Larry Coryell – Laid Back & Blues (Live at the Sky Church in Seattle) (2006)

FrontCover1Here´s a very rare album by Larry Coryell:

Laid Back & Blues finds journeyman jazz guitarist Larry Coryell performing live with his quartet at the Sky Church in Seattle, WA. Backing Coryell here are pianist Mark Seales, bassist Chuck Deardorf, and drummer Dean Hodges. Also joining in for an inspired off-the-cuff take on Tracy Chapman’s “Gimme One Reason” is vocalist Tracey Piergross. Throughout, Coryell does a nice job of mixing in such jazz standards as “Body and Soul” and “Straight No Chaser” alongside his more contemporary and challenging compositions including “The Dragon’s Grate” and the pretty midtempo ballad “Tracy.” This is an intimate-sounding album that truly showcases Coryell’s superb post-bop style and deft guitar technique. (by Matt Collar)

True, Larry has been playing utterly fantastic guitar for years and years, but this release showcases his many sides in a manner somewhat lacking in recent projects. Included are some very nice renditions of Coryell “standards” plus a standout vocal performance by Tracey Piergross. Keep an ear out for this new talent! Highlights include Larry’s solo, “Denver in April”, a return to a slightly phased acoustic sound that suits Larry so well. Also exceptional is his closing blues statement on the final track. Highly recommended!!! (by Andy)

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Personnel:
Larry Coryell (guitar, vocals)
Chuck Deardorf (bass)
Dean Hodges (drums)
Mark Seales (piano)
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Tracy Chapman (vocals on 04.)

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Tracklist:
01. No More Booze Minor Blues (Coryell) 8.27
02. Intro To Tracey (Coryell) 1.28
03. Tracey (Coryell) 7.34
04. Gimme One Reason/Rock Me Baby (Josea/King) 4.36
05. Body & Soul (Coryell) 8.28
06. Intro to Straight No Chaser 0.32
07. Straight No Chaser (Monk) 8.17
08. Denver In April (Coryell) 5.03
09. The Dragon’s Gate (Coryell) 8.14
10. Not Exactly Like BB (Coryell) 7.17

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Larry Coryell
(* 2. April 1943 in Galveston, Texas; † 19. Februar 2017 in New York City)

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David Gilmour – On An Island (2006)

FrontCover1On An Island is the third solo album by Pink Floyd member David Gilmour. It was released in the UK on 6 March 2006, Gilmour’s 60th birthday, and in the US the following day. It was his first solo album in twenty two years since 1984’s About Face and twelve years since 1994’s Pink Floyd album The Division Bell.On an Island is the third solo album by Pink Floyd member David Gilmour. It was released in the UK on 6 March 2006, Gilmour’s 60th birthday, and in the US the following day. It was his first solo album in twenty two years since 1984’s About Face and twelve years since 1994’s Pink Floyd album The Division Bell.

The album features Robert Wyatt, Jools Holland, Georgie Fame, David Crosby, Graham Nash, late Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright, early Pink Floyd member Bob Klose and Pink Floyd session and touring musician Guy Pratt. Chris Thomas and Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera assisted with production. The lyrics were principally written by Gilmour’s wife, Polly Samson.

Much of the album was recorded in Gilmour’s private studio aboard his houseboat Astoria. The track “Smile” was heard briefly in an unmastered form on the BBC2 show Three Men in a Boat which retraced a trip on the River Thames that passed the houseboat. Other sections were recorded at David’s farm in Sussex and Mark Knopfler’s British Grove Studios
Orchestrations on the album were arranged by noted Polish film composer Zbigniew Preisner and conducted by Robert Ziegler. The orchestra was recorded at Abbey Road Studios by Simon Rhodes.

Singles

The album also produced two singles; the title track “On an Island” and “Smile”, the latter peaking at #72 on the UK Singles Chart. “On an Island” also peaked at #27 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
Promo Single edits of “Take a Breath” and “This Heaven” were issued to coincide with the US leg of the tour, while “Smile” was the second single in the UK.

On an Island entered the UK charts at #1, giving Gilmour his first ever chart-topping album outside of Pink Floyd. It reached #1 on the European Chart, and #2 in Canada, Portugal and Iceland. It has also provided Gilmour with his first US Top 10 album, reaching #6. The album has achieved platinum status in Canada and has sold over 1,000,000 copies worldwide.

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Gilmour toured the album with Richard Wright, Phil Manzanera and long-time members of the live Pink Floyd band, Guy Pratt and Jon Carin. Steve DiStanislao was brought in as drummer. The shows included the entire On an Island album plus Pink Floyd songs such as “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, “Echoes”, “Arnold Layne”, “High Hopes”, “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb” among others. No songs from Gilmour’s two previous solo albums were played. The tour is documented on the DVD/Blu-ray Remember That Night and the live album & DVD Live in Gdansk. (by wikipedia)

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To think that David Gilmour waited 22 years to record his third solo album is a pretty solid indicator that he’s not the kind of bloke to merely cash in on his name. After all, he’s the guy who sold his house for four million English pounds and gave the money to charity. Perhaps now that the Pink Floyd reunion happened and he and Roger Waters are at least civil to one another, the Floyd enigma can finally find its way into the annals of history and rock legend. This catches listeners up to On an Island. Those desiring something edgy and dramatic will have to wait. Gilmour wrote six of these ten tunes with his wife, Polly Samson, who also plays a bit of piano and sings. Musically, On An Island is mostly a laid-back, utterly elegant English record. It has the feel of taking place between twilight and dawn. There are a few rumblers to upset the overall balance of tranquility and stillness, like flashes of heat lightning across the dark skies; they add dimension and a quiet power to these proceedings. Produced by Gilmour, Phil Manzanera (who appears on keyboards), and Chris Thomas, the album features guest spots from the likes of Richard Wright, Robert Wyatt, B.J. Cole, Floyd/Sly Stone drummer Andy Newmark, Georgie Fame, David Crosby and Graham Nash, Jools Holland, Willie Wilson, and many others.

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The set opens with “Castellorizon,” a moody showcase with Gilmour’s guitars backed by the orchestral arrangements of Zbigniew Preisner as conducted by Robert Zeigler. Preisner’s arrangements throughout are wonderful and not quite as dark as one might expect, given his track record. Atmospheric and dramatic, it offers a lovely if off impression of the album. The title track, which follows, is all breezy strummed chords, keyboards by Wright, and dreamy vocals with Gilmour backed by Crosby and Nash. It’s a slow, textured, and spacy love song. “The Blue” follows suit; it too is so utterly full of air that one can hear the wind rustling through the palms. Wright’s backing vocals lend a slight PF “Echoes” slant (as does the Hammond organ); the instrumentation just shimmers, hovers, and floats the track along. There are rockers here, though — “Take a Breath” features chunky razor-wire chords, Leszek Mozdzer’s piano, and Manzanera’s synth work winding around one another, and the mood is wonderfully plodding, dramatic, and futuristically “heavy.” On the gauzy wee-hours instrumental “Red Sky at Night,” Gilmour plays sax as well as guitars, and it gives way to “This Heaven,” a bluesy stroller that’s given deluxe organ treatment by Fame.

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There’s a delightfully nocturnal feel that makes the track feel a bit sinister, but really it’s the sound of eros making itself heard, and Gilmour contributes a biting solo and fills amid the drum samples and strings. Wyatt appears on the back-porch spacehead soundtrack-like tripnotica of “Then I Close My Eyes.” His and Gilmour’s wordless voices slip under and around the considerable space between instruments — which include Wyatt on cornet and percussion as well as Cole playing a Weissenborn guitar, Caroline Dale’s cello, a pair of harmonicas, and of course Gilmour’s high-register blues twang. The set ends on a gentle note in “Where We Start” — so much so that it may make some scratch their heads and wonder where the cranky, diffident Gilmour has wandered off to, but others will be drawn into this seductive, romantic new place where musical subtlety, spacious textures, and quietly lyrical optimism hold sway. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
BJ Cole (guitar on 07.)
David Crosby (vocals on 02.)
Caroline Dale (cello on 04., 05. + 07.)
Ilan Eshkeri (programming on 05. + 09.)
Georgie Fame (organ on 06.)
David Gilmour (guitar, vocals, lap steel guitar, keyboards, percussion, bass, saxophone, cümbüş, harmonica)
Jooly Holland (piano on 03.)
Rado Klose (guitar on 02, +  03.)
Chris Laurence (bass on 05. + 09.)
Alasdair Malloy (glass harmonica on 07. + 09.)
Phil Manzanera (guitar on 04., 06. + 07.)
Leszek Możdżer (piano on 04. + 09.)
Graham Nash (vocals on 02.)
Andy Newmark (drums on 02.,03., 96. + 10., percussion on 07.)
Guy Pratt (bass on 02. + 04.)
Polly Samson (piano on 03., background vocals on 08.)
Chris Stainton (organ on 03.)
Chris Thomas (keyboards on 09.)
Lucy Wakeford (harp on 09.)
Willie Wilson (drums on 08.)
Richard Wright (organ on 02., vocals on 03.)
Robert Wyatt (cornet, percussion, vocals on 07.)
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Zbigniew Preisner (orchestration)

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Tracklist:
01. Castellorizon (Gilmour) 3.54
02. On An Island (Gilmour/Samson) 6.47
03. The Blue (Gilmour/Samson) 5.26
04. Take A Breath (Gilmour/Samson) 5.46
05. Red Sky At Night (Gilmour) 2.51
06. This Heaven (Gilmour/Samson) 4.24
07. Then I Close My Eyes (Gilmour/Samson) 5.26
08. Smile (Gilmour/Samson) 4.03
09. A Pocketful Of Stones (Gilmour/Samson) 6.17
10. Where We Start (Gilmour) 6.45

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Jacinta – Day Dream (2006)

JacintaFrontCover1Day Dream of the Portugal jazz singer Jacinta is her second album, after a disc with blues pieces. On the new disc Jacinta presents songs of the jazz classics from the American continent – among others pieces from Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, Herbert Martin, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Thelenious Monk. The CD was produced by Greg Osby, a known American saxophonist, jazzmen. Although the name of the vocalist from the beautiful Portugal sounds similar to Jacintha, recording for years for the American publisher Groove Note, this are in reality two different worlds. I have the feeling, that Jacintha fell in the trap of “audiophilism”, where the sound “candy”counts more, slow songs, where you can place a triangle with a reverb that sounds for 2 minutes, the percussion whisks murmur in a soporific way, and similar. On the disc of Jacinta (without the “h”) we have a refreshing amount of real music, presented in a very good, balanced way. The sound is very suggestive – the cymbals have a resonant, a bit “atmospheric” character, they murmur, but also hit when it is necessary. They lack a bit “substance”, heaviness, but this is really a small shortcoming. The voice is presented nicely, but without a special resolution – here the recordings of Jacintha, although not without problems, show the vocalist in a clearer, more natural way. On the disc Day Dream it can be heard, that the vocal was a bit too compressed. It comes exactly from the middle, and lacks some “breath”. And, as the sound of the contrabass shows, it is possible to record the sound in a natural way, coming from many sides, and not condensed in one point. The timbre of this instrument is a bit too hard, in reality the contrabass sounds in a bit softer way, without a clear center. Sound presented in the mentioned way will seem better to the audiophiles. Some kind of precognitions how it could sound is given by the cymbals. This is not an audiophile recording, but it keeps a high, good level, and brings much good music. (by highfidelity.pl)

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Personnel:
Matt Brewer (bass)
Rodney Green (drums, percussion)
Jacinta (vocals)
James Weidman – piano
Greg Osby (saxophone)

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Tracklist:
01. Enfim (Day Dream) (Ellington/Strayhorn/Latouche) 5.49
02. Decide Lá (I’m Beginning To See The Light) (Ellington/George/Hodges/James) 3.12
03. My Heart Belongs To Daddy (Porter) 4.42
04. I’m All Smiles (Martin/Leonard) 4.33
05. In A Sentimental Mood (Ellington/Mills/Kurtz) 4.25
06. Alma Confusa (Azure) (Ellington/Mills) 4.31
07. Jogral (Djavan/Filó/Neto) 4.32
08. Canção de Embalar (Afonso) 3.30
09. Luiza (Jobim) 3.13
10. How I Wish (Monk/Hendricks) 6.09
11. Day Dream (Ellington/Strayhorn/Latouche) 5.17
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12. I’m Beginning To See the Light (bonus track) (Ellington/George/Hodges/James) 3.11
13. Eternamente Assim (In a Sentimental Mood) (bonus track) (Ellington/Mills/Kurtz) 4.26

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Loreena McKennitt – An Ancient Muse (2006)

FrontCover1An Ancient Muse is the seventh full-length studio album of the Canadian singer, songwriter, accordionist, harpist, and pianist, Loreena McKennitt. It was released on November 20, 2006 internationally, and November 21, 2006 in the United States and Canada. It was her first studio album after a 9-year gap. It has now sold more than one million one copies worldwide.

Work on An Ancient Muse started in 2005. According to reports on McKennitt’s Quinlan Road website, most of the inspiration for the tracks of the album came from the music of Greece, Turkey, the Middle East and the Far East. Most of the tracks, with the exception of three revealed at the mid-September concerts in the Alhambra of Granada in Spain, were completely unknown until the release.

An Ancient Muse debuted on the U.S. Billboard 200 at number 83, with about 19,000 copies sold in its first week. This was also its peak position on the chart. (by wikipedia)

Canadian Celtic/new age/worldbeat architect Loreena McKennitt may be an odd choice for the legendary jazz label that released benchmark albums from Charlie Parker and Miles LoreenaMcKennitt01Davis, but Verve may have been moved by the undeniably talented harpist/composer/vocalist’s large collection of globe-spanning gold, platinum, and multi-platinum sales awards. McKennitt’s records (this is her first set of new material since 1997’s Book of Secrets) tend to play like independent soundtracks to National Geographic documentaries — kind of like a more ornate, expensive version of Dead Can Dance. An Ancient Muse may break little new ground for McKennitt, but it won’t disappoint longtime fans. Her fascination with Celtic, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern instrumentation (hurdy-gurdy, nyckelharpa, kanoun, uilleann pipes, bouzouki, lyra, and oud) and her preoccupation with mythology and poetry have won her great favor with the new age/adult alternative crowd, and rightly so, as Irish-tinged ballads such as “Never-Ending Road (Amhrán Duit)” and “Penelope’s Song” are just Enya songs with more instruments than vocal tracks. Her penchant for quality instrumentals, in this case “Kecharitomene” and “Sacred Shabbat,” sets her apart from the more stereotypical new age artists like David Arkenstone and John Tesh, and her extensive, diary-like liner notes invoke ancient archeological sites and obscure Rumi poetry without coming off as too self-absorbed. This CD was nominated for a Grammy award in 2007 for Best Contemporary World Music Album. (by James Christopher Monger)

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Personnel:
Tal Bergman (drums on 02. + 03, percussion on 05. + 08.)
Stuart Bruce (vocal drone on 01. + 08,, percussion on 05.)
Clive Deamer (drums on 08.)
Panos Dimitrakopoulos (kanoun on 02., 03., 05, 07. + 09.)
Nigel Eaton (hurdy-gurdy pn 03. + 05.)
Ben Grossman (hurdy-gurdy on 05.)
Ed Hanley (tabla, ui drum on 05)
Jason Hann (percussion on 08.)
Steáfán Hannigan (turkish clarinet on 01., 05. + 08. vocal drone on 01. + 08., uilleann pipes on 08. + 09.)
Brian Hughes (guitar on 01. – 03., 05., 08. + 09., guitar synthesizer on 01. – 03., 05., 08. + 09.,  vocal drone on 01. + 08., oud on 02., 03. + 05., celtic bouzouki on 02., 03., 05. + 08.)
Charlie Jones (bass on 05. + 06.)
Manu Katché (drums on 05.)
Georgios Kontogiannis (greek bouzouki on 02. + 03.)
Tim Landers (bass on 02., 03. + 08.)
Caroline Lavelle (cello on 02., 03., 05. – 09.)
Rick Lazar (percussion on 01., 05. + 08.)
Annbjørg Lien (nyckelharpa on 06.)
Hugh Marsh (violin on 03., 05. + 06.)
Loreena McKennitt (vocals, keyboards, accordion, harp, percussion, piano)
Marco Migliari (vocal drone on 01. + 08.)
Donald Quan (viola on 01. – 03., 05., 06., 08. + 09.,  vocal drone on 01. + 08.)
Hossam Ramzay (percussion on 02. + 05.)
Sokratis Sinopoulos – lyra (2, 3, 7, 8)
Haig Yazdjian (oud on 02., 03., 05. – 07.)
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Choristers of Westminster Abbey (on 04.):
Alex Pott – Elliot Thompson – Nicholas Morris

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Tracklist:
01. Incantation (McKennitt) 2.35
02. The Gates Of Istanbul (McKennitt) 6.59
03. Caravanserai (McKennitt) 7.36
04. The English Ladye And The Knight (McKennitt/Scott) 6.49
05. Kecharitomene (McKennitt) 6.34
06. Penelope’s Song (McKennitt) 4.21
07. Sacred Shabbat (Kâtibim) 3.59
08. Beneath A Phrygian Sky (McKennitt) 9.32
09. Never-Ending Road (Amhrán Duit) (McKennitt) 5.54

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Sandi Thom – Smile … It Confuses People (2006)

FrontCover1Smile… It Confuses People is the debut studio album by Scottish singer Sandi Thom. It was released in both Ireland and the United Kingdom on 5 June 2005 by RCA Records (although the back of the album bears the RCA Music Group logo instead). The album is a mix of pop and folk, predominantly written by Thom herself alongside Tom Gilbert.

The album produced Thom’s first number-one single on the UK Singles Chart, Ireland Singles Chart and in Australia, giving her song the record of longest period at number-one in Australia for 2006 and becoming the highest selling single for 2006. The album also generated another two singles but failed to chart successfully. Smile… It Confuses People was certified platinum by BPI selling three hundred thousand copies around the UK.

The album went straight to number one in its week of release in the UK. It spent a total of eighteen weeks in the UK top forty. It has since gone platinum in the UK and has sold over 1 million copies worldwide.

In Australia the album reached its peak at #11. On its ninth week in the chart at number fifteen the album was certified gold by ARIA selling thirty-five thousand copies around Australia. It was the seventy-eighth highest selling album for 2006.

Single
Single cover “I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair)”

I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair) was the first song released from the album and topped the UK, Ireland Singles Chart for two weeks the Australian ARIA Singles Chart for ten weeks making it the highest selling single for 2006. It was accredited Double Platinum (140,000 units) by ARIA. “What If I’m Right” was the second song released from the album and reached 22 in the UK and 30 in the Irish chart and top forty in Australia and New Zealand. “Lonely Girl” was the third song released from the album available for digital download only released in the UK on 4 December 2006 and did not chart.

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Whether or not one wants to believe the hype surrounding Sandi Thom’s supposedly grassroots method of getting herself a record deal — there’s plenty of controversy and conspiracy theory surrounding it (read her bio for details) — or not, is immaterial. The intensity and arrogance of the hype from her American label which issued weekly press releases to let us know we were ignorant and lived under a rock if we didn’t know about her or her alleged miracle of world- and chart- conquering method of arriving at her deal hasn’t helped. (After all, Ani DiFranco did the whole thing herself and still hasn’t needed a major — she’s turned every one of them down repeatedly — to make herself a career and inspired thousands to do so themselves.)

Ultimately then, it all comes down to the music. Does Thom have it on her debut, Smile…It Confuses People, or doesn’t she? As for the single, it’s a hopelessly naïve, cleverly worded musical ditty that is reminiscent of something used to sell European automobiles. After all, one of the things Thom chooses to forget, or perhaps really doesn’t know, is that her prime minister and our president, the very people who plunged the world into crisis, are members of that baby boom generation she so romanticizes. This song may have topped the charts in the fickle and music-tabloid driven U.K., but it won’t here. It’s forgettable in a way that any tune by Gnarls Barkley isn’t. Far more interesting are the big, slick pop melodies of “Lonely Girl” and the utterly stunning “Sunset Borderline,” which begin as simple acoustic songs and become big, swirling numbers that touch on ’70s female singer/songwriter empathy and insight, and touch upon the Lou Adler- and Arif Mardin-produced pop records that jumped to the top of the charts. In other words, the production — by the Mighty Vibrations, Rick Parkhouse, and her oh-so-savvy manager Ian Brown — is very slick, calculated to make every one of theses tunes a single.

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There’s nothing naïve in Thom’s voice; she’s a studied singer who understands the kinds of emotions that are carried by dynamic and timbre; in other words, she’s a top-notch vocalist. Other tracks that stand out here are the jaunty “Little Remedy,” the moving “Castles,” and the rootsy “What If I’m Right” which is reminiscent of both Michelle Branch and Meredith Brooks. We only get a real taste of Thom somewhat unadorned on “Superman” and the album’s closer “Time.” What these two tracks prove is that while her songs don’t begin to touch those of the very writers she so idolizes, Smile is a first record nonetheless and it will take time to develop her writing — three or four albums most likely — and to establish herself as a writer as well as a singer (and let’s hope her label, so quick to crown her the “next big thing,” believes in her enough to nurture what is most certainly a real talent). A lot depends on how strong-willed she is and how well-intentioned her management is. If managed properly, she will grow and become the artist she seems so badly to want to be. If not, she will be as forgotten as those two female singer/songwriters mentioned above. Smile…It Confuses People is an auspicious if not completely realized debut by a real — if raw — talent with some truly fine music on it. Don’t believe the hype, believe the music, it tells the real story. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Paul Beavis (percussion)
Jake Field (keyboards, harmonica, percussion)
Rick Parkhouse (guitar)
Tim Parkhouse (drums)
Hannah Peel (trombone, violin)
Tim Pike (saxophone)
Sandi Thom (guitar, vocals, piano, percussion)
Duncan Thompson (cajon, drums, guitar, bass, percussion)
Emma Welsby (marimba)

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Tracklist:
01. When Horsepower Meant What It Said (Thom/Gilbert) 3.05
02. I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair) (Thom/Gilbert) 2.31
03. Lonely Girl (Thom) 3.10
04. Sunset Borderline (Thompson/Field/Thom) 3.36
05. Little Remedy (Thompson/Field/Thom) 2.53
06. Castles (Field/Thom/Gilbert) 4.25
07. What If I’m Right (Thom/Gilbert) 2.58
08. Superman (Thom/Tom Gilbert) 2.43
09. Human Jukebox (Thom/Gilbert) 3.19
10. Time (Perry/Thom) 3.20

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Smile

Oh I wish I was a punk rock girl with flowers in my hair,
In 77 and 69 revolution was in the air,
I was born too late to a world that doesn’t care,
Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair.

When the head of state didn’t play guitar,
Not everybody drove a car,
When music really mattered and when radio was king,
When accountants didn’t have control,
And the media couldn’t buy your soul,
And computers were still scary and we didn’t know everything.

When popstars still remained a myth,
And ignorance could still be bliss,
And when God Save the Queen she turned a whiter shade of pale,
When my mom and dad were in their teens,
And anarchy was still a dream,
And the only way to stay in touch was a letter in the mail.

When record shops were still on top,
and vinyl was all that they stocked,
and the super info-highway was still drifting out in space,
kids were wearing hand-me-downs,
And playing games meant kick arounds,
And footballers who had long hair and dirt across their face.

Oh I wish I was a punk rock girl with flowers in my hair,
In 77 and 69 revolution was in the air,
I was born too late to a world that doesn’t care,
Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair.

Sergio Mendes – Timeless (2006)

FrontCover1Timeless is a collaborative album, recorded and released by Brazilian artist Sérgio Mendes, and produced by American rapper, songwriter and producer will.i.am. The album was released on February 13, 2006. The album features many neo soul and alternative hip hop guest artists, including John Legend, Q-Tip and Justin Timberlake. The album was produced entirely by will.i.am, and was released via Concord Records and the will.i.am Music Group. The album’s lead single, “Mas Que Nada”, was featured on commercials for both Joga Bonito and Nike Football, as well EA Sports’ NBA Live 07 and the 2006 FIFA World Cup video games. Two further singles were released from the album: “That Heat”, and “Yes Yes Y’all”. The album reaches across styles, combining neo soul, bossa nova, samba, hip hop, and even flavors of reggaeton. (by wikipedia)

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It’s easy to think that since Santana made his big comeback using a lot of contemporary pop stars it would become the formula for the artists of yore to edge their way back into the limelight. Sergio Mendes, the best-selling Brazilian recording artist of all time, hasn’t made a platter in eight years. He plays piano on a Black Eyed Peas track — “Sexy” from Elephunk — and the jam’s a smash. Will.i.am of the Peas decides to hook up for a full-on collaboration with Mendes, because he’s a huge fan. Being the hotshot producer of the moment, will.i.am recruited everyone from Q-Tip, Justin Timberlake, and John Legend to Jill Scott, Black Thought (the Roots), and Stevie Wonder (just to name a few) to sign on. Recorded in both Brazil and the House of Blues in Encino, the set revisits many Mendes and Brazilian songbook classics and reworks them in the modern beat-driven idiom. Needless to say, the end result is entertaining, if mixed.

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Let it be said that a cut like “Mas Que Nada” should never have been covered, let alone redone. But it is here with Black Eyed Peas and some backing vocals with, of course, Mendes playing that trademark piano riff. OK, “That Heat” is a reworking of “Slow Hot Wind,” the Henry Mancini tune Mendes covered and is supposedly the first track will.i.am ever sampled at the ripe old age of 14. Here Erykah Badu croons in a sultry humid way as will.i.am goes down deep with the rap. Mendes’ piano is what keeps the thing from falling completely apart. Better is the Baden Powell-Vinicius de Moraes medley of “Berimbau/Consolacao.” Mendes’ Rhodes offers the vamp that the elegant chorus singers — Gracinha Leporace, Debi Nova, and Kleber Jorge — and Mendes groove to. Will.i.am lays down some rather organic-sounding electronic percussion that sounds like palmas, and Wonder blows his harmonica over the entire proceeding as Jorge’s guitar strides alongside Mendes’ piano. This may be the best cut on the set.

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There is a fine case to be made for the humor in “The Frog,” written by João Donato, and originally covered by Mendes. Q-Tip lays down a charming rhyme and Mendes’ Wurlitzer work is killer. The cover of “Let Me” is stiff and Jill Scott, as fine a singer as she is, doesn’t cut it here, and neither does the rhythm track. The smoother than smooth “Please Baby Don’t,” written and sung by John Legend, works because of Legend’s understanding of Brazilian rhythm and Mendes’ piano groove that carries the voice. “Samba da Bencao,” with Marcelo D2 and guitars by the Maogani Quartet, is engaging; Mendes’ acoustic piano solo is beautiful, as are the horn charts. The title track with India.Arie is simply beautiful. Aire, with backing vocals by Nova and Leporace and a slinky guitar part by Jorge, makes the tune simply float as Mendes decorates it with Rhodes and synth. Timeless is a mixed bag, but it’s not because of Mendes. His own playing and arranging is utterly elegant. As a producer, will.i.am means well and in general does a fine job — though he is, as would be expected, a tad overzealous in working with one of his idols. Timeless may not actually achieve that status, but for the moment it’s a fine effort that doesn’t reek of cloying commercial manipulation and feels like a true collaboration. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Paulinho Braga (drums)
Sergio Brandão (bass)
Bill Brendle (piano)
Chali 2na (vocals)
Carlos “Pipo” Chaves (percussion)
Gary “Sugar Foot” Greenberg (drums)
Keith Harris (percussion)
India.Arie (vocals)
Tim Izo (flute, saxophone)
Kleber Jorge (cavaquinho, guitar, vocals)
John Legend (vocals)
Gracinha Leporace (vocals)
Mitchell Long (guitar)
Maogani Quartet (guitar)
Marcelo D2 (vocals)
Sergio Mendes (vocals, piano, synthesizer)
Paul Meyers (guitar)
Mr. Vegas (vocals)
Pharoahe Monch (vocals)
Leonardo Nobre (bass)
Meia Noite (percussion)
Debi Nova (vocals)
Chuck Prada (percussion)
Q-Tip (vocals)
Jill Scott (vocals)
Mike Shapiro (bass, drums, percussion)
Marcus Tardelli (guitar)
Steve Tavaglione (saxophone)
Justin Timberlake (vocals)
will.i.am (bass, drum programming, percussion, vocals)
Peter Wolf (bass)
Stevie Wonder (harmonica)

Booklet08A

Tracklist:
01. Mas Que Nada (feat. The Black Eyed Peas) (Ben) 4.22
02. That Heat (feat. Erykah Badu / will.i.am) (Adams/Gimbel/Mancini) 4.13
03. Berimbau/Consolacao (feat. Gracinha Leporace / Stevie Wonder) (de Moraes/Powell) 4.22
04. The Frog (feat. Q-Tip / will.i.am) (Donato) 3.50
05. Let Me (feat. Jill Scott / will.i.am) (Gimbel/Powell) 4.14
06. Bananeira (Banana Tree) (feat. Mr. Vegas) (Donato/Gil) 3.14
07. Surfboard (feat. will.i.am) (Jobim) 4.31
08. Please Baby Don’t (feat. John Legend) (Legend) 4.09
09. Samba da Bencao (Samba of the Blessing) (de Moraes/Powell) 4.38
10. Timeless (feat. India.Arie) (Board/Mendes) 3.54
11. Loose Ends (feat. Pharoahe Monch / Justin Timberlake / will.i.am) (Adams/Bergman/Bergman/Mendes/Timberlake) 5.32
12. Fo’-Hop (feat. Guinga) (Guinga) 3.13
13. Lamento (No Morro) (Jobim) 3.21
14. E Menina (Hey Girl) (Donato/Guarabyra) 3.31
15. Yes, Yes Y’All (feat. Chali 2na / Debi Nova / Black Thought / will.i.am) (Adams/Dorough/Stewart/Trotter/Tucker) 5.09

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BackCover1

Annuals – Be He Me (2006)

FrontCover1Annuals is the musical project of singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, Adam Baker. Founded in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2002, Annuals first found success following its critically acclaimed 2006 release, Be He Me. As of September 2013, Annuals is based out of Los Angeles.

Born and raised in Apex, North Carolina, Adam Baker began playing drums at 10 years old. In 2000, Baker formed Timothy’s Weekend, a pop-punk band, with future Annuals members, Kenny Florence (lead vocals, guitar) and Mike Robinson (bass). As the band evolved musically, members were added, and Sedona was formed. Sedona (later, Sunfold) featured much of the same lineup as the original Annuals lineup. As in Timothy’s Weekend, Florence took the role of lead singer, songwriter and guitarist, with Robinson on bass, Baker on drums, and Zack Oden joining on guitar.

Over the next couple of years, as Baker learned to play other instruments and took up an interest in audio production, he began to write, record and distribute his own songs. These became the first recorded Annuals tracks.

Early demos and releases from both Annuals and Sunfold were initially put out by their own label, Terpsikhore, which was founded by JK Horne and bassist Mike Robinson.
Be He Me (2006-2008)

In the fall of 2005, Annuals signed with Ace Fu Records, and on October 17, 2006, they released their debut LP, Be He Me. The album exploded on the indie music scene and, thanks in large part to overwhelming coverage in the blogosphere, the band found itself mentioned on just about every “Next Big Thing” and “Bands To Watch” list across the internet in 2006 and 2007, earning them a reputation as a “blog band.” (by wikipedia)

Annuals01Just when you think indie rock has more than its share of quick-witted, sweet, and ambitious individuals who exclaim their undying earnestness in song, along comes Annuals, a collective from North Carolina that will surely win your heart with their bright folk-pop stylings. Singer/songwriter Adam Baker is the resident wunderkind behind it all, sacrificing convention for unabashed pop loveliness on the band’s debut album, Be He Me. Not as rigid as the Arcade Fire and a bit more playful than Sufjan Stevens, Annuals create a fairytale-like place that’s as rich in imagery as it is in sound (think Broken Social Scene), and songs such as the vibrant jeers of “Brother” and the silver-tongued choruses of “Complete, or Completing” make Annuals one of the most exciting arrivals of 2006.

Mike Robinson (bass), Kenny Florence (guitar), and Adam Baker (drums) playing as Sunfold at Mercury Lounge on July 26, 2008

Mike Robinson (bass), Kenny Florence (guitar), and Adam Baker (drums) playing as Sunfold at Mercury Lounge on July 26, 2008

Baker and company just make it seem so easy and so much fun that one cannot help but fall for the hysterical guitar-driven moments of “Bleary-Eyed” and “Carry Around.” Annuals will make you dance without a care in the world, and that is a great feeling. Yet a surly sense of humor also creeps underneath these mini-pop epics, too, particularly on the dawdling “Chase You Off.” It’s nice to see that Baker, at his youthful 20 years of age, doesn’t strive to be anything but the clever, impressionable young man he is. The bright-eyed display of Be He Me couldn’t have been done any better, and that in itself is a welcome refresher when it comes to listening to indie rock today. (by MacKenzie Wilson)

Booklet03APersonnel:
Adam Baker (vocals, guitar, keyboards, drums, percussion, xylophone)
Kenny Florence (guitar, lap-steel guitar, banjo, vocals)
Zack Oden (guitar, drums, percussion, melodica)
Nick Radford (drums)
Mike Robinson (bass, vocals)
Anna Spence (keyboards)
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Chris Wessels (violin)
Dylan Willemsa (viola)
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Background vocals:
Bret Bengston – Dani Harris – Devin Downey – Josh Pope – Natalie Patterson

Booklet01ATracklist:
01. Brother 3.43
02. Dry Clothes 3.46
03. Complete, Or Completing 5.46
04. Carry Around 3.18
05. Chase You Off 3.54
06. Bleary-Eyed 3.04
07. Fair 4.35
08. The Bull, And The Goat 4.05
09. Mama 2.36
10 Ida, My 2.31
11. Father 5.15
12. Sway 7.05
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13. Ease My Mind 4.17
14. River Run 3.15
15. Misty Coy 3.24

All songs written and composed by Adam Baker.

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