Caramba!

It’s Monday once more, and as I stare out yet again at the blustery, rain-sodden English landscape, time to break out some more of those exotic sounds of yesteryear, but this time with an emphasis on big orchestral arrangements of the Latin/Mexican/South American numbers. Nevermind that, if you actually visited most of these places today, you’d be dodging bullets in drug-gang controlled warzones to a soundtrack of gangster rap – just give me The Mexican Hat Dance, The Peanut Vendor, Tequila, and all those old rumba, samba and bossa grooves, as performed by the orchestras of Roberto Delgado, Erwin Halletz, Bert Kaempfert, Ray Martin, Edmundo Ros, Mantovani and others…

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Wow, just as I’m finishing up this post, the sunshine suddenly breaks through the clouds. That’s the power of music for you!

Published in: on November 23, 2009 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Sensational Organ Sound of Klaus Wunderlich

No semi-naked gals adorning this one – no sir – this is the real deal – old Klaus is given 4 sides to show just what he is capable of – hit it baby – make me swing !!

So what do we get on this double-LP from 1978 – again on the forceful Telefunken label…

Side 1 – Wunderlich Live
Using nothing more than his bare-hands and a well greased and expertly programmed Hammond – he woos the crowd – cheering, dribblingm and maybe even moshing – into submission with a batch of favorties from the sublime ‘Mull of Kintyre’ through to the stomping-disco-joy that is ‘Disco-Time’ …  oh how they rocked back in the day ..

Side 2 – Wunderlich Pops
Freed from the constraints of live-playing to screaming hoards – and locked away with a studio full of electronic-gizmos – Klaus lays down contempory hits of the day to fine grooving (pulsating even) rhythms – ‘Sir Duke’, ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Ma Baker’ and a stonking ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ utilizing a clever use of Wah-Wah pedal lays bare the Hammond in all its cheese-n-biscuit glory…

Side 3 – Wunderlich International
A blistering trawl through a selection of styles ranging from uptempo Latin, Swing, Big Band and Smooch (if there is such a thing) – every bachelor pad should have this side – by law !!

Side 4 – Wunderlich Sounds
This is where the fun begins – combining the (lets face it here) rather limited tonal capabilities of the Hammond – with the untamed savagery of a Moog Modular – Klaus at times seems to struggle to control the wisps, farts, burps and blips of white/pink/filtered/distorted and just plain daft Moogisms.  Some very cool and damn funny bits here – which make the whole thing a total joy to these ears ..    For sure he is no Tangerine Dream imitator on this – but forcing electronic experimentation upon the easy-listening masse of 1978 deserves a loud letting of white-noise hiss at the very least – another classic no less !!

Published in: on November 20, 2009 at 9:11 pm  Comments (2)  
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Latino Moods

And so, as I stare out at the blustery, rain-sodden English landscape from the comfort of my own lounge, what better way to lighten the overcast mood than another selection of Latin albums from a bygone age. Today I’m specifically on a ‘Piano with Latin-American Rhythm Accompaniment’ tip. Absolutely no strings attached…

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Stanley Black‘s “Tropical Moonlight” album is possibly the gentlest latin album ever. In places the percussion is mixed so quietly, it’s like the whisper of tropical insects clicking away somewhere in the distance, with Stanley’s wandering, extemporised ivory-tinkling coming across like an Anglicised Martin Denny. Even though there are no attempts at replicating bird-calls, Stanley did devise some interesting musical effects, “which he mysteriously describes as something like tunable cowbells“. Judging from the sleeve notes, Stanley was quite a big player in his day. He even has a Wiki page.

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Next up is Bill McGuffie‘s “Mood Latino”, released in 1966, which follows a similar path, but with just a hint more cocktail-lounge flourish, and slightly more instrumental colour with occasional guitars and female background harmonies so distant in the mix they sound positively ghostly.

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Lastly, ‘introducing the electrifying latin-american piano of George Dourado’ aka Los Dourados, from 1970. George was actually born in Malaysia (he originally came to England to study law) but seems to have carved out a nice little career as a Latin pianist – “the West End nightclub and restaurant scene has been his domain” – backed by a strong multinational band of percussionist who really shine, especially on the final track “Jungle Fantasy” which is something of a rhythmical tour-de-force.  Not sure about the photo on the sleeve though…something about the look in that Mexican fella’s eye makes me fear for the lady’s safety.

Incidentally, these are the first of a big batch of latin/exotic albums I found recently in the Fishponds branch of Cancer Research UK. More to follow…

Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 10:58 am  Comments (1)  
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Hammond Goes Bossa

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Following on from another previous post, this week I discovered a second album by Hammond maestro Danny Hodgson…and what a scorcher it is! Wheras the other album had a somewhat thrown-together feel, with Danny backed by a basic rhythm section, this is a full-blown easy listening extravaganza, arranged by one Pete Smith, featuring full backing band plus strings and all manner of persuasive percussion instruments.  Best of all, this is one of those records that looks to me like it’s never been played, resulting in a super-clean, crackle-free listening experience that totally belies it’s 35 years of age.

Danny (photographed on the sleeve performing at the Circus Tavern, Purfleet) avoids the usual latin repertoire, preferring to adapt popular tunes from the likes of Burt Bacharach, Paul Simon and George Harrison.  Still, I find the choice of cover-girl somewhat curious. Surely the obvious choice here would be a lady of Latin ancestry, rather than African. Makes me think that whoever at Contour Records chose the sleeve image (with a brief to come up with someone ‘exotic’) didn’t have the slightest clue what they were doing.

Published in: on November 3, 2009 at 6:32 pm  Comments (2)  
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Los Bandidos – It’s Bossa Nova!

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Similar to the previous post, this one comes from the earlier half of the 60s. Not so much ‘less accomplished’, more like aspiring to be a proper, authentic latin jazz album, without any of the show-biz pizazz of later records. The sleeve is incredibly boring, it’s true, but the sleeve notes on the back are quite informative…

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Published in: on October 24, 2009 at 11:15 am  Comments (5)  
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Brazilian Jazz BOSSA NOVA Sonido de Marco Rizo

Marco Rizo - Bossa NOva

A less polished affair than the previously posted Duncan Lamont platter.  Coming a good 8 years earlier in 1962 – it is good to compare how both players tackle versions of Desafinado and One Note Samba – this disc comes across as a much more staid affair – but is pretty damn groovy all the same.  In particular Pianologue is damn excellent stuff in a laid-back-bossa-fashion.

A corker of a release on the ever-interesting PYE Golden Guinea label.

Nice to see this log swinging to a latin groove at the moment – time to shake things up with some OI-Punk I suppose !!

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Published in: on October 24, 2009 at 9:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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Chaquito And The Quedo Brass

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I’ll buy any record featuring a sixties blond in bikini and sling-backs on the cover, but thankfully on this occasion the music contained within is pretty sexy too. According to the sleeve notes, “it was Chaquito who scooped the [latin] market in no uncertain manner, [his] fresh and fascinating arrangements that were copied by many other would-be latin bandleaders”. So this mysterious Englishman was a pioneer and innovator of the latin genre? These are the sort of facts you cannot glean from the established historical texts!

Published in: on October 24, 2009 at 7:13 am  Comments (2)  
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Norrie Paramor’s Shadows In Latin

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The Shadows were a firm favourite of mine as a youngster…I still remember how I’d get a funny tingling sensation of excitement listening to my parents’ 7″ of “Apache”. On my 7th Birthday, I was given The Shadows 20 Golden Greats – the first record I ever called my own, and of course I still have it on the shelves here somewhere.

Just the idea of a latin tribute to The Shads sounds cool, but then one day I walk into a charity shop and discover that there really was such a thing – naturally I snapped it up. The fact that the whole thing was put together by Norrie Paramor (The Shads’ recording manager) gives the whole project a certain prestige, and two of the songs featured here, including “Frightened City”, were written by him in the first place.

Paramor covers many established classics from the Shads’ repertoire, including the aforementioned “Apache”, plus “F.B.I”, “Foot Tapper” and “Shindig”, but also tackles several less well-known b-sides, translating them into the various latin styles popular at the time, which isn’t such a great leap as many of the original arrangements had quite an exotic flavour in the rhythm department anyway. The main difference of course is the absence of Hank Marvin’s distinctive electric twang, replaced by an arsenal of brass, woodwind, organ…and is that tubular bells I hear on “Apache”? Nice!

Published in: on October 24, 2009 at 6:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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best of bossa novas – Duncan Lamont

Best of Bossa Nova - Duncan Lamont

Tasty tasty tasty – a very nice buy today for a cool 50-new-english-pennies.  Duncan Lamont in fine fine style on this 1970 MFP release.  Big fat upright bass, swinging-rythm-sticks, a nice alto-sax and some fine playing on the old ivories – all arranged superbly in an improv-jazz style – at times quite funky indeed !

To quote the notes – “Eight leading musicians, each an artist in his own right, each recognized for his own particular style and technique, have joined forces under a common banner – namely that of Bossa Nova“.

A call-to arms it would appear from the old-jazzers…   Forget the Rockers-n-Teds from the 50s, the Kool-Aid-wig-out-kids of the 60s, Punks (blaaahhh) – and don’t even bother mentioning Accciiiiiddddddd … The REAL REVOLUTION sure as hell was not televised, but emerged writhing from mono-players across land – “induing a feeling of complete harmony and relaxation – a state of mind which few other forms of music can help to attain”. – YEAH !

Best of Bossa Nova - Duncan Lamont

Published in: on October 23, 2009 at 4:59 pm  Comments (2)  
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Fausto Papetti – We Shall Dance

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Ha – howz that for a cover – bought only this afternoon for 50 pennies – bargino !!   Seems our man Fausto Papetti released many many many many LPs with sleeves along these lines – go on search – you know you want to..  Howz it sound – well at times middle-of-the-road jazz swing (he is after-all known as the ‘Romantic Man of Sax’ !!) ..   Been playing it tonight with the kids whilst eating curry for tea … and they all dig it big time ….     The final track ‘Meeting’ though ups the old ante completely is as good an acid-fried wig out as you can find – a 1972 classic to these ears !!!

Published in: on October 1, 2009 at 5:56 pm  Comments (3)  
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