Down in the dumps again today. Chemical imbalance? I’m reading a book called The Psychic Power of Running, which I bought from a thrift store at the weekend (I note with amusement that the amazon price before shipping is 20 cents less than I paid). It claims that running is the answer to all minor instances of depression. Actually, I am going running tonight. I was going anyway, though.

The best thing that has happened today is that I heard a car horn that played ‘Speak Softly Love’, the theme from the Godfather. I might have scoffed if it had been a cellphone ring, but the car horn seemed really cool somehow.

Compilation - Joyce: 'The Essential Joyce' (CD; Mr Bongo; 1970-1996)
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This compilation is a chronological overview of Joyce's career, with the first 4 tracks from 1970, continuing through the 70s and 80s, with the final track being from 1996. The early tracks are from a variety of famous composers, including Milton Nascimento, Chico Buarque and Caetano Veloso, but as time goes on, the material is all composed by Joyce herself. Her style is influenced by jazz and folk, while still sounding very much in the lineage of classic bossa nova.

The 1970 tracks are really a revelation. The compilation starts with an exuberant version of 'Caqui'; the guitar playing makes it sound like banjo! The effect of this and Joyce's charming vocal is reminiscent of Jorge Ben's 60s work. 'Nada Será Como Antes', a meditative vocal, starts simply enough, but when it gets going, many strange sound effects and percussion sounds give it an eerie feel. 'Adeus Maria Fulô' begins with an echo effect on the vocal and a doomy organ. Soon, a guitar comes in, and while the chords remain unusual and slightly dissonant, the mood gradually gets lighter, before the scary organ comes back again. 'The man from the avenue' begins with some moody strings, and has a desolate, lonely vocal. It actually sounds ahead of its time, and the mood reminds me of some of Everything but the Girl's early 80s material.

The next really hot period for Joyce seems to have been 1980, when she came out with the sublime 'aldeia de ogum', which is built around a repetitive guitar and scat vocal riff. Equally enchanting is the catchy 'Femina', with great guitar and vocal performances. Also worthy of mention is 'Fã Da Bahia', which features a reprise of the tune to 'Baia', and the same pleasant blend of vocals and guitar that makes Joyces's work so pleasant. At the end of 'Clareana', Joyce shows that she is partial to the same compulsion previously exhibited by Astrud Gilberto and Claudine Longet: having children sing on her records. It's just for a while at the end, though, and doesn't spoil the song.

Some of the mid 70s material is a bit 'samey', and fails to really set my world alert, and the one track here from the 90s, 'Rodando A Baiana' is not really to my taste, but overall, this is a great compilation to have.

Compilation - Pucho & his Latin Soul Brothers: 'The Best of Pucho & his Latin Soul Brothers' (CD; Prestige; 1967-1970)
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Although presented in an ugly package (Prestige/Fantasy's 'Legends of Acid Jazz' series), this is a nice compilation of tracks from Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers albums on Prestige in the late 60s: Jungle Fire!, Dateline, Shuckin' and Jivin', Heat and Big Stick.

Many of the tracks are simple, well-executed latin jazz jams with piano, horns and a lot of percussion. Some, like 'Psychedelic Pucho' and 'Heat,' remind me of the work on Ray Barretto's 'Acid' album, except without the vocals. Repetetive and long, these would make great party music.

Others, such as 'Swamp People,' and 'Swing Thing' get a bit more frenetic and jazzy. In contrast, there are also some slower, meditative pieces, like 'Return to me', a slow piece with piano, bongos and delicate horns.

Some standards are tackled: there's a great, vibrant Latin Jazz workout of 'Dearly Beloved', while 'Here's that rainy day', which I know mainly from Julie London and Astrud Gilberto's versions, is given a delicate treatment with piano, strings and vibes.

I like Pucho, but don't want to listen to him every day, and so this compilation suits me quite well.

Sutrasonic: 'Bollywood Breaks (sampler)' (CD; Outcaste; 2000)
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I bought this after a friend played me the version of 'Temptation' that it features: the same old 'temptation', but with a pulsating breakbeat behind it. It was catchy and repetitive, and the odd thing about it was that it didn't sound at all modern. For that reason, I thought that this was a compilation of the funkiest cuts on original Bollywood soundtracks. In fact, this isn't the case at all, as is clear when you read the tiny print on the inside of the digipak.

The compilers of 'Bollywood Funk' put this 8-track collection together as an example of how Bollywood cuts can be spliced together and distilled into some heavy dance music.

This doesn't sound altogether like something I would like, but in fact, it's great. The producers resist the temptation to lay on heavy modern beats, as so many remixers do. Instead they seem to use almost entirely original samples. They also manage to avoid the overtly repetitious jams that often come from the lazier sampling contingent. The result is an atmospheric delight, with strong rhythms, moody tablas, wandering flutes and dramatic strings. Most of the tracks are instrumental, with the exception of 'Lover's paradise' (which is pretty similar to the original track, from Laawaris) and 'Temptation'.

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