Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Years fly by

Reaching back to my high school Spanish class, I roughly remember vosotros translating to something like you all. It is also the name of a record label that has just recently come up on my radar screen which, on their webpage, append with “music for you all.” That might come across as a little pretentious, but listening to Vosotros Presents: The Years proves that they’re on the right track to getting there.

When I first checked out the album, I was a little nonplussed by its title. I quickly figured out that vosotros was the name of the label, but were “the Years” a band? Or was it a compilation of music the label has released over the years? It wasn’t until a few listens in that it all clicked for me; this was a musical time machine spanning five decades of audio enjoyment.

It opens with a short segment that sounds like an early TV announcement introducing The Years. From there we’re transporting to the 60’s with Lose My Number, a soul number featuring Jesse Palter on vocals, and then In THE Crowd, an instrumental number that sports some groovin’ electric organ Jimmy Smith that actually sounds like it was recorded with 60’s technology (you can even hear the tape cut out at the end). The decade draws to a close with a brief interlude similar to the opening intro.

From there we move into the 70’s with a number that I originally would have SWORN was an Al Green number named Let’s Stay In Love. I mean EVERYTHING about it convinces me it’s a long lost take from the Let’s Stay Together sessions, from Sy Bar-Sheshet’s vocal phrasing to the that slow, smooth, and simmering southern sound that Al pumped out with abandon. From there it goes on to You Are The Reason, a number that’s got a Stevie Wonder vibe going on with it, late 70’sish. This decade, just like the 60’s ends with an instrumental number, Theme From "Best Buds", which has got a more pop oriented, 70’s TV theme song polish to it.

You might have guesses the pattern from here, but if not, up come the 80’s with another short interlude, Digital Age Toy Company, which goes electronic on us, and indirect references to Transformers. That digital transformation continues with When Peace And Love Come Together (It Makes You), an instrumental which would have felt right at home in the 80’s with it’s synth-line flourishes and electronic sound effects. We don’t stay still for long, with Heartbreaker, featuring John Robinson and Tiffany Paige trading vocals, propelling us towards the end of the 80’s and early 90’s with an R&B / hip hop number that would have certainly made the top 40 charts back in the day.

A few more brief instrumental interludes later, and you arrive and the end of the musical time journey: We Were Ready, and electronic jolt into the future that is almost too far removed from what's preceded it. And so ends a magnificently enjoyable fast forward visit through fifty years of music. I'll be honest, I still don't know who The Years are, but I'm totally cool with that. Listen to the album intro, These Are the Years, and the Al Greenesque number below to see why.

The Years - These Are The Years : Vosotros Presents: The Years

The Years - Let's Stay In Love (Featuring Sy Bar-Sheshet) : Vosotros Presents: The Years

Visit the Vosotros website.

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