Refazenda in a World on Fire

Can Refazenda help us rethink how we approach the world? Can the album inspire radical action in fighting climate change? In 2020, it’s hard to think about Brazil without also thinking about the Amazon, deforestation, and the sad state of our environment.  Though produced nearly a half century ago, Gilberto Gil’s Refazenda (1975) is timely in its insistence for humans to rethink our relationship with nature and the land.  That message, subtle but firm throughout the album, includes frightening visions of our world today but also suggests hopeful ways forward…

Refazenda and Drug Policy in the Americas

About twenty years ago, during a trip home to New Mexico I ran into an old friend from high school. When we got around to talking about work, she told me that she was at a non-profit in Washington D.C., advocating for the legalization of marijuana. I had never really heard anyone talk seriously about legalizing pot, and the fact that my friend was making a career doing that just about blew my mind. Fast forward to January 1, 2020: Illinois (where I now live) becomes the latest state to…

So, why Gilberto Gil’s Refazenda?

Marc Hertzman on his his new addition to 33 1/3 Brazil. During the 1970s, Gilberto Gil produced a remarkable musical trilogy: Refazenda (1975), Refavela (1977), and Realce (1979).  Of the three, Refavela is probably the most popular and widely discussed, and Realce includes, among other hits, a beautiful cover of “No Woman, No Cry,” with Portuguese lyrics.  So, why Refazenda?  Reasons person, political, aesthetic, and intellectual drew me to the album. A couple of chance encounters with Refazenda over the years illustrate the album’s—and Gil’s—larger significance.  I first stumbled upon…

35th anniversary of We Are the World

This January 28th marks the 35th anniversary of We Are the World’s initial recording. Originally recorded by the super-group USA for Africa in 1985, this song raised over $63 million in humanitarian aid in Africa and the US, as well as becoming one of the fastest-selling American pop singles in history. Bringing together some of the most famous artists in the 80’s music industry, the accompanying music video is a beautiful, and very amusing, trip down memory lane. Looking back on this remarkable feat, we sat down to watch the…

D’Angelo’s Voodoo at 20

Tomorrow will be the 20th anniversary of D’Angelo’s powerful, timeless album, Voodoo. A defining anthem of the neo-soul movement, Voodoo is a powerful declaration of D’Angelo’s musical talent. Yet following its 2000 release, its critical and commercial success, and then the feverish and overwhelming response to the “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” music video, D’Angelo practically disapeared from the music world for 14 years. And now, 20 years later, Voodoo is being inducted into the 33 1/3 series, with Faith Pennick’s newest book on this mysterious album. Pennick dives into…

The Journey of Writing a 33 1/3 on Massive Attack

Ian Bourland just wrote published his new 33 1/3, Massive Attack’s Blue Lines, and now he’s back to tell us about the process of how it came to be. Is it all about the finished product, or the journey it takes to get there? Writing Massive Attack: Blue Lines is the most fun writing assignment I’ve ever had, though it wasn’t really because of the subject matter. Sure, music journalism is about the apex of coolness in our industry, and certainly Massive Attack are synonymous with a certain cosmopolitan mystique.…

How Roshanak Kheshti became the “Moogstress”

Roshanak Kheshti, author of Wendy Carlos’s Switched -On Bach, on how she discovered a Moog synthesizer in a record store back in the 90s. Wendy Carlos’s Switched-On Bach is currently 30% off during our Holiday Sale, so make sure to grab yourself a copy before the sale ends December 15th! The year was 1996. It was spring and time for a treasure hunt. I set out to scour every pawn shop in Indianapolis in search of a Moog. What are the odds, right? Best case scenario, I discover a dusty,…

The 33 1/3 B-sides Week, Day 4: Royale with Cheese

Today is the last day of our B-sides author takeover, and we’re ending with a short and sweet essay by Evie Nagy, author of Devo’s Freedom of Choice. Her chapter in The 33 1/3 B-sides is all about Music from the Motion Picture Pulp Fiction. Below, she talks about why the soundtrack has stuck with her for so many years… If you’re a writer, there’s a good chance you have an essay or two that you’ve been writing in your head for years, but for one reason or another have…

The 33 1/3 B-sides Week, Day 3: Cupid & Psyche 85

Below you’ll find an interview between Dan LeRoy, author of The Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, and now of the B-sides chapter on Scritti Politti’s Cupid & Psyche 85, and Scritti Politti frontman himself, Green Gartside! They discuss how it feels to listen to your own music, having Sir Elton John as a fan, and Gartside’s new music. All manner of albums are touted as influential, as difference-makers, as revolutionary. I submit that there are few that have had such audible influence on music as Scritti Politti’s Cupid and Psyche ’85.…