*SANTANA — ABRAXAS (50th Anniversary)

It blows my mind to think that this year (2020) is the 50th anniversary of Abraxas by Santana. Man, 50 years is half a century, and that is a long-ass time. 

I remember when I was a kid that my father had a Santana LP in his Vinyl collection, which from what I recall, was a pretty extensive record collection. I’m not sure which Santana album he had, or if he had more than one LP — all I remember is that the artwork was pretty awesome. I would say that I was somewhat familiar with Santana and a few of his songs here and there, but I never really paid attention to him until my late teens.

It was the summer of 1999, and Carlos Santana had his big comeback album Supernatural — An album featuring guest artists and a few instrumental tracks; It was a massive worldwide hit — It dominated radio airplay. It swept most of the music awards that year, including the Grammys. The entire album is pure summer magic for me; the music still feels very much relevant today, and it brings me back to a time in my life that I often look back with fondness. Supernatural ended up opening my eyes and my curiosity towards Santana’s discography.

As I researched their discography, I went all the way back to the genesis of the band and their first self-titled album released in 1969 to get a better sense of Santana’s music; however, it wasn’t until I discovered their second album; Abraxas, that my admiration for Santana was firmly cemented.

In one of my many visits to the DC area, I was at Smash records in Adams Morgan when flipping through the classic rock section; I came across a pristine first US pressing of Abraxas, which included an original Santana Poster. It was a no brainer for me, and I went ahead and bought it. It wasn’t too expensive, but it wasn’t cheap also, and I was ecstatic to finally own Abraxas on vinyl to pair it with my LP copy of Santana III.

Recorded between April and May of 1970 and Released on September 23, 1970, Abraxas was Santana’s second studio album, but their first album to reach #1 in the US. The album’s title is inspired by a passage from Hermann Hesse’s book Demian and the album cover art is from a painting by Mati Klarwein.

The album was a game-changer in the world of music, and it became a highly influential album to generations of musicians thereafter. There is a unique rawness to this album, mostly because there was nobody else from that era that sounded like Santana. Abraxas is the ultimate communion between Afro-Latino music, Blues, Jazz, and Rock. It has been 50 years since this album came out, and it still holds strong as one of the best and most impactful albums of all time.

Tracks:

1.Singing Winds, Crying Beasts (instrumental): Drums, keyboards, electric guitar; I love this intro track, it sets the mood for the whole album, and it gets me going every time I play it.

2.Black Magic Woman: The opening drums setting up the guitar is perfect. It is sensual and hypnotic; this track is simply out of this world. 

3.Oye Como Va: This song created an entirely new genre of music in the Spanish speaking Mundo. Oye Como Va was an original 1963 Mambo composition by Tito Puente; It is important to note that traditional Latin bands of that era were initially outraged by the idea of their music being covered by Rock bands. And initially, Tito Puente was not very supportive of the idea but came around to Santana’s version of Oye Como Va after the song and album became a hit. If this track doesn’t compel you to move and dance, then you probably have no soul. 

4.Incident at Neshabur (Instrumental): This track is a rollercoaster of sounds and a clear example of the high level of skillfulness from the band.

5.Se a Cabo: Written by percussionist Jose “Chepito” Areas. This track has a Salsa vibe mixed with some intense electric guitar. 

6.Mothers daughters: This is probably the least Afro-Latino influenced track of this album. It is more of a traditional Rock piece that shows the versatility of the band. 

7.Samba Pa Ti (Instrumental): The story behind the inspiration of this song is legendary. This is the sexiest track of this album; it is smooth, elegant, and beautiful. 

8.Hope You’re feeling Better: The solo riffs are powerful, and Greg Rollie’s singing is outstanding. This track is pure late 60s early 70s Rock and Roll. 

9.El Nicoya: Another contribution by “Chepito.” The track is short but sweet; it is a groovy way to brings this spellbinding album to a close.

*CERATI: FUERZA NATURAL (Documentary)

The opening lyrics to the first track of Gustavo Cerati’s 2010 album Fuerza Natural evoke some profound emotions, and they always manage to put me in a reflective mood. Those opening lyrics are haunting….

Puedo equivocarme, Tengo todo por delante Y nunca me senti tan bien, Viajo sin moverme de aqui….

Rock en Español has always been a critical component of my musical DNA, and within that DNA, Gustavo Cerati’s music has played a crucial role in shaping saïd DNA. This is why I was beyond excited when I heard that a documentary about the making of Fuerza Natural was available.

We are transported back to the recording sessions of the Fuerza Natural album, which became Cerati’s final studio album—filmed by Leonardo Fresco, a musician who collaborated with Cerati many times and played keyboards on Fuerza Natural. This documentary is a black and white intimate look at Gustavo Cerati’s recording and creative process. And although this documentary piece is only 15 minutes long, it still manages to capture some remarkable images and moments.

We get to see some cool stuff, like the recording of the song Cactus (Track 8), as Cerati plays the acoustic guitar himself. We get a quick peek at the handwritten lyrics and music notes for He visto a Lucy (Track 13). We see some pretty neat, old-school special effects made in-studio.

He seemed deeply involved in the music-making process. We get to see him carefully listening and fine-tuning every single piece of musical notes, making adjustments, changes, and offering constant feedback to his studio band. There is a moment when we see Cerati providing input on exactly how he wanted the bass to sound like….. that was a pretty cool thing to see.

I also notice his constant chain-smoking, which might have contributed to the respiratory issues that he developed after suffering the stroke. It is pretty surreal watching him happy, full of life, creating magic in the recording studio, and then barely a year later, he would fall into a coma and lay on a hospital bed for four years until he died in 2014.

This short documentary piece is a must-watch for all Soda Stereo and Gustavo Cerati fans; for 15 minutes, we get to pretend that we are there with him, and he still is here with us.

*LIAM GALLAGHER — WHY ME WHY NOT (Album Recap)

I have always maintained that the closest thing my generation had to the Beatles was Oasis. I spent most of the 90s listening to bands like Oasis, Foo Fighters, U2, The Verve — you know, bands with guts and swagger. Those bands resonated deeply with me during my late teens to early 20s…..Hell, they still resonate with me today as I reach middle age.

I was pumped beyond belief when Liam Gallagher’s AS YOU WERE came out in 2017. It was a straightforward, kick-ass, in your face type of album. Furthermore, and most importantly, it was a guitar-based album, which is the type of albums that I usually prefer to listen to. I appreciate some experimentation here and there from some of my favorites bands. Still, certain things work just fine the way they are, and consistency is precisely what Liam Gallagher always delivers with his records.

Track 4: Paper Crown and track 5: For What is Worth are on constant replay in my daily playlist. Full disclosure; I do not own AS YOU WERE on vinyl yet. I bought the digital deluxe iTunes version when it came out…. but the LP is on top of my future purchases list.

WHY ME WHY NOT takes things to another level. This album rocks and kicks major ass. Liam is the personification of Rocknroll, and this album is so far his best work since Oasis.

Look, I am a nostalgic person by nature, and I would love nothing more than an Oasis reunion. However, this album is the closest thing to the vibe and sound of what an Oasis album should feel like. Noel Gallagher’s 2015, Chasing Yesterday, had a bit of an Oasis vibe to it, and it was a damn good album…. I think it would have made a perfect Oasis record.

I will not go on a track-by-track breakdown because every single track on this record rocks. However, there is a particularly interesting song, One of Us (Track 2). Liam has publicly stated that it is an “olive branch” to Noel, and most likely, his final reconciliation attempt.

Track 3, ONCE is ageless. I fucking love this song.

Liam has tapped into something unique here as a solo act; His live concerts are sold-out shows, and his albums are on top of the charts. All of his music videos are pretty cool, plus, there is an MTV Unplugged that just came out, which I already bought on iTunes, and I just ordered the LP version. The next thing for me on my wish list is to catch a live concert next time he comes through NYC.

*BUNBURY: POSIBLE (Album Recap)

It has been three long-ass years since the release of the highly successful Expectativas (2017), and Bunbury is finally delivering another excellent studio album. It comes out at a crucial moment during this global pandemic, where there is this collective hunger for light and positivity—a need for quality in music, films, and art. And POSIBLE arrives at the perfect moment to soothe our souls.

Bunbury has been consistently making some of the most profound and well-crafted albums of the last 20 years, so the expectations are always high when it comes to his work. Hell, in a world where Live albums are a rarity, Bunbury has released two of the most compelling “live” recordings of recent history; Bunbury: MTV Unplugged (2015) and Bunbury: California Live (2019). Both albums are excellent musical productions.

However, Posible (2020) feels more like an experimental album than previous Bunbury albums. There is a straightforward electronic-rock approach to it, full of lyrics that scrutinize certain aspects of his personal life. A more brooding, soul searching, and more personal sounding album. Where the possibilities of living multiple and parallel lives within a singular existence is a central theme here, I could not help but sense a cinematic vibe throughout this album, with a deep metaphysical sensitivity.

There are tons of David Lynch-inspired musical imagery that come across as you listen to this album, especially when you watch the music videos attached to this album. Most Notably, the Video for “Deseos de usar y tirar,” which is beautifully directed by frequent Bunbury collaborator and highly regarded visual artist Jose Girl (she directed all three videos for this album).

This Video has a clear-cut David Lynch influence, which features Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks) and trans woman artist Jessica Hogan.

This Video for “Cualquiera en su sano juicio (se habría vuelto loco por ti)” is also full of David Lynch vibes. I heard Bunbury was influenced to practice transcendental meditation after hearing about Lynch’s creative process, which explains the connection.

I have been playing this album on heavy rotation, and I really think that as time passes by, it will age very nicely amongst some of the very best albums in the entire Bunbury discography.

Electro-rock is a sound that I have always appreciated when done right. U2’s Achtung Baby (1991) comes immediately to mind. And this album is right up there in terms of quality. A mix of elegant sounding lyrics and bold experimentations. POSIBLE is another phenomenal achievement for a remarkable artist.

WARNER MUSIC SPAIN (2020)

*Bunbury-California​ live (Album Recap)

Live records are a rarity nowadays. There was a time not too long ago (it seems), when Live albums were a constant thing, even bootleg live recordings were a thing, but recently live albums are at a brink of extinction.

Lately, I have been going out of my way to acquire as many live records as I possibly can, or at least I am trying to. My LP vinyl collection is somewhat in its infancy, so I do not have an in-depth collection of live records as I would like to have, but I do have some pretty cool ones so far.

However, when it comes to Rock en Español, there seems to be a more significant demand for live albums, and interestingly enough this particular market has kept the MTV Unplugged brand alive and relevant for the last twenty years. Which is very refreshing to think about and it gives me hope that there still is a chance for a good instrument based albums and non-digital music to resurge.

Is safe to say that Bunbury is currently seating at the very top of the entire Rock en Español Mundo. There is absolutely nobody out there close enough to challenge his place in the scene, he is clearly leaps and bounds ahead of everybody else, and after listening to Bunbury’s latest album: California Live, his home in the Mount Rushmore of Rock en Español is now fully established right at the very top. 

California Live is more than just a live album, is also a journey through Bunbury’s musical career. The record includes songs from his days with HEROES DEL SILENCIO and songs from many of his solo albums. My only issue is that he did not include any songs from the album Flamingos, 2003, which is probably my favorite Bunbury album of all time, but I enjoyed this excellent live album, and I think it definitely is one of the best Rock en Español live records in recent memory.

The first five tracks are straight from his latest studio release (Expectativas,2017), 01. LA CEREMONIA DE LA CONFUSION, 02.LA ACTITUD CORRECTA, 03.CUNA DE CAIN, 04.EN BANDEJA DE PLATA, 05. PARECEMOS TONTOS. All these songs are now considered hits and very radio-friendly, these live versions show Bunbury on tip-top Rockero form. Most of the remaining tracks have a solid dose of saxophone infused in them. Previous Bunbury live albums did not include this particular musical ingredient, and the result is very satisfying.

06.EL ANZUELO– From the album, El Viaje a Ninguna Parte, 2004. This track, like many others in this album, is given a new life and sound, especially with the addition of the Saxophone as one of the main instruments. 07.El MAR NO CESA– This track is only available in the LP version. 08.EL RESCATE– From the album, El Viaje a Ninguna Parte, 2004. Once again, the Sax becomes the perfect companion to this track. 09.TESORO-From the album, El espíritu del vino, 1993 (Heroes del Silencio). This track is given a new feel, a new vibe, and a new life. The sax shines through once again giving it a modern feel. 10.DESPIERTA– From the album, Palosanto, 2013. This live version has a bigger rock anthem feel than the album version, especially when the audience gets involved singing along. 11.HAY MUY POCA GENTE-From the album, Hellville de Luxe, 2008. The only differences from the album version and the live version are the audience participation and a few sax cameos here and there. 12.HEROE DE LEYENDA-From the album, Heroe de Leyenda, 1987 (Heroes del Silencio). This version is an excellent new take on one of the great rock en Español classic anthems of all time. 13.MAS ALTO QUE NOSOTROS SOLO EL CIELO– From the album, Palosanto, 2013. The balance between the tempo and harmony is one of the high points of this entire album. 14.MAR ADENTRO– From the album, El Mar no Cesa, 1988 (Heroes del Silencio). This version feels like it belongs in one of Bunbury’s more recent albums, it has an updated feel to it when compared to the original 1988 version. 15.DE TODO EL MUNDO– From the album, Las Consecuencias, 2010. A gorgeous rendition, this is one of my all-time favorite Bunbury songs. The live version is a joy to listen to. 16.MALDITO DUENDE– From the album, Senderos de traición,1990 (Heroes del Silencio). The crowd participation is what makes this live version feel very special like you are right there with them, and you cannot help but sing along with them. 17.LA CONSTANTE– From the album, Expectativas, 2017. An excellent choice to bring this live album to an end with a beautiful romantic rock ballad. This song has become a favorite amongst Bunbury fanatics.

*Christina Rosevinge-Un Hombre Rubio (Album Recap)

Christina Rosevinge lanza nuevo disco: “Un Hombre Rubio” (2018), y nosotros los amantes de la buena música se lo agradecemos profundamente. Tuve la fortuna de encontrarme con la música de Christina Rosevinge por primera vez en el 2015, fue una casualidad fortitua, ya que en esas fechas yo estaba pasando por una crisis musical de la patada, y derrepente me encuentro con “canción del eco” del album “La Joven Dolores”(2011), fue como descubrir un tesoro, y desde entonces sigo muy de cerca los discos y colaboraciones de Rosevinge.

Este disco es verdaderamente un discazo, es básicamente un homenaje a su padre, que falleció cuando Christina tenia 26 años, es un disco cargado de poesía, nostalgia, conciencia social e igualdad. Un disco muy poetico envuelto con rock/folk en español moderno pero con un toque clásico. Es uno de esos discos que mientras mas lo escuchas, mas te absorbe en su energía. Lo recomiendo muchísimo:

Track List:

1.La Flor Entre la Via: Una canción que tiene un aire de himno rebelde hacia los roles patriarcales, donde la guitarra es la verdadera protagonista de esta canción: “No soy toro, ni soy matador, Ni tornillo, el destornillador, No soy hijo de un antecesor, Soy la flor entre la vía.”

2.Romance de la Plata: Definitivamente la canción mas personal del album, completamente dirigida a la memoria de su padre. La cautivadora melodía acompañada por guitarra, batería, teclados y sintetizadores le dan un toque brillante: “La raíz que tú arrancaste No ha crecido nunca más, Nadie vino de esa tierra fría, a llorar tu funeral.”

3.El Pretendiente: Un tema donde el teclado protagoniza la intensidad melodica de esta canción: “El faro del norte perfila su tesoro, El cáliz ha abierto en par, la reina de oros.

4.Ana y los Pajaros: La primera canción del disco con una sensibilidad romántica: “Ana, me cuesta hablar de ti, Eres un pájaro en mi memoria,Oigo tu canto libre desde aquí Entre la bruma ronca de mi atril.”

5.Pesa la Palabra: Christina nos canta desde el punto de vista de un padre que nunca reconoció su paternidad: “Pasas, tocas la puerta A ver si ahora soy capaz de darte Lo que no está en mí.”

6.Niña Animal: Christina nos lleva hacia un viaje cósmico al estilo Bowie, y los espíritus aparecen entre las lineas de esta canción: “La auyentas La vuelves a invocar, Nadie sabe a quien le rezas, desde tu rincón, Solo necesito una palabra, la oración

7.Berta Multiplicada: El sonido cósmico continua en este homenaje a la activista Hondureña Berta Caceres, quien fue asesinada en el 2016: “¿A dónde irá tu alma vegetal? ¿Volverá a ser polvo interestelar? ¿O será la arboleda? Que quiebra el río en mí, ion, partículas de luz Al sucumbir bajó el hacha, como tú Aunque nada recuerde.”

8.Afonico: Vuelven los espíritus acompañados de teclados y batería: “Grito tu nombre al viento, Grito tu nombre al sol, Solo me responden otros Que gritan, no más que yo.”

9.La Piedra Angular: Una conclusion digna y serena envuelta en un vals rockero que nos invita a una interesante reflexion: “Me gusta sufrir, He perdido peso,Ya no bebo casí,El cuerpo es duro, en cambio El alma es frágil, Ahora tu fantasma discute en tu lugar.”

*TOM PETTY: GREATEST HITS (Album Recap)

Anybody that knows me well knows that I stopped listening to or buying  “new” music years ago. Although, I do make some exceptions here and there for a few bands/musicians that I already follow somewhat religiously, like the Gallagher brothers solo work, Mumford and Sons, U2, Foo Fighters…. to name a few.

This past summer (’17), Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers announced that their current tour would be their final tour, which eventually concluded in September at the legendary Roxy in L.A.

As I have gotten older, classic rock has become my favorite genre. In the last few years, I have developed a deep fondness for Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Bowie, the Doors, and early Rod Stewart, to name a few…. but Petty, until recently, had managed to elude me musically. I simply do not know why it took me so long to notice him properly. I obviously knew of him, heard some of his music, and saw some of his music videos. I grew up watching MTV/VH1 daily, and those two channels always had his videos on constant rotation. I can still remember how captivated and at the same time creeped out I was when I first saw Mary Jane’s Last Dance music video in the early nineties.

Hearing about Tom Petty’s passing and reading online, all the profound love, admiration, and gratitude that regular people, celebrities, musicians, and artists were showing him really moved me. It finally pushed me to go out and buy his “Greatest Hits’ vinyl LP and give Petty a proper listen.

After spending some time giving this compilation of greatest hits a serious listen, I can’t help but feel like I’m arriving late to the Tom Petty party, songs like “Refugee” (extremely relevant to today’s political climate), “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “You Got Lucky,” “Learning to Fly,” and “Don’t Come Here No More” among others, all those songs will now remain permanent on my Forever Petty Playlist, and of course, we cannot forget the three most iconic songs of Petty’s catalog “American Girl,”Free Fallin,” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” Here is my Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers playlist: