Ivan Conti (1984) The Human Factor (LP) Milestone (M-9127)

Ivan Conti
The Human Factor
Milestone (M-9127)
Produced, written & arranged by Ivan Conti

*** noteworthy

Solo outing from the drummer for the Brazilian jazz-funk trio Azymuth, here Conti offering up a mixed bag–regarding styles and quality–starting off with a rather uneventful version of fusion, perhaps a notch above most of the fusion from this era but that’s not really saying that much. Fortunately, about ten minutes into the proceedings–about halfway through the first side–Arturzinho’s popping baseline rises in the middle of the second cut. This focus on rhythm leads us to the third cut that closes the side–the tribal percussion workout “Pantanal II (Swamp)” taking us into the massive wetlands of Conti’s homeland.

The original electronic-heavy “Pantanal” from Azymuth’s 1980 album used electronic sounds to likely mimic the buzzing/chirping/squealing of the swamp fauna, while the sequel on this album discards the keyboards and focuses on four percussionists running down the voodoo and doing their thing, a frantic dance around the fire, a run through the jungle, the rhythm of the hunt, the beat of the heart. A fourth musician offers some whistles to help paint the wetland scene, and Conti doubles up with some vocoder to apparently represent the growl of some sort of fauna, all the instruments sounding like they are conversing, the mix of old tribal and new electronics both recalling the roots of fusion put down by Miles Davis and Weather Report and helping to reveal the jungle roots of that innovative music. With its percussion-heavy tribal electronics, this cut also helps pave the way for things to come. While the selection isn’t groundbreaking, it does get the earth shaking, causing the listener to stand up and take notice.

The flipside eases into the proceedings with moderately enjoyable jazz fusion, picking up the pace with a jazz-trio piece (drums, acoustic piano, and electric bass), and slowing down again with a brief solo number–the drummer offering vocals, acoustic guitar and splashes of synthesizers. The set concludes with the title track, another multi-tracked Conti solo number, this one just drums and synthesizers, sounding extremely dated and fairly charming, very intentional and robotic–in many ways in sharp contrast to the closer of side one. While the rest of the set was recorded in Rio, this title track was recorded where the set was mastered and mixed–in Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California.

This isn’t an essential outing, but for better or worse, it has plenty of variety, and the more interesting selections make this set at least worth a listen.


— winch (author of

Crass (1977 – 1984) Best Before (LP) Crass Records 5 (1984)

Best Before
Crass Records (5)
Material: 1977 – 1984
Recorded 1977 – 1984, released July 1984 (UK only)

This double LP collects singles and unreleased material, a nice gesture, saving fans from having to collect all the singles, and packaging the material with killer artwork.  While this might have been better served up as a more concise two-sider, it certainly provides an overview of their history, moving from fairly straight-forward punk to abrasive avant garde. 

For fans, this is essential.  It also serves as a good intro.

— winch




Prince (1984) Purple Rain LP


Purple Rain

Warner Brothers 26110


Rating:**** (Recommended)
produced by Prince and the Revolution

While Prince had scored a transatlantic hit with “I Wanna Be Your Lover” in 1979, the U.K. had forgotten him after that, and in the beginning, things weren’t looking much more hopeful at home.

Prince avoided promoting himself with interviews but found his tool for promotion with video.  The timing was perfect, with the MTV craze taking off.

At the time, Michael Jackson seemed to be pushing the music video to the max with his epic “Thriller,” but Prince took it a step further–designing a film/album project that cast himself as a superstar.  It was likely a shock for many, but this actually worked.

While Jackson had been crowned the king of pop, Prince was causing some to question that.  Folks might have considered this more carefully if they’d recognized that Prince was doing his thing without an old master like Quincy Jones–a big part of Jackson’s success.

While Prince had previously released five albums, this is the one that made him a superstar.  While 1999  marked the beginning of his rise, Purple Rain shot to the top slot on the charts and remained there for 24 weeks.  This also marked his arrival in the U.K.

Like all his albums, this has highs and lows, but fans should definitely listen to the entire set.  It certainly fits the description of a pop masterpiece.
It didn’t come out of nowhere, but it changed the shape of pop, funk and R&B forever, influenced most everything that followed it.  It took the past and created the future.  And while it mixes lots of styles, it sounds cohesive from start to finish.

While many comps included the hits from this set, fans shouldn’t miss sexy gems such as the infamous “Darling Nikki.”  The album is essential Prince.

— winch (author of…http://www.eight-track.com/Eight_Track_Publishing.php

Husker Du (1984) Zen Arcade LP

Husker Du
Zen Arcade
SST 027

Rating:***** (Good Shit)
produced: Spot and Husker Du
released September 1984

Four-sider concept album from this Minnesota hardcore outfit.  It sounded like a stupid idea but it sounds great, the trio managing to stretch the sound without losing their vision of a hardcore world, plenty of straightforward HC, but some cuts blurring the fuzz into an almost acid-rock sound.

It’s easy to hear how this not only influenced many bands at the time of its release but also bands years later, including outfits at the end of the 80s that would help launch the sounds of the 90s. (Unfortunately, most of the bands of the 90s seemed to completely forget the lessons of this album.)

While this perhaps would have been better served if distilled down to two sides, who am I to tell Husker what to do. As it sits, it remains one of the few double albums that managed to fill all four sides without going into filler material.  It’s a classic.

— winch (author of…http://www.eight-track.com/Eight_Track_Publishing.php)


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