Ed Motta drops AOR Mix 2 chock full of funky and rare tunes
Mixtape of 20 funky and super-rare AOR tunes
by Allen Thayer
Ed Motta has created AOR Mix 2, another brilliant mixtape exclusively for Wax Poetics, in support of his U.S. tour (stream the mix below).
This weekend, the crown prince of Brazilian funk makes a special pilgrimage to the geographical source of inspiration for his latest album, AOR. San Diego, L.A., and Oakland will get a rare treat to see Ed for the first time on the West Coast in 14 years. Ed’s eleventh studio album finds the Dr. Who of Brazilian music embracing his guilty pleasure, his inner truth, his latest, yet oldest musical love: AOR. The acronym means alternately “Album-Oriented Rock” or “Adult-Oriented Rock” and is a style typified by pop-rock acts with strong soul and jazz influences generally from the late ’70s and early ’80s. “This is the music I grew up listening to: Christopher Cross, Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers, Alessi Brothers, all these things. But in the last five years, I’ve become obsessed with AOR, and I started to write many, many, many songs.”
Ed’s taking the smooth, jazzy, and funky sounds back to the place of their birth, Southern California all the way to the San Francisco Bay. AOR live features Ed of vocals and keyboards (loads of Fender Rhodes) as well as bandleader extraordinaire and Tim Maia’s lead guitarist on nearly all the classic hits, Paulinho Guitarra.
Track list notes by Ed Motta:
1. Mark Radice “It’s You My Love” (1977)
I bought this album because it was on the Roadshow label, same as B.T. Express. Radice’s second album, by coincidence, is Randy Muller–related as well, because it has Brass Construction as the backing band.
New York studio cats doing a superb work here. John Tropea’s guitar on this track is gorgeous.
2. Dwight Druick “Prends Ton Temps” (1980)
Canadian AOR holy grail—it has a famous Toto’s “Georgy Porgy” version loved by AOR collectors. The clean and accurate West Coast sound in other context. Steely Dan influence in the way chord changes goes in the solo part.
3. Altay Veloso “Débora” (1986)
Brazilian singer, composer, and guitarist Altay Veloso and this George Benson–inspired song that was kinda a hit only in Rio De Janeiro. He’s a prolific artist that recently wrote a very complex musical.
4. Tatsuro Yamashita “Love Talkin’ (Honey It’s You)” (1982)
Japan’s pop legend and one of his anthems. Perfect groove architecture that reminds me of Solar Records classics like Dynasty and Shalamar.
5. Arian “Your Love Makes Me a Winner” (1981)
AOR boogie from Yugoslavia! Record collector Dejan Gavrilovic showed me this rare album that has also a Bobby Caldwell cover. In my imaginary night club, actor Robert Wagner dances to this song with loud colorful drink.
6. Starbuck “A Fool in Line” (1977)
This tracks sounds very special with synth bass, very compressed guitar, and the hi-hat doing a funny pan going to left and right all the time. From the second album of this Atlanta band comes a buried treasure AOR club track.
7. Valerie Carter “Crazy” (1978)
The late Valerie Carter was an important collaborator on many ’70s and early ’80s AOR records doing vocals. Super fine production by cinema composer James Newton Howard.
8. Shampoo “Fruta Maçã” (1983)
From São Paulo comes this great AOR band that Brazilian AOR collectors search out a lot. This track has a Chicago, Alessi Brothers flavor to me.
9. Renee Geyer “Two Sides” (1975)
What a superb singer is the Australian-born Renee. Her phrasing is really deep like the best African American singers.
10. Adrian Gurvitz “Untouchable and Free” (1979)
He works on a big range of styles of music: hard rock band with his brother Three Man Army to Baker Gurvitz Army with Ginger Baker. The song “Classic” was a huge worldwide hit too, but my favorite is this album recorded in USA with many studio kats from the period. His voice reminds me Pete Townshend sometimes.
11. Rita Lee “Atlântida” (1981)
Os Mutantes are cool of course, but the music gold of Rita Lee is her period with Roberto De Carvalho. They wrote the best and most sophisticated Brazilian pop songs that became huge hits. This Spanish version was available on a special German 12-inch. I love the B part so much, one of the best chord changes I heard on a FM radio.
12. James Vincent “Space Traveler” (1976)
Über under-rated genius, his music is so unique, he blends AOR, soul, jazz, fusion—very intelligent. This track has a superstar lineup like EW&F’s Verdine White and Fred White, Jack Nitzsche doing string arrangement, and Chicago’s Peter Cetera on backing vocals. His Christian-oriented albums afterwards has all the same freedom and musicality.
13. Pino Daniele “Notte Che Fai” (1995)
One of Italy’s most eloquent pop composers. I like more his ’70s and ’80s productions regarding studio sound because I prefer music before digital days, but this tune is always in my mind, lovely composition.
14. Chas Jankel “Just a Thought” (1980)
This album has the original version of “Ai No Corrida” composed by Jankel that became famous with Quincy Jones. He was from the Ian Dury band, the Blockheads. Harmonic sophistication in songs like “Inbetweenies” from Ian Dury repertoire has a strong Chas Jankel input. Ian Dury was inside the musically rudimentary and relativistic punk scene, but as a big Steely Dan fan, he liked the music of Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello as well…
15. Noriyo Ikeda “Dream in the Street” (1980)
City Pop! The Japanese nomenclature for AOR, pop, boogie, funk recorded there since the ’70s. Quality is the word in Japan. I admire and learn with them so much.
16. Jerry Corbetta “Caribbean Lady”
Sugarloaf’s member and his first solo album recorded by Roger Nichols, Steely Dan’s studio wizard, and arranged by the great Jay Graydon. AOR West Coast candy!
17. The Bee’s Knees “You and I” (1979)
Texas AOR band that released just two albums—both are great. This one, their second, was released on a yellow transparent vinyl that gives even more charm to it.
18. Googie and Tom Coppola “Let This River Flow” (1980)
First time I heard about the super-talented Googie Coppola was through Jeremy Steig’s Firefly on CTI. Also Coppola’s brothers first album, the band Air, is a must have. Complex chords changes here in a similar vein as George Duke or Patrice Rushen. AOR going jazz fusion, and Googie sings each note with an outstanding accuracy.
19. Raul Porchetto “El Vino Del Alma” (1979)
Argentine singer and composer, he has a very different voice tone. He recorded in the ’70s the famous Cristo Rock indispensable on any serious Argentine pop collection. This album I feel a bit of Spinetta on some moments like this track. Santiago Fandiño does a great bass work.
20. Rick Riso “Gotta Have the Real Thing”
CCM (Christian Contemporary Music) must be on any AOR selection, very important for the language. Riso was from the band Messenger and is an outstanding composer.
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