I’m sick as a dog. I dunno – normally I go back to England and get sick there, but this time I managed to remain germ-free while I was over there, but got a nasty cold as soon as I got back. This has graduated into a nasty flu. Added together, I’m not doing so great. Still, things could be worse.
I had quite a nice session last night as the guest DJ at In Hi-fi. Also posted there is an interesting list of top ten albums/reissues from the in hi-fi/easy listening crowd.
Sad news: I heard that Juan Garcia Esquivel died last week. Strange, as I had been thinking about his records a lot recently. I remember first hearing his stuff on the RCA ‘Space Age Pop’ compilations in 1996. Then I remember the thrill of finding my first vinyl copies of those beautiful LPs, with their superb period covers (I was hoping to link to ‘Joseph Holmes’s Space Age Bachelor Pad Music page’ here, but it seems to have disappeared, and come to think of it, I hadn’t visited it for about five years). Anyway, moving to America was good for my Esquivel addiction, since the LPs were easier to get hold of. Also great were the CD reissues on Bar None, although alas the project was aborted before they had all been released.
Anyway, Juan: thanks for the incredible music, and rest in peace. And say hi to Julie London from me.
I’ve been working on www.musicaltaste.com over the weekend. I’ve tweaked/improved a few things, and in the near future the ratio of recommendations that have sound samples will be hugely increased. Right now, though, the main thing on my mind is ‘why did I never really listen to Orange Juice until now’. They are really right up my street. Or right up the street I was on in the late 80s, anyway. I never realized quite how much the Wedding Present (of whom I was a big fan) were indebted to them. They’re quite Smiths-like as well. We live and learn.
I’m back after a superbly relaxing trip to England, during which several people saw fit to pamper me and help me switch off. For that, I thank all of them.
I feel strangely motivated and efficient so far this year. I hope this remains the case.
Unsurprisingly, I bought several CDs in the UK. I’ll report on them over the next few days.
Chico Buarque and Ennio Morricone: 'Sonho de um Carnaval' (CD; Universal; 1970)
The nature of this disc's contents is confusing, with no information in the liner notes, but I think I have successfully unravelled it.
In 1970, while he was in exile from Brazil, Chico recorded an album in Rome with Ennio Morricone, called Per un pugno di samba. Instead of containing Morricone compositions, as one might have suspected from its title (a pun on 'for a fistful of dollars', Morricone's soundtrack to the Sergio Leone spaghetti western), the album contained versions of Buarque's own songs, sung in Italian. At the same time, a Portuguese language version was released as "Sambas do Brasil". This disc contains all the songs from that Portuguese version, as follows:
1) Roda viva (3:47)
2) Samba e amor (3:50)
3) Sonho de um carnaval (2:13)
4) Ela desatinou (2:59)
5) Nao fala de Maria (2:33)
6) Funeral de um lavrador (3:23)
7) Muhler (3:04)
8) Oumas e outras (3:43)
9) Quem te viu que te ve (2:57)
10) Nicanor (3:10)
11) Tema da os inconfidentes (4:47)
12) Agora falando serio (1:57)
I'm happy to report that, in spite of slightly poor sound quality, the disc is a revelation. The fusion of classic 1970 Morricone soundscapes with Chico's voice is quite wonderful. From the very first notes of 'Roda Viva', Morricone's presence is very powerfully felt, with a repetitive harpsichord line and some rich strings and organ providing a dense instrumental background for one of Buarque's strongest songs.
The exquisite Morriconian soundscapes continue on 'Samba e amor', which until the vocals come in sounds like it could have come straight off one of the 'Mondo Morricone' compilations.
The title track, Sonho de um carnaval (songs of the carnival) has more of a Buarque flavour to it, with a huge vocal chorus coming in midway through.
The fourth track, 'Ela Desatinou', is perhaps my favorite, mainly because of the ethereal presence of Edda Dell'Orso, who drifts out with the sweeping strings. It really is quite beautiful, and Morricone's arrangements make the songs sound just like he wrote them himself.
'Nao fala de maria' opens with a bare, experimental sound, reminiscent of Morricone's score to 'The bird with Crystal Plumage'.
'Funeral de um lavrador' is here cast like one of Morricone's spaghetti western songs, with haunting vocals and quirky percussion
'mulher' and 'oumas e outras' are in a similar moody pop vein as many of the other tracks, while 'Quem te viu que te ve' reverts to the jaunty carnival style of 'sonho de um carnaval.'
'Nicanor' and 'tema a os inconfidentes' are similar to the moody tracks, but 'Nicanor' is blessed and taken to a higher level by some superbly echoey and haunting Edda dell'Orso vocals.
The album closes with the harsher, more spaghetti western-styled 'agora falando serio'.
All in all, I'm delighted to have this album. As well as having some rare Morricone and Buarque, I also have some more obscure and delectable sources of Edda Dell'Orso vocals, which I'll have to compile at some point.