The Strokes, Charles Lloyd & More: My Albums of the Week #29

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.

Salif Keita
Folon: Past
Mango, 1995

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – Tekere // 2 – Mandjou // 3 – Africa // 4 – Nyanyama // 5 – Mandela // 6 – Sumun // 7 – Seydou // 8 – Dakan-Fe // 9 – Folon

Salif Keita is a Malian prince with a gritty voice and a lot of soul. His music updates the traditions of his native land. There’s lots of groove in Folon but also a lot of sophistication in the melody, which transcends borders in both the ballads and the upbeat numbers. Some tracks stretch out a bit too much but overall, this is a great one.

 

Charles Lloyd
Forest Flower: Charles Lloyd at Monterey
Atlantic, 1967

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – Forest Flower – Sunrise // 2 – Forest Flower – Sunset // 3 – Sorcery // 4 – Song of Her // 5 – East of the Sun

One of the best live jazz albums of its time. It also resonated quite powerfully in Eastern Europe around the time of its release. It also feels like a culmination of Charles Lloyd’s early period as a bandleader. And he sounds like he has a lot of fun playing, delighting audiences, backed by none other than Keith Jarrett, Cecil McBee and Jack DeJohnette.

 

The Strokes
The New Abnormal
Cult/RCA, 2020

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – The Adults Are Talking // 2 – Selfless // 3 – Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus // 4 – Bad Decisions // 5 – Eternal Summer // 6 – At the Door // 7 – Why Are Sundays So Depressing // 8 – Not the Same Anymore // 9 – Ode to the Mets

The hint is in the title. This is The Strokes doing much of their same old, same old. Julian Casablancas continues to struggle to find things to sing about. Some songs are good but generally speaking, this is pretty weak. I was once a big fan of The Strokes but have come to the conclusion that they will never be able to surprise me anymore.

 

Loredana Bertè
Normale o super
CGD, 1976

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – Sei bellissima // 2 – Serenade // 3 – Per effetto del tempo // 4 – Gli orologi // 5 – L’attrice // 6 – Meglio libera // 7 – Indocina // 8 – Aiutami // 9 – Adesso che è mattino // 10 – Brucerei // 11 – Piccola io // 12 – Spiagge di notte

Power ballads Italian style. A fair amount of cheese, elevated by Loredana Berté’s powerhouse, gritty vocals. None of the tracks reach the dramatic intensity of “Sei Bellissima,” which remains one of her signature tunes to this day for good reason.

 

Sparks
Introducing Sparks
Columbia, 1977

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – A Big Surprise // 2 – Occupation // 3 – Ladies // 4 – I’m Not // 5 – Forever Young // 6 – Goofing Off // 7 – Girls on the Brain // 8 – Over the Summer // 9 – Those Mysteries

The Mael brothers continued to alienate themselves from pop charts and the mainstream with this idiosyncratic outing. While far from being their most exciting release, Introducing Sparks has moments of uniqueness and that characteristic eccentricity of theirs, whether through influences of Jewish heritage music on “Goofing Off” or by singing about a young boy’s growing curiosity about the world around him with their tender closing track “Those Mysteries.”

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