A great soul jazz track with one of the most beautifully spare and groovy introductions I've ever heard. Featuring Bernard 'pretty' Purdie on drums, Ray Brown on bass, and Quincy Jones on Fender Rhodes, it really is irresistible. The track explodes with a huge vocal choir about half way through; it ends up sounding almost like a gospel song, before slipping back into the cool funky instrumental sound from the introduction
from Walking in Space (A&M SP 3023), available on CD
This is pure fun, a track with that 'easy cheesy' sound which many people love to hate. But wait, this is brilliant! Although rather clunky and an extremely 'square' take on 'hip', this is quite magnificent, honestly. Backed by a relentless beat, Ronnie plays the tune on 2 pianos, while for the bridge section the superb harmonies in the Beach Boys original are played out beautifully by the London Festival Orchestra. Although it's something of a guilty pleasure, I have to recommend this track very highly. Listening to it now on headphones, I notice that it even has that stereo effect having each piano come out of a different channel, an effect used to great effect on his version of 'soulful strut'.
I first heard Tom Rapp's music via the version of 'The Jeweller' on one of the This Mortal Coil albums. From their first album on, Pearls Before Swine used a broad palette of sounds, in contrast with many of the garage punk guitar combos popular at the time and stood out like a sore thumb on the ESP Disk label (later Warners). It's one of the moving songs I've ever heard. Plaintive strings, understated brass and the most restrained steel guitar ever. Rapp's lisp contributes to the atmosphere of the song beautifully. 'Rocket Man' is a cracker too. That's also on this complimation.
from The Use of Ashes (Warner Brothers) available on CD - Constructive Melancholy - 30 Years Of Pearls Before Swine (Radio Birdman)
An addictive and perfect track, which fuses several of my obsessions (vocal groups, Ennio Morricone-style chord sequences, Brazilian pop) with incredible power. The song is a Brazilian standard, written by Baden Powell, but this version is very different to any other I've heard. This recording opens feverishly with brass and strings, maintaining a doomy and very serious mood throughout. All the same, it manages to be extremely groovy, with rock drums and a twangy guitar accompanying the strings and harmonizing vocals. The arrangement is quite brilliant and never sounds crowded, with a stark feel produced by the different parts dropping in and out. The part of the track which to me is pure genius is the instrumental break in the middle, which sounds like it's excerpted from one of the coolest of Morricone's late 60s B-movie soundtracks - honey smooth strings, blended with some excellent drums and a cool trumpet part. The vocals are also rather gripping - always very serious sounding, and often wordlessly chanting the melody.
from Golden Boys (Odeon MOFB 3590) available on CD - Blue Brazil Vol 3 (EMI)
23 Feb 04 ·Galt: You should check out the 1971 Odeon album 'So Vou Criar Galinha': 'Chuva de verao' starts with the sound of rainfall (always a winner) and 'Com a lembrança apenas' has one of those amazing Brazilian melodies you just can't get out of your head.
From one of the key Tropicalia albums, a typically genius Veloso composition, with a jazzy but vaguely psychedelic feel, sung in gorgeously beguiling style (and in English!) by Gal. Actually, this whole LP is essential. (note: in London there seem to be a lot of vinyl pressings – of dubious legality – of vintage Brazilian LPs around at the moment. Sound quality is sometimes iffy, but most of this stuff is hard to find on CD).