Review : Various Artists - Red Hot + Rio 2
PopmattersRed Hot + Rio 2 is the new compilation from the Red Hot Organization, responsible for 2009’s Dark Is the Night compilation as well as Red Hot + Rio, a tribute to Brazilian music which came out in 1996, and No Alternative, a collection of songs from American indie bands in the early ‘90s. Red Hot + Rio 2 distinguishes itself from its predecessor of the same name by positioning itself as a tribute to tropicalia, the brilliantly-skewered brand of pop music that bubbled up from out of the cracks of Brazil’s dictatorship in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.
However, it is quite clear that this is a broad defining of the album, as along with covers of songs from the tropicália era, we get bossa nova, afrosamba, afoxé and even ‘80s kitsch in the shape of a cover of “Freak Le Boom Boom”, as well as a number of original tracks. It’s no great surprise then that the album, despite having a number of highlights, doesn’t quite gel and struggles to hold together as a piece.
The first disc focuses on more soul-orientated material, beginning with a cover of a tropicalia classic, “Baby”, by Alice Smith and Aloe Blacc. It’s quite a brave decision to start the compilation with a song that many fans of the genre hold in their hearts and that is essentially a simple, love song. It’s a decision that doesn’t completely work. The decision to add extra strings and for the guitar to be lower in the mix than it was in the original version takes away from its perkiness as do the vocals, which are far too dreamy. Better is an alternative mix of the song later on, titled “Dirty Baby (Dub Version)”, this time with Aloe Blacc taking the lead and Alice Smith on backing, which tries to imagine the song as a trippy affair but crucially has a vocal with a real sense of urgency that the first effort missed....full text
MxdwnThe second installation of Red Hot Rio hits storefront and internet shelves this week as part of Beco Dranoff, John Carlin, and Paul Heck’s HIV/AIDS awareness and fundraiser. The two disc, 34 original track album is a mishmash collection of artists from Brazil and beyond performing an eclectic variety of tracks. Red Hot + Rio 2 travels across the world to bring you rare and exotic music you would normally never get the chance to hear.
Disc one, title simply Red, contains “Tropicalia,” where Beck and Seu Jorge team up to create French infused Latin rhythms. John Legend performs “Lone I’ve Never Known,” a powerful piano driven song, singing “Dreams of love, will they ever come true / am I a fool to dream of you? … Dreams of a love I’ll never know.” Following that is Aloe Blacc and Clara Moreno’s dreamy “Nascimento (Rebirth) – Scene 2,” which uses whimsical and jazz piano, horns, and chants. Alice Smith and Aloe Blacc perform two versions of “Baby” on Rio 2, an original and shorter dub version, both of which are sung and produced very well. Prefuse 73 contributes to “Terra,” with emotional Spanish vocals by Caetano Veloso along with strings and acoustic guitar.
Disc two, appropriately title Hot, begins with Beirut singing the catchy “O Leãozinho” in their poly-instrumental, world inspired style. The Boogie’s “Panis et Circensis” is one of the few tracks to feature an electric guitar, traditional drum set, and English lyrics. This is followed by of Montreal and Os Mutantes’ “Bat Macumba,” a short jam with repeating chorus chants. Madlib, Joyce Moreno, and Generation Match get together to record “Banana,” a jazzy piano and horn-driven song driven by Madlib’s unyielding drums and Moreno’s French vocals. “Freak le Boom Boom,” a personal favorite by Marina Gasolina and Secousse, is a French/Latin hybrid which employs dancey dub claps and wobbles alongside Gasolina’s sexy vocals. In all honesty, there are just too many hits to mention here.
While not for everyone, fans of world music, mid tempo dance, acoustic, and dub tunes especially, will find the appeal in this double album. Songs are done in French, Spanish, English, and other indistinguishable languages, but even if you don’t understand every word that is sung on the album the cheerful harmonies are universal. Even if you’ve never considered yourself one to fancy this type of music, there are so many different artists collaborating here that it’s very easy for even the pickiest of listeners to find something they like while discovering other amazing world artists in the meantime. When coupled with the fact that it’s for an AIDS benefit, there is no real reason not to give it a listen....full text
HeyreverbThe summery, breezy songs that make up the latest compilation from the Red Hot Organization might just be the official soundtrack of the season. A tribute to the ’60s Tropicalia movement of Brazil, “Red Hot + Rio 2″ is one of the most listenable records to come across our desk in months.
Alternating among English, Portuguese and Spanish, this hip, multi-culti offering features familiar and unfamiliar names, songs and voices. But at every turn, this two-disc set surprises and triumphs, thanks to careful curation. And it’s the 17th compilation to “raise money and awareness to the fight against AIDS.”
The big names are here: David Byrne, Beck, John Legend and Bebel Gilberto. The indie stars, too: Beirut, Devendra Banhart, Of Montreal, Seu Jorge and Os Mutantes.
The quality of the songs and recordings is extremely high. Ticklah’s dubby remix of Curumin’s “Ela” is a flashy jam. Beirut’s “O Leãozinho” is a rhythmic stunner. Alice Smith and Aloe Blacc’s “Baby” is a sweet and gentle jaunt. Jorge’s assist on Beck’s “Tropicália” gives the song an added groove.
This record is easy to like. And it’s even easier to dance along to. –Ricardo Baca...full text
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