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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Forty 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 such Albums 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 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 registrer 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

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, 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.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

(CBS, 1981)


Después de oir este pequeño e insignificante (para la casa disquera CBS) álbum en vivo, llegamos a la conclusión de que Joaquín Sabina se ha pasado toda su carrera tratando de repetir este recital, con algunos aciertos y otros desbarajustes.

El disco deja boquiabierto a cualquer hispanohablante y nos fuerza a oírlo una y otra vez hasta memorizarnos las canciones de tres verdaderos trovadores y cantautores. Sabina, El Poeta convertido en superestrella del rock and roll tiene su momento cumbre en un disco en el cual los dos instrumentos predominantes son las guitarras acústicas y los kazoos (las cornetitas esas de fiesta). Pareciera increíble, pero están ahí para acompañar a tres voces de compositores que nunca se comprometieron con nada para cantar lo que tienen dentro, una visión extremadamente irónica de la sociedad madrileña postfranquista y pre-movida de inicios de los ochenta.

Los tres artistas son de vanguardia, pero cada uno apunta con su misma voz ácida a diferentes blancos de la psique humana. Sabina es melancólico y con una filosofía extremadamente irónica de la vida, y siente que está cansado de vivir a sus aproximadamente 32 años (en 1981). Lanza canciones al viento como "Pongamos Que Hablo De Madrid," en donde está tan deprimido por tanto tiempo de vivir en una ciudad tan sórdida que termina enamorándose de ella, al sentirse incapaz de sentir lo que le dijeron que era la felicidad. Al parecer no le pasa a cualquiera, pero igual terminamos amando la canción. Vendría una puya al Caudillo y su reciente fallecimiento, "Adivina Adivinanza" en donde Sabina, furioso y cáustico, nos hace saber quiénes lloraron la muerte de Francisco Franco y cómo se celebró -y lamentó- la partida del dictador. Sobrecogedor tema considerando que hasta ahora hay gente que canta "Cara Al Sol".

Sabina nos explicará sobre su ironía frente a la muerte en "Pasándola Bien," aunque en verdad estará ocultando su pavor frente a ella y su asombro de haber sobrevivido a varios encuentros con la pelona. Él representa a Tánatos en el trío; mientras que Krahe es Eros, el pervertido mujeriego y libador. Se obsesiona por el tamaño de su miembro, por las hembras que lo ignoraron y amaron en un "yo-yo" emocional interminable y también se da el lujo de cantar un poco desafinado. Cantará temas sobre erecciones, descendencia y usará la palabra "gilipollas" en el tema "Marieta" (de Georges Brassens) lo suficiente como para provocar censura en algunas radios. Krahe cuenta también la leyenda de un pueblo llamado "Villatripas" en donde hostia la gente anda bien cachonda, tío.

El que realmente se roba el espectáculo es Alberto Pérez, un verdadero genio cuya diferencia con Sabina y Krahe es que presenta una introspección más profunda en la represión conservadora de la Iglesia Católica. Pareciera que es un poeta rebelde pero al mismo tiempo se pregunta con mucha culpabilidad, "¿No habrán sido los largos años de Franco una cosa normal para España...?" Ahí está la canción "Un Santo Varón" en donde se entrega totalmente a la virtud divina para evitar las tentaciones del cuerpo de la mujer. Pero en verdad el punto más alto del disco es la versión suya de "La Tormenta" de Brassens, traducida por el mañosón Krahe. De contarles de qué trata, les arruinaría la sorpresa.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Gilbert O'Sullivan is, no questions asked, the greatest singer/songwriter of the seventies. I have to say seventies because I haven't heard anything lately from him and that's a shame, because I really love his work. It's not a matter of good or bad music or what is right or wrong with the lyrics or chords. Mr. Sullivan has produced a brilliant body of work for our souls, and every song seems to be better than the previous one. In order to tell us intimate, sad stories by looking like a clown, he's also the ultimate Rock And Roll Jester.

Now, this is serious 70's shit: The first time I listened to a Gilbert O'Sullivan song was in 1990, on a car AM radio. It was "Alone Again (Naturally)," and I thought "hey, this must be the new Paul McCartney single or something". The truth is, both Macca and Gilbert have pretty similar voices and their compositions are, say, beatlesque.

Gilbert O'Sullivan deserved more hits on U.S. and a career like Elton John's. He had a lot of hits in UK, but sometimes America "makes" the artists to be successful in England; i.e. Beatles and Stones. Gilbert is still an unknown troubadour for many Classic Rock fans, and if they know him, they do because of his "Alone Again (Naturally)", a depressing song about an orphaned and dumped-at-the-wedding guy who wants to kill himself, and "Claire", a tune about a girl who plays house with her uncle. Uh-huh, the puritans from the West weren't ready for this kind of humor, therefore, Gilbert was a bigger success on the other side of the Atlantic.

O'Sullivan is just amazing in single form: "Nothing Rhymed", "Out Of The Question", "Get Down", "Ooh Baby", "Happiness is Me and You" were charted singles in U.S.A., along with "Clair" and the #1 hit "Alone Again (Naturally)". In the U.K. he was bigger, and he is deeply loved in Japan. Try finding his records and you'll get just expensive Japanese imports.

1991's Best Of Gilbert O'Sullivan is one of the best CDs ever assembled in the short history of compact disc manufacturing. Every song is, as I said, better than the one before and the album maintains a consistency based on the songs, little three-minute operas with an intimate look at the human being but with an ironic twist. On "Matrimony," Gilbert tells his fianceé he's her new daddy, and he knows how to rock, even tho they hid the relationship from their parents. I am totally identified with Gilbert in songs like "No Matter How I Try" and "Out Of The Question," where the beautiful piano chords just send us right into complicated relationships that make us think about how we measure love in real life: is it by the number of tears we shed? Or is it by those joyful but forgettable moments? Somehow Gilbert holds the key to help us with depression.

I would love to sit down and talk to Mr. O'Sullivan and ask about his songs, about his work and how was he inspired to create such human songs. When he dresses with a Chaplin jacket and trousers and sings "Nothing Rhymed" he might look funny, but his songs are deep serious analysis of the human pathos, with lots of sugar in it and a McCartney touch. That's why every time I listen to his "Best Of" CD I feel I grew up a little more as a person.

His greatest hit: "Alone Again (Naturally):"