Hot Tuna – Hoppkorv (1976)

FrontCover1Hot Tuna is an American blues rock band formed in 1969 by former Jefferson Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen (guitarist/vocals) and Jack Casady (bassist). Although it has always been a fluid aggregation, with musicians coming and going over the years, the band’s name has essentially become a metonym for Kaukonen and Casady’s ongoing collaboration.

Hoppkorv was the seventh album by the American blues rock band Hot Tuna, and their last studio album recorded for Grunt Records, as Grunt BFL1-1920. Unlike previous albums, Hot Tuna relied entirely on an outside producer for this effort, Harry Maslin. In addition to four new original songs by Jorma Kaukonen and one by Nick Buck, the album includes covers of Buddy Holly’s “It’s So Easy”, Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied”, and Chuck Berry’s “Talkin’ ‘Bout You.” The album had its highest peak at #116 on the Billboard charts. In 1996, RCA released the CD box set Hot Tuna in a Can which included a remastered version of this album, along with remasters of the albums Hot Tuna, First Pull Up, Then Pull Down, Burgers and America’s Choice.

Hoppkorv is Swedish for “Jumping Hot Dog”. (wikipedia)

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Unlike recent Hot Tuna albums, Hoppkorv found the group acting less as a mouthpiece for guitarist Jorma Kaukonen’s compositions and more as a heavy rock cover band, handling such familiar material as Buddy Holly’s “It’s So Easy” and Chuck Berry’s “Talkin’ ‘Bout You,” although “Watch the North Wind Rise” was one of Kaukonen’s better tunes. Even on the originals, the tempo had picked up, the arrangements were shorter; nothing here ran as long as five minutes, and the sound had been filled out by the occasional addition of keyboards, second guitar, and background vocals.

LinerNotes

So, Hoppkorv was closer to a straightforward pop/rock album than many Hot Tuna releases, and for that, predictably, it got higher marks from critics, who appreciated the variety, and lower marks from Tuna fans, who found less music to boogie to. (by William Ruhlmann)

A great album with Power-Rock Blues tunes like “I Wish You Would” and “I Can’t Be Satisfied” … a wonderful sound !

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Personnel:
Jack Casady (bass)
Jorma Kaukonen (vocals, guitar)
Bob Steeler (drums, percussion)
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Nick Buck (keyboards)
John Sherman (guitar on 04.)
Karen Tobin (background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Santa Claus Retreat (Kaukonen) 4.12
02. Watch The North Wind Rise (Kaukonen) 4.39
03. It’s So Easy (Holly/Petty) 2.35
04. Bowlegged Woman, Knock-Kneed Man (Rush/Carter) 3.10
05. Drivin’ Around (Buck) 2.56
06. I Wish You Would (Arnold) 4.30
07. I Can’t Be Satisfied (Morganfield) 3.49
08. Talkin’ ‘Bout You (Berry) 3.28
09. Extrication Love Song (Kaukonen) 4.16
10. Song From The Stainless Cymbal (Kaukonen) 4.04

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Ry Cooder & Manuel Galbán – Mambo Sinuendo (2003)

FrontCover1Ryland Peter Cooder (born March 15, 1947) is an American musician, songwriter, film score composer and record producer. He is a multi-instrumentalist but is best known for his slide guitar work, his interest in roots music from the United States, and his collaborations with traditional musicians from many countries.

Cooder’s solo work draws upon many genres. He has played with John Lee Hooker, Captain Beefheart, Gordon Lightfoot, Ali Farka Touré, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Randy Newman, Linda Ronstadt, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, David Lindley, The Chieftains, The Doobie Brothers, and Carla Olson & the Textones (on record and film). He formed the band Little Village. He also produced the Buena Vista Social Club album (1997), which became a worldwide hit. Wim Wenders directed the documentary film of the same name (1999), which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000.

Cooder was ranked eighth on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2003 list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” (David Fricke’s Picks). A 2010 ranking by Gibson placed him at number 32.

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Manuel Galbán (January 14, 1931 – July 7, 2011) was a Grammy-winning Cuban guitarist, pianist and arranger, most notable for his work with Los Zafiros, Ry Cooder and the Buena Vista Social Club. One of two surviving members of Los Zafiros, he died on July 7, 2011 of cardiac arrest at his home in Havana, Cuba.

Manuel Galbán was born on January 14, 1931 and grew up in the small fishing town of Gibara in the Holguín Province of eastern Cuba. After playing guitar and tres in various local youth groups, he got his first professional gig at the age of 14 playing guitar with the Orchestra Villa Blanca. In 1956 he moved to Havana, where he spent seven years playing in bars and clubs and making frequent appearances on radio.

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In 1963 he joined the legendary vocal group Los Zafiros, after a mutual friend had recommended him to them. His playing proved to be a such hit with Los Zafiros that he was told by singer Miguel Cancio “Galbán, from now on you’re working with us; you’re exactly what we’re looking for”. Galbán was such an essential ingredient to the sound of Los Zafiros that the distinguished Cuban pianist Peruchin once said “to replace Galbán you would need two guitarists”. He left the group in 1972 after working hard for years to allay the personal problems that plagued its various members.

Thereafter he spent three years with Cuba’s national musical ensemble, Dirección Nacional de Música, and then a further 23 years with the Grupo Batey as a guitarist, vocalist and pianist, touring extensively across four continents.

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In 1998 he joined the traditional Cuban group Vieja Trova Santiaguera with whom he toured and released two highly acclaimed albums. He also he appeared in the Wim Wenders film Buena Vista Social Club, filmed with Ry Cooder during the sessions for the debut solo album by Ibrahim Ferrer. Later he recorded with Ferrer and Buena Vista Social Club bassist Cachaíto Lopez, leading to his present engagement as the featured guitarist with the touring ensemble named after the film.

In 2001 he recorded Mambo Sinuendo with Ry Cooder which won the 2003 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album. Says Cooder of the making of the album “Galbán and I felt that there was a sound that had not been explored, a Cuban electric-guitar band that could re-interpret the atmosphere of the 1950s with beauty, agility, and simplicity. We decided on two electrics, two drum sets, congas and bass: a sexteto that could swing like a big band and penetrate the mysteries of the classic tunes. This music is powerful, lyrical, and funny; what more could you ask?”

Galbán’s distinctive electric guitar sound makes liberal use of reverb, tremolo, diminished arpeggio runs and palm mutes. Using a Fender Telecaster with heavy gauge strings, he references the tone of Duane Eddy and the early surf guitarists whilst playing the melodic runs and chordal patterns associated with traditional Cuban music. He has been pictured using Fender Twin, Roland JC120 and Fender Bassman amps, as well as a Dunlop TS-1 stereo tremolo pedal.

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Mambo Sinuendo is a studio album released by Cuban performer Manuel Galbán and producer Ry Cooder. The album was the first number-one album in the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart for Galbán and the second for Cooder (after Buena Vista Social Club in 1998), and won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album at the 46th Grammy Awards.

About the recording of this album, Cooder notes that “Galbán and I felt that there was a sound that had not been explored in a Cuban electric-guitar band that could re-interpret the atmosphere of the 1950s with beauty, agility, and simplicity. We decided on two electrics, two drum sets, congas and bass: a sexteto that could swing like a big band and penetrate the mysteries of the classic tunes. This music is powerful, lyrical, and funny; what more could you ask? Mambo Sinuendo is Cuban soul and high-performance.” (wikipedia)

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Mambo Sinuendo is a collaboration between Ry Cooder and Buena Vista alum (and formerly of many other groups as well) Manuel Galbán. The album attempts to catch an old style popularized in Cuba by Galbán, and was, surprisingly, never followed up on by anybody after Galbán. It’s a guitar-based romp closely based in the pop/jazz crossovers of the 1950s-1960s (Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle, etc). There’s a touch of exoticism here and there, and a larger touch of a relatively Hawaiian feel throughout the whole via the guitar techniques employed by the pair. It’s all somewhere in a form between lounge, mambo, and Esquivel’s old space-age-bachelor-pad music. In rare instances, there’s even a little bit of a house drum loop added in by the percussionists.

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Aside from the stray spacey chorus in the title track, it’s an entirely instrumental affair, which suits the musicians quite well, giving them a chance to show off their full virtuosity along the way. The musicality these guitarists hold, and the interplay between them, is really the treat of the album. For a nice look at the musical genre that never was, but probably should have been, this makes a good show. Newcomers to Cooder should perhaps dig into some older releases to get a feel before coming to this album, but all others should embrace it quickly. (by Adam Greenberg)

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Personnel:
Herb Alpert (trumpet)
Carla Commagere (vocals)
Juliette Commagere (vocals)
Joachim Cooder (drums)
Ry Cooder (guitar, steel-guitar, bass, keyboards, vibraphone, tres)
Miguel “Angá” Díaz (percussion)
Manuel Galbán (guitar)
Jim Keltner (drums)
Orlando “Cachaito” López (bass)
Yaure Muniz (trumpet)

Booklet01ATracklist:
01. Drume Negrita (Grenet) 5.00
02. Monte Adentro” (Arsenio Rodríguez) 2.53
03. Los Twangueros (Galbán/Cooder) 4.42
04. Patricia (Prado) 3.29
05. Caballo Viejo (Díaz) 3.51
06. Mambo Sinuendo (Galbán/R.Cooder/J.Cooder) 2.31
07. Bodas de Oro (Chepin) 4.40
08. Échale Salsita (Piñeiro) 4.27
09. La Luna en Tu Mirada (Chanivecky) 4.13
10. Secret Love (Webster/Fain) 5.49
11. Bolero Sonámbulo (Galbán/Cooder) 4.31
12. María la O (Lecuona) 4.19

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Love Affair – The Everlasting Love Affair (1968)

FrontCover1Love Affair was a London-based pop and soul group formed in 1966. The group had several UK Singles Chart Top 10 hits, including the number one success, “Everlasting Love”.

Love Affair’s first single, “She Smiled Sweetly”, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, released on Decca Records flopped, but the band reached the top of the UK Singles Chart in January 1968 with “Everlasting Love”. By this time the group had relocated to CBS Records. The song was first recorded by Robert Knight, whose version had reached No. 13 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the autumn of 1967, and it was previously offered to Marmalade, who turned it down. On the B-side was a cover version of “Gone Are the Songs of Yesterday”, which was written by Phillip Goodhand-Tait. After its success, Goodhand-Tait saw an opportunity and signed a contract with Love Affair’s managers John Cokell and Sid Bacon. Goodhand-Tait went on to write more songs for Love Affair.

The Soul Survivors

Ellis had a similar vocal style to Steve Marriott of the Small Faces, and the production was similar to a Motown soul record. Controversy ensued when the group admitted they had not played on the record, but that all the work was done by session musicians, although such a practice had long since been common. Their first recording of the song, produced by Muff Winwood, had featured them playing all the instruments. But the record label rejected this version in favour of one produced by Mike Smith, recorded with a recording studio rhythm section, strings, brass, flutes and backing vocalists, arranged by Keith Mansfield[3] – and Ellis as the only member of the group to be heard. The backing vocals were provided by four female singers who became well known in their own right: Kiki Dee, Madeline Bell, Lesley Duncan and Kay Garner (as one of the Ladybirds). The bass part was played by Russ Stableford and Clem Cattini played drums.

Four further Top 20 hits followed, “Rainbow Valley”, “A Day Without Love” (both 1968), “One Road” and “Bringing on Back the Good Times” (both 1969). At the end of that year, they released the album, The Everlasting Love Affair.

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The group became frustrated at being treated like teen idols, unable to hear themselves on stage because of the constant screaming and at being pigeonholed as a “pop group”. All the A-sides featured heavy orchestral and brass arrangements behind Ellis’s vocals, with minimal participation from the others, although they wrote and played on the heavier B-sides themselves.

As Ellis wrote in the booklet notes to a later compilation CD, Singles A’s and B’s, “In an attempt to break the mould we recorded a song far removed from the anthemic-like previous hits.” The song was called “Baby I Know”. Released at the end of 1969, competing with releases from other big names for a place in the charts over Christmas, it failed completely. Ellis felt the band had run its course and he left in December 1969 for a solo career: “We never really made it big anywhere but Britain and I think that if we had started to happen in America, I wouldn’t have left”. The rest of the band soldiered on without any further success, continuing briefly as L.A. with new vocalist, August Eadon (aka Gus Yeadon). Further releases likewise never charted.

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In 1971 they recorded the song “Wake Me I Am Dreaming”, cover of “Mi ritorni in mente”, written by Lucio Battisti for music and by Mogol for the original text in Italian.

The group has since been revived, though sometimes without any original members, for cabaret dates; and Ellis has also performed live with a reconstituted Steve Ellis’s Love Affair.

Love Affair’s first hit song, “Everlasting Love”, was used in the film, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. However, the CD of the soundtrack contained Jamie Cullum’s cover version, instead of the Love Affair version used in the film. Cullum’s version is played over the end credits. (wikipedia)

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Originally formed in 1966, this London, England-based quintet comprised Steve Ellis (vocals), Morgan Fisher (b. 1 January 1950, London, England; keyboards), Rex Brayley (guitar), Mick Jackson (bass) and Maurice Bacon (drums). Although Ellis was barely 16 years old, the band performed frequently in clubs on a semi-professional basis. Fisher was briefly replaced by Lynton Guest and the following year Ellis, backed by session musicians, recorded a sparkling cover version of Robert Knight’s ‘Everlasting Love’ for CBS Records. By January 1968, the single unexpectedly hit number 1 in the UK and Love Affair became instant pop stars with Ellis’ cherubic looks gracing teen magazines throughout the nation. With Bacon’s father Sid overseeing the management, the band resisted the solicitations of more powerful entrepreneurs, yet failed to exploit their potential. Four more Top 20 hits followed, ‘Rainbow Valley’, ‘A Day Without Love’, ‘One Road’ and ‘Bringing On Back The Good Times’, but by 1969 Ellis had left to start a solo career. He recorded a few singles and the soundtrack to Loot before collaborating with Zoot Money in Ellis, who released two albums for Epic Records (1972’s Riding On The Crest Of A Slump and 1973’s … Why Not?). Ellis later sang with Widowmaker, and in 1978 recorded a solo album (The Last Angry Man) which was briefly made available on cassette before finally being given a full release in 2000.

The Poland edition:
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The remaining quartet recruited new vocalist Gus Eadon (b. Auguste Eadon; ex-Elastic Band) and began to steer the band in a more progressive direction. The second Love Affair album, released at the beginning of 1971, was credited simply to LA in an attempt to attract a more mature audience. The record was a commercial failure and six months later the band was dropped by CBS. They resigned to Parlophone Records as Love Affair but were unable to revive their fortunes. Bacon and Fisher left to form Morgan, recording 1973’s Nova Solis for RCA Records.

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Fisher later reappeared in Mott The Hoople and the Third Ear Band before releasing some bizarre solo material for Cherry Red Records during the 80s and launching a career in Japan. Bacon moved into music publishing and management, while Jackson worked his way up to become an important figure in the Alfa Romeo car group. A line-up of the Love Affair featuring no original members went on to issue obscure singles for Pye Records and Creole, before successively plundering the band’s name for cabaret/revivalist bookings. (by allmusic)

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Love Affair was one of the great, all-too-unheralded pop bands of the late ’60s in Britain, not a million miles in approach from the Small Faces — and in Steve Ellis they had a soulful belter who was close to the genius of Steve Marriott. “Everlasting Love” was the big hit, a wonderful slice of music that crossed and recrossed the line between soul and pop, and which still stands proudly after all these years. But it’s far from being the only excellent work here. The covers of “Hush,” “Tobacco Road,” “Handbags and Gladrags,” and “The First Cut Is the Deepest” positively steam, while “Rainbow Valley,” although a formulaic retread of the big hit, still has plenty going for it. Perhaps the big problem for the band was that they were tagged simply as a pop band, so when they attempted to break that mold, they weren’t taken seriously. That’s a shame, as “The Tree,” which veers into both psychedelia and prog rock (close neighbors in those days) is an excellent piece of work, and “Once Upon a Season” offers a few echoes of Traffic. That’s not to say everything is wonderful: “Could I Be Dreaming?” and “The Tale of Two Bitters” are readily dispensable, and a couple of other tracks are simply nondescript. But the ratio of good to bad is extremely high, and Steve Ellis is convincing throughout. (by Chris Nickson)

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Personnel:
Maurice Bacon (drums)
Rex Brayley (guitar)
Auguste Eadon (flute, vocals)
Steve Ellis (vocals)
Morgan Fisher (keyboards)
Lynton Guest (keyboards)
Mick Jackson (bass)
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Peter Kelly (bass on 01.)
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a bunch of unknown studio musicians

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Tracklist:
01. Everlasting Love (Cason/Gaydon) 3.03
02. Hush (South) 3.41
03. 60 Minutes (Of Your Love) (Hayes/Porter) 3.38
04. Could I Be Dreaming (Ellis/Fisher) 3.20
05. First Cut Is The Deepest (Stevens) 3.23
06. So Sorry (Gerard) 3.11
07. Once Upon A Season (Jackson) 4.01
08. Rainbow Valley (Cason/Gaydon) 3.50
09. A Day Without Love (Goodhand-Tait) 3.14
10. Tobacco Road (Loudermilk) 3.55
11. The Tree (Ellis/Fisher) 2.48
12. Handbags And Gladrags (D’Abo) 3.52
13. Build On Love (Goodhand-Tait) 2.30
14. Please Stay (Hilliard/Bacharach) 4.16
15. Tale Of Two Bitters (Ellis/Fisher/Cokell/Smith) 2.36
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16. Gone Are The Songs Of Yesterday (Single B-side, 1967) (Goodhand-Tait) 2.56
17. Some Like Me (Single B-side, 1968) (Ellis/Bacon/Brayley/Jackson/Guest) 3.24
18. I’m Happy (Love Affair) 2.19
19. One Road (Single A-side, 1969) (Goodhand-Tait) 3.11
20. Let Me Know (Single B-side, 1969) (Love Affair) 2.31
21. Bringing On Back The Good Times (Single A-side, 1969) (Goodhand-Tait/Cokell) 3.25
22. Another Day (Single B-side, 1969) (Brayley) 4.14
23. Un Giorno Senza Amore (‘A Day Without Love’ Italian Version) (Goodhand-Tait/Mogol) 3.13

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Foreigner – Rock Pop In Concert (1981)

FrontCover1Foreigner is a British-American rock supergroup, originally formed in New York City in 1976 by veteran British guitarist and songwriter Mick Jones, and fellow Briton and ex-King Crimson member Ian McDonald, along with American vocalist Lou Gramm. Jones came up with the band’s name as he, McDonald and Dennis Elliott were British, whereas Gramm, Al Greenwood and Ed Gagliardi were American.

In 1977, Foreigner released its self-titled debut album, the first of four straight albums to be certified at least 5x platinum in the US. Foreigner peaked at No. 4 on the US album chart and in the Top 10 in Canada and Australia, while yielding two Top 10 hits in North America, “Feels Like the First Time” and “Cold as Ice”. Their 1978 follow-up, Double Vision, was even more successful peaking at No. 3 in North America with two hit singles, “Hot Blooded” a No. 3 hit in both countries, and the title track, a US No. 2 and a Canadian No. 7. Foreigner’s third album, Head Games (1979) went to No. 5 in North America producing two Top 20 singles including its titletrack.

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Reduced to a quartet, 4 (1981) hit No. 1 (for 10 weeks) in the US and No. 2 in Canada, while becoming Foreigner’s break-through album outside of North America, going Top 5 in the UK, Germany and Australia. Two of 4’s singles were smashes: “Urgent” reached No. 1 in Canada and on the new US Rock Tracks chart, No. 4 on the US Hot 100 and, became their first Top 15 hit in Germany; and, the ballad “Waiting for a Girl Like You” peaked at No. 2 in both the US (for a record 10 weeks) and Canada, topped the US Rock Tracks chart, and became their first Top 10 hit in the UK and Australia. In 1982, Foreigner released its first greatest hits album, Records, which has gone on to sell 7 million copies in the US. In 1984, Foreigner had its biggest hit single, the anthemic ballad “I Want to Know What Love Is”, which topped the US, UK, Canadian and Australian charts, while hitting No. 3 in Germany and the Top 10 in numerous other countries. Its source album, Agent Provocateur, was the band’s most successful in the UK, Germany and some other countries in Europe, where it peaked at No. 1, and in Australia (No. 3), while performing well in the US (No. 4) and Canada (No. 3).

MickJones

After a break, Foreigner released Inside Information (1987), which despite the No. 6 US and Australian hit, “Say You Will” (which also rose to No. 1 on the US Rock Tracks chart), had a large sales drop-off, only hitting the Top 10 in a few European countries with a No. 15 peak in the US. The band’s most recent albums, Unusual Heat (1991), without Gramm, who departed due to the band’s shift towards the use of synthesizers, Mr. Moonlight (1994), with Gramm back on vocals, and Can’t Slow Down (2009), once again without Gramm, were not major sellers; the highest chart positions were obtained in Germany, where the last album peaked at No. 16. Foreigner is one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time with worldwide sales of more than 80 million records, including 37.5 million in the US. Leader Mick Jones has been for many years the only founding member still involved. (wikipedia)

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And here´s a pretty good live-recording … broadcasted by the German TV sender ZDF … I guess their first album was really great …

Listen and enjoy if you like this AOR music.

Recorded live at the at Westfalenhalle, Dortmund, Germany, Deember 18, 1981

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Personnel:
Dennis Elliott (drums, background vocals)
Lou Gramm (vocals)
Mick Jones (guitar, background vocals)
Bob Mayo (guitar, background vocals)
Peter Reilich (keyboards)
Mark Rivera (saxophone, flute, background vocals)
Rick Wills (bass, background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Pre Show Interview (with Thomas Gottschalk) 1.55
02. Long Long Way From Home (Jones/Gramm/McDonald) 4.03
03. Dirty White Boy (Jones/Gramm) 3.346
04. Luanne (Jones/Gramm) 3.54
05. Cold As Ice (Jones/Gramm) 5.24
06. Waiting For A Girl Like You (Jones/Gramm) 4.55
07. Feels Like The First Time (Jones) 4.46
08. Star Rider (Greenwood/Jones) 5.27
09. Urgent (Jones) 5.47
10. Jukebox Hero (Jones/Gramm) 6.48
11. Hot Blooded (Jones/Gramm) 8.16

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Exuma – Exuma II (1970)

FrontCover1Macfarlane Gregory Anthony Mackey (18 February 1942 – 15 January 1997), known professionally as Tony McKay and Exuma, was a Bahamian musician, artist, playwright and author best known for his almost unclassifiable music, a strong mixture of carnival, junkanoo, calypso, reggae, African music and folk music. His lyrics were deeply immersed in the West African and Bahamian tradition of Obeah, a system of spiritual and healing practices developed among enslaved West Africans in the West Indies, practiced by many on the islands of The Bahamas.

In a 1970 interview, McKay, as Exuma said the “‘electrical part’ of his being ‘came from beyond Mars; down to Earth on a lightning bolt'”. He described his music as “all music that has ever been written and all music not yet written. It’s feeling, emotion, the sound of man, the sound of day creatures, night creatures and electrical forces”

Born in Tea Bay on Cat Island, Bahamas, McKay and his mother Daisy Mackey moved to Nassau. He grew up there in a small house on Canaan Lane, shared by Ma’ Gurdie, an older woman who McKay said “danced so well”. “When I sing, I can still see Ma’ Gurdie’s beautiful moves”.

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As a boy, McKay and his friends caught and sold fish to buy movie tickets. Watching the films exposed them to Sam Cooke and Fats Domino and other American blues singers, who they would imitate.

McKay moved to New York City at the age of 17 to study architecture. He “promptly ran out of money”. Friends give him an old guitar and knowing three or four chords, he started practicing old Bahamian calypsos. Homesick for Nassau, McKay began writing poetry about Ma’ Gurdie and Junkanoo. These poems became the basis for McKay’s “Brown Girl in the Ring” (later a hit for Boney M), “Rushing Through the Crowd” and other Exuma songs.

Due to McKay’s greater interest in music, he did not complete his architectural studies.

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Nassau friends living in Brooklyn took McKay to Greenwich Village, introducing him to hootenannies in neighborhood cafes. McKay founded the group Tony McKay and the Islanders. During this time, McKay also performed at Cafe Wha? and The Bitter End.

McKay often performed with well known musicians and comedians in small Greenwich Village clubs and bars. “I started playing around when Bob Dylan, Richie Havens, Peter, Paul and Mary, Richard Pryor, (Jimi) Hendrix and (Barbra) Streisand were all down there, too, hanging out and performing at the Cafe Bizarre”

In 1969 Palisades Amusement Park advertised McKay as a featured artist during that year’s season opening weekend. He appeared on a bill that included Peaches & Herb.

In 1969 McKay launched the group “Exuma” with his then-partner and lifelong friend Sally O’Brien. He enlisted several musician friends, forming his backup band, the Junk Band. The band included O’Brien (as Princess Sally), Bogie, Lord Wellington, Villy, Spy Boy Thielheim, Mildred Vaney, Frankie Gearing, Diana Claudia Bunea (as Princess Diana), and his good friend Peppy Castro (Emil Thielhelm, lead singer of the Blues Magoos).

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He soon gained the attention of Blues Magoos manager Bob Wyld. “I’d been singing down there (Greenwich Village), and we’d all been exchanging ideas and stuff. Then one time a producer (Wyld) came up to me and said he was very interested in recording some of my original songs, but he said that I needed a vehicle.” Wyld recommended McKay to Mercury Records and convinced the record label to sign him.

Creating an image and a persona that fit his music, McKay drew upon his Bahamian memories of the “Obeah Man”. Bahamian life was rooted in West African tradition.

McKay was a knowledgeable practitioner of bush medicine. He specialized in herbal remedies, especially the “mystical cerasee vine” (Bitter leaves or Momordica charantia), which he collected in Nassau. “I grew up as a roots person, someone knowing about the bush and the herbs and the spiritual realm. It was inbred into all of us. Just like for people growing up in the lowlands of the Delta Country or places in Africa.”

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“I remembered the Obeah Man from my childhood – he’s the one with the colorful robes who would deal with the elements and the moonrise, the clouds and the vibrations of the earth. So I decided to call myself ‘Exuma, the Obeah Man'”.

McKay further explained his interpretation of Obeah. “Obeah was with my grandfather, with my grandmother, with my father, with my mother, with my uncles who taught me. It has been my religion in the vein that everyone has grown up with some sort of religion, a cult that was taught. Christianity is like good and evil. God is both. He unlocked the secrets to Moses, good and evil, so Moses could help the children of Israel. It’s the same thing, the whole completeness – the Obeah Man, the spirits of air.”

In 1970 McKay, recording as “Exuma” accompanied by a band with same name released two albums. Both featured full cover artwork painted by McKay.

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Mercury Records released McKay’s first album Exuma, produced by “Daddy Ya Ya”, a pseudonym adopted by Bob Wyld. Wyld produced the first six of Exuma’s albums. Singles released from that lp were “Exuma, The Obeah Man” and “Junkanoo”.

Describing his process of musical creativity, McKay said “I try to be a story-teller, a musical doctor, one who brings musical vibrations from the universal spiritual plane through my guitar strings and my voice. I want to bring some good energy to the people. My whole first album came to me in a dream”.

Mercury Records launched “a full-scale promotion and advertising campaign”. Lou Simon, then Mercury Records’ Senior VP for Sales, Marketing and Promotion said “the reaction is that of a heavy, big numbers contemporary album… as a result, we’re going to give it all the merchandising support we can muster”. McKay’s second album Exuma II had two singles released, “Damn Fool” and “Zandoo”.

McKay also garnered recognition for his song “You Don’t Know What’s Going On”, which was featured on the soundtrack of John G. Avildsen’s 1970 film Joe.

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The Barclay record label distributed Exuma’s Mercury Records releases in France, Holland, Switzerland and Belgium.

McKay’s estranged wife Marilyn “Sammy” Mackey (née Guse) and their first son Shaw were murdered by Fritz Montalalou on May 10, 1972 at 217 Avenue A in Manhattan. Married in 1962 and separated from McKay for a year, 32 year old Mackey suffered a slashed throat and a chest wound. Their nine year old son was stabbed once and later died in Bellevue Hospital. Their eight year old son Gavin, who had been sleeping in another room, called the police after the murders. Montalalou was convicted on two counts of murder and sentenced to two consecutive life terms. During the trial, Montalalou was said to have “kicked in the apartment door” and killed the two in revenge for Mackey having called the police after Montalalou had assaulted his ex-girlfriend who lived across the hall from Mackey.

In 1974 McKay married Inita Watkins in Manhattan.

McKay fathered many children, including Shaw, Gavin, Kenyatta Alisha and Acklins. Acklins and Kenyatta Alisha are vocal artists, carrying on their father’s tradition of entertainment.

In the late 1980s, McKay suffered a heart attack in New Orleans. Bahamas Tourism Officer Athama Bowe recalls visiting McKay in hospital. “His skin was coated with olive oil and candles were burning all over the room for “the sperrits”. He was mixing modern medicine with Obeah.

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McKay spent most of his time writing songs, painting, and fishing, living in both Miami, Florida and in the childhood home his mother had left him in Nassau. McKay died in his sleep in 1997.

Aspects of McKay’s “Obeah Man” persona influenced other artists, notably singer Nina Simone. Converting McKay’s “Obeah Man” into “Obeah Woman”, Simone assumed the role of “priestess”, a role she for which she was eminently suited. Her live performance was recorded on her album “It Is Finished”. The song begins with drumming by Babatunde Olatunji and Simone asking “do you know what an “Obeah Woman” is?” She continues, altering McKay’s lyrics: “I’m the Obeah woman, from beneath the sea / To get to Satan, you gotta pass through me”… “they call me Nina, and Pisces too / There ain’t nothin’ that I can’t do”. Simone also performed two additional McKay songs during the live recording, “Dambala” and “22nd Century”. (wikipedia)

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Exuma’s second album is perhaps a little less strange and a little more sedate than his debut (also released in 1970) — but only a little. It’s another combination of folk music from the Bahamas with voodoo-esque ritual not far removed from some of the more extreme New Orleans music influenced by that practice. In places (like “Fire in the Hole,” probably the most accessible cut), there’s a spiritual lilt to the vocals that might remind some listeners, if only faintly, of some of the Rasta-fired reggae recorded by Bob Marley and others in the ’70s. It’s hardly just another day at the office for Mercury Records, though, when one of the first lyrics of an album blithely states, “you thought you married a woman, you married a big black bird.” Too, “Paul Simon Nontooth” might even be further out (and creepier) than anything on the first album, being more a zombie revival ritual than a conventional song. There are more tuneful items, too, though, like “Baal,” where Exuma’s raw, scratchy vocals approximate an exotic soul-gospel feel.

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And even on the more laid-back tracks, there are all sorts of weird, spontaneous-sounding interjections of percussion, yells, and chanting voices, “We Got to Go” even sounding something like a 19th-century group trying to play like War, only lacking the modern technology to make the transition complete. Plenty of albums based in folk traditions, and plenty of albums that are very odd, have little variety from cut to cut. That, refreshingly, is something that most definitely cannot be said of Exuma, Vol. 2, where you’re never quite sure what’s around the corner. Overall, however, it’s similar enough to the first album that it sounds almost as if it could have been overspill from the same sessions. While it might not be quite as striking as his previous album, certainly anyone who likes that debut will like this as well (and vice versa), and its reissue on CD in 2003 made it more available than it had been for decades. (by Richie Unterberger)

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Personnel:
Lord Cherry (percussion, whistle)
Princess Diana (background vocals, whistle)
Tony ‘Exuma’ McKay (vocals, guitar, percusion)
Sally O’Brien (background vocals, whistle)
Spy Boy Thielheim (high harmony congas, cabassa, sacred sand)
Lord Wellington (percussion)
Daddy Ya Ya (bass, background vocals, bells, drums)
Yogi  (background vocals, bells)

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Tracklist:
01. Damn Fool 4.15
02. Baal 6.35
03. Paul Simon Nontooth 5.26
04. Fire In The Hole 7.18
05. A Place Called Earth 6.31
06. We Got To Go 2.56
07. African Rhythm 4.45
08. Zandoo 4.49

Music & lyrics: Tony ‘Exuma’ McKay

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Pascal Rogé – After The Rain – The Soft Sound Of Eric Satie (1999)

FrontCover1Pascal Rogé (born 6 April 1951) is a French pianist.

His playing includes the works of compatriot composers Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, Satie, and Poulenc, among others. However, his repertoire also covers the German and Austrian masters Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, and Beethoven.

Rogé first appearance in public was in 1960 with a performance of Claude Debussy’s Préludes. He won the piano prize at the Paris Conservatory and worked for several years with Julius Katchen. At seventeen, he gave his first recitals in major European cities, landing an exclusive contract with Decca in the process. He has a particular affinity with French composers such as Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré, Maurice Ravel and Francis Poulenc. He also performs chamber works, with the Pasquier Trio, and with musicians such as Pierre Amoyal or Michel Portal, with whom he recorded Poulenc and Tchaikovsky. He gives recitals worldwide, in all the major centres. A friend of conductor Charles Dutoit, he was regularly invited to Canada to work with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra while Dutoit was conductor there.

In 2011 he and his wife Ami premiered the Concerto for Two Pianos by the Australian composer Matthew Hindson, which was commissioned to celebrate their recent wedding. (wikipedia)

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Or much more detailed:

Pascal Rogé exemplifies the finest in French pianism. Born in Paris, he was a student of the Paris Conservatory and was also mentored by Julius Katchen and the great Nadia Boulanger. Winner of Georges Enesco piano competition and 1st prize of Marguerite Long Piano competition, he became an exclusive Decca recording artist at the age of seventeen. His playing of Poulenc, Satie, Fauré, Saint-Saëns and especially Ravel, is characterized by its elegance, beauty and stylistically perfect phrasing.

Mr. Rogé has performed in almost every major concert hall in the world and with every major orchestra across the globe and has collaborated with the most distinguished conductors in history, including Lorin Maazel, Michael Tilson Thomas, Mariss Jansons, Charles Dutoit, Kurt Masur, Edo de Waart, Alan Gilbert, David Zinman, Marek Janowski, Sir Andrew Davis, Raymond Leppard and others.

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One of the world’s most distinguished recording artists, Pascal Rogé has won many prestigious awards, including two Gramophone Awards, a Grand Prix du Disque and an Edison Award for his interpretations of the Ravel and Saint- Saens concerti along with the complete piano works of Ravel, Poulenc and Satie.

Several years ago, Mr. Rogé began a new and ambitious recording project for Onyx called the Rogé Edition. With the Vienna Radio Symphony under Bertrand de Billy, he has recently recorded two CDs of both of the Ravel Piano Concerti and the Gershwin Concerto in F and Rhapsody in Blue.

Recently chairman of the Geneva Piano competition, Pascal Rogé is also dedicated to teaching and gives regular masterclasses in France, Japan, United States and United Kingdom. (taken from his website)

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If you think the title After the Rain is silly, wait until you get to the subtitle: “The Soft Sounds of Erik Satie.” Oh, well, never mind titles and subtitles: it is ultimately the music and performance that make or break the disc and, in this case, the music and performances are both superb. Satie was, of course, the utterly unclassifiable composer who wrote pieces that are easy and hard, cold and hot, ironic and sentimental, ancient and modern, sublime and mundane. Pascal Rogé is, of course, the French pianist with a virtuoso technique (which, in a French pianist, is rare), a beautiful tone (which, in a French pianist, is typical), and superb taste (which, in a French pianist, is inevitable). In this set of Gymnopedies, Gnossiennnes, Nocturnes, and other short and improbably named works,

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Rogé shows that tone and taste triumph over technique, that is, that Rogé plays with precisely voluptuous tone and objectively subjective taste, but wholly without drawing attention to himself. The result is one of the best Satie recordings ever made. Decca’s ’90s digital sound was as warm and cool as the music itself. (by James Leonard)

In a market saturated with pleasant Gymnopédies that sound like the background music for an AT&T commercial, no amount of silly “soft sounds” packaging can discredit the sheer beauty of the music here. Rogé gives us Zen and Tao, light as a feather and fleeting as sea foam, bringing us out of one moment and into the next, no coming, no going, no after, no before. What more is there to write or speak? No more words; let the music speak and not-speak and bring you into the silence. (by Peter Ruark)

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Personnel:
Pascal Rogé (piano)

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Tracklist:
01. Gymnopédie No. 1 / 3.12
02. Gymnopédie No. 2  / 2.33
03. Gymnopédie No. 3 / 2.36
04. Gnossienne No. 1 / 3.46
05. Gnossienne No. 2  / 2.35
06. Gnossienne No. 3 / 3.15
07. Gnossienne No. 4 / 3.35
08. Gnossienne No. 5 / 4.07
09. Gnossienne No. 6 / 1.58
10. Nocturne I  / 3.17
11. Nocturne II / 2.05
12. Nocturne III / 3.04
13. Nocturne IV / 2.58
14. Nocturne V / 1.57
15. Avant-Dernieres Pensées 3.45
15.1 Idylle, À Debussy
15.2 Aubade, À Paul Dukas
15.3 Meditation, À Albert Roussel
16. Pieces Froides – Trois Airs À Fuir 8.58
17. Pieces Froides – Trois Danses De Travers 6.28
18. Deux Reveries Nocturnes 3.24
19. Prélude De La Porte Héroïque Du Ciel 4.42

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Éric Alfred Leslie Satie (17 May 1866 – 1 July 1925), who signed his name Erik Satie after 1884, was a French composer and pianist. Satie was an influential artist in the late 19th- and Erik Satie01early 20th-century Parisian avant-garde. His work was a precursor to later artistic movements such as minimalism, repetitive music, and the Theatre of the Absurd, while his 1917 coinage “furniture music” would presage the development of background and ambient music.

An eccentric, Satie was introduced as a “gymnopedist” in 1887, shortly before writing his most famous works, the piano compositions Gymnopédies. Later, he also referred to himself as a “phonometrician” (meaning “someone who measures sounds”), preferring this designation to that of “musician”, after having been called “a clumsy but subtle technician” in a book on contemporary French composers published in 1911.

In addition to his body of music, Satie left a set of writings, having contributed work for a range of publications from the dadaist 391 to the American culture chronicle Vanity Fair.[8] Although in later life he prided himself on publishing his work under his own name, in the late 19th century he appears to have used pseudonyms such as Virginie Lebeau and François de Paule in some of his published writings. (wikipedia)

Buena Vista Social Club – Same (1997)

FrontCover1Buena Vista Social Club is the debut album by the eponymous ensemble of Cuban musicians directed by Juan de Marcos González and American guitarist Ry Cooder. It was recorded at Havana’s EGREM studios in March 1996 and released on September 16, 1997, on World Circuit. Despite its success, it remains the only standard studio album exclusively credited to the Buena Vista Social Club.

Buena Vista Social Club was recorded in parallel with A toda Cuba le gusta by the Afro-Cuban All Stars, a similar project also promoted by World Circuit executive Nick Gold and featuring largely the same lineup. In contrast to A toda Cuba le gusta, which was conceived as a revival of the son conjunto, Buena Vista Social Club was meant to bring back the traditional trova and filin, a mellower take on the Cuban son and bolero, as well as the danzón.

A critical and commercial success, the album’s release was followed by a short concert tour in Amsterdam and New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1998. Footage from these dates, together with the recording sessions in Havana, were shown on the Buena Vista Social Club documentary by Wim Wenders, released in 1999.

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In 1996, American guitarist Ry Cooder had been invited to Havana by British world music producer Nick Gold of World Circuit Records to record a session where two African highlife musicians from Mali were to collaborate with Cuban musicians. On Cooder’s arrival (via Mexico to avoid the ongoing U.S. trade and travel embargo against Cuba), it transpired that the musicians from Africa had not received their visas and were unable to travel to Havana. Cooder and Gold changed their plans and decided to record an album of Cuban son music with local musicians. Already involved in the African collaboration project were Cuban musicians including bassist Orlando “Cachaito” López, guitarist Eliades Ochoa and musical director Juan de Marcos González, who had himself been organizing a similar project for the Afro-Cuban All Stars. A search for additional musicians led the team to singer Manuel “Puntillita” Licea, pianist Rubén González and octogenarian singer Compay Segundo, who all agreed to record for the project.

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Within three days of the project’s birth, Cooder, Gold and de Marcos had organized a large group of performers and arranged for recording sessions to commence at Havana’s EGREM Studios, formerly owned by RCA records, where the equipment and atmosphere had remained unchanged since the 1950s. Communication between the Spanish and English speakers at the studio was conducted via an interpreter, although Cooder reflected that “musicians understand each other through means other than speaking”.

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The album was recorded in just six days and contained fourteen tracks; opening with “Chan Chan” written by Compay Segundo, a four-chord son (Dm, F, Gm, A7) that was to become what Cooder described as “the Buena Vista’s calling card”; and ending with a rendition of “La bayamesa”, a traditional Cuban patriotic song (not to be confused with the Cuban national anthem of the same name). The sessions also produced material for the subsequent release, Introducing…Rubén González, which showcased the work of the Cuban pianist. Among the songs left off the album was the classic bolero-son “Lágrimas negras”, which was deemed too popular for inclusion, and Compay Segundo’s “Macusa”. Both songs were later released on the compilation Lost and Found.

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The majority of the album comprises standards of the trova and filin repertoire, namely sones, guajiras and boleros typically played by small guitar-led ensembles. A foremost example of the son tradition on the album is “Chan Chan”, the group’s signature tune and the album opener. Written in the 1980s, it is one of Compay Segundo’s most famous songs, and one he had recorded several times, most notably with Eliades Ochoa and his Cuarteto Patria. The same formula is followed in this recording, with Ochoa singing lead and Segundo on second voice as his artistic name indicates. The song’s lyrics depict a rural scene with two characters: Juanita and Chan Chan. “Chan Chan” is followed by “De camino a la vereda”, another son, written and sung by Ibrahim Ferrer.

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Another example of the son cubano is Sergio González Siaba’s “El cuarto de Tula”, sung by Eliades Ochoa, with Ibrahim Ferrer and Manuel “Puntillita” Licea joining Ochoa in an extended descarga (jam) section improvising lyrics. Barbarito Torres plays a frenetic laúd solo towards the end of the track. Timbales are played by the 13-year-old Yulién Oviedo Sánchez. The song is featured in the 2001 film Training Day. “Candela” is another classic son, composed by Faustino Oramas “El Guayabero”. Its lyrics, rich with sexual innuendo, are sung by Ibrahim Ferrer who improvises vocal lines throughout the track, while the whole ensemble performs an extended descarga.

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Of the many boleros featured in the album, Isolina Carrillo’s “Dos gardenias” is perhaps the most famous, being sung here by Ibrahim Ferrer. Carrillo wrote the song in 1945 and it quickly became a huge success in Cuba and abroad. The song was chosen for the album after Cooder heard Ferrer and Rubén González improvising the melody before a recording session. Ferrer learned the song while playing with Cuban bandleader Beny Moré. Another bolero, “¿Y tú qué has hecho?” was written by Eusebio Delfín in the 1920s and features Compay Segundo on tres and vocals. Segundo was traditionally a “second voice” singer providing a baritone counterpoint harmony. On this recording, he multitracks both voices. The song also features a duet between Segundo on tres and Ry Cooder on guitar.[11] “Veinte años”, also a bolero, is sung by the only female vocalist in the ensemble, Omara Portuondo, with Segundo on second vocals. It was recorded in one take after Omara had finished her own recording sessions at EGREM studios and was getting ready for a flight to Vietnam. Other boleros included are Rafael Ortiz’s “Amor de loca juventud”, Eliseo Silveira’s “Orgullecida” (both sung by Compay Segundo) and Electo Rosell’s “Murmullo” (sung by Ibrahim Ferrer, who used to be the lead vocalist in Rosell’s ensemble Orquesta Chepín-Chovén).

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“El carretero” is a guajira (country lament) sung by Eliades Ochoa with the full ensemble providing additional instruments and backing vocals, while “La bayamesa”, a famous criolla by Sindo Garay, is used as the album closer, with Puntillita, Compay Segundo and Ibrahim Ferrer on vocals.

Two tracks are included from the Cuban danzón repertoire: “Pueblo Nuevo” and “Buena Vista Social Club”, both dedicated to locations in Havana, originally recorded by Arcaño y sus Maravillas, and composed by bass player Cachao (although the latter has been wrongly attributed to his brother Orestes López in the liner notes and by Cooder).[1][14] The title track spotlights the piano work of Rubén González. It was recorded after Cooder heard González improvising around the tune’s musical theme before a day’s recording session. After playing the tune, González explained to Cooder the history of the social club and that the song was the club’s “mascot tune”.[1] When searching for a name for the overall project, manager Nick Gold chose the song’s title. According to Cooder,

“It should be the thing that sets it apart. It was a kind of club by then. Everybody was hanging out and we had rum and coffee around two in the afternoon. It felt like a club, so let’s call it that. That’s what gave it a handle.”

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The album was awarded the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album and Tropical/Salsa Album of the Year by a Group at the 1998 Billboard Latin Music Awards.

Buena Vista Social Club achieved considerable sales in Europe, reaching the Top 10 in several countries, including Germany where it topped the charts, as well as the US, where it reached number 80 on the Billboard 200. In 2009, it was awarded a double platinum certification from the Independent Music Companies Association which indicated sales of at least 1,000,000 copies throughout Europe. As of October 2017, it is the second bestselling Latin album in the United States after Dreaming of You (1995) by Selena. (wikipedia)

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This album is named after a members-only club that was opened in Havana in pre-Castro times, a period of unbelievable musical activity in Cuba. While bandleader Desi Arnaz became a huge hit in the States, several equally talented musicians never saw success outside their native country, and have had nothing but their music to sustain them during the Castro reign. Ry Cooder went to Cuba to record a musical documentary of these performers. Many of the musicians on this album have been playing for more than a half century, and they sing and play with an obvious love for the material. Cooder could have recorded these songs without paying the musicians a cent; one can imagine them jumping up and grabbing for their instruments at the slightest opportunity, just to play. Most of the songs are a real treasure, traversing a lot of ground in Cuba’s musical history.

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There’s the opening tune, “Chan Chan,” a composition by 89-year-old Compay Segundo, who was a bandleader in the ’50s; the cover of the early-’50s tune “De Camino a la Verada,” sung by the 72-year-old composer Ibrahim Ferrer, who interrupted his daily walk through Havana just long enough to record; or the amazing piano playing on “Pablo Nuevo” by 77-year-old Rubén González, who has a unique style that blends jazz, mambo, and a certain amount of playfulness. All of these songs were recorded live — some of them in the musicians’ small apartments — and the sound is incredibly deep and rich, something that would have been lost in digital recording and overdubbing. Cooder brought just the right amount of reverence to this material, and it shows in his production, playing, and detailed liner notes. If you get one album of Cuban music, this should be the one. (by Steve McMullen)

And this edition includes an exemplary booklet with 48 pages !

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Personnel:
Luis Barzaga (vocals)
Julio Fernandez Maracas (vocals)
Ibrahim Ferrer (vocals, percussion, claves)
Carlos González (percussion)
Juan de Marcos González (guiro, vocals)
Rubén González (piano)
Salvador Repilado Labrada (bass)
Manuel “Puntillita” Licea (percussion, vocals)
Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez (bass)
Benito Suárez Magana (guitar)
Manuel “El Guajiro” Mirabal (trumpet)
Eliades Ochoa (guitar, vocals)
Omara Portuondo (vocals)
Julienne Oviedo Sánchez (timbales)
Compay Segundo (guitar, percussion, vocals)
Barbarito Torres (laoud)
Alberto Valdés (maracas, vocals)
Lázaro Villa (percussion, guiro)
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Joachim Cooder (drums, percussion, dumbek, udu)
Ry Cooder (guitar, slide-guitar, bolon, percussion, oud

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Tracklist:
01. Chan Chan (Segundo) 4.18
02. De camino a la vereda (Ferrer) 5.04
03. El cuarto de Tula (Siaba) 7.25
04. Pueblo Nuevo (López) 6.06
05. Dos gardenias (Carrillo) 3.04
06. ¿Y tú qué has hecho? (Delfín) 3.15
07. Veinte años (Vera) 3.32
08. El carretero (Portabales) 3.30
09. Candela (Oramas) 5.29
10. Amor de loca juventud (Ortiz) 3.23
11. Orgullecida (Silveira) 3.19
12. Murmullo Electo (Rosell) 3.51
13. Buena Vista Social Club (López) 4.53
14. La bayamesa (Garay) 2.54

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