 4:02
"Canadian Girl" – 4:05
"Four Provinces" – 4:02
"Long Time Ahead of Us" – 3:47
"The Blue Route" – 4:26
"New Country" – 3:44
"I Lost You" – 3:32
"If Only It Were True" – 3:07

Sunday, July 28, 2013

hell among the yearlings

Gillian Welch found a deeper expression of her traditional country sound with the stark and striking stories of her sophomore showing.   Her debut album 'Revival' was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album and established her as one of the rising stars in country music.  

'Hell Among the Yearlings' was recorded at Sound City in Van Nuys, CA; Ocean Way Recording in Hollywood, CA; Sound Emporium in Nashville, TN; MCA Music Studio in Nashville, TN; and at their own Woodland Sound Studios at a historic building that they bought in Nashville. The stripped down sessions utilized analog equipment to avoid an over-produced digital sound and featured only Gillian Welch on vocals, acoustic guitar, bass, kick drum, and banjo; David Rawlings on vocals, acoustic & electric guitar, and snare drum; T-Bone Burnett on piano and Hammond B-3 organ.  

Welch describes her approach to her music:    "I think people look at the way we present ourselves, and they are lulled by our acoustic demeanor into assuming that we are more old time and traditional than we are. I don't think that our music is that traditional at all, really. There is a lot of stuff going on that isn't with the Carter Family. We grew up listening to Neil Young, so it'll never be as pure as the Carter Family. The songs are different. Even though I work in that older format, what's actually going on, the story and the subject matter and the emotional tone are very modern to me. I can't tell anyone else how to react to it. My god, the stuff that David is doing, it's not traditional at all. It's all a question of degree. If we change one note, we hear it as not traditional. We're playing acoustic instruments. If we were playing through amplifiers with the very same notes, you would change your mind...We play as an acoustic duet, and so it's hard to pin down. When you flesh it out as a band, it's a little easier to categorize. Maybe we're just pigeon-holed as Appalachian traditional. If you add a banjo and a fiddle, we're bluegrass. Add a bass and drums, and we're in that alternative country thing...Dave and I both have a super aversion to picking up a studio band, or studio musicians. We're both really band oriented. If they're not going to go out on the road with you and live with you then I don't want to make the record with them. We have really had to work to keep the side musicians at bay. They are everywhere, and those slide guitar players just beg us to put a few licks into our songs. Talk about getting on the radio and selling records. [laughs] That's just like the quick recipe for greater commercial appeal, so screw it."

'Hell Among the Yearlings' cantered to number one hundred and eighty one on the Billboard 200 album chart, nine on their Heatseekers chart, and number two on the FolkDJ-L Folk Radio Airplay chart.  The dark subject matter of rape, murder, drugs, and mining disasters made separated her from the bulk of other songwriters in the country genre.

"Good Til Now" – 3:56

"The Devil Had a Hold of Me"

"My Morphine"  – 5:53

"One Morning" – 2:41

"Miner's Refrain" – 3:57

"Honey Now" – 1:52

"I'm Not Afraid to Die" – 3:27

"Rock of Ages" – 3:08

"Winter's Come and Gone" – 2:14

'Hell Among the Yearlings'

full album:

All the songs on the album are written by Welch and David Rawlings

"Caleb Meyer" – 3:05
"Good Til Now" – 3:56
"The Devil Had a Hold of Me" – 4:30
"My Morphine" – 5:53
"One Morning" – 2:41
"Miner's Refrain" – 3:57
"Honey Now" – 1:52
"I'm Not Afraid to Die" – 3:27
"Rock of Ages" – 3:08
"Whiskey Girl" – 4:15
"Winter's Come and Gone" – 2:14

Saturday, July 27, 2013

burning farm

Shonen Knife carved out a place for themselves with the carefree cross-cultural cuteness of this power pop punk primer.  The trio formed in Osaka, Japan with sisters Naoko and Atsuko Yamano and their friend Michie Nakatani.  They were inspired by sixties groups and especially the sound of the Ramones (they sometimes perform as Ramones tribute band the Osaka Ramones).  

Naoko Yamano reveals:   “I wanted to play like Ramones or Buzzcocks...I like 70s British hard rock. I like Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Motorhead. Also I like to listen to American rock music, metal music...There is no band like Shonen Knife in Japan, I think. Japanese pop music is very different from our music.  The punk scene at that time was very small and also all female bands are very rare but it was very lively so there were various kinds of interesting bands in Japan.  There are some very good bands in Japan but they are always underground ... After we formed the Shoken Knife and we graduated the school and we started to work at various kind of job like office worker at machinery company or receptionist at doctor's office and also the drummer Atsuko was working at clothing company as a clothing designer. Also the drummer Atsuko is always making our stage costumes herself."

After the self-produced 'Minna Tanoshiku' (Everybody Happy) was only released as a cassette in Japan; the band began working on their debut album.   'Burning Farm' was recorded with Naoko Yamano on vocals on guitar; Atsuko Yamano on drums and backing vocals; and Michie Nakatani on bass guitar and vocals; with additional percussion provided by Kaoru Okuda, Hiroaki Fukumaru, Kazujisa Fukumaru, and Shin Hirakawa.  It was released by Zero Records in Japan and found US distribution on K Records as a cassette.  

Michie Nakatani says:   "We've always enjoyed writing songs about everyday things.  Besides, there are already enough bands out there singing about pollution, war and poverty. While we all care very much about those things, we also feel that music should be fun. You should be able to go [trills a few playful "la-la-la-la-la's"] when you hear your favorite song on the radio...Shonen Knife wants people to enjoy our show and our music, too; but, most importantly, we have to be happy being ShonenKnife. We want to have fun. We want to write songs that make us happy when we record them, and make us happy when we play them again and again."

'Burning Farm' never charted; but it established the sound of the band that would slowly grow an international audience over the next thirty years.  Naoko Yamano considers:   "When I started the band, the number of bands and clubs are not so many like today, but they were fresh. Recently there are so many and young people [who] like to listen to Japanese music more than Western rock music...People tend to like faraway things and different things from themselves. American culture and Japanese culture are totally different. That’s why people fascinated each other...I’m trying not to write songs about political ideological things. I want people [to] get happy through our happy music. Angry, sad, complaint songs [are] sometimes too much...I don’t know, but if people get happy through our music, it’s great...I’m just ashamed to sing about love ... I never feel boring. For me, time flies. I always look forward and I never look back.  I don’t like serious music. I think music should be always fun and I want to make people happy through our music.”

"A Day At The Factory"

"Burning Farm"

The original K Records cassette version added three tracks:

"Watchin' Girl"

"Banana Fish"

Their cover of the Ramones' 'I Wanna Be Sedated' was included on CD versions of 'Burning Farm'.

'Burning Farm'
full album:

All songs written by Naoko Yamano, except where noted.

A1 - Watchin' Girl (Michie Nakatani) (0:00)
A2 - Miracles (Michie Nakatani) (1:59)
A3 - Parallel Woman (4:14)
A4 - Twist Birbie" (7:13)
A5 - A Day At The Factory (9:47)
B1 - Tortoise Brand Pot Cleaner's Theme (13:28)
B2 - Animal Song (14:21)
B3 - Banana Fish  (Michie Nakatani)  (16:31)
B4 - Elephant Pao Pao (18:35)
B5 - Parrot Polynesia (20:51)
B6 - Burning Farm (23:59)