Ofege-Try and Love

February 27, 2013

Ofege

Try and Love (EMI 1971)

http://www15.zippyshare.com/v/27794030/file.html (NEW LINK)

Try and Love saunters along at its own pace. There is something slinky, soulful and languid about how it kind of slinks out of the speakers. The guitar playing on Try and Love is exceedingly fried and stoned to the hilt and makes even the most trite lyrics sound impeccably cool by mere association. It’s kind of unsurprising that it was recorded by a bunch of Nigerian teenagers studying at a college in Nigeria. Ofege has this optimistic, wide-eyed sense of wonder about them that imbues itself into each song as they pine away for a simple world where we all just try to love one another while bemoaning those who bring bad vibes into their lives. While the subject material is straight out of Haight-Ashbury, the instrumentation falls somewhere between a strange Nexus of Santana, Nigerian highlife music and American r&b. It’s a strange brew just based on that stylistic concoction, but the guitarist elevates Ofege to something far more transcendent than an interesting footnote in musical history. His playing is so loose, expansive and free, yet funky that it kind of leads each song on a slow spiral out of control that is kind of psychedelic in ways I never thought possible as he channels countless cultures into each stoned riff.

Another thing I always appreciated about this album is how there is a lovesick and misanthropic vibe that serves as an undercurrent to the flower power that dominates as the theme of the album. For example, the lyrics to the opener “Nobody Fails” is almost straight out of a Morrissey tune as the singer kvetches about how the opposite sex never truly appreciates you until you’re gone. However, the guitarist bails Ofege out again by interjecting some real weirdo vibes as he kicks into some Santana-esque crescendo that breaks down into some bizarro staccato interlude that doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the song. However, “It’s Not Easy” is one of those songs that outshine everything else on an album and make Try and Love a habitual listen instead of an occasional one. It’s just one of those perfectly imperfect compositions that just make the world a better place. It’s built upon a triumvirate that ebbs and flows throughout the song: a stoned chorus that chants the title of the song, impassioned pleading about the difficulties of love and a guitar riff that kind of dances a headlong strut throughout the song. It is all I ever wanted from a song and it makes me ignore every fault of this flawed, but eminently loveable album.

Guy Clark-Old No. 1

July 14, 2008

Guy Clark

Old No. 1 (RCA 1975)

http://www.mediafire.com/?5tzrzerdqmy

There are certain eras and places which are forever associated with the heyday or a particular genre. From the 60s British Invasion to the NYC and British punk scenes of 77-82, there are certain times in which there was an electricity and excitement that a new day was coming. In my opinion, country music has seen a few heydays from the Appalachian folk of the Carter Family to the heartbreaking schmaltz of the 60s, country assimilated Americana and cast itself in a new image. Sadly, Americana ain’t what it used to be and we are stuck with country’s assimilation of Bon Jovi and American Idol. Things ain’t what they used to be.

However, my favorite era of country is the outlaw mystique of the 70s where country artists soaked up all of the weed, LSD, psychedelia and rebellious attitudes of the 60s and spat it back out. You can hear the echoes of the Grateful Dead, Haight-Ashbury and psychedelic soul of the era and married to the past and it resulted in a period which I hold dear. Just off the top of my head I can name David Allen Coe, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Michael Hurley, Jerry jeff Walker, Emmylou Harris, Joe Ely, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt and Gene Clark as individuals who pushed the enveloped of country music.

Guy Clark wrote “L.A. Freeway” for Jerry Jeff Walker and it was a hit that led to RCA signing him up to the label for his debut Old No. 1. He assembled a band that included Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell and David Briggs. They provide a gorgeous canvas for Guy Clark to paint tales of leaving town for good, honkytonk hoochie mamas, intrepid hitchhikers and the perils of nostalgia. The album has little to do with outlaw imagery. This album is almost pathologically obsessed with loss and new beginnings. What makes it so sad is that he puts up this front that these new directions will be positive, but you get the inkling that he knows it will end in failure again. There is even one track “Old Time Feeling” that reminds me of Cat Stevens tacking a country tune for the Harold and Maude soundtrack. There is a fear of the future which permeates the album and it echoes a desire for things to remain the same. Lost opportunities and bad luck abound in Guy Clark’s lyrical world and it bums me out to no end. However, it is so damn gorgeous that it always ends in a draw.

Spectrum

Geracao Bendita (Shadoks reissue of 1971 album)

http://www.mediafire.com/?z5gpzouyfgf

Once you stray outside of Tropicalia’s inner circle of Brazilian psychedelic royalty (Gilberto Gil, Gaetano Veloso, Os Mutantes, Gal Costa, Jorge Ben and Tom Ze) there are so many more misses than hits. Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise to find an album that holds its own against any album recorded by the aforementioned artists. This Spectrum has nothing to do with Pete Kember of and his brilliant continuation of Spacemen 3’s work, but this Spectrum was assembled to perform the soundtrack to a Brazilian hippie flick.

Consisting of actors and actresses in the film as well as members of the 2000 Volts band, this Spectrum has much love for Os Mutantes’ first two classic albums, but the Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers and Magical Mystery Tour albums as well. Vocalists jump from English to Portuguese without rhyme or reason as the band professes their love of peace, love and understanding, but it doesn’t really matter anyway. The main attraction is in how this suddenly assembled band deftly builds upon the sound of Os Mutantes and slathers the tracks in fuzz guitar.

However, there is one track on Geracao Bendita that still floors me a year after I first stumbled upon it. “Mother Nature” combines the Brazilian vibes of Tropicalia, the wide eyed optimism of the Beatles and the laid-back West Coast vibes of Haight-Ashbury in one track. It’s Abbey Road, After Bathing at Baxters and Os Mutantes in one sitting. The rest of Geracao Bendita is good, but this track makes me grin from ear to ear. There is not hyperbole in my mutterings. I really, really love this song.