The sounds of Brazil are here to stay. ZEBRA Reconds is proud to present one of Rio's treasures: KENIA. The re-release of RIO/NEW YORK is a real celebration. It possesses the feel of hot Carnaval and smooth Samba with a passion for Jazz. Half the songs have been remixed and it sounds better than ever. KENIA, in the tradition of a true "Carioca" expresses herself in song with an emotion known as "Saudade", a love and longing for her native Brazil. When I first heard KENIA the sultriness of her voice was so mesmerizing yet forceful with an intriguing sensuality.
With their second album, Rio Grande Mud, ZZ Top uses the sound they sketched out on their debut as a blueprint, yet they tweak it in slight but important ways. The first difference is the heavier, more powerful sound, turning the boogie guitars into a locomotive force. There are slight production flares that date this as a 1972 record, but for the most part, this is a straight-ahead, dirty blues-rock difference. Essentially like the first album, then. That's where the second difference comes in – they have a much better set of songs this time around, highlighted by the swaggering shuffle "Just Got Paid," the pile-driving boogie "Bar-B-Q," the slide guitar workout "Apologies to Pearly," and two Dusty Hill-sung numbers, "Francine" and "Chevrolet." There are still a couple of tracks that don't quite gel and their fuzz-blues still can sound a little one-dimensional at times, but Rio Grande Mud is the first flowering of ZZ Top as a great, down-n-dirty blooze rock band.
No chance Franks is going to change the formula now after all these years, but what a great formula it is. Michael Franks delivers another superb collection of idiosyncratic pop songs as only he can - this time out with a bit of a Brazilian flavored twist. Features Chuck Loeb (guitar, keyboards, programming), David Sancious (piano, keyboards), Jeff Lorber (keyboards, programming), Michael White (drums) and Eric Marienthal.