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Reviews Album cover: Juan Carlos Viera and Adrián Socorro Suárez / Design: Pepe Menéndez. Album cover: Juan Carlos Viera and Adrián Socorro Suárez / Design: Pepe Menéndez.

Life to Life / Various Artists

A cover album shouldn't be karaoke. However, it is what almost always ends up happening in projects like the album life to life, which Nelson Vila and the Bis Music label have seen fit to produce this year. It is a tribute to the first full-length by Santiago Feliú, the already legendary Vida (Egrem, 1986), in which several artists interpret the songs that Santi's record premiere contained.

In principle, any recycling should be able to justify itself. In other words, the reason for recycling should not be just what is recycled. The version cannot be humble. Its purpose would always have to be pretentious: to surpass the piece for which it is the cause, to relegate it until the public no longer remembers it and, through time, to become the definitive version. I'm not going to say how to improve, because no one knows that, but in general, efforts should be directed there regardless of the result that is finally achieved. Singing beautiful old songs by good and beautiful people will always be fine, but whoever approaches an album of studio versions solely from admiration and modesty must also be able to deal with oblivion.

I don't like the title. It seems to me a bland and unattractive evocation, besides if you don't see it written you don't understand it. I don't like the cover, a rather ugly variation on the original that isn't a charm either. Nor do I like the fact that the album was conceived from a single orchestral source towards which various artists converged. The original themes have been reinterpreted by a nucleus of arrangers in a centralized way, and this limits the freedom of movement of the soloists invited to the project. Among the most interesting things that collective tribute albums bring is seeing how each performer connects with the original from their own style, their own sound, their own sensitivity. This album, on the other hand, sounds the same almost all the time, beyond the name that appears under the title of each song.

The production has altered the original order of the themes and I think it's fine, because otherwise the opening it would have been the boring recreation that Amaury Pérez does from Yesterday and today in love. It's not Amaury's fault, he sings the way he sings. The fault lies with whoever believed that this song, among the 10 available, was the most suitable for him. With the exception of the symphonic interlude after the first chorus, which was cool, the piece never surprises. Amaury doesn't finish singing the first verse and one is already looking at the clock. I would have liked to see what he did, for example, with battles over meor Vida, songs if you want more distant from his style. Perhaps we would have listened to the vertigo that he once showed in Hacerte venir (Make you come) or where the water. (Here I leave Santiago Feliú's version of the latter, as proof that for now Amaury has not returned the favor).

life to life open with Letter and luck of having Gunila, interpreted by Pablo Milanés. This is by far the best cut on the album, hence the initial placement in the order even though it doesn't add much to its narrative, if there is one. I love how the arrangement has introduced the theme. The expressiveness and passion of the first bars produce a very well achieved effect of continuity, which hints at the existence of a previous conversation. The intro of this version is considerably shorter and, unlike the original, it does not set the tone, because the tone is already set. Pablo Milanés, announces the arrangement, he is only going to resume now a dialogue that began 35 years ago. 

Here too the symphonic interlude has turned out beautiful, although the entire album is saturated with this resource. I understand it in part, because on some songs it's only the strings that bring elements of novelty to the version, as happens in for Barbara, performed by William Vivanco in a duet with Santiago Feliú himself, in a totally dispensable rehash (in addition to for Barbara, the production also makes Santi sing rainbow only in its entirety), although the voice implant in the current mix, after Nelson Vila and company decided that no one else could sing rainbow only and half of for Barbara better than its author, it is quite decorous.

William Vivanco got the most difficult of the piñata. A worn-out song like a bald Chinese, incapable of lighting the filament for someone over 12 years of age. You have to be very genius, you have to be very out of this world to convert for Barbara in an interesting song after all the sun and all the rain that has fallen on it. Vivanco is no genius, but he is a very good singer and musician in general, from whom we could expect some degree of melodic risk, or at least avoid repeating Santiago Feliú's vocal manias, like when he does that cracked melisma already, in the verse that says: “reason for your giving”.

William is not the only one who finds it difficult to disengage from Santi. Both arrangers and performers have read the originals as if they were untouchable monuments that are not allowed to be altered. Hostages of the album to which they pay tribute, they have converted Vida in a mandate, when it should have been a suggestion.

Some of this also occurs in the homonymous song, performed by Liuba María Hevia and David Torrens, who limit themselves to following the same paths that Santiago and Gunila Tulehag, original singers, had hacked through the jungle of melodic options. Yes ok Vida, with those wonderful vocal arrangements that it has, it is already a very rich song to sing as a duet as it is, for which I understand that Liuba and David have found it really difficult to become avant-garde and try to enrich an almost perfect piece, I would not have bothered to hear some new approach in the interpretation of the theme that is perhaps the most important on the album.

There are arrangements that, because they are of an essential nature in the configuration of the entire piece, withstand variations much worse, such as the riff initial of battles over me. However, the beautiful introduction of old air that we heard in drawing friend is not one of these cases. The current arrangement, very lazily, reproduces verbatim this passage as if it were an inseparable part of the song, when it is but one among many ways that the composition has to offer itself. drawing friend It remained in one of the flattest versions of the album, thus wasting the production to Rochy, who on more than one occasion has achieved extraordinary interpretations of anthological themes without much disheveled.

The desire one has for something new to happen on this album makes the rapper segment released by Kamankola tolerable in doves for life. The production didn't even bother to try to achieve an electric guitar timbre less similar to that of Pablo Menéndez's on Santiago's album, but Kamankola did dare, either because of his natural vocal conditions, or simply because of his desire to to overcome boredom, to disguise the assignment a bit, which is what almost all interpretations of life to life. However, while this artist has some pretty decent bars in his repertoire, the ones here aren't among his happiest creations. Like so many other people, Kamankola believes that the beauty of the image depends exclusively on the number of cute little words that can fit in the sentence, and that is why he says "A sip of poison wakes me up" or "in the slums of my voice is the eclipse”, completely artificial lines, completely infamous.

Within its chronic problems, the project managed to give us versions that do seem to me to be up to the task. In addition to Letter and luck of having Gunila, is the case of battles over me, played by Kelvis Ochoa and David Torrens, Anyway, defended by Héctor Téllez Jr. together with Síntesis, and When in your eagerness to dawn, sung by Liuba María Hevia.

Torrens and Kelvis work battles over me with enough dignity. They play with accents, they surprise, they harmonize their voices gracefully. The strings are just, filling the precise spaces, without excesses. I am left with the moment in which Kelvis Ochoa, without ignoring the work that he assumes, but without ceasing to be Kelvis Ochoa, sings: “Blancas, blancas mi songs…”. 

does not disappoint either Anyway. Síntesis and Héctor Téllez Jr. get it right by slightly delaying the tempo original. Thus we discover a new energy, a new kind of intensity. The electric guitar halons unsettle, and arrive just when the song is going up, in a correct reading of the emotional morphology of the source song. Magnificent choral voices, one of the best on the entire album. It is really beautiful the support for the verse that goes: "Now the hopes tire him, they tire him". Anyway it's not in me top 3 just because I don't like Héctor Téllez Jr.'s voice at all, who seems to scream all the time.

The one that is in me top 3 is Liuba María Hevia's version of When in your eagerness to dawn. From the outset, if we have not looked at the order, we do not know during the measures that the intro what subject it is, and this is a luxury considering how strange the risk has been to this production. Then when Liuba begins: "I carry you in my songs like a river" it seems that we are listening to a bonus track from one of his records. The author of Your love is my song Prove here that you don't have to be John Coltrane to cover a song from your own universe. Liuba doesn't add futuristic melodic moves or overly complex the original harmony, but a few slight variations are enough to know that she's the one there. Let's hear how James addresses the last word in the verse that says: "Life will resound in any existence"; later, so that what I say is better understood, let's see what Hevia does with the same word in her interpretation.

In short, to the project life to life the past won. It was more tribute than album. I don't know if Santiago Feliú, a great performer, would have liked it.

Carlos M. Merida hearer. Collector without space. Lawyer. Afraid of bees and hurricane winds. More posts

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  1. Patricia says:

    Very good review. The album, impossible to download from Sandunga. It gives error everywhere, with standard plan purchased. Anyway… I still haven't been able to listen to it.

  2. Yanelis Velazco says:

    I don't know if Santiago would have liked the album; that is impossible, or not so much, if we get a good spiritualist; but I dislike your text. It is offensive, vulgar. You are not capable of defending a single one of your criteria without disrespecting it. Are you upset? Are you happy with your life? What have you done? What is your work? I have read and studied a lot, believe me, and I know how to recognize and respect criticism that proposes solid and respectful arguments. Your tone is disrespectful even with Santiago himself. Sorry, I don't respect you.

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