No Doubt, Joao Gilberto, Miles Davis & More: My Albums of the Week #19

I would consider myself an “albums guy” and my taste in music is very varied. In this new feature, I list the albums that I listened to most intensely during the week. The list will include albums old and new, and the number of albums listened to every week will most likely vary on a week-to-week basis.

 

Joao Gilberto
Chega de Saudade
(Odeon, 1959)

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – Chega de saudade // 2 – Lobo bobo // 3 – Brigas, nunca mais // 4 – Ho-bá-lá-bá // 5 – Saudade fez um samba // 6 – Maria Ninguém // 7 – Desafinado // 8 – Rosa morena // 9 – Morena boca de ouro // 10 – Bim bom // 11 – Aos pés da cruz // 12 – É luxo só

Joao Gilberto’s first album is often also credited as the first bossa nova album of all time. You may even have heard many of its tracks at one point or another. The sophisticated groove, memorable melodies, compelling emotive nuances and beautiful arrangements of each of the pieces, while brief, showcases a finely stylized new vision behind it. Just listening to this record, one can understand how Bossa would soon capture international acclaim shortly thereafter and why Gilberto would firmly establish himself as one of the all-time songwriting Brazilian greats.

 

Khruangbin
Mordechai
(Stones Throw, 2020)

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – First Class // 2 – Time (You and I) // 3 – Connaissais de Face // 4 – Father Bird, Mother Bird // 5 – If There Is No Question // 6 – Pelota // 7 – One to Remember // 8 – Dearest Alfred // 9 – So We Won’t Forget // 10 – Shida

I continue to struggle to understand the meaning of psychedelia in music today. Yet, I found this album very enjoyable, marrying surf pop with influences of various ethnic musics (particularly, Indian guitar). It’s surprisingly transportive and one of the standout chill-out records of 2020. The melodies are nice and catchy and I felt the use of electronic was effective yet subtle and never overbearing or overpowering a core strength of the trio, which I believe lies in their awareness of space and their control of the groove.

 

The Lester Young-Teddy Wilson Quartet
Pres and Teddy
(Verve, 1959)

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – All of Me // 2 – Prisoner of Love // 3 – Louise // 4 – Love Me or Leave Me // 5 – Taking a Chance on Love // 5 – Love Is Here to Stay

One of the great swinging quartet sessions of the time, pairing the talents of Pres Lester Young on saxophone and Teddy Wilson on piano. Some have said that Young, known for his relaxed and lyrical style, was even better and more emotionally profound in the ’50s than in the ’30s. I would tend to agree, though it is bittersweet to consider that the motivation for such an artistic evolution was psychological and physical ailments that would lead to his death just three years after this stellar session, at age 49.

 

No Doubt
Tragic Kingdom
(Trauma/Interscope, 1995)

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – Spiderwebs // 2 – Excuse Me Mr. // 3 – Just a Girl // 4 – Happy Now? // 5 – Different People // 6 – Hey You // 7 – The Climb // 8 – Sixteen // 9 – Sunday Morning // 10 – Don’t Speak // 11 – You Can Do It // 12 – World Go ‘Round // 13 – End It on This // 14 – Tragic Kingdom

There’s nothing particularly impressive about Tragic Kingdom and yet, its sound is unmistakably ’90s rock Americana and Gwen Stefani’s vocals make it stand out among the many other similar releases of the period. Yet, there is “no doubt” that despite its length and expansive tracklist, there’s nothing super-ambitious about it and the famous songs remain the notable ones, whereas the rest are little more than fodder at best. The feminist vibes of the lyrics are quite noteworthy. “Just a Girl” is a manifesto.

 

Miles Davis
A Tribute to Jack Johnson
(Columbia, 1971)

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – Right Off // 2 – Yesternow

Created for a documentary on the title boxer, the project also radiated Miles Davis’ admiration for Jack Johnson with its muscular sound and attitude. This has also gone down in history as one of the best jazz-rock records of all time, featuring a guitar-centric style that also testifies to the talent and influence of John McLaughlin. A Tribute to Jack Johnson was released a year after Davis’ legendary fusion LP Bitches Brew and while both records were crafted using Teo Macero’s splicing techniques, both have their own distinctive identities and between the two, the former feels rawer.

 

Dinah Washington
Unforgettable
(Mercury, 1961)

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – This Bitter Earth // 2 – I Understand // 3 – This Love of Mine // 4 – Alone // 5 – Somewhere Along the Line // 6 – The Song Is Ended (But the Melody Lingers On) // 7 – Everybody Loves Somebody // 8 – Ask a Woman Who Knows // 9 – A Man Only Does (What a Woman Makes Him Do) // 10 – A Bad Case of the Blues // 11 – When I Fall in Love // 12 – Unforgettable

This review is in reference to the original LP release and not its ’90s compilation reissue, which is a mess. The original album is quite a solid collection of Dinah Washington singing pop standards and breathing new life into well-worn standards, particularly “This Bitter Earth” and the title track. The backing orchestration and arrangements are subpar and take down the general quality of the recording a notch too many. But if you keep your focus on Washington herself, you’ll be absolutely delighted.

 

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