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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

LOCANDA DELLE FATE : Nove Lune (1978)

This progressive rock from Piedmonte came a little late onto the prog scene, even by Italian standards. As the public was picking up punk or disco, this group seemed to be in a time warp, playing symphonic and complex music, with heavy use of instrumentation and odd time signatures. The group lasted only one album and three singles during its lifetime, but has since gone on to become an essential group of the genre (at least among the Italian bands).
This track is in fact the b-side to the band's second single, and has been languishing in obscurity until more recent CD reissues. By this point the band was down to a 5 members (previously a 7-piece), and had even lost their lead singer! It starts with a complex piano line that upon the band's entry, can be counted in a fast 6/8 time, with shorter bars thrown in for good measure. The vocals are almost sweet-sounding, to balance the busy rhythm section. At 1:01, the second part of the song begins, with the sax leading the melody (that IS a sax, right?) over 4/4 time. Almost as fast, the main section restarts with vocals at 1:38. Part 2 comes back at 2:29, and rides out the song. You have to give this band some credit; putting so much energy and ideas into a B-SIDE in a genre that was very unpopular at this point!

Song : "Nove Lune" by Locanda Delle Fate

Single B-side (Polydor 2060 169) 1978

Link in title.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

THE AZTECS : Most People I Know Think That I'm Crazy (1972)

Billy Thorpe was one of the most important rock singer/entertainer that Australia produced. Initially a '60s pop-star, bad decisions (musically and financially) left him basically bankrupt by the end of that decade. With his band, The Aztecs, he turned towards hard blues-rock and reclaimed his popularity. The group hit the big-time with this song and an appearance at the first Sunbury Music Festival (Australia's version of Woodstock).
The tune starts with a jangly acoustic guitar, after which Thorpe asserts himself with a strong and catchy melodic line (complete with country-style harmonies). Rollicking piano enters after the first verse to drive the chords, and the rest of the band comes in at 1:19. Thorpe is a consistently strong singer (use the line at 1:44 as an example), so much so that apparently The Aztecs were one of the loudest bands in Australia primarily to match the volume of his vocals. At the 2:00 mark, the band changes to a nice hard-rock riff with a piano solo. After another verse, the riff kicks back in at 3:35 for the ride-out, this time allowing Thorpe to show off his growing guitar skills. There is an underlying country feel to this song; perhaps that's why Aussie country superstar Keith Urband recently covered the track (almost note for note!).
Song : "Most People I Know Think That I'm Crazy" by The Aztecs
Single A-side (Havoc H1012) Feb. 1972

Billy Thorpe : vocals, guitar
Warren "Pig" Morgan : piano, vocals
Gil "Rathead" Matthews : drums, vocals
Paul "Sheepdog" Wheeler : bass

Here is a youtube link to the performance at Sunbury '72:

And here is a youtube clip of Keith Urban doing a surprisingly respectful cover:

Link in title

R.I.P. Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)

By many to be considered the Godfather of Rap, this is a great loss to the music community...

From the NY Times:
"Gil Scott-Heron, the poet and recording artist whose syncopated spoken style and mordant critiques of politics, racism and mass media in pieces like “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” made him a notable voice of black protest culture in the 1970s and an important early influence on hip-hop, died on Friday at St. Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan. He was 62 and had been a longtime resident of Harlem."

Read full article here:

Monday, May 16, 2011

SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS : How Long Do I Have To Wait For You? (2005)

This is a bit of a no-brainer. Sharon Jones is a soul singer who initially gained popularity in the '90s, releasing a few singles on the Desco Records label in New York. Her backing band, initially called The Soul Providers, became The Dap-Kings when she moved to the Daptone label. This label is one of a handful that attempt to recreate an authentic soul & funk sound of the 60s & 70s, using vintage instruments and recording techniques. The group has been gathering momentum in recent years by regular touring and a solid music catalogue. This was one of her breakthrough tracks from 2005; it starts with a classic breakbeat, that leads into a positive groove and catchy refrain. The band is LARGE, but they make it work by the call-and-response of the horns with the guitar, with Jones singing over all of it. There's even room for a guitar AND trumpet solo! And check out the funky beat of Homer Steinweiss during the ride-out...

Song : "How Long Do I Have To Wait For You?" by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
From the LP "NATURALLY" (Daptone) Jan. 25, 2005

LINEUP :Sharon Jones : vocals
El Michels : baritone sax
Neal Sugarman : tenor saxDave Guy : trumpetHomer Steinweiss : drumsBinky Griptite : guitarBoogaloo Velez : congaTommy TNT Brenneck : guitarBosco Mann : bass, tambourine

Link in title...