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Dia De Los Muertos 2012

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, November 1, 2012 07:44am | Post a Comment
As I mentioned in previous blogs about Dia De Los Muertos, I look forward to this celebration more than other holidays. The older I get, I feel the best way to celebrate life is to celebrate death without fear; with the same celebratory spirit one would have for a birth or an anniversary. The ritual of Dia De Los Muertos, the ofrenda (altar) the food and drink, and having the time to reflect those who have passed on are all-important components of this celebration. This is the day we party with the dead as we would with the living, some we knew intimately and others we admire and wish we knew better.

Besides celebrating family and friends that have passed on, I like to include musicians and artists who have inspired me in some way. This year, many great musicians have passed. Consider this a digital ofrenda to them. I hope these musicians have inspired you as much as they have I.


The Bass Players

Two amazing bass players passed this year. Bob Babbitt was a member of the infamous Funk Brothers, the backing group of musicians that played on many of the best Motown recordings of the 60’s and 70’s. Donald “Duck” Dunn did the same damage for Stax Records as a member of Booker T And The MG's, playing behind many of the greats on the Stax Records roster. You may not know their names but I bet you can hum their bass lines by heart.

Babbitt played bass on such Motown classics as "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" by Stevie Wonder, "War" by Edwin Starr, "The Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" and "Inner City Blues" by Marvin Gaye, "Band Of Gold" by Freda Payne, "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)", and "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)" by The Temptations.

Dunn played on such Stax classics as Otis Redding's "Respect" and "I Can't Turn You Loose", Sam & Dave's "Hold On, I'm Comin'", and Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign" Later, he played on Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty's "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" and was a member of The Blues Brothers with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. Both Dunn and Babbit played until their deaths this year.

The Organ Players:

Jon Lord was probably the most infamous of rock organ players. His signature distorted organ is what made Deep Purple unique. If you dig deep into Deep Purple’s sound, you realize that it wasn’t Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar sound that made their sound “heavy”; it was those deep distorted chords layered throughout their songs that created their sound. Listen to any cover band that tries to play “Smoke On The Water” without a distorted organ and notice how thin it sounds. Lord made that group.

Leon Spencer recorded a few solo albums of what they now called Acid Jazz or Rare Groove. Before his groove was rare, Spencer played on many funky jazz recordings, playing behind Lou Donaldson, Melvin Sparks, Gene Ammons, Rusty Bryant and Sonny Stitt. His style was modeled after the legendary Jazz organist Jimmy Smith and he is often unfairly compared to him. Still, Spencer being younger than Smith reached out and took influence from younger organ players outside of the Jazz circuit such as Brian Auger and Ray Manzarek of The Doors and implemented their style into his sound. The result was a somewhat out-sounds that Smith never realized. 

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Luis Alberto Spinetta 1950-2012

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, February 8, 2012 04:33pm | Post a Comment
One of my greatest joys when I was picked to write a blog for Amoeba was that I was able to write about music that I truly loved. It was within my first few blogs that I wrote about my love for the music of Luis Alberto Spinetta. Sadly, Spinetta passed away today. A few months back he was diagnosed with lung cancer and died with pulmonary cancer complications. He had just turned 62.

My love for Spinetta’s music grew with my relationships with customers and some fellow employees who encouraged me to delve deeper into his music. Once I did, I found myself doing the same with others. Although a legend in Argentina and for that matter, with most Latin American rockers, he was still a bit of an unknown in mainstream society. I often wondered why other Latin American rock & psychedelic artists got more hipster cred when Spinetta’s volume of work was far superior to others.

His early groups, Almendra, Pescado Rabioso, Invisible and Spinetta Jade where some of the best rock, psyche, progressive rock and folk ever to come out of Latin America. As a solo artist, he released over twenty albums, all of them relevant to the time it was released. To be fair, not all of the solo albums were great but he never wallowed in nostalgia. He attempted to be contemporary without sounding like a dinosaur. If anything, sometimes he was too far ahead of the pack and people needed time to catch up to him.

As a well-read musician, his lyrics were both profound and abstract. I imagine even the most literary Spanish language types needed time to stop and analyze his lyrics. He was inspired by the works of Arthur Rimbaud, Carl Jung, Freud, Nietzsche, Carlos Castaneda and Antonin Artaud, which inspired his greatest album in my opinion, Artaud. Fellow music enthusiast, Gustavo Delanuca, described Spinetta as, “Hip, ahead of his time and never an old man trying be young”

In 2009, Spinetta celebrated his 40th anniversary of the release of Almendra’s first release by playing a five-hour show in Buenos Aires. He reformed his past groups in various configurations as well as played his solo work. He was the father of Dante Spinetta, co-founder of the legendary rock-funk band Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas, who recently reformed after a several year hiatus.

Former Soda Stereo front man Gustavo Cerati’s had a monster with a cover of Spinetta’s song, "Bajan", which is off of Artaud. Spinetta's music can be heard on such movies as Fuego Gris and Valentin

Also, if you find the movie, Rock Hasta Que Se Ponga El Sol, which has concert footage from Pescado Rabioso as well as other Argentinean bands from the 70’s, it’s well worth watching.


Here is a list of albums by Luis Alberto Spinetta that is mandatory for your appreciation of his work:

Almendra (1969)
Almendra II (1970)
Spinettalandia y Sus Amigos - La Búsqueda de la Estrella (1971)
Desatormentándonos (1972)
Pescado II (1973)
Artaud (1973)
Invisible (1974)
Durazno Sangrando (1975)
El Jardín de los Presentes (1976)
A 18´ del Sol (1977)
Pan (2006)








Argentine Hippies

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, July 27, 2009 01:40am | Post a Comment
This is a concert film recorded in 1972 at the Buenos Aires Rock festival and it aired on Argentine television the following year. It's mostly live footage with some skits, ala The Song Remains The Same by Led Zeppelin. However, Rock Hasta Que Se Ponga El Sol pre-dates Zep's film by a few years. I'm not saying this is where Led McZeppelin got their ideas, but they have been known to steal a few blues songs in their time... Anyways, these bands from Argentina rock hard. You can find some of these releases in Amoeba Hollywood's Latin Rock section.

Color Humano
-"Larga Vida Al Sol"/"Coto De caza"/"Cosas Rústica"


Pescado Rabioso-"Nena" (one of Luis Alberto Spinetta's great bands)


Billy Bond Y Las Pesadas Del Rock
-"Tonto"


Arco Iris (with a very young and future Oscar winner Gustavo Santaolalla on guitar) -"Zapada"

Luis Alberto Spinetta - Argentine Astronaut

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, September 6, 2007 10:43am | Post a Comment
Every Argentino I’ve ever met has always goes on and on how their country has the best everything. The best beef, the best looking women, the best soccer team and the best music ever created, blah, blah, blah. All I can say about Argentineans is that they talk too much and sound funny when they do! Kidding aside, (It's a rite of passage for the rest of Latin America to make fun of Argentina) Argentina has provided some great music for the rest of the world. One of my favorites is someone who I’ve heard about for years but haven’t discovered until a few years ago.

Luis Alberto Spinetta is a legend in his native Argentina and well respected by rockeros all over Latin America. He is hard to describe. A lazy comparison would be somewhere between Paul McCartney (Wings Era), Frank Zappa (as a musician, not as a satirist) and Andy Partridge from XTC. His lyrics are poetic and one can tell he is someone who is well read. You might not know what he is singing about unless you have read as much as Spinetta has. His career started in the late 60’s with a band called Almendra, who along with Los Gatos and Manal, were the pioneers of the Argentine rock movement. Almendra had a garage-psychedelic sound with some 60’s pop influences. They release three albums before they disbanded. Spinetta then started another group called Pescado Rabioso (Rabid Fish), which had a heavier sound, and lyrics that were influenced by writers such as Artaud, Arthur Rimbaud, Carlos Castaneda and Carl Jung. With his next group, Invisible. (Pronounced en-ve-see-blay) Spinetta developed a progressive rock style yet he wrote some of his best ballads, full of space and sparse notes.


After three albums with Invisible, Spinetta went solo. He dabbled in Jazz Fusion (Spinetta Jade) and made one album in English called, “Only Love Can Sustain” which flopped because it didn’t appeal to the Anglo market nor did it appeal to his fans, who saw it as a sell-out. After that, he continued to make music in Argentina and continued to be an artist to be reckoned with. His son, Dante Spinetta, was in a very popular band in the 90’s called Illya Kuryaki & Los Valderamos, who were legends in their own right.

He still continues to release music to this day, playing with many musicians half his age. Much like Caetano Veloso’s last album, Ce, Spinetta modern day sound is like an alt-rock group that could have come out Silver Lake via Buenos Aires. Many Latin American icons owe their careers to Spinetta. Gustavo Cerati made a career in mimicking Spinetta voice and even scored a hit with Pescado Rabiosos' classic, Bajan

I was fishing around and found this footage of Luis Alberto Spinetta. It looks like it might be from the eighties. He performs his classic, “El Anillo De Capitan Beto” (The Ring Of Captain Beto) from Invisible’s album El Jardín De Los Presentes. Watch how nuts the audience gets when he launches this song, even the suits sitting in the front let loose. In the beginning he says that this is the story of an infamous Argentine Astronaut, and he sounds funny when he says it.

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