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Reviews Written by
Juan Mobili (Valley Cottage, NY USA)

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Blue Lines
Blue Lines
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £5.95

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Album, Disappointing Edition, 8 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Blue Lines (Audio CD)
I just received my copy of the Remaster/Remix edition of what's certainly a classic album by most standards. Its groundbreaking inventiveness and bold diversity of genres remains relevant today, and can hold its own with any works being released now. Because of that, 5 stars may not even be enough to acknowledge its beauty, power and place in popular music.

As far as the remastered versions, I'd say that they sound differently enough (brighter, more balanced mixes) to justify their claim.

Now, if you are, like me, someone who'd order it excited to receive a "special edition" of this masterpiece, you might be significantly disappointed, both by its misleading description and actual return on your monetary investment.

To begin with, this edition is described (verbatim) as "packaged in a 5 card mailer with the album's artwork screen-printed per the original release." What you get is a CD in a regular jewel box (no additional tracks or versions, by the way) inside of a box replicating the jewel box front cover art (which I predict you'll find annoying to open repeatedly) and, rather than a booklet, accompanied exclusively by a single heavy paper card, once again, replicating the front and back of the box that encases the jewel box.

I'm still wondering how this could be described as "a 5 card mailer" and how it may be considered a just homage to such important work. Needless to say that paying £9.99 plus taxes and shipping for it, infuriates me. A digital version would have been more than enough.

Amoroso / Brasil
Amoroso / Brasil
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £17.50

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem, A Must, 10 Dec. 2008
This review is from: Amoroso / Brasil (Audio CD)
This bottom line about Joao Gilberto is that no one will ever stop anything from rushing a melody like his voice can.

If that wasn't enough, his guitar and his glorious compositions are stellar, his renditions of Brazilian classics and Claus Ogerman's strings, in Amoroso, are without a blemish.

This is two-albums-in-one kind of thing, and for a change, you get two momentous albums. The second half, Joao shares the studio with Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa and Maria Bethania, which guarantees that Brasil--the second album--is a treat, one of those occasions that thankfully gets recorded.

As big as Caetano and the rest of Tropicalia's first row are, the music is a pledge to Gilberto, nothing is more important than the Bossa he sings, right now, so many years ago.

Offered by Squirrelsounds
Price: £12.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Second Mahavishnu's Best, 25 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Apocalypse (Audio CD)
After John McLaughlin explored the essence of Jazz-Rock in the first Mahavishnu--powered by Cobham's drums, Hammer syths and Jerry Goodman fiery violin--he turned further inward into Sri Chimoi's teachings, and traded the fierce flame of the first albums for, if you will, a more subtle longing for his God.

So Goodman was replaced by Jean-Luc Ponty and Narada Michael Walden assumed drums' responsibilities with a passion for thundering, which along with exquisite string arrangements, arranged and conducted by Michael Gibbs, makes this album equally powerful if, perhaps, choosing to walk a quieter path. Of course the constant strength is John's playing which continues to blow demons away, so to speak, with crisp, neck-breaking velocity but grows in sheer lyrical power.

Great tracks abound but singling any of them out will deny their natural integrity. Whether intended or not, this is a suite of songs to honor McLaughlin's devotion to become one with the great spirits. Beautiful and even funky, in the right places, this is a great album, in its own way an equal to Inner Mountain Flame.

Many Lessons: Hiphop - Islam - West Africa
Many Lessons: Hiphop - Islam - West Africa
Price: £14.68

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Kind of Hip-Hop, 19 Oct. 2008
I know better but the picture of the young man on the cover, at once contemplative and present, does render well what the music might invoke and evoke in you.

It is hip-hop but it's also from West Africa, a world away from the New York project housing and even farther from the bling. It is also Muslim, so the power of prayer pakc as much a punch as the beats pouncing behind the words.

Some of it adheres more readily to more conventional samples, a few are rapped in French, but when the original languages are chosen over European words and drums and bass hit their African root, the results are stunning.

I won't mention favorites. This is one of those albums that deserves being entered without a map, ready to find the voices that speak to you. This is much more than a "curious collection" or one for the curious. This powerful music, this is part of our world.

La Bonne Humeur
La Bonne Humeur
Price: £14.65

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gorgeous Farewell, 19 Oct. 2008
This review is from: La Bonne Humeur (Audio CD)
If there's one reason not to fully rejoice about Madilu System's new album is his unfortunate passing not long before the release of La Bonne Humeur.

Listen to his voice, aged like a great brandy and still crazy with joy.
A lingering sweetness to assuage his death.

OH (Ohio)
OH (Ohio)
Price: £7.56

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lambchop At Its Juicy Best, 9 Oct. 2008
This review is from: OH (Ohio) (Audio CD)
Ever since I heard Lambchop--it was Nixon--for the first time, I was hooked. Americana being a new label for me then, I approached them skeptically but was blown away by their music, both Kurt Wagner's lyrical mischief and boldness, and the palette of sounds available in such large band, an array of possibilities you don't always hear.

Pretty much everything they put out up until Is A Woman, I thought, was extraordinary ... never quite the same but maintaining a certain mood and musical thread. After that things were not bad but following albums, although each of them contained gems, did not carry the creative weight of its predecessors.

Ohio is a return to what Lambchop does best, the languid melodies full of nuances and thoughtful twists are back. The melancholy in Wagner's voice is more poignant, I think, and he sounds more determined, as laid back as he's always sounded, to touch you deep inside your heart.

The band is stunning, a tribute to risking being so many and never making a ton of money--until Nixon, Kurt work sanding floors to support himself--that pays off big dividends in this album again. I believe there's a remarkable difference where each instrument in a band comes from a member rather than a studio session player. These guys inhabit and bring their personal touch to these songs, something virtuosos for hire don't always bother with.

Speaking of the songs, although hard to pick some over others, some beauties must be mentioned. Sharing a Gibson with Martin Luther King Jr., Ohio, Popeye, I Believe In You or I'm Thinking of a Number, can be included in a serious Lambchop collection.

All in all, Lambchop's back--although they never went astray--with a powerful album. Power that grows from Wagner hardly raising his voice beyond a whisper and a band that's less concerned with shining individually that glowing together.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 2, 2009 9:49 PM BST

Offered by westworld-
Price: £6.67

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Todd's Rock Encyclopedia, 9 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Arena (Audio CD)
This is a crazy album to review. You can absolutely love Rundgren for his willingness to write and play whatever he feels like it or be disappointed with his songwriting indulgence. Really, it could go either way, and you'd probably have evidence for either conclusion.

One thing, though, you can't blame the man for is lying to you. He said he wanted to make an album harking back to big stadium rock, and this is what it is, including a couple of power ballads to boot. Also, you got to give Todd credit for his vast understanding of Rock history and his prowess as a writer.

This is the kind of album that will remind you of many, many bands. From George Thoroughgood and ZZ Top to Boston or Kansas and everyone in between will come to mind--and in some cases, within the same song. Now, whether you love every track or not, the performance and productions of these songs is superb.

Bottom line, this is a fun album. It may not have the Pop genius of Something/Anything, the introspective beauty of Hermit of Mink Hollow or the far-reaching imagination of A Wizard, A True Star but it does serve up a plate full of well-crafted stuff played with major gusto.

I dare you to go on a long car ride through some boring road, play this album and not set it on repeat.

Judu Bek
Judu Bek
Price: £14.20

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Diop's Back with an Evocative Gem, 29 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Judu Bek (Audio CD)
Diop has not released anything in a few years which is clearly our loss while it lasted. This album is probably mellower and more evocative than prior outings, yet it holds all the goods that makes Wasis Diop one of the great singers of West Africa. The deep voice, sinuous melodies and great musicianship are here, as strongly present as his best past material.

Unlike other albums, this is a narrative of sorts, an album devoted to look back and tell stories of his life. Definitely more a movie than a journal, the songs endure in your mind as images, moments of someone's life. But if this music can be called cinematic it is not because it plays well as background sounds. In the contrary, this a set of great songs with enough emotional immediacy and melodic nuances to have you sit for hours, listening to the stories of your own life.

Shake Away
Shake Away
Price: £12.74

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lila Nails It, 29 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Shake Away (Audio CD)
I don't know what brought you to check Lila Downs but welcome and thank your lucky stars if this is the first time you get interested in her. If you are interested in great women voices ... better yet in great female artists, this album is proof that you found one the best of her generation. So, If Jenny Lewis blew you away with Rabbit Fur Coat or you love Cat Power in general, this year Lila is the one showing them the way, even if more thyan half of these songs are in Spanish and some of the rhythms may be foreign to you.

Shake Away is probably Downs' best album yet, the sum of everything she's done right all along and more. OF course, Lila is not new to putting out great stuff and singing straight to your heart, it's just that here she does it all.

She rocks the house with her take on Black Magic Woman--along with Raul Midon--and she might just bring to the edge of tears with Lucinda Williams' I Envy The Wind, both in English and Spanish. Also, right up there with these two tracks mentioned, Tierra de Luz with the great Mercedes Sosa and Justicia accompanied by Enrique Bunbury, are standouts. And this is just the brightest diamonds, so to speak.

How refreshing to hear someone's voice, mind and soul, at the peak of their powers, more interested in material that will challenge her as she redefines it, rather than playing it safe or rely on duets chosen by marketing executives. Definitely, among my short list of great albums of this year.

Mar Dulce
Mar Dulce
Price: £7.88

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tango Plugged In to XXI Century Buenos Aires, 23 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Mar Dulce (Audio CD)
For those who are not familiar with traditional Tango nor heard any of the current representatives of its electro-forms, it worth knowing that Gustavo Santaolalla's production and leadership as well as Daniel Melingo's voice in a couple of tracks, makes this album something you ought to explore immediately.

Just like it happened with Astor Piazzolla--I'm comparing reactions to new versions of a traditional musical form, not suggesting that these guys are as revolutionary nor seminal as the great Piazzolla--any innovations performed on a genre as beloved like Tango will breed as many critics as new worshippers. I think this is equal parts respect for its traditonal forms as the unwillingness of some to accept the evolution of a powerful musical form.

That said, Bajofondo--along with Gotan Project--is a band to listen to if you are thinking of immersing yourself in the archetypal Argentine music' state of affairs. This particular album, to me, has built on their first and famous album, and taking it to a new level of depth. This is not an experiment, it is good music.

Besides Melingo's vocal contributions, there's a number of powerful tracks here, whether instrumental like Cristal, Zitarrosa or Borges y Paraguay, or thanks to some dead-on choices for vocals such as Elvis Costello in Fairly Right, Juan Subira--the song of the album--in Hoy , and Mala Rodriguez and Gustavo Ceratti's turns at the mike.

Santaolalla, as committed to Tango's classic composers as he is to exploring its outer edges, manages to keep things faithful to the mood of Buenos Aires without compromising the proverbial "pushing of the envelope." Whether you find winning two Oscars a respectable feat or not, it should say something about Santaolalla's capacity to create impressive soundscapes. As far as I'm concerned, he's the Rick Rubin of Latin America, more for his talent in recognizing the true sound of an artist than a comparison of career' successes.

All in all, if you are hooked on dancing Tango, go to Anibal Troilo, Horacio Salgan or Osvaldo Pugliese--all gods of the original form--because Bajofondo will disappoint you there. But if you were stung just as deeply by Buenos Aires and like to listen to the intricate evolution of a genre, this is a place to visit.

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