Thursday, 9 April 2020

Led Zeppelin ‎– Led Zeppelin (1968)

Style: Hard Rock, Classic Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label. Atlantic

A1. Good Times Bad Times
A2. Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
A3. You Shook Me
A4. Dazed And Confused
B1. Your Time Is Gonna Come
B2. Black Mountain Side
B3. Communication Breakdown
B4. I Can't Quit You Baby
B5. How Many More Times

Bass, Organ, Backing Vocals – John Paul Jones
Drums, Timpani, Backing Vocals – John Bonham
Harmonica, Lead Vocals – Robert Plant
Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Backing Vocals, Pedal Steel Guitar – Jimmy Page

With its intriguing and now iconic artwork, Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut album must have made an arresting sight for any patchouli-doused flower child sifting through record store racks back in January 1969. The Summer of Love was over, Altamont was just a few months away and the times they were a-changin’. Zeppelin may have been a product of the 60s, but their often bombastic style signposted a new decade and the arrival of a new breed of rock bands. 
Fortunately for Zeppelin, their first effort was every bit as dramatic, dynamic and compelling as the sleeve which bound it. Recorded at London’s Olympic Studios during October 1968, it showcased an ambitious and inventive fusion of blues and rock which paved the way for virtually every big-riffing outfit of the 70s. It wasn’t heavy metal, but it sure was heavy. 
Although still finding their feet and searching for a collective identity, the band were clearly brimming with confidence; so much so, in fact, that they funded these recording sessions themselves. The resulting lack of corporate meddling meant complete artistic freedom which, in turn, allowed founding guitarist Jimmy Page to pursue the clear and certain vision he had for his new band. 
The group were certainly well-rehearsed upon entering the studio. From the rhythmic stomp of Good Times Bad Times to bludgeoning coda How Many More Times, this is the sound of a super-tight unit ploughing through a set they’d already performed on stage countless times. Even the arrangements mirrored those worked out on the road. 
Alongside a clutch of stellar originals, the album highlights the band’s ability to bend cover versions to their own ends; even passionate renditions of Willie Dixon’s You Shook Me and I Can't Quit You Baby pale alongside a masterful reinvention of Anne Bredon’s Babe I'm Gonna Leave You. The centrepiece, however, is 100% Zep: the smouldering, sinister Dazed and Confused. A platform for Page’s famous violin bow histrionics, it remains one of the band’s signature songs. 
Compositionally, Zeppelin would go on to achieve greater things, but the performances here simply cannot be faulted. Darkly orchestrated by Page, vocalist Robert Plant, drummer John Bonham and bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones play their hearts out, expressing an eternal synergy unheard of in rock before and, some say, since.
Greg Moffitt / BBC

Peter Principle ‎– Tone Poems / MTM VOL. 18 (1998)

Style: Experimental, Ambient
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Crammed Discs, Made To Measure

01.   Le Maka
        - Le Maka Part 1. 28 Day Snake
        - Le Maka Part 2. Theme
        - Le Maka Part 3. Sgt Rock In The Ardennes
02.   Sphinx
03.   Sub-Lunar Folly
04.   The Observatory
05.   Independance Day
06.   Pillar Of Salt
07.   Orval
08.   Orion's Shadow
09.   Dolphins
10.   Riding The Silver Chord

All Songs Written By – Peter Principle
Fluegel Horn, Trumpets – Luc Van Lieshout
Pedal Steel Guitar – Vincent Kenis
Tape Additional Recordings,– Frankie Lievaart
Tape, Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitars, Synthesizers, Clavinet, Organ, Percussion, Xylophone, Zither, Drum Machine – Peter Principle

Prince ‎– Originals (2019)

Genre: Rock, Funk / Soul, Pop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: NPG Records, The Prince Estate, Warner Bros. Records

01.   Sex Shooter
02.   Jungle Love
03.   Manic Monday
04.   Noon Rendezvous
05.   Make-Up
06.   100 MPH
07.   You're My Love
08.   Holly Rock
09.   Baby You're A Trip
10.   The Glamorous Life
11.   Gigolos Get Lonely Too
12.   Love… Thy Will Be Done
13.   Dear Michaelangelo
14.   Wouldn’t You Love To Love Me?
15.   Nothing Compares 2 U

Cello – David Coleman
Saxophone – Larry Williams
Drums, Backing Vocals – Morris Day
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Jesse Johnson
Backing Vocals – Susannah Melvoin, Jill Jones
Saxophone – Eric Leeds, Eddie Mininfield
Percussion, Backing Vocals – Sheila E.
Written-By, Arranged By, Performer, Producer – Prince

t was said that only Prince knew the combination to his legendary, quite literal vault with the spinning wheel doorknob. But sometime after his death on April 21, 2016, the hulking door was drilled open, revealing an astounding archive of unreleased songs—so many thousands of tapes and hard drives that his estate could allegedly release a Prince album every year for the next century. Now, the latest from the vault, comes Prince: Originals, a compilation of 14 previously unreleased songs written for other performers that prove once and for all that a Prince demo was often better than most other musicians’ finished songs. It offers a window onto the playfulness of his improvisations and, in a structure that mimics the range of an actual Prince album, shifts nimbly between up-tempo songs and ballads, sweat and tears, near impossible to stay sitting still while listening. 
In the winter after the release of his third album, Dirty Mind, 22-year-old Prince moved into what he’d call Kiowa Trail Home Studio in suburban Chanhassen, Minnesota, not far from what would become Paisley Park. Prince had its cream-colored exterior repainted with his favorite hue; it was nicknamed the Purple House. Outside was the driveway where he’d do motorcycle laps practicing for Purple Rain and the gates he decorated with a sculpted heart and peace sign. Inside, he outfitted his studio with a 16-track recorder and later upgraded to a 24-track Ampex MM1200, with a piano upstairs for any sudden inspiration. 
Inside the Purple House, large parts of Controversy, 1999, Purple Rain, and Sign o’ the Times were recorded, as well as about half the songs on Originals (most of the rest were recorded at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles). In 1985, when he sat with a Rolling Stone reporter on the white plush carpet of the bedroom at Kiowa Trail, he said that he finally came to understand why his musician father was so hard to live with. “When he was working or thinking, he had a private pulse going constantly inside him,” Prince said. “I don’t know, your bloodstream beats differently.” Discovering some of the unscripted moments in Originals feels like taking that pulse.

Written into his Warner Bros. contract was a clause that allowed him to recruit and produce other artists. It essentially assured him access to a congregation of performers who would spread the gospel of his music—the pop-funk he’d canonized in his early records, and a vast and uncharted road ahead, both under his own name and others. Sometimes he adopted an alias—as Joey Coco, for instance, for the power crooner “You’re My Love,” one of the surprises on Originals. It appeared on Kenny Rogers' 1986 album They Don't Make Them Like They Used To, but Rogers’ version pales next to Prince’s, who uses a deeper, full-throated register that sounds an imitation of what he thought Kenny Rogers should sound like. But the Prince of Dirty Mind and Controversy didn’t exactly mesh with Nashville of the 1980s—what would the world have thought then if he released a country song? Giving that song to another voice freed him to fly elsewhere. 
Better known is his alias for “Manic Monday,” which charted at No. 2 for the Bangles, second only to Prince’s own smash “Kiss.” Here, Prince is “Christopher,” a reference to his character from his 1986 film Under the Cherry Moon. The song, triggered by a dream he wrote into the lyrics, is essentially a rewrite of “1999,” and Prince’s rendering of it here centers on a synthesized harpsichord and the psychedelic flourish of the song’s bridge, which sounds as if Alice just dropped in the rabbit hole. 
Most of the other tracks on Originals represent even greater gifts. Prince gave songs to Minneapolis’ great performers: Morris Day, Sheila E., Jill Jones, Apollonia, among others. By spreading out the credits, “he was creating the wave, but he made it seem like there was a lot of people doing that thing in Minneapolis, which was brilliant,” engineer David Z once said. To the press, Prince acted nonchalant. “I usually try to give up a groove to somebody if they ask me,” he said. 
These grooves are the dance-floor core of Originals. Prince’s version of “Jungle Love” is close to the rendition on the Time’s Ice Cream Castles and the Purple Rain soundtrack, down to the “oh-we-oh-we-oh” chorus, but embedded with his ad-libs (“If you’re hungry, take a bite outta me!”). Prince had showed up in the studio shirtless with one bandana around his neck and another tied on his ripped red pants, but he loosens up in the recording. “Somebody bring me a mirror!” you hear him shout midway through. He gets it in “Make-Up,” a torrid electric number that was fine on Vanity 6’s lone solo album but made surprising and transgressive by Prince, who voices the lyrics in robotic staccato bursts: “Blush. Eyeliner. Hush. See what you made me do.” It has the percussive electricity of Liquid Liquid and maybe a little Kraftwerk too, androgynous Prince at his most diva: “Smoke. A. Cigarette,” he retorts to an impatient lover. “I’m. Not. Ready Yet.” 
How wild that a chronicle of a lost era can feel so modern when all over it are musical markers of the ’80s: synths and drum machines and clap tracks and extended breakdowns and of course, sax solos. Nostalgia, even rendered fresh, works on the ear in invisible ways, as does the sequence of these songs. We careen between slow-burning love songs (witness Prince’s glorious falsetto over the heartbeat percussion of “Baby, You’re a Trip,” which Prince wrote for Jill Jones, about the time she snooped in his diary after he read hers) and more quintessential dance hits. “Holly Rock,” which he gave to Sheila E. for the Krush Groove soundtrack, is snappily upbeat, Prince punctuating the chorus with James Brown-esque flourishes (“I’m bad, good god!”) and a snarky taunt at the end: “Now try to dance like that,” he says. 
“Nothing Compares 2 U,” the best-known and most-loved of all the songs here, became a massive hit for Sinéad O’Connor, whose rendition was, in fact, a cover, not one of Prince’s gifts. Here, in its original incarnation, Prince turns it into a torch song for himself. He lets a love-worn raggedness occasionally creep into his voice, lets it tremble ever so, powered by the saxophone accompaniment of longtime Family and Revolution member Eric Leeds. The video shows a collage of Prince and his band running through stage choreography: dressed in a scarf worn as a backless shirt, or suspenders and white high-heeled boots, he delivers perfect splits, kicks, and spins. But the arrangement here is stark and lonely and beautiful, the closest you get to hearing Prince’s own pulse. Arriving at the end of this set of originals, and with the promise of hearing more from that vault, it becomes an affirmation too. Maybe all those flowers you planted in the backyard will bloom again.
Rebecca Bengal / Pitchfork

Manel Cruz ‎– Vida Nova (2019)

Genre: Rock, Folk, World, & Country
Format: CD
Label: Turbina

01.   Como Um Bom Filho Do Vento
02.   Anjo Incrível
03.   Caso Arrumado
04.   Ainda Não Acabei
05.   O Céu Aqui
06.   Libelinha
07.   Cães e Ossos
08.   Beija-flôr
09.   Invenção da Tarde
10.   O Navio Dela
11.   Onde Estou Eu
12.   Vida Nova

Foi longo o caminho que te levou até aqui, Manel. Ornatos Violeta, Supernada, Pluto e Foge Foge Bandido, em todos a tua voz criativa criando músicas incontornáveis para tantos. Com os Ornatos criaste para a banda um estatuto de culto. Com Foge Foge Bandido fizeste levantar sobrancelhas com a amálgama de experimentação e instrumentos. 
Demoraste, Manel, o tempo que tiveste de demorar apesar das ansiedades de todos os que olham para ti e esperam, todos os anos de silêncio, que escrevas e cantes, que te mostres e ao mostrar-te reveles aquilo que nos vai na alma e nem sabíamos como dizer. Este disco a solo é o culminar de muitos anos de espera para quem, como eu, não se conforma com o fim dos Ornatos e foi bebendo sofregamente cada faixa que ia aparecendo, a espaços, antecipando o que aí vinha. 
“Beija-Flor” mas, sobretudo, “Ainda Não Acabei” (que canção crua, que letra fantástica, que ritmo soberbo, 1:50 de intensidade) rodou sem parar enquanto o álbum tardava em sair. E depois, “O Navio Dela”, esse hino à mulher independente (tão na moda), que é entre a declaração de amor e o irónico, já muito perto do disco estar cá fora, a aguçar a curiosidade, a fazer riscar os dias no calendário. 
Confesso, a dúvida instalou-se, Manel. Um disco em ukelele podia ser apenas duas coisas: uma reminiscência do havaiano de Somewhere Over the Rainbow ou o Eddie Vedder quando não lhe apetece dar concertos a sério. Ukelele porquê, Manel, se em Foge Foge Bandido experimentaste com tantos instrumentos? 
Depois, a surpresa: ukelele, banjo e teclado a teu cargo e surges bem acompanhado de Nico Tricot (voz, flauta transversal, teclados, guitarra), Edú Silva (voz, baixo, teclados) e António Serginho (percussão, teclados). E que delícia de disco, Manel. 
E que recompensa pela espera, Manel. Eu, parcial, me confesso – tanto esperei por um disco teu que não sei se o conseguiria achar, em algum momento, irrelevante ou menos que muito bom. Mas não é o caso, Manel. A rodar sem parar nos meus auscultadores, as letras já meio decoradas, as tuas palavras a fugir das rimas óbvias, enquadradas no que é o interior perdido de cada um, os ritmos simples e a produção sossegada, de onde sai apenas a beleza das canções. 
A começar logo por “Como um Bom Filho do Vento”, onde procuras “reconstruir a memória”, como se estivesses a lembrar-te do como é voltar a gravar. A simplicidade do ukelele, afinal, não é preguiçosa, como eu temia e logo na segunda, “Anjo Incrível”, há tanto de Ornatos que fui transportada até “Cão”. 
“Caso Arrumado” é um caso sério de enamoramento por uma canção (“nada só leva a nada, pois um caso perdido é um caso arrumado”, a maior verdade e da qual muitas vezes nos esquecemos, obrigada por o cantares, Manel) mas as minhas preferências continuam a ir para a soberba “Ainda não acabei”, do início ao fim, da letra à composição à produção. E de repente acalmas, com “O Céu Aqui,” uma balada tranquila e doce. 
Ao longo das 12 faixas do disco, que imaginamos compostas com sangue, suor, e lágrimas – porque quem canta o que escreves e da forma cantas não pode compor de outra forma, é óbvio – nada é fácil nem banal, nem nas rimas nem na composição. São canções humanas, sofridas, melancólicas e às vezes resignadas. Desafio-vos a ouvirem todo o disco sem se reverem em, pelo menos, uma frase ou um desabafo. O disco, aliás, vai crescendo, como nós crescemos, para culminar com, depois da melancolia de “Onde Estou Eu”, em “Vida Nova”, dedilhado alegre, pequeno piano, quase um corridinho, quase uma lengalenga, Manel despido, “sai o animal à rua, que vergonha, traz a alma toda nua”. 
As letras crescem, o disco evolui, ganha densidade, ganha corpo dentro da simplicidade da produção a cada nova audição. Cada surpresa em cada letra, em cada frase que significa diferente consoante o estado de espírito em que a ouvimos. 
Manel, as tuas dores de crescimento e as tuas angústias são as de todos nós. Em entrevista ao Expresso disseste: “um gajo nasce e morre puto. Por mais que aprendas a defender-te, uma vida é muito pouco tempo para te tornares adulto”. Terminas o disco irremediavelmente fatalista: “são as vidas a ferver e então tens a tua para viver”. Como te entendemos, Manel.
Cátia Simões / Altamont

Lifetones ‎– For A Reason (1983)

Style: Dub, Art Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Light In The Attic

1.   For A Reason
2.   Good Side
3.   Decide
4.   Travelling
5.   Distance No Object
6.   Patience

Producer – Charles Bullen
Drums, Percussion, Keyboards – Julius Cornelius Samuel
Voice, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Melodica, Bouzouki, Percussion, Clarinet – Charles Sylvester Bullen

On "A New Kind of Water," the penultimate track on This Heat’s last full-length album, Deceit, guitarist/vocalist Charles Bullen sings in a strangulated sneer: "Of course, it's innate we're selfish/ But what if there's not enough to go round?" That he was embittered and frustrated at the start of Margaret Thatcher’s reign is obvious and in a recent interview, he spoke of his disenchantment of playing in a band at that time: "I’m singing to the people who get lulled into thinking, ‘Oh, don’t worry about air pollution. They’ll invent a new way to breathe.’" 
This Heat broke up soon after that. But before Bullen threw himself into pursuits outside of punk (activism and education on the politics of health and agriculture), he self-released a solo album as Lifetones. Written and recorded during the bleakest of times for an activist such as himself, after Thatcher’s landslide re-election in 1983, For a Reason remains a strange amalgam of post-punk’s desolation set to dub reggae’s sunny lilt. It’s also been impossible to hear since the reign of the "Iron Lady," left off of numerous rounds of This Heat reissues over the ensuing decades. There have even been two reissues of bandmate Gareth Williams’s equally rare Flaming Tunes record in the intervening years. 
Thankfully, Lifetones’s lone album is part of Light in the Attic’s recent This Heat reissue campaign. And while it’s not nearly as vital or serrated as that band’s output, there’s something enchanting about For a Reason. While 1983 was the year that another British punk band that absorbed and wore its reggae influences on their sleeves were releasing their biggest album in Synchronicity, Bullen’s take on Jamaican dub feels gloomy, sullen, deeply personal.

While anger was often the default of punk and post-punk vocalists alike, and one can feel the feral howls of Charles Heyward on a This Heat track like "Paper Hats," Bullen’s voice is disarming and dry in comparison. It doesn’t arise too often on the album, but when it does, its artlessness gets multi-tracked into a mass chant that at times reminds me of old British folk singers, delivering their message flat and without affect. Tinny keyboards and distant dub drums open "For a Reason" and Bullen imparts a sense of purpose with the echoing incant of "Do everything for a reason." Against that skitter of snares and needling guitar, he repeats phrases like "Love the life you live/ live the life you love" and "You have to work so hard" until they act as a mantra. 
Too often, the album meanders through instrumentals, not quite getting into a deep groove. Dub effects swaddle an instrumental like "Decide," its one-chord guitar riff turned into effervescence against the echoing drums while "Distance No Object" adds a trill of melodica and chintzy keys to the mix. But unlike most reggae, the beats here are lo-fi, oddly stiff and British. The album’s most interesting track is  "Travelling" which forgoes Jamaican tropes entirely and instead roves into Bedouin territory. Full of snaking violins, woodwinds in an Eastern mode, it’s only in the last minute of this mesmerizing track that Bullen sings in his stuffed nose drone: "In the past I was that way/ now I’m this way/ No one is to blame." He sounds like an old punk opening his worldview and finding another reason to continue to fight the system.
Andy Beta / Pitchfork