Arturo Sandoval and his group… review JV

Review by Joe Viglione  [-]

Arturo Sandoval & His Group contains 11 songs which take the listener on an instrumental pop/jazz journey that is completely satisfying and full of musical surprises. The close to seven minutes of “Para Empezar a Vivir” is pure ’80s lounge while “Cuatro Gigantes” starts off with traditional Latin sounds before veering off into Weather Report territory. The cover of Jennings/Kerr‘s “Yo Nunca Volveré a Amar de Esta Manera” has Sandoval scorching the horn in parts; it’s far more intrusive than Dionne Warwick‘s beautiful rendition of her Top Five 1979 hit “I’ll Never Love This Way Again.” At certain points, Sandoval intentionally tears into the melody while the band has some fun with the rhythm, the ending disintegrating into mayhem and one wondering if some satire isn’t going on. The packaging is exquisite, including a 20-page booklet — ten pages in English; ten in Spanish — with photos and extensive credits. Helio Orovio‘s liner notes are spot on and make for great reading while “Variaciones Para una Mazurca de Chopin” plays in the background, taking a turn into the mysterious and exotic, sounds that shimmer inside a beautiful undercurrent. There’s a lot to take in on this single disc and even after repeated spins it holds plenty of secrets, a work of art containing ideas that drift in and out before you realize how quickly the dimensions keep shifting. It is a group effort with Sandoval giving his bandmates plenty of space to showcase their skills, especially on their total musical revision of Gershwin‘s “Summertime.” “Sábado 14” is one of only two Arturo Sandoval originals, taking bits of “Moon River” and ’80s disco with perhaps a dash of Stevie Wonder. It’s yet another fine disc for the bachelor pad fans.

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band Angel Station Review JV

Angel Station Review

by Joe Viglione [-]

Vocalist Chris Thompson’s last album with Manfred Mann’s Earth Band is dressed up in Mann’s beautiful keyboards. Angel Station has some key moments — “You Angel You,” a Bob Dylan tune that sounds nothing like Dylan, and not the way their Top Ten version of “Quinn the Eskimo”/”The Mighty Quinn” was reinvented. “You Angel You” has a strong hook with topnotch Anthony Moore production work, and it melts into the title track of Harriet Schock’s landmark Hollywood Town album, the source of Helen Reddy’s “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady.” The Manfred Mann version is interesting, and explores the possibilities of the composition, though Schock’s version is perfect country-pop and hard to top. It is nice to see a rock band with such good taste. “Angelz at My Gate,” co-written by Manfred Mann, leads off side two and is another dreamy “angel” tune. It sounds mysteriously like “Games Without Frontiers,” the Peter Gabriel radio hit from his 1980 third self-titled solo album. Now since this was released the year before, do you think Gabriel found inspiration from the grooves of Angel Station? While artists like Gary Wright and Jordan Rudess overwhelm you with the keyboards, Manfred Mann’s are indeed the lead instrument, but he uses them to augment the vocals, not to overpower. The John Shaw-photographed album cover looks innocent enough until you turn it upside down — there a female dark angel, in open black cape, exposes her breasts. So blatant, but upside down it probably went right by many retailers, and with no hit single, it probably didn’t cause too much of a stir. It’s interesting that, like Gary Wright, the Earth Band recorded for Warner Bros., yet both acts only eked out a couple of hit singles. As with Wright’s Headin’ Home LP, this 1979 album has more than its share of good material, both keyboard players being intuitive artists with credentials and past chart success. Despite good performances on Heron’s “Don’t Kill It Carol” and a simply wonderful cover of Billy Falcon’s 1978 release, “Waiting for the Rain,” this is yet another album that deserved a better fate. The rendition of the Falcon tune may be the best performance of one of that singer’s compositions ever. The two Manfred Mann songs on side two are excellent: “You Are – I Am” is good and pleasant while “Resurrection” has lyrics that display clever sarcasm and religious — or sacrilegious — overtones. Angel Station is well-crafted music by an industry veteran. Collapse ↑

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