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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Lenny Zakatek (A&M, 1979. Out of print)


There is a place in some record stores... specially in used record stores, that's called the 99 cent vinyl bargain bin. Sometimes you'll find the usual things you'd find in the new CD section, like an used promo copy of Saturday Night Fever or a George Benson's crappy 80's album. If you search patiently, you can find secret masterpieces and definetly, sweet out of print items.

Lenny Zakatek's debut album, produced by one of my favorite studio masterminds Alan Parsons, shouldn't be there but it has to because it is, for me, the quintessential out of print record. It's a forgotten record, but it has some tricks we really need to pay attention to, since nowadays creativity in popular music is almost unexistant. The main trick for a listener would be finding this record in a store, since it's almost impossible to achieve that. The other trick is getting to understand that this could be a conceptual album about unrequited love during the collapse of the seventies.

Take for instance, "One Is A Lonely Number," the funkiest tune Parsons ever produced (with the exception of "Games People Play," from the Project album The Turn Of A Friendly Card, sung by Zakatek himself). It's a song about the complete despair about the loss of love. Lenny tells us to forgive and forget the bad deeds our loved ones might have done to us, because there's a lonely and empty place where we might get at the end. Another dance track, "Was It Easy" is as cheesy and easy as it gets, a track with a groovy bass line and fresh female chorus voices.

"Viens" and "Couldn't We Try" are two powerful ballads, brilliantly arranged with strings that make you think Lenny is in the middle of a big orchestra, being actually the man. The echo added on his voice is no casual. He uses his falsetto at the end of each song with so much talent we think he should have been winning grammys and having a high-end career. Why didn't he It's a mystery for us.

This might be the only Parsons-produced record which deals in full with the thorny subject of love, being unrequited or at the verge of ending. However, you can recognize that the songwriting methods are poor in some moments. However, the musicianship is very impressive, having Max Middleton on keyboards and John Giblin on bass. Ian Bairnson, solo guitar for most of Parsons' productions, plays immaculately well, being a clean and elegant presence through all the record.


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