Friday, July 24, 2020

McQ's Best Of 1969 Vol 4 - International

In addition to all the amazing music being crafted in the UK and the States, 1969 was also a wonderful music year abroad.

Three regions in particular were sporting vibrant scenes at the time.

Jamaica, where rocksteady had just evolved into reggae and two of the genres all-time top artists, Toots & The Maytals and Jimmy Cliff, began to hit their stride.

France, where all manner of crooners and traditionalists were dipping their feet into more rock-inflected waters.

And Brazil, where the political side of the Tropicalia movement hadcome to and end, but where many of its most prominent artists - Os Mutantes, Gal Costa, and Caetano Veloso - continued to release works inspired by that fantastic, unique blend of Brazilian rhythms and psychedelic textures.

Because there are so many singles artists represented on this mix (as well as upcoming Vol 8 - Grade A Schmaltz), we're going to circle back and finish the writes for these mixes last, but for now, suffice it to say that if you want dive deeper, the 1969 self-titled full-lengths releases of Jimmy Cliff (released in the US as Wonderful World, Beautiful People) and Caetano Veloso are definitely the two strongest albums profiled on this mix.

But for now, let's just kick up our feet and enjoy this chill musical travelogue.

Here's the Spotify link!

Set 1 (Caribbean Days)
1. Time Will Tell - Jimmy Cliff (3:21)
2. Where Do you Go To My Lovely - Peter Sarstedt (4:39)
3. Nao Va Se Perder Por Ai - Os Mutantes (3:16)
4. Long Shot Kick De Bucket - The Pioneers (2:49)
5. Le Meteque - Georges Moustaki (2:30)
6. Pais Tropical - Gal Costa (3:47)
7. Sweet & Dandy - Toots & The Maytals (2:59)
8. Tranche De Vie - Francois Beranger (4:10)
9. Irene - Caetano Veloso (3:49)
10. Liquidator - Harry J Allstars (2:53)
11. L'anamour - Serge Gainsbourg (2:16)
12. Justicia - Eddie Palmieri (6:00)

Set 2 (Tropical Nights)
13. Vietnam - Jimmy Cliff (4:52)
14. Yekermo Sew - Mulatu Astatke (4:13)
15. El Oso - Moris (3:02)
16. Monkey Man - Toots & The Maytals (3:45)
17. Dans La Maison Vide - Michael Polnareff (2:44)
18. Alfomega - Caetano Veloso (5:58)
19. Return Of Django - The Upsetters (2:29)
29. Je T'aime Moi Non Plus - Serge Gainsbourg/Jane Birkin (4:29)
21. Tengo - Sandro (2:03)
22. It Mek - Desmond Dekker (2:33)
23. C'est Extra - Leo Ferre (3:47)
24. Tuareg - Gal Costa (3:23)

25. 54-46 Was My Number - Toots & The Maytals (3:24)
26. Que Je T'aime - Johnny Hallyday (3:20)
27. Lost In The Paradise - Caetano Veloso (3:28)
28. Wonderful World, Beautiful People - Jimmy Cliff (3:16)
29. Les Champs-Elysees - Joe Dassin (2:38)

About the 1969 World Wide Players (in order of appearance):

Jimmy Cliff: After years of struggling to break out, Jimmy Cliff finally hit it big in 1969 with the release of his phenomenal eponymous debut (Highest Recommend).  Nancy's already tapped the album's most moving song and future The Harder They Come soundtrack standout Too Many Rivers To Cross for her '69 Favorites mix, here we enjoy three more of the record's best known songs: Vietnam, Time Will Tell, and Wonderful World, Beautiful People.

Peter Sarstedt: A middling Donovan wannabe, Sarstedt was not a one-hit wonder, but he would never again record a song as successful as the "poor Naples girl goes on to become European jet set royalty" folk-ballad Where Did You Go My Lovely, a song that overshadowed all else on his at first eponymous debut to the point the album was re-released under the song's name. Many at the time speculated the track was about Sophia Loren, but Sarstedt finally admitted decades later itwas actually about his girlfriend at the time (and future ex-wife) Anita, who went on to pursue the slightly less glamourous profession of dentistry. 


Os Mutantes: Wild, experimental, and loaded with pastiche assemblages, Os Mutantes sophomore effort, 1969's Mutantes (Mild Recommend), is among the more challenging of the Tropicalia rocker's early works, if for no other reason than often times the experimentation seems to be the point in itself, leaving the listener feeling closed out from the experience.  But at certain moments, the madcap, unrestrained approach does deliver a specific "out there" kind of charm, as on the popular folksy rocker 2001, the crazed pastiche opener Don Quixote, and the playful, demented garage rocker Nao Va Se Perder Por Ai included here. 

The Pioneers: Our first reggae track on this mix comes, somewhat insensitively, from The Pioneers with Long Shot (Kick De Bucket), the follow up to their '67 hit Long Shot, which revisited the story of Long Shot's long-lived but rarely victorious Jamaican race horse after he finally died during his 203rd race. It would go on to surpass the original in sales, and become the band's definitive song. 

Georges Moustaki: One of France's elite, 
Carol King-caliber, behind-the-scenes songwriters in the sixties and seventies, Moustaki was unable to find a taker amongst his dozen of performing collaborators for his anti-racist song Le Meteque (french slang for dirt poor immigrant of Mediterranean descent), so the Egypt-born Greek Jew decided to take the number on himself, and it soon became an anthem in France, spending six weeks at number one on that's nation's pop charts.

Gal Costa: Arguably the wildest and record represented on this list, Brazilian superstar Gal Costa's swaggering 1969 self-titled debut (enthusiastic Solid Recommend, also called Cinema Olympia in some releases) is considered an absolute classic in the Tropicalia genre.  A few of its songs are almost too out of control (even for my frenetic tastes) on this highly varied album, but it's strongest moments - like Cinema Olympia and the twin peaks Tuareg and Pais Tropical presented here - are pure pleasures that remain popular to this day. 

Toots & The Maytals:  Toots & The Maytals released three of their all-time biggest singles in 1969 and we're featuring all of them here - sing-a-long Monkey Man, Sweet & Dandy, later featured on Jimmy Cliff's The Harder They Come soundtrack, and Toot's account of his eighteen months spent in prison over the course of 1967-68 for a marijuana charge, 54-46 Was My Number

Francois Beranger:  A successful actor and revivalist of French folk music throughout 1970s, we're highlighting the 1969 lead single and title track to Beranger's 1970 full-length debut with the goofily appealing bluegrass number Tranche De Vie (Slices Of Life).

Caetano Veloso: Coming in with one of the most exciting albums on this mix is Caetano Velosa with his lively and inventive '69 self titled solo effort (enthusiastic Solid Recommend). Featuring a number of tracks that would become Tropicalia standard bearers like Irene, Alfomega, and Lost In The Paradise, as well as excellent deep cuts like The Empty Boat and Nao Identificado, the album spans three languages and seemingly five times as many musical genres in its adventurous forty-one minute run time. Not quite a stone-cold classic, but absolutely essential international listening nonetheless.

Harry J Allstars:  More coming soon!

Serge Gainsbourg:  More coming soon!

Eddie Palmieri: More coming soon!

Mulatu Astatke: More coming soon!

Moris: More coming soon!

Michael Polnareff: More coming soon!

The Upsetters: More coming soon!

Sandro: More coming soon!

Desmond Dekker: More coming soon!

Leo Ferre: More coming soon!

Johnny Hallyday: More coming soon!

Joe Dassin: To close our entire mix, we tap the charming first hit Les Champs-Elysses from French hitmaker Joe Dassin, the American-born/Julliard-train son of director Jules Dassin, who relocated to France after his father fell victim to the Hollywood blacklist in the early 1950s. Originally written in English under the title Waterloo Road, Dassin popularized the French reworking of the song, and it has gone on to be featured in a number of film soundtracks over the years, most notably Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited in 2007. 

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