rodrigo y gabriela - CD
Sony Music Japan - Out now
I can play a bit of guitar myself. I have studied the development of the instrument in popular music, admire the Rock pioneers and love the Jazz greats, enjoy the nimbleness of the Classical guitarists as well as the dexterity of the shredders and I have to admit that before this, I had never heard of rodrigo y gabriela (they usually use lower case letters for their names) but after pressing play was immediately entranced by this frankly, beyond compare duo. I jumped on my computer, discovered that their fourth album, Mettavolution, released last year won the ‘Best Contemporary Instrumental Album’ at the Grammy’s this year and that they were influenced by Black Sabbath and Metallica in their native country Mexico before moving to Ireland to discover a new style; this was something different – and brilliant.
So, first impressions of this live recording are ‘wow!’ at the performance but then it turned to how could two guitar players create such an aural assault on my ears? I watched a few videos and listened again and I have no answer; so I just accepted it. I listened to it a dozen times over the next week and then bought a copy of Metttavolution for comparison and was astonished to discover that the live versions far surpass the studio ones which by the way, are an experience in themselves. Back to the live album though and the dynamics between the two on a stage are as wonderful – in fact better - better than the studio recordings; this is where they really shine.
Mettavolution Live is the complete Mettavolution live albeit with the songs in a different order and augmented with six more compositions, five from previous albums and a gabriela solo. The centerpiece of Mettavolution, a cover of Pink Floyd’s Echoes, is longer here whilst Tamacun is played at breakneck speed; other tracks have similar tweaks that add to the overall enjoyment. The sound is warm and sonorous with every tap, thump, strum and note captured in their real performance; this as live as an album gets. The two discs come housed in a triple-fold limited digipack with eight page booklets in Japanese and English at a very nice price of ¥3,000. All in all, an excellent release that is suitable for playing any time of the day at any event. For those of you like me who never seem to find the time to have a strum, buy some new guitar strings at the same time as you buy this as well because you’ll be inspired to play again.
OZZY OSBOURNE - CD
Sony Music Japan - Out Now
Has it really been ten years since Ozzy’s last studio album? When Scream was released in June 2010, the iPad was only four months old, Yukio Hatoyama was the Prime Minister of Japan, Wikileaks did not exist and we still thought Nuclear Power was safe – March 2011 was a good nine months in the future. The intervening years saw Ozzy touring and releasing live recordings but very little else and after a series of health problems, he has now revealed that he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease. We wish the man well and we love him but at the age of 71 and considering all the above, one does wonder if this will be the Prince of Darkness’s final release. Let’s hope not.
Opening with a vocal choir that snaps onto a pounding guitar riff which Ozzy throws a Sweet Leaf ‘All right now!’ over, we are quickly immersed in familiar waters and the album goes through a succession of songs that have some great twists and turns as well as a good helping of friends to see him through. Ozzy goes mournful in places and he’s the master of that vocal delivery as exemplified on Goodbye, likewise when he delivers the chilling Under The Graveyard, his voice resonates with the reality that ‘we all die alone’. The riffs are there the voice is there, the titles are there and pretty much everything else you would expect from an Ozzy album is there but something is different… it is over-produced.
A quick look at his previous work shows producer Andrew Watt to be a more than competent but he’s more suitable (and has worked with) Justin Beiber, Lana Del Ray and Post Malone, the latter of which makes a guest appearance on two tracks. Watt also plays most of the guitars on the album and he is a good player but the edginess of Zak Wylde is missing. Also, an autotune unit can be heard on Ozzy’s voice (and guest Elton John’s voice as well) which takes more of the rough edge off the album. Ozzy has certainly used effects on his voice all through his career and I’m not knocking him for doing it but through this album, it’s too much. We like Ozzy’s rough vocals and the producer has taken them away from us and as much as I enjoy this album, I can’t escape the fact that the dangerous part of Ozzy seems to have been ignored in favour of a more polished recording.
That said, after repeated listens, it does grow on you and it is Ozzy and therefore, good. Sony have once more used their BSCD2 mastering which gives everything an extra depth and the release comes with two sixteen page booklets – one English and one Japanese – and terrific bonus track called Darkside Blues. It is all housed in a silky digipak that oozes quality.
Straight To Hell
All My Life
Ordinary Man (featuring Elton John)
Under The Graveyard
Today Is The End
Scary Little Green Men
Holy For Tonight
It’s A Rain (featuring Post Malone)
Take What You want (featuring Post Malone and Travis Scott)
Bonus Track for Japan