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A Stereophonic Sound Spectacular

I know that’s the quite the bold headline. I mean, just who am I to make such a declarative statement, right? But, if you tune into this week’s World Music Show (3/25), then you’ll forgive my platitudes, hopefully. Plus, that header is a reference for sounds to come.

And those sounds will be coming from a brief musical history lesson about the a legendary Japanese pop band who gained fame in the 90s for their eclectic sounds that paid homage to late 60s English pop music. I’m talking about the band Pizzicato Five or P5 as they were sometimes known. But more on them in a moment.

Let’s dive into what you’ll be hearing in the first hour of this week’s show. On the boards for this hour will be some guitar sounds from the Ecuadorian musician Eljuri. She’s an amazing player who’s rightly been compared to the likes of Carlos Santana and Hendrix for her searing licks and hooks. Her style mixes both rock, reggae and even a little Motown. And, she’s been an outspoken fighter for women and human rights, as is evident on her Twitter and Instagram feeds. Currently, Eljuri is on tour around the country playing tracks off her latest CD, called La Lucha. Off of that, we’ll hear the songs “Bang Bang,” and “Luz Roja.”

One of the only other female musicians I can pair with Eljuri in this first set is the Spanish singer Bebe. She’s a chameleon who loves to change her sound, as well as looks. Off her CD called Un Pokito de Rock n’ Roll, we’ll hear the tracks “Sabras” and “Adios.”

Staying in the realm of Latin music, but switching it up in terms of locale and voice, we’ll hear some unique male voices—and when I say unique, I’m not only taking about vocal quality but of their style too. We’ll check out Moreno Veloso with the song “Nao Acorde o Nenem,” which can be found on his CD called Coisa Boa. That CD took him oh, about 13 years to release. It’s not that he was trying to perfect a style or anything. It’s just that he was busy doing so many other things, like producing and working with two other musicians on their projects.

And we’ll also hear a couple of tracks from the unique voice of Seu Jorge, who grew up in the favelas or slums near Rio deJaneiro. Off his CD called Carolina, which was named after his cat, we’ll check out the song “Funk Baby.” Also in this set is the truly unique voice of another Brazilian—Tom Ze. Ze, who was part of Brazil’s Tropicalismo movement back in the 60s (which was a huge cultural and artistic movement) never became a huge star, along the lines of Gilberto Gil or Caetano Veloso. And that could have been because throughout his career, Ze pushed the boundaries of popular song by experimenting with his voice as well as with sound (and even his image). David Byrne, who founded the label Luaka Bop, sort of “rediscovered” him for a new generation and collected some of Ze’s tunes for a greatest hits compilation. We’ll hear a couple of songs off that greatest hits CD.

Moving on from that, it’ll be time for the Eternal Getdown, which is a new CD by the GRAMMY-winning East L.A. band Quetzal. This band mixes sounds from its urban palette – rock, R&B, Mexican son jarocho, Japanese taiko, and even Afro-Cuban batá, to create an ambitious, artful album with a social point of view. This is their seventh album, put out on Smithsonian Folkways. Off of that, I’ll be playing the first two tracks, namely  “Espejos vs. the Gaze,” which is a critique of the dominant-subordinate perspective that tourists have in relation to indigenous people who have become the capital of commodity. I’ll follow that with track two called “Pillow People,” which has hints of a Motown tune and it’s about the trails and tribulations of undocumented laborers.

Rounding out the hour will be another new cut from the musician Lula Pena’s new CD called Pittoresco. She’s a Fado and World music singer, composer and poet from Lisbon, Portugal. We’ll hear the song “Brevial Rio.” And for good measure I’m going to throw in a couple of tracks from David Byrne’s Latin dance CD, Rei Momo. I’ll feature my favorite tracks called “Loco de Amor,” which I first heard in the film “Something Wild” and the song “Office Cowboy,” which is a Pagode type of track.

For hour two, it’ll be time for that Stereophonic Sound Spectacular with a mini exploration of the 90s Japanese Pop band Pizzicato Five. This group, which was a trio but actually had a few members throughout their brief 16-year run (I guess that’s not too brief, right?). They, along with another band, were credited with spearheading the Shibuya-kei movement of Tokyo in the 1990s. That movement was known for eclectic and energetic compositions that often paid homage to late 1960s English-language pop music. The catchphrase "A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular" captured the group's ironic stance and eager attitude.

Pizzicato Five was a hugely prolific group during its 16-year-long existence, usually releasing at least an album each year in addition to various EPs and remix albums. Their music has appeared in numerous movies, television episodes, and video games. Plus, visually, they really had some great style, I think. Off of their CD called Overdose, in which they traveled to New York, I’ll play the songs “Airplane,” and “Hippie Day.” On the back cover of this CD, they beg us all to “Please play LOUD if please.” Love, peace and money, love.”

Then off P5’s release on the Matador label called Made in USA, we’ll hear the song “Baby Love Child,” I love that groove! I hope you will too. Then off of P5’s CD called the International Playboy & Playgirl Record, we’ll check out the title track called “Playboy Playgirl.”

And as Monty Python once proclaimed “and now for something completely different,” we’ll dive into a couple of tracks from the Reggae band Sojo. Off their CD called Amid the Noise and Haste, we’ll checkout “Your song,” featuring Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, followed by the track “I Believe,” which features Michael Franti and the musician Nakho.

For the rest of show, get ready for tracks from Mory Kante, Tony Allen and Tweak, as well as Baaba Maal and even a couple new cuts off of Paul Simon’s latest CD called Stranger to Stranger.

The World Music Show airs every Saturday night from 8:00-10:00 p.m. on Richmond Public Radio, 88.9 WCVE. You can also stream the show via this website and you can join the fun on Twitter @wcveworldmusic and on Facebook at ideastations.org/Worldmusic.