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Phil Lynott - Old Town

Thin Lizzy, led by the late Phil Lynott, was one of those groups I knew about because of "The Boys Are Back in Town" and of course later because of Metallica's cover of "Whiskey in the Jar" but I had never dived into their discography (13 albums! Not including a whole bunch of bootlegs etc) or Phil's solo work. A few months ago I don't know how I stumbled across the song the video for "Old Town". I think I was trying to learn how to play "The Boys are Back in Town" via youtube and it was a suggestion. At first I thought WTF, this thing has a whole bunch of keyboards. What is this? But it grew on me by the 2nd or 3rd listen.  I was on a bus to the Pyrenees streaming it on my phone cause I couldn't get it out of my head. I sat down and learned its chord structure and melody.

From there I was hooked, started to listen to Thin Lizzy more and more. "Still in Love with You", "Cowboy Song", Phil with Gary Moore, than streaming whole albums on youtube and Spotify. Went out and bought the Jailbreak cd which is great (It includes Cowboy Song, The Boys are Back in Town, Jailbreak, Emerald...)

So here's the song that set me on this journey through Phil Lynott's ouvre, "Old Town".

Machine Gun Camera

So, Summer's almost over and it's time to get back on track with all pending projects.
First on the burner is Machine Gun Camera,  my upcoming single. It's a track I wrote way back in the fall of 2014 and have demoed a couple of times. I've played it live a couple of times but have yet to finish the definitive recording still working on production and arrangements. The track is a bit of a departure from what I usually write or play.
Hoping to have it out early October.

(ON SONGS) Ricky Martin - Vuelve

Bass slides, odd time changes, verses cut short, tight and amazing background vocals, Ricky Martin's Vuelve, written by Franco de Vita, produced by KC Porter and Robi Rosa, is a track full of ear candy.

Anyone who knows me personally is aware of how much of a music fan I am and how fond I am of great songs and great arrangements. I start this post stating that because if you just know me from my hard rock work it might be surprising to see me writing a post about a spanish ballad by Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin.
VUELVE, the title track from RM's 4th album was written by Venezuelan pop star singer/songwriter Franco de Vita who is known for infectious hits such as Louis, Te Amo, Solo importas tu, Un buen perdedor etc. I can only imagine what his original song must have sounded like. Well here's Franco doing a bit of the song live so we don't have to imagine much. The phrasing is different, the feel and flow....

 In the hands of Robi Rosa ( like Ricky, a former member of 80's boy band Menudo. He's taken production and artistry to new levels both as a producer and an artist, a great one, in his own right ) and KC Porter (one of my favorite producers in latin music, specially his work with Fabulosos Cadillac) the song takes flight.

 It begins with a wonderful bass riff accentuated by a couple of bass notes  on the piano. Slow groove and excellent rhodes piano accompany the vocals while a grand piano just accents the chord changes. The string section highlights vocals phrases and a clean guitar (seems a strat) follows with a slow type of funky riff.
All the while the background vocals that accompany Ricky's voice (Who is that on background vocal? Robi Rosa? It sure has his vibe and flavor.) The song builds up to a beautiful middle 8 which takes it back to a beautiful last chorus accompanied by a choir and the strings playing in a higher register. All this ends with a cascading outro that just grooves out.

It's hard to explain the track actually. I first came to know about it because I was a huge Robi Rosa fan and was looking into a lot of his stuff including a group he had been in, Maggie's Dream. His record Vagabundo was a constant listen and when Ricky Martin blew up his fingerprints seemed to be all over the place. In fact I remember some people commenting that a song like Vuelve was actually sung by Robi and Ricky just tracked his vocals over his.

I would crank it up in the studio I shared with my then business partner and bandmate Allan Leschhorn, in Santo Domingo, Estudio 828. I would use the mix of VUELVE as reference for layers of instruments, for where to put vocals. etcIt just seems such a clean mix and considering all that's going in the track, everything in its precise place.
So, what does the track make me feel? Well, music in general is something that really moves me, more so when I start paying attention to the little things going on, say, the way a background vocal just appears behind the main voice and takes it to another place, or how a drum fill just beautifully moves the transition from one chord to another, like turning a page.
This track is bass heavy, the bottom end creates this solid foundation (duh!) for all that's going on above it which is why I think the background vocals sound so ethereal contrasting with the bass.
And Ricky Martin's voice isn't really soaring all over the place, the background vocals are taking care of that, but his vocals have some real strong emotion going on which those background vocals and the piano seem to accentuate brilliantly.
Some of those transitions, vocals etc I find exciting, emotionally charged, the little guitar licks, the piano fills, the presence on the main vocals, the ambience during the chorus, how everything opens up. I love how the cymbals are used (or mixed) in the tune, not interfering with the vocals.

The song looked at on a lyric sheet (haven't seen the sheet music) probably isn't much but the way the chorus rushes in when a line in the verse seems short is a wonderful device.

It's a love song. Vuelve means come back, return.
There are moments when the rhyme scheme is skipped and the vocals seem more percussive.
Simple lyrics, the song starts with the protagonist saying that "something tells him that she's not coming back" and so on...
(Here's an acoustic live version by Ricky which has the bare essentials of the tune.)
On the music front, the arrangement hides that the song is your typical I IV V pop song in the chorus and the verses use V I VIm V IV VIm V... The song is in F# but it starts on a major C# chord and goes to the F# giving the brief impression that it's actually in C#/Db ( a I IV progression) until the Bmajor comes in and moves to Eb minor and then back to C#... then the chorus is F# B C#. The sparse use of the piano in the beginning just striking the C# chord on the down beat and that C# on the lower notes of the piano just melding into the F# chord sustain the foundation...
The middle eight goes to D and takes the song up half a step to  a huge last chorus in G major. Here are the lyrics. I've underlined where they seem to speed up or leave out a line to go to the chorus. I've translated them loosely so you can get the gist of them.

VUELVE ( Franco de Vita)
Algo me dice, que ya no volverás (something tells me you're not coming back)
Estoy seguro que esta vez (I'm sure this time there's no turning back)
No habrá marcha atrás.

Después de todo fui yo, a decirte que no (After all it was me who went and said no)
Sabes bien que no es cierto
Estoy muriendo por dentro.  (You know it's not true, I'm dying inside)

Y ahora es que me doy cuenta
Que sin ti, no soy nada.  (Now I realize that without you I'm nothing)
He perdido las fuerzas
He perdido las ganas (I've lost all strength, I've lost all desire)

He intentado encontrarte en otras personas. (I've tried to find you in other people)
No es igual, no es lo mismo.
Nos separa un abismo  (It's not the same, an abyss separates us)

Vuelve! (Come back)
Que sin ti la vida se me va (without you life leaves me)
Oh, vuelve!
Que me falta el aire, si tú no estás ( I can't breathe if you're not here)
Oh, vuelve
Nadie ocupará tu lugar... (No one can take your place )

Sobra tanto espacio, si no estás. (There's so much emptiness when you're gone)
No paso un minuto, sin pensar. ( A minute doesn't pass without thinking)
Sin ti la vida lentamente, se me va. (without you life slowly slips away)

Algo me dice ya no sirve de nada.  (Something tells me it's no use)
Tantas noches en vela, aferrado a mi almohada. (So many sleepless nights holding onto my pillow)

Si pudiera tan solo regresar un momento. (If I could just go back for a moment)
Ahora es que te comprendo.
Ahora es, cuando te pierdo.   (Now I understand you. Now I lose you )

repeat chorus

bridge (Here's where the song soars!)
Y a pesar que fui yo!   (Even though it was me )
A decirte que no! (Who said no )
Sin embargo aquí, sigo insistiendote! (Here I am insisting )

repeat chorus


LS Zaragoza, Spain April 24, 2016

Next solo show Oct 15. Plaza Las Armas

I'll be playing some of my new songs as part of Pilares Emergentes hosted by Aragon Musical next Thursday Oct. 15 at Plaza Las Armas. More info here ARAGON MUSICAL

POLO & LEO - The Trooper acoustic (Iron Maiden cover)

Back in march my buddy Polo and I played a show at a local Zaragoza pub full of our original tunes and covers we love. Unfortunately we did not record the first set, but that still left us with over two hours of the second set. At the 24:22 mark you can hear us playing Iron Maidenś The Trooper.

Apart from our songs these are some of the covers we played.

Spanish Bombs;Should I Stay or Should I Go - The Clash

Seek and Destroy; Fade to Black - Metallica

Sweet Child of Mine - Guns n Roses

I got a Name - Jim Croce

Perfect Day - Lou Reed

Whisky in the Jar - Thin Lizzy/Metallica

Crazy Train - Ozzy

and others...

Check out the time links in the videos for direct access to songs.

We'll be back on stage on August 1st at the Sala Creedence in Zaragoza.

ON SONGS Bee Gees - Nights on Broadway

I've been a big fan of the Bee Gees and of Barry Gibb's songwriting since I was a kid listening to AM radio growing up in NYC. I was enamored of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and remember even taking my lp to school (P.S. 152 in uptown Manhattan) to show it to my friends. But there is so much depth to the Bee Gees catalog and I, by no means have really dug into it. Nevertheless, I have a favorite Bee Gees song that predates the Fever soundtrack. 
"Nights on Broadway" is an amazing song from it's arrangement, the harmonies, the hooks. It starts with that great funky drum intro and what appears to be a synth bass before the vocals come in building up to that glorious chorus. 
This is the tune that Jimmy Fallon parodied for his intro to the Barry Gibb Show sketch on SNL. 

Check it out!