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Monday, March 20, 2023

My Time: A Boz Scaggs Anthology (1969-1997) (Columbia/ Legacy, 1997)

BOZ SCAGGS
se nos ocurre pensar que Boz Scaggs es un hombre de mundo. Un tipo que estuvo dos semanas en la India perdido sin un pasaporte tiene que serlo. Un tipo que ha vivido de todo en su vida, y ha aprendido mucho de ella. Naturalmente, lo aprendido se refleja en la riqueza y variedad de su obra; por la cual el ex-editor en jefe de la revista Rolling Stone, Ben-Fong Torres, considera a Boz "el hijo de la música más verdadera que America haya producido". Es un cantante y compositor de primer nivel, y esta caja de dos discos lanzada por la Sony es de lejos la colección que todo fanático de Boz Scaggs había estado esperando. La compilación de 1980, Hits!, es corta, incompleta y no le hace justicia a su variada obra. Porque Boz se pasea por los blues, el big-band sound, el R&B, el rock and roll, hasta ciertas formas de Jazz perdidas en el tiempo... hace lo que quiere porque siente que no hay que detenerse en ningún momento. Boz evoluciona y crece con cada disco que saca, mientras van pasando los años (as the years go passing by). El resultado: música atemporal, clásica, perfecta.

Después de haber estado como guitarra y voz en los dos primeros discos de Steve Miller Band, Boz Scaggs se retira aludiendo diferencias musicales (no era eso, sino que dos soles no pueden brillar en un mismo cielo). Boz Lanza su primer álbum solista en 1969 bajo el sello Atlantic, Boz Scaggs, que incluye un espectacular blues de 13 minutos llamado "Loan Me A Dime" con Duane Allman en la guitarra slide. Brillante, escalofriante, potente, "Dime" es el himno no oficial de los mendigos del centro de San Francisco. Dicho tema fue co-producido por Jann S. Wenner, el editor principal de la revista Rolling Stone. Atlantic ha permitido que Sony la incluya en esta colección y puta madre que se lo agrademos hasta ahora.

En lo que respecta a las posiciones Billboard, Boz siempre mantuvo un perfil bajo, a pesar de la calidad de sus temas. No son para cualquiera, pensaríamos. Para el álbum Boz Scaggs and Band, el tema "Runnin' Blue" fue una buena señal de que su performance iba, poco a poco, mejorando más hacia el R&B. "We Were Always Sweethearts", del Moments, es Soul-a-la-Motown cantada por un blanco con voz de negro. My Time, del 72, trajo a "Dinah Flo" con su melancólico coro femenino.

Billboard presentó en el puesto #2 de los álbumes a la obra clave de Scaggs, Silk Degrees, en 1976. La canción más popular, "Lowdown", tocó el puesto #3 de singles y es hasta ahora su mayor éxito. Aunque más tiende a R&B, "Lowdown" puede ser fácilmente catalogada como música disco: es muy bailable y tiene una pegajosa línea melódica. Dos baladas maravillosas vinieron junto con este éxito: "Harbor Lights" y "We're All Alone". Esta última llegó a ser un gran éxito por Rita Coolidge, amiga de Boz y colaboradora en los álbumes Moments y My Time.

Down Two Then Left
, del 78, no tuvo el tremendo éxito que tuvo Silk Degrees, pero tuvo dos canciones de fuerte pegada emocional, "1993" y "Hard Times". En 1980 se lanzó Middle Man, el mejor momento musical de Boz. "Jojo", "Simone" (esta es mi favorita), "You Can Have Me Anytime"* (con Carlos Santana a la guitarra) y "Breakdown Dead Ahead" son lo mejorcito del disco. No lanzaría material nuevo hasta 1988, con el álbum Other Roads. Donald Fagen, de Steely Dan, lo invita a participar en 1991 en un concierto de Soul en el Beacon de New York llamado The New York Rock N Soul Revue. Boz canta "Drowning In The Sea Of Love" y la ovación del respetable es la más intensa de la noche; pese a que Boz no es neoyorquino ni era la estrella principal del show.

Con Scaggs, uno se da cuenta de que en la vida hay tanto por hacer...  y nunca hay que olvidarse de vivir. Nuestra más profunda admiración a este músico, poeta, viajero, curioso, romántico... en fin, el prototipo de cool. Hace rato que él debería estar en el salón de la fama del Rock And Roll. Definitivamente. Y nosotros en CacaoRock no hablamos por hablar.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023


Fifty years is a reasonable long period of time to judge or
rate a record: to check how good it behaved throughout the decades, if it has influenced other works -although I believe that's not so important, since it's always been about how much it influenced you-, and maybe to drill down some melody we may have been humming along all this time.

Records like Dark Side Of The Moon are for some collectors like for normal people is to have food in the table or to own a car. You have to have it or else your life is worthless. Every once in a while getting an additional copy is good for you. With four decades on its shoulders and so many cultural changes that have happened since 1973, the collective sub-conscious has kind of forgotten how astonishing and groundbreaking this production is.

Noble successor of concept albums such as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Tommy, The Dark Side Of The Moon was constructed using the same mold other Pink Floyd albums were made, such as Meddle and Atom Heart Mother. However, the Floyd picked a vast subject: life and death. The life and the artistic suicide of Pink Floyd's founder: the great Syd Barrett, of whom nobody knew if he was breathing or pulling daisies.

Darky
owes much from its success to the conditions it was recorded. London's Abbey Road was the studio, Alan Parsons the main engineer (who later complained of not making any royalties out of this album), and the four members of the band were the actual producers. They risked everything and they got what they deserved: The permanency of the album on Billboard's Top 200 albums from 1973 until 1988 (I personally bought the Peruvian cassette for the first time one year later).


Still today, it's one of the best selling compact discs on Amazon.com. It's a record each new generation has to discover, and it is for that reason that the album will never leave, just like the Beatles' or Mozart's music. 

In a sequence of nine (or ten) tracks, lyricist Roger Waters pens the story of a man (you or I) obsessing with time slowly pushing him toward his death. "Breathe" and "Time" are written almost in the same moderate beat. Between them, "On The Run", an intricate game of synthesizers, heartbeats and airport sounds where airplanes take off and crash. Richard Wright, the keyboard player, executes an instrumental called "Great Gig In the Sky", based on the ancient Egyptians' idea of the chariot that takes the dead to Paradise. Did I say ancient Egyptians? See the pyramids in the inner sleeve of the CD. See the pyramidal prism that decomposes the white light.

For the B side, Waters composes "Money", the best song written about the vile metal ever. There are references to Elton John buying a soccer team to Led Zeppelin buying an jet plane for themselves (Steve Miller Band's "Jet Airliner" probably wanted to follow that concept). "Money is the root of all evil today", sings David Gilmour, and we look back and we say... oh yeah. "Us And Them" is about the struggle of classes that helped creating part of Barrett's madness and a natural segue to "Money". "Any Colour You Like" is considered another reprise of "Breathe", and the idea of a quiet album about a screaming subject turns into reality in our ears. The album ends with "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse", two fascinating games of words about madness, love and relationships that made Roger Waters' wife cry when she listened to them for the first time. You might too if you get it.

Alan Parsons, chief engineer at Abbey Road Studios during the Darky sessions, talked during an interview in 1982 about how hard recording this album was. Pink Floyd wanted strange sounds to sound familiar to the listener. A cash register and a bag of currencies pulsing in 7/4 tempo, recorded on a tape that looped around the control room. Another room full with wall clocks hitting the hour, a beating heart that begins and finishes the symphony of life. It took them one year to finish the album, and when Pink Floyd left Abbey Road Studios, their brains couldn't function anymore. It was just like the Beatles after Pepper. The album drained all their creativity and their next project, something called Household Objects using sounds created without actual musical instruments, had to be dropped but some elements were found in their follow-up record which came out two years later: Another tribute to Syd called Wish You Were Here. For some, their real masterpiece.

Darky will always be available in Amazon.com.

More Floyd:
Ummagumma (Harvest, 1969): Still, the most spacey record of the sixties. Out of this Solar System.
Wish You Were Here (Columbia, 1975): A homage to guitar-vocalist-songwriter-leader of 1966 and 1967's Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett. Gilmour and Waters ask him to come back and join the band. But two guitars can't sound in the same amp, or can they?
Animals (Columbia, 1977): They got to be crazy. The ultimate conceptual album about failure of capitalism, the beginning of the end. In 2008 it became the unofficial anthem of the economy meltdown.
A Collection of Great Dance Songs (Columbia, 1981): In one record, the six most popular Pink Floyd songs. Adorable: "Money" played solely by Gilmour because EMI refused to give the song to Columbia.
The Wall (Columbia, 1979): the kick in the ass, from Pink Floyd to all the Punk generation. With lots of love.
Echoes (Capitol, 2001): Essential Pink Floyd, sequenced by Gilmour and Waters. Like previous albums, a tribute to the eternal Syd Barrett.

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