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Friday, November 18, 2016

Rare Silk - Black & Blue

Artist: Rare Silk
Album: Black & Blue
Year: 1986
Style: Jazz, New Wave
Similar Bands: Pied Pipers, Andrews Sisters, Rippingtons, Manhattan Transfer
One Word Review:
Based Out Of: Boulder, Colorado
Label: TBA Records, Palo Alto Records
 Black & Blue Cover, Lyrics Record
Black & Blue: Back & Record

Black & Blue (1986)
  1. Automatic Girl 3:56
  2. Red Harvest 4:44
  3. Mama-San 5:12
  4. Xenobian Love Song 4:33/ 
  5. Argot 4:31
  6. Black & Blue 4:50
  7. Playback 3:58
  8. How Can I Be Sure 3:39
  9. Over 1:30

Album Rating (1-10): 4.5

Members & Other Bands:
Kip Kuepper - Bass, Producer (Danny Heines, Steve Haun, Dotsero)
Steve Holloway - Drums (James Van Buren, Danny Heines, Jimmy Bruno, Chronic Bliss)
Eric Gunnison - Keys (Lynn Baker Quartet, James Van Buren, Peter Kater, Carmen McRae)
Todd Buffa - Producer, Vox
Gaile Gillaspie - Vox
Marylynn Gillaspie - Vox
Patrick Cullie - Executive Producer
Scott Roche - Executive Producer
Tim Benko - Cover Photo
Jerry Downs - Back Photo

Unknown-ness: Never heard of this band. The cover is kind of awful: the ripped paper motif, the ransom note font paired with the fancy font, the blind in the backgorund, and the posable figure drawing models next to an orb of glass. For 1986, this seems way too accurate. Based on that alon, I would not have bought this...but the "band image" on the back, and the haphazardly angled song titles made me wonder more for what this will sound like, not will I like this. I'm imagining an interpretive dance soundtrack for the band's style and sound.

Album Review: Started in 1978, they were an up and coming jazz vocal group, taken on tour with Benny Goodman in 1980 after he heard them perform. At that early stage, they played huge venues with him, such as the Boston Globe Jazz Fest, Carnegie Hall, Hollywood Bowl and even at the Aurex Jazz Fest in Japan. By the time of the third album, interest was waning, and they went from a Grammy nominated freshman album on Polydor to TBA records here.

“Automatic Girl” slips righting a twinkle and synth sounds into Smooth Jazz. The vocals are a little bit of Tears for Fears and the style is similar to the lightest of XTC songs. Not too familiar with the styles of Jazz, but this has been more of a modern approach, and I can assume is Bop.
“Red Harvest” is a fun, energetic conga-like song. The energy tapers off after the intro, and slides into general a shuffling jazz. The instrumental is a jazzy twinkling over the keys following the burst of quick salsa. Sounds a little like Stereo Lab and Pizzicato Five…or more likely, they dabble in this style a little bit
“Mama-San” is a slower fade in and out, the song drags along, like it is encountering obstacles to a steady pace. At times for the chorus, it becomes fluid, but for most of the song, it stumbles along, dragging its feet.
“Xenobian Love Song” begins with a bass line and a flat bongo beat. The delicate vocals in harmony carry a melody that reminds me of Dr Buzzard’s Savannah Band. It evolves to be a little darker in the middle, and the jungle beat grows.  

“Argot” fades in with a choir hum. Liquid percussion is added, followed by toy xylophone notes. The elements loop on themselves as the song takes shape. The dated crystal synth is the next element, followed by the smooth jazz sax. At 3:45 the layers stop, and an atmospheric tone permeates the song, with the choir voices taking turns with individual sounds.
“Black & Blue” starts with a burst of big band sound. Then the jazzy vocals croon with bursts of the trumpets as accents. The song swings and builds as it goes, but never really releases. A smooth sax interlude absorbs some time. The elements come together in the end, speeding up, slightly franticly.
“Playback” is a slow jam, the harmonic voices feel synthesized, especially on top of the synth sounding instruments. For the breakdown, the vocals separate and do their own thing before grouping back up for another verse.
“How Can I Be Sure” is a cover of the Young Rascals 1967 song, and kicks in with some funky rhythmic guitar chords over a bouncy bass beat. The vocals, starting out as a chorus, focus on one female vocal in a pause. With a slightly different vocal style, this could be a solid punk song.
“Over” is a short album ending song of harmonized acapella vocals. There is a little toy box instrument in the vocal pauses. 

Stand Out Track: How Can I Be Sure

All about Jazz
Last FM

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