Artists Worth Checking Out: Just In Time For Summer, Red Hot and Rio Sizzles

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Images courtesy of soulhead.com (left) and musicstack.com (right)

Just as the summer equinox hits and most of the United States finally feels like a beach paradise with the typical hot, hazy, and humid forecasts for days to come–here are a pair of exquisite selections for any day lying around at the beach–or chilling with your favorite drinks on ice when the sun finally goes down in the middle of prime time television viewing.

The first compilation came out in 1996, a few years after the passing of pioneer Antonio Carlos Jobim.  Along with John Carlin and Beco Dranoff, this set of songs by many different American and Brazilian artists has a very powerful message inside the liner notes.  Folded in poster form and mentioning in poignant detail, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is not just focused on the United States and Europe.  It has spread through Latin America and other portions of the globe, and this problem is never to be taken lightly–especially for all single people thinking seriously about taking “the next step.”

But this blog post is about the music–and what awesome selections are contained:

Setting the proper calm moods leads things off with the fabulous organ, guitar, and bass combination of Money Mark and the great humming song with the constant theme if you are a tall person trying to squeeze in a small space, “Use A Sua Cabeca” (or simply, “Use Your Head”).

By the time you heard that number, I hope your head was not the only thing spinning.

Other great songs to add to your summer mood include on Track 2, Corcovado’s version of “Everything But The Girl”:

Track 3 features Astrud Gilberto teaming up with former lead singer of 1985’s popular British rock group Wham in George Michael on a very soulful version of “Desafinado” (or simply, “Off Key”):

Quite a powerful romantic message contained in the enclosed lyrics, that is if you have a super magnifying glass to read them.  OK, off the soap box again and my brief commentary on some of the first set of tracks from the first volume:

Track 5 has Crystal Waters doing a very sultry version of Astrud Gilberto’s classic, “The Boy From Ipanema”, then a rather soothing 14 second interlude as if Carnival is breaking out (sorry Fabiana Passoni and others if I piqued your interest too soon).  More interludes are Tracks 9, 14, and 16 just in case you need a breather.

Lots of flutes are abound on Track 10 as smooth jazz group Incognito pairs up with Omar and Anna Caram on “Water To Drink”.   The most touching track is number 12 with Antonio Carlos Jobim teaming up with rocker Sting on “How Insensitive”.  Just hearing the beats and the lyrics was simply amazing, and I am glad they got the chance to team up before Jobim’s passing.

Next up is an artist I will be profiling heavily in the month of August, as we approach the anniversary of the closing of the 2012 London Summer Olympics.  Multiple Latin Grammy Award winner Marisa Monte did an awesome Portuguese version while David Byrne teams up on the English end with the “Waters of March.”

The final track has the late Cazuza (famous Brazilian rock musician who was big in the 1980’s, died from AIDS on July 7, 1990) talking to a producer in the first 20 seconds, then Bebel Gilberto’s touching voice blends in oh so nicely on “Preciso Dizer Que Te Amo” (or simply, “I must say that I love you”).  Definitely a tear jerker of a song, that’s for sure–since there are multiple messages of “Play Safely” and with the night silhouette of Rio’s famous Christ statue in the rear background are the words, “Proteja-Se” (or “Protect Yourself”).

Volume 2 is a dual-disk compilation that came out in 2011, with very nice mentions of the words “Red” and “Hot” on each disk.  The highlighted track here is on 6, with Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Chrissy Teigen’s fiancee John Legend lending an excellent piano version of “Love I’ve Ever Known”.  Track 14 might be a nice song to drive home to as Caetano Veloso does a slow ballad on Terra (or “Prefuse ’73 Mellotrons in a Quiet Room” version).  Track 16 has Bebel Gilberto chiming in once again with “Acabou Chorare” (or simply, “Just Chorare”).

Disk two (produced by Paul Heck with the other two aformentioned gentlemen that I explained a bit above) leads off with lots of drums on Beirut doing “O Leaozinho”.  Marcos Valle (another future blog subject) is the focus on Track 4 with “Tudo O Que Voce Podia Ser (or simply, “All You Could Be”).  Track 9 is also a nice song from Orquestra on “Roda” and Track 15 by Twin Danger, “Show Me Love”–which at first glance is a cross between Katy Perry with alternative/independent rock artist Maria Taylor or The Softies.

Bottom line, both of these albums support to find a cure for the AIDS virus and that these artists definitely took the time and the effort to lend to the cause.  They are both available online.

For next week’s blog, those CD’s may or may not be available online.  Lucky for me, I took advantage of a bunch of sales.  And sadly, there will be no covers to post next week.  I feel that those covers are going to be a bit more for the mature people that might be reading.  However, just like in this week’s blog–the songs are definitely first rate and would be definitely an awesome way for Americans to kick off their anticipation towards Independence Day, which happens to be on a weekday in 2013.

Bottom line, enjoy the next blog and I will return with more cool artists on the weekend after July 4.

See you then.

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