The Cure – 4.13 Dream (2008)

FrontCover1.jpg4:13 Dream is the 13th studio album by English rock band The Cure. It was released on 27 October 2008, through record labels Suretone and Geffen.

The thirteenth studio album by The Cure was originally intended to be a double album; however, frontman Robert Smith confirmed in interviews that this idea was scrapped, despite the fact that thirty-three songs had been recorded. Some songs featured on the album were recycled from earlier album sessions: an example is “Sleep When I’m Dead”, which was originally written for the band’s 1985 album The Head on the Door. Smith attested that the album would mostly comprise the upbeat songs the band recorded, while the darker songs may be released on another album.[citation needed] An official remix of “It’s Over” by Robert Smith appears on the 2018 release of Torn Down: It’s Over (Whisper Mix).

On 6 October 2007, The Cure played the first song from the upcoming album, “The Only One” (then titled “Please Project”) at the Download Festival in Mountain View, California as part of their 4Tour. Following this, the band slowly introduced other songs from the album.[citation needed] In order to finish recording 4:13 Dream by early 2008, they delayed their North American tour by eight months. Later in the tour, the band performed the songs “Underneath the Stars”, “The Perfect Boy”, “Sleep When I’m Dead”, “Freakshow” (then titled “Don’t Say Anything”), “The Only One” (then titled “Please Project”) and “It’s Over” (then titled “Baby Rag Dog Book”) at various shows. Although rumored to appear on the album from early reports,[citation needed] another song, “A Boy I Never Knew”, was omitted from the final track listing.

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On 1 May 2008, The Cure posted a bulletin on their MySpace page in which they confirmed that the album would be released on 13 September.[citation needed] The bulletin also said that the thirteenth day of each month leading up to the release of the album (May, June, July and August) would see the release of a single, including B-sides that would not make the final cut.

The first single, “The Only One”, was released on 13 May, followed by “Freakshow” on 13 June, “Sleep When I’m Dead” on 13 July and “The Perfect Boy” on 13 August. On 16 July, Robert Smith announced that the album’s release date would be pushed back to 13 October, and in September’s place, an EP was released, entitled Hypnagogic States, containing remixes of the four singles from 4:13 Dream. On 21 August the title of the album was announced online as 4.13 Dream, corrected three days later to 4:13 Dream. The official track listing was first revealed on the band’s official website on 15 September. Smith also mentioned the “dark album” companion piece, and jokingly stated that he would like to have it released by his next birthday (21 April 2009). On 11 October, The Cure performed 4:13 Dream in its entirety at a free performance in the Piazza San Giovanni in Rome that was recorded for the MTV Live concert series. The album’s release date was delayed yet again, and was ultimately released on 27 October.

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4.13 Dream a score of 69 out of 100 from Metacritic based on “generally favorable reviews”. While most critics have praised the album as a quintessential Cure record, others have criticised the album’s production and its overly comfortable and lightweight[ songwriting. (by wikipedia)

A hefty four years and several release date shuffles after the last album finally The Cure’s 4: 13 Dream arrives.

Despite a propensity for Smith looking like a slightly more portly cross-dressing Edward Scissorhands and sounding like he’s on the verge of tears while singing, it’s always been a mystery why The Cure ever got labelled as g*ths. In truth, their earliest work may have existed in the same grey navel-gazing post industrial space as say, Joy Division (cf: Seventeen Seconds), but since the mid 80s Smith has mostly been dealing in the kind of upbeat Cocteau Twins-meets-The 13 Floor Elevators material that was always more baroque and flowery than black and floury.

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So it is with 4:13 dream. The album’s been preceded by a single released on the 13th of each month; beginning with The Only One in May. This is a feisty return to the place where Robert sounds like he’s about to burst from whatever it is that’s got him in its grip – in this case good old fashioned love. It’s a good antidote to the more monumental post rock of the opening Underneath The Stars.

Smith’s always worked best in small numbers and the return of Porl Thompson on guitar after 14 years seems to have reinvigorated Smith no end. If there’s a period of the Cure that this album most closely resembles it’s Wish – their most commercial effort.

In fact most of the album is upbeat – clebrating mental health and bounding with energy. This renewed joi de vivre is expressed best on Sleep When I’m Dead, a song that dates back to the Head On The Door period. Smith claims that he’s deliberately edited out the dourer numbers slimming down what was originally pencilled in as a double album, and you can’t help feeling that he did the right thing. Freakshow may have a coruscating wah wah solo at its heart – but you could also see Girls Aloud doing a version. Really.

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It’s not all joyous love songs and latino rave-ups though. The Scream builds from an electro flamenco nightmare to a wailing crescendo, while Switch resurrects those old rock miserablist stand-bys, isolation and paranoia, as its subject. ”I’m tired of being alone with myself” yelps Bob.

Release delays may often signal dissatisfaction, but judging by reports of a wealth (33 songs) of material it seems to indicate that it was just a crisis of self editing that held up procedings. Luckily it was worth the wait. This is classic Cure, weird, wired and wiggy when it needs to be, but never overly glum, harrowing or serious. Time to get the lipstick out again. (Chris Jones)

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Personnel:
Jason Cooper (drums, percussion, loops)
Simon Gallup (bass)
Robert Smith (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards)
Pearl Thompson (guitar)
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Catsfield Sub Rhythm Trio (handclaps)
Smud (percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Underneath The Stars 6.18
02. The Only One 3.57
03. The Reasons Why 4.36
04. Freakshow 2.30
05. Sirensong 2.23
06. The Real Snow White 4.43
07. The Hungry Ghost 4.30
08. Switch 3.45
09. The Perfect Boy 3.22
10. This. Here And Now. With You 4.07
11. Sleep When I’m Dead 3.52
12. The Scream 4.37
13. It’s Over 4.17

All songs written by:
Jason Cooper Simon Gallup – Robert Smith – Pearl Thompson

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Esperanza Spalding – Esperanza (2008)

FrontCover1.jpgEsperanza is the second studio album by the American bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding. It was released on May 20, 2008.

Being exposed to many different cultural impressions while growing up, Spalding sings in three different languages here: English, Spanish and Portuguese. After Spalding’s Grammy Award win in February 2011, the album entered the Billboard 200 at 138. 8ny wikipedia)

Bassist, vocalist, and composer Esperanza Spalding’s eponymous release on Heads Up International is touted on the Concord Label Group’s website as her debut recording. This is patently untrue. In fact, if it weren’t for her actual debut , 2006’s Junjo on Spain’s Ayva imprint, this set may not have existed at all. Junjo showcased Spalding as a leader, playing in an acoustic trio with pianist Aruan Ortiz and drummer Francisco Mela singing wordlessly over bubbling Latin and Afro-Cuban melodies and rhythms. Though written by Brazilian legend Milton Nasciemento and featuring backing vocalists and additional percussion to the bass, piano, and drum format, Esperanza’s opening track, “Ponta De Areia” resembles the sound and M.O. of the earlier album quite a bit. This is on purpose, as Spalding simply nods to one of the many places she comes from musically.

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The track, with its languid, nursery rhyme-like melody and beautifully understated instrumental accompaniment, gently opens the listener to an aural experience that’s quite unlike anything else out there. Spalding sings in three languages here — English, Spanish, and Portuguese — she plays bass, does the arranging, and acts as her own producer on this wildly diverse and exceptionally well-executed set. How does a 23-year-old get all that control? Simple: she’s a prodigy; she is a seasoned session player (she’s worked with Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny, and Patti Austin to name just three), and she’s a faculty member at the Berklee College of Music.

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The ambition on display on Esperanza is not blind; it’s deeply intuitive, and her focus brings out the adventure on the album in all the right ways. By a lesser musician, even attempting something like this would have been disastrous. A core band consisting of pianist Leo Genovese, percussionist Jamey Haddad, and drummer Otis Brown backs Spalding. She follows the Nasciemento cut with her own fingerpopping midtempo ballad “I Know You Know,” where her crystal clear contralto walks a phrasing tightrope between near scat, classic jazz, and Latin soul singing. The layers of hand percussion and knotty pianism fill the middle as her bassline and drums hold down a constant skittering thrum for the lyrics to balance on. But she can write and sing straight ballads as well. “Fall In,” a seemingly simple duet where her voice over Genovese’s piano are the only ornaments, is a stellar example and also displays a very sophisticated and slippery sense of wordcraft and a gorgeous melodic sensibility. “I Adore You,” featuring Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez in one of his two appearances on drums, offers another example of Esperanza Spalding03.jpgSpalding’s wordless vocalizing; it is a popping Brazilian samba-cum-rhumba with a snappy backing chorus of Brown, Gretchen Parlato, and Theresa Perez. They help her move the smoking piano and the shuffling, time-shifting drums of Hernandez on the choruses. Spalding’s bass part here is anything but basic, it’s startling in its rhythmic and lyric invention as it adds another harmonic counterpart to the piano and percussive textures. New Orleans saxophonist Donald Harrison performs in one of his two guest spots on the provocative and sassy jazz tune “She Got to You.” With a quick, even-burning tempo, there are traces of Betty Carter, Ella Fitzgerald, and even Blossom Dearie in Spalding’s phrasing. For all of the hard-driving percussion and the track’s boppish tempo, it is wonderfully accessible. “Precious,” played with her trio (including some nice Rhodes work by Genovese) is like a mirror image; it’s lithe, new-soul melody line flirts with jazz in the arrangement but stays on the pop side of the fence. If radio would get behind this it would be a monster. “Mela” is a wailing, post-bop instrumental with Hernandez on drums and guest Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet. Check Spalding’s bass solo here, it, like the tune, is a burner. In sum, Esperanza sounds like the work of a much older, more experienced player, singer, and songwriter. Spalding not only has these gifts in natural abundance but is disciplined in her execution as well. On this recording she seeks to widen her musical adventure at every turn, but she does it with such with taste, refinement, and a playful sense of humor that virtually anyone who encounters this offering will find not only much to delight in, but plenty to be amazed by as well. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Otis Brown (drums)
Leo Genovese (piano)
Jamey Haddad (percussion)
Esperanza Spalding (bass, vocals)
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Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet on 08. + 11.)
Donald Harrison (saxophone on 06. + 11.)
Horacio Hernandez (drums on 04. + 08.)
Gretchen Parlato (background vocals on 01 + 04.)

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Tracklist:
01. Ponta de Areia (Nascimento/Brant) 5.39
02. I Know You Know (Spalding) 3.47
03. Fall In (Spalding) 3.57
04. I Adore You (Spalding) 7.27
05. Cuerpo y Alma (Body & Soul) (Heyman/Sour) 8.01
06. She Got To You (Spalding) 4.29
07. Precious (Spalding) 4.24
08. Mela (Spalding) 6.57
09. Love in Time (Spalding) 5.47
10. Espera (Spalding) 4.40
11. If That’s True (Spalding) 7.33
12. Samba em Preludio (de Moraes/Powell) 5.11

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Kid Rock – All Summer Long + 2 (2008)

FrontCover1.jpgRobert James Ritchie (born January 17, 1971), known professionally as Kid Rock, is an American singer-songwriter, rapper, musician, record producer, and actor. In a career spanning over 20 years, Rock’s musical style alternates between rock, hip hop, and country. A multi-instrumentalist, he has overseen his own production on nine of his eleven studio albums.

Kid Rock started his professional music career as a self-taught rapper and DJ, releasing his debut album Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast in 1990 on the major record label Jive; his subsequent independent releases The Polyfuze Method and Early Mornin’ Stoned Pimp saw him developing a more distinctive style which was fully realized on his 1998 album Devil Without a Cause; this and his subsequent album Cocky were noted for blending elements of hip hop, country, rock and heavy metal. Starting with his 2010 album Born Free, the country music style has dominated his musical direction, and since 2007’s Rock n Roll Jesus until 2017’s Sweet Southern Sugar, he has not recorded any rap-influenced tracks.

“All Summer Long” is a song by American recording artist Kid Rock. It was released in 2008 as the third single from his seventh studio album Rock n Roll Jesus. The song samples two hit songs of the 1970s, Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”. The idea for the mashup was suggested by Mike E. Clark.

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The song was a number-one hit in eight countries across Europe, Australia, and the United Kingdom. It even crossed over to southern rock radio, giving Kid Rock his first top-ten country hit. The song was the official theme song to WWE’s pay-per view event, Backlash 2008. The song was also the theme song to the 2009 World Cup. It was featured in the video game Power Gig: Rise of the SixString. He performed the song at the 2009 Grammy Awards and at WrestleMania 25, both in medleys. He also promoted the song in Europe performing on Top of the Pops and the World Music Awards. The song led to the TV special VH-1 Storytellers in November 2009.

Eight people are credited for writing “All Summer Long”: the songwriters of “Werewolves of London” (Leroy Marinell, Waddy Wachtel and Warren Zevon), the songwriters of “Sweet Home Alabama” (Ed King, Gary Rossington and Ronnie Van Zant) as well as Matthew Shafer (Uncle Kracker) and Robert Ritchie (Kid Rock).

The music video for the song was shot in Nashville Tennessee and features Kid Rock driving a Grand Craft Grand Sport boat out on the Old Hickory Lake, while two teenagers are shown enacting the song’s lyrics, taking place in the implied year of 1989 as mentioned in the first verse. Kid Rock is also shown partying with girls or women on a different boat, and singing the song on a platform on the lake during night time. The platform, float & lights are a homage to the “Playboy girls” scene in the film Apocalypse Now. As the video ends, the small boat Kid Rock is driving can be seen with the word “cowboy” on the back.

“All Summer Long” is Kid Rock’s fourth song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, and overall his biggest hit of his career. It reached number 23 on the Hot 100, based solely on airplay, since Kid Rock had not made his catalog available for legal digital download at the time (therefore, the song received no assistance from digital sales). It peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart, making it his highest peaking single on this chart. It is his third top 40 hit on the Hot 100. It also became a pop crossover hit, reaching the top ten on Mainstream Top 40 radio. “All Summer Long” has also reached the top ten on Billboard’s Adult Top 40.

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It marks Kid Rock’s third entry on the American Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, after “Picture” and “Single Father”, both in 2003, reaching number four, his first top 20 and top 10 on that chart. It was a moderate hit on U.S. rock, peaking at number 17 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number 38 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song has sold 943,000 copies in the US as of April 2016.

The song is Kid Rock’s first international hit as well. In the United Kingdom, the song knocked off Dizzee Rascal’s “Dance wiv Me” from the top of the UK Singles Chart and was replaced at the summit by Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl”. In the rest of Europe, the song was available as a physical and digital release and it has also topped the charts in Ireland, Austria, Germany and Switzerland. It has reached the top five in Flemish Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. In Australia, the song is his first top-ten and number-one single, while in New Zealand, the song peaked at number three. ((by wikipedia)

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Tracklist:
01. All Summer Long (album version) (King/Rossington/Marinell/Shafer/Ritchie/ Wachtel/VanZant/Zevon) 4.56
02. Son Of Detroit (live) (Coe/Tipton/Brooks/DeLuca) 5.12
03. Bawitdaba (live) (Krause/Shafer/Ritchie) 5.45

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And here´s a great live version (including the original “Sweet Home Alabama”) … Kid Rock & members of Lynyrd Skynyrd:

 

It was 1989, my thoughts were short my hair was long
Caught somewhere between a boy and man
She was seventeen and she was far from in-between
It was summertime in Northern Michigan
Ahh Ahh Ah

Splashing through the sand bar
Talking by the campfire
It’s the simple things in life, like when and where
We didn’t have no internet
But man, I never will forget
The way the moonlight shined upon her hair

And we were trying different things
We were smoking funny things
Making love out by the lake to our favorite song
Sipping whiskey out the bottle, not thinking ’bout tomorrow
Singing Sweet home Alabama all summer long

Catching wild life from the dock
Watching the waves roll off the rocks
She’ll forever hold a spot inside my soul
We’d blister in the sun
We couldn’t wait for night to come
To hit that sand and play some rock and roll

Coldplay – Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends (2008)

FrontCover1.jpgViva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, often referred to as simply Viva la Vida, is the fourth studio album by British rock band Coldplay, released on 12 June 2008 on the Parlophone label. The album was named after a Spanish phrase that best translates into English as “Long live life”. Lyrically, the album contains references to love, life, death and war.

Recording sessions for the album took place during June 2007 to April 2008 and featured production by Jon Hopkins, Rik Simpson, Markus Dravs, and Brian Eno. The album was Coldplay’s first to be produced by Eno, and also their first album to not be produced by long-time Coldplay producer, Ken Nelson. The band forced themselves to explore new styles, as Eno required every song on the album to sound different.[citation needed] Development of the album delayed the release date several times. The album cover of Viva la Vida is the painting Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix.

Viva la Vida was both a critical and commercial success. Five songs were released in promotion of the album; “Violet Hill” and “Viva la Vida” in May 2008, “Lovers in Japan” and “Lost!” in November 2008, and “Strawberry Swing” in September 2009. “Viva la Vida” became the band’s first song to reach number one in both the United States and the United Kingdom. It won Best Rock Album at the 2009 Grammy Awards and was also nominated for Album of the Year. It was the best selling album of 2008. By 2011, the album had sold more than 10 million copies.

“Viva la Vida” is a rock album, and is more specifically described as alternative rock, art rock, pop rock, and indie pop. It features influences of dream pop, art pop and baroque pop.

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Musically, Viva la Vida contrasts with their previous albums. The title track uses an orchestra, while “Lovers in Japan” features a honky-tonk piano. “Lost!” is influenced by tribal music, whereas “Strawberry Swing” incorporates Afropop music. Martin described Viva la Vida as a new direction for Coldplay: a change from their past three albums, which they have referred to as a “trilogy”. He said the album featured less falsetto as he allowed his voice’s lower register to take precedence. Some songs, such as “Violet Hill”, contain distorted guitar riffs and bluesy undertones.

The album contains an array of different themes such as love, war, and revolutions. Unlike their previous releases it has a more universal approach, it deals less with personal problems and more with issues of humanity. Songs like “Life in Technicolor II” (which didn’t make it to the final track list) “Violet Hill” and “Death and All His Friends” talk about war and politics. Martin stated the lyrics of “Violet Hill” were a commentary on Fox News. “Violet Hill” also is the first anti-war protest song from the band. Other songs, such as the double track “Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love” and “Yes” are about love and desire.

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Revolutionary themes are also an important part of the album and its promotion.[citation needed] Coldplay used customized French revolutionary costumes through the Viva La Vida Tour and on the videos produced for the album’s singles. Chris Martin said on an interview for The Sun “some say this album is brave – I just see us as being very lucky”. Martin stated that a big inspiration for the album was the book Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

The work of the Beatles is apparent as an inspiration throughout the album. For instance, the song “Violet Hill” references the Beatles album Abbey Road (1969), borrowing its rhythm from the Beatles. The song is named for a road which adjoins Abbey Road in London. (by wikipedia)

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When Coldplay sampled Kraftwerk on their third album, X&Y, it was a signifier for the British band, telegraphing their classicist good taste while signaling how they prefer the eternally hip to the truly adventurous; it was stylish window dressing for soft arena rock. Hiring Brian Eno to produce the bulk of their fourth album, Viva la Vida, is another matter entirely. Eno pushes them, not necessarily to experiment but rather to focus and refine, to not leave their comfort zone but to find some tremulous discomfort within it. In his hands, this most staid of bands looks to shake things up, albeit politely, but such good manners are so inherent to Coldplay’s DNA that they remain courteous even when they experiment. With his big-budget production, Eno has a knack for amplifying an artist’s personality, as he allows bands to be just as risky as they want to be — which is quite a lot in the case of U2 and James and even Paul Simon, but not quite so much with Coldplay. And yet this gentle encouragement — he’s almost a kindly uncle giving his nephews permission to rummage through his study — pays great dividends for Coldplay, as it winds up changing the specifics without altering the core. They wind up with the same self-styled grandiosity; they’ve just found a more interesting way to get to the same point.

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Gone are Chris Martin’s piano recitals and gone are the washes of meticulously majestic guitar, replaced by orchestrations of sound, sometimes literally consisting of strings but usually a tapestry of synthesizers, percussion, organs, electronics, and guitars that avoid playing riffs. Gone too are simpering schoolboy ballads like “Fix You,” and along with them the soaring melodies designed to fill arenas. In fact, there are no insistent hooks to be found anywhere on Viva la Vida, and there are no clear singles in this collection of insinuatingly ingratiating songs. This reliance on elliptical melodies isn’t off-putting — alienation is alien to Coldplay — and this is where Eno’s guidance pays off, as he helps sculpt Viva la Vida to work as a musical whole, where there are long stretches of instrumentals and where only “Strawberry Swing,” with its light, gently infectious melody and insistent rhythmic pulse, breaks from the album’s appealingly meditative murk.

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Whatever iciness there is to the sound of Viva la Vida is warmed by Martin’s voice, but the music is by design an heir to the earnest British art rock of ’80s Peter Gabriel and U2 — arty enough to convey sober intelligence without seeming snobby, the kind of album that deserves to take its title from Frida Kahlo and album art from Eugene Delacroix. That Delacroix painting depicts the French Revolution, so it does fit that Martin tones down his relentless self-obsession — the songs aren’t heavy on lyrics and some are shockingly written in character — which is a development as welcome as the expanded sonic palette. Martin’s refined writing topics may be outpaced by the band’s guided adventure, but they’re both indicative that Coldplay are desperate to not just strive for the title of great band — a title they seem to believe that they’re to the manor born — but to actually burrow into the explorative work of creating music. And so the greatest thing Coldplay may have learned from Eno is his work ethic, as they demonstrate a focused concentration throughout this tight album — it’s only 47 minutes yet covers more ground than X&Y and arguably A Rush of Blood to the Head — that turns Viva la Vida into something quietly satisfying. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Guy Berryman (bass, synthesizers, santoor on 01., background vocals)
Jonny Buckland (guitar, background vocals on 03.)
Will Champion (drums, percussion, piano, background vocals)
Chris Martin (vocals, guitar, keyboards)

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Tracklist:
01. Life In Technicolor 2:30
02. Cemeteries Of London 3.21
03. Lost! 3.55
04. 42 3.57
05. Lovers In Japan 3.57 / Reign Of Love 2.54 = 6:51
06. Yes 4.04 (includes hidden song Chinese Sleep Chant 3:02) 7.06
07. Viva La Vida 4.01
08. Violet Hill 3.42
09. Strawberry Swing 4.09
10. Death And All His Friends 3:30 (includes hidden song “The Escapist” – 2.48) = 6.18

All songs written by Guy Berryman – Jonny Buckland – Will Champion – Chris Martin

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Andreas Oberg – My Favorite Guitars (2008)

FrontCover1.jpgAndreas Oberg honors several of the most recognized guitarists in jazz through this contemporary outing, where his guitar speaks for generations and his smooth approach appeals to a broad audience. A full studio orchestra complements much of the program as Oberg’s guitar floats effortlessly over the gathering.

An appealing Brazilian atmosphere pervades on “Aqui, Oh,” where the leader’s wordless vocals ride waves of warmth that wash over his acoustic guitar with pleasurable results. Oberg enjoys a fluid technique where notes run clear and distinct. When keyboard player Kuno Schmid steps forward, the contrast between his muddy cascades and the guitarist’s clearly-defined runs is magnified.

With Oberg’s ballad “Endless Love,” acoustic guitar takes over with a folksong approach while the studio orchestra colors from a distance. With “Funky Tango” and “Waiting for Angela,” it’s the background instrumentation from the keyboards and the orchestra that occupy much of the focus. Oberg enjoys a better stride when paring it down and allowing his guitar to shine.

Elsewhere, as on “Uptown Downtown,” “Villa Hermosa” and “Here to Stay,” the guitarist finds his niche as he fits comfortably into Pat Martino’s bag with all points covered. He’s at his best when improvising alongside the small group and excluding the lush orchestra Oberg01and surround-sound keyboard swirls. (Jim Santella)

Swedish jazz guitarist Andreas Öberg has been quoted as saying that one of his desires is to “make music that can appeal to people who don’t like jazz.” Many hardcore jazz musicians become nervous and apprehensive when they hear other improvisers talking about commercializing jazz in some fashion or making jazz more accessible to rock, pop or R&B fans; they think of all the robotic elevator music that smooth jazz/NAC radio stations have played in the ’80s, ’90s and 21st century. But My Favorite Guitars is an album that, despite its commercial appeal, isn’t going to win over the Kenny G./Najee/Richard Elliott crowd. Öberg isn’t trying to be the Dave Koz of the guitar — far from it. Actually, the best stylistic comparison on this 64-minute CD — which finds Öberg paying tribute to other guitarists — would be the pre-Breezin’ CTI albums that Creed Taylor produced for George Benson (one of Öberg’s main influences) in the late ’60s and early ’70s. At times, Taylor was guilty of overproducing, but when he achieved the right balance of jazz and commercial considerations, he soared as a producer — and My Favorite Guitars achieves that type of balance. This 2008 release isn’t in a class with Benson’s best CTI releases, but it’s definitely respectable. Although Öberg brings a strong sense of groove to the table, he has plenty of room to stretch out and improvise whether he is paying tribute to Benson on “The Changing World,” Django Reinhardt on “Troublant Bolero,” Pat Metheny on “Here to Stay,” or Wes Montgomery (another major influence) on “The Trick Bag.” My Favorite Guitars won’t appeal to jazz purists or bop snobs, but it has integrity and demonstrates that an improviser can reach out to pop and R&B fans and still maintain an improvisatory, jazz-oriented focus. (Alex Henderson)

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Personnel:
Kevin Axt (bass)
Tamir Hendelman (keyboards)
Andreas Öberg (guitar)
Marian Petrescu (keyboards)
Harish Raghavan (bass)
Kuno Schmid (keyboards, bass)
Vic Stevens (drums, percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Funky Tango (Salinas) 5.32
02. Troublant Bolero (Reinhardt) 6.13
03. Waiting For Angela (Horta) 5.43
04. Aqui, Oh (Horta) 5.15
05. Uptown Down (Martino) 4.00
06. AM Call (Öberg) 6.24
07. The Changing World (Benson) 4.38
08. The Trick Bag (Montgomery) 5.11
09. Here To Stay (Metheny) 5.13
10. Endless Love (Öberg) 5.13
11. Villa Hermosa (Pat Martino) 6:34
12. Valdez In The Country (Hathaway) 4.44

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Saravah Soul – Same (2008)

FrontCover1Exploding out of the rich cultural mix in the melting-pot of London’s underground music scene comes the half-Brazilian, half-British, Afro-Brazilian Funk sound of Saravah Soul. Fronted by fiery break dancer Otto Nascarella, the intensity of their live shows has earned them a reputation for wild performances and a rapidly expanding fan base. Their self-titled first album caused an international stir amongst record labels eager to sign them, and the band seems set on an unstoppable rise.

Formed by Otto Nascarella, Saravah Soul was created to showcase a highly addictive style of late 60’s Brazilian soul-funk and samba, to create an exciting and original live flavour. Talented front man Nascarella, from Curitiba Brazil, combines the showmanship of James Brown with modern breakdance styles, whilst playing guitar and pandeiro; bass virtuoso Matheus Nova has performed with the likes of Brazilian samba divas Elza Soares and Alcione. Kiris Houston on Keys and guitar has worked with top soul artists including Jocelyn Brown and Estelle. Eduardo Marques is one of the most in demand Brazilian drummers in London, and works with top Brazilian artists, such as Ed Motta. Percussionist/flautist Jack Yglesias is legendary on the contemporary funk scene, having played with The Poets of Rhythm, Lee Fields, The Soul Destroyers, Quantic Soul Orchestra and Spanky Wilson.

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The horn section is led by the sax player Marcelo Andrade, who plays also on Jazzinho (freestyle records). Saravah Soul’s debut 7” single “Nao Posso Te Levar A Serio” was released in February 2008, followed by the album in March. The official album launch party was a festive, samba-fuelled affair at the Jazz Café in London, whipping up a frenzy with visceral Brazilian percussion and complete with a Rio Carnival-style march through the crowd. Saravah Soul headlined the legendary Jelly Jazz’s 15th birthday party in May 2008 and played a handful of festivals around the country over the summer. 2010 saw them release their second album, Cultura Impura and continue their ruthless touring … (by tru-thoughts.co.uk)

Enjoy this funky trip …

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Personnel:
Marcelo Andrade (saxophone, vocals, flute)
Graeme Flowers (trumpet)
Kiris Houston (keyboards, guitar, vocals)
Eduardo ‘Dudu’ Marques (drums, vocals)
Otto Nascarella (vocals, pandeiro on 05., guitar on 05. + 07.)
Matheus Nova (bass)
Chris Webster (trombone)
Jack Yglesias (percussion, flute & vocals on 01., 05., 07.)
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Luzmira Zerpa (background vocals on 01., 04. + 06.)

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Tracklist:
01. Oil Is Thicker Than Blood (Yglesias/Nascarella/Saravah Soul) 4.37
02. Nao Posso Te Levar A Serio (Nascarella/Saravah Soul) 4.21
03. It’s Doing My Head In (Yglesias/Nascarella/Saravah Soul) 4.18
04. Arroz Com Feijao (Nascarella/Saravah Soul) 5.51
05. Funk E Saravah (Saravah Soul) 3.47
06. Roubada (Nascarella/Nova/Saravah Soul) 4.26
07. Role De Bike (Yglesias/Nascarella/Saravah Soul) 3.54
08. Supersossego (Nascarella/Yglesias/Saravah Soul) 4.55
09. Homesick (Nascarella/Saravah Soul) 3.08
10. It’s Doing My Head In (Instrumental) (Nascarella/Yglesias/Saravah Soul) 4.18

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Leonard Cohen – Live In London (2009)

FrontCover1.jpgLeonard Cohen’s first UK tour in 15 years has been captured on this album and was recorded at one of his London O2 Arena shows, on July 17, 2008.

Part of the reason Cohen, who was 73 at the time, went on tour in 2008 was to rebuild his finances after being swindled by his manager Kelley Lynch. Sylvie Simmons explains in her 2012 biography on Cohen that Lynch “took care of Leonard’s business affairs…[and was] not simply his manager but a close friend, almost part of the family.” However, Simmons notes that in late 2004, Cohen’s daughter Lorca began to suspect Lynch of financial impropriety, and when Cohen checked his bank accounts, he noticed that he had unknowingly paid a credit card bill of Lynch’s for $75,000 and also found that most of the money in his accounts was gone (including money from his retirement accounts and charitable trust funds). Cohen would discover that this theft had actually begun as early as 1996 when Lynch started selling Cohen’s music publishing rights despite the fact that Cohen had no financial incentive to do so at the time. Cohen, who was on a five-year retreat at the Zen center Mount Baldy near Los Angeles at the time, remained oblivious.

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On 8 October 2005, Cohen sued Kelley Lynch, alleging that she had misappropriated over US $5 million from Cohen’s retirement fund leaving only $150,000. Cohen was sued in turn by other former business associates. These events placed him in the public spotlight, including a cover feature on him with the headline “Devastated!” in Canada’s Maclean’s magazine. In March 2006, Cohen won a civil suit and was awarded US$9 million by a Los Angeles County superior court. Lynch, however, ignored the suit and did not respond to a subpoena issued for her financial records. As a result, it has been widely reported that Cohen may never be able to collect the awarded amount.

In the meantime, Cohen published a book of poetry, prose and drawings called Book of Longing in 2006 and produced Anjani’s 2006 album Blue Alert (he also provided lyrics for the songs). Cohen was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Lou Reed in 2008. In his book Leonard Cohen: A Remarkable Life, biographer Anthony Reynolds observes that throughout the ordeal, Cohen remained calm: “In public, at least, Cohen did seem remarkably sanguine about the loss. He was never angry or accusatory, and his stock answer to the calamity was the dry one-liner, ‘It’s enough to put a dent in your mood’ but when pushed he admitted, ‘I don’t know what helped me deal with it…I guess it just hasn’t hit me yet.'”

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Cohen, who had always professed to interviewers how much he enjoyed the discipline imposed by hard work, recognized the economic necessity of getting back on the road and announced a tour in January 2008. The first show took place at the Fredericton Playhouse in New Brunswick. Cohen played dates in Canada and Europe to enthusiastic crowds who were delighted to see him on stage again.

The album was long listed for the Polaris Music Prize.[8] Cohen’s humility and self-deprecating sense of humor is evident in the between-song banter throughout the London performance, with him telling the audience, “It’s been a long time since I stood on a stage in London. It was about 14 or 15 years ago. I was 60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream. Since then I’ve taken a lot of Prozac, Paxil, Wellbutrin, Effexor, Ritalin, Focalin. I’ve also studied deeply in the philosophies of the religions but cheerfulness kept breaking through.” (by wikipedia)

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As more than one writer has pointed out, in 2008 and 2009 Leonard Cohen’s loss became his audience’s gain. After spending five years living as a monk in a Buddhist monastery during a sabbatical from music, Cohen discovered in 2005 that his former business manager had embezzled nearly all his savings, and two years later, in order to put his finances back in order, he warily agreed to an international concert tour, his first in nearly a decade and a half. Given the circumstances that prompted Cohen’s return to the stage as well as his age — 73 when the tour began — one would have the right to wonder just how enthusiastic the great songwriter would be about meeting his audience again. But judging from Live in London — a two-disc set recorded during a rapturously received appearance at London’s O2 Arena on July 17, 2008 — these concerts have unexpectedly given Cohen a chance to remind the world of his strengths as a musician and a performer, and he’s embraced the opportunity with joy.

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The notion of Leonard Cohen playing a 20,000-seat arena may seem a bit surprising (at least in America), but Cohen and his nine-member supporting ensemble give 25 songs from his catalog a treatment that fills them out enough to work in a massive room (at least compared to the intimate arrangements of his early work) without crushing the nuances of gentler numbers like “Who by Fire” and “Suzanne,” while “The Future” and “Democracy” sound just as big as they need to be. There’s sometimes a bit too much David Sanborn in Dino Soldo’s horn solos, but otherwise the band is superb — especially Javier Mas on banduria, laud, archilaud, and guitar, and the vocal ensemble of Sharon Robinson, Charley Webb, and Hattie Webb — and despite the craggy, weathered state of Cohen’s voice, he sounds sure and committed from the first moment to the last, often finding notes that seem elusive at first, and his performance here is genuinely engrossing. It’s also surprisingly witty; Cohen may have a reputation as one of the most dour performers in contemporary music, but his between-song patter is charmingly droll, and he finds a passion and a humanity in his songs that sets them apart from their studio counterparts.

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Cohen sounds genuinely moved by the affectionate reception he receives from his audience, and he seems determined to give them a show to match their loyalty, and with his band (who he frequently lauds during the performance) he truly gives of himself; if this isn’t quite the strongest live performance Cohen has released for public consumption, it’s certainly the warmest and the most emotionally resonant. Perhaps fate forced Leonard Cohen’s hand to stage the tour documented in part on Live in London, but it seems that fate knows just what it’s doing, and this album eloquently demonstrates how much Cohen still has to offer, and how clearly his music still speaks to him (and us). (by Mark Deming)

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For over four decades, Leonard Cohen has been one of the most important and influential songwriters of our time, a figure whose body of work achieves greater depths of mystery and meaning as time goes on. His songs have set a virtually unmatched standard in their seriousness and range. sex, spirituality, religion, power – he has relentlessly examined the largest issues in human lives, always with a full appreciation of how elusive answers can be to the vexing questions he raises. But those questions, and the journey he has traveled in seeking to address them, are the ever-shifting substance of his work, as well as the reasons why his songs never lose their overwhelming emotional force. documentaries, awards, tribute albums and the ongoing march of artists eager to record his songs all acknowledge the peerless contribution Cohen has made to what one of his titles aptly calls The Tower of Song.

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In 2008 Leonard Cohen embarked on his first tour in 15 years. quickly recognized as musical folklore in the making, 29 of the original dates sold out almost immediately, leaving fans and critics alike hailing the show as a once in a lifetime experience. The Live in London release fully captures and recreates the extraordinary show from that tour that earned Cohen more than 80 five-star reviews for his performances. (by roughtrade.com)

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Personnel:
Roscoe Beck (bass, background vocals)
Leonard Cohen (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
Rafael Bernardo Gayol (drums, percussion)
Neil Larsen (keyboards, accordion)
Javier Mas (banduria, laud, archilaud, guitar)
Bob Metzger (lead guitar, pedal steel guitar, background vocals)
Sharon Robinson (vocals)
Dino Soldo (saxophone, clarinet, harmonica, keyboards, background vocals)
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The Webb Sisters:

Charley Webb (guitar, background  vocals)
Hattie Webb (harp, background vocals)

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Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Dance Me To The End Of Love (Cohen) 6.20
02. The Future (Cohen)) 7.20
03. Ain’t No Cure For Love (Cohen) 6.17
04. Bird On The Wire (Cohen) 6.15
05. Everybody Knows (Cohen/Robinson) 5.53
06. In My Secret Life (Cohen/Robinson) 5.03
07. Who By Fire (Cohen) 6.35
08. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (Cohen) 3.48
09. Anthem (Cohen) 7.21
10. Introduction 1.30
11. Tower Of Song (Cohen) 7.07
12. Suzanne (Cohen) 3.47
13. The Gypsy’s Wife (Cohen) 6.43

CD 2:
01. Boogie Street (Cohen/Robinson) 6.57
02. Hallelujah (Cohen) 7.20
03. Democracy (Cohen) 7.09
04. I’m Your Man (Cohen) 5.41
05. Recitation (Cohen/Larsen 3.54
06. Take This Waltz (Cohen/Lorca) 8.38
07. So Long, Marianne (Cohen) 5.25
08. First We Take Manhattan (Cohen) 6.16
09. Sisters Of Mercy (Cohen) 4.56
10. If It Be Your Will (featuring The Webb Sisters) (Cohen) 5.23
11. Closing Time (Cohen) 6.15
12. I Tried To Leave You (Cohen) 8.34
13. Whither Thou Goest (Singer) 1.27

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Leonard Norman Cohen (September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016)