Wow, Wow, Wow! Linstead has simply done it again; bought together a great many musical influences and styles to create Azul, a fanatically Latino beat filled album which transports you to the nightlife of Cuba, the salsa beat, the flamboyant and vibrant lifestyle of the Latin American countries and many, many other places of warm balmy nights and lazy sun filled days.
Cha Cha Chu is a tremendously upbeat piece filled with the vibrant addition of Cuban horns styles; let’s face it no Latin American album would be complete without the Cuban style horn section; It is simply a must have.
A lovely vocal rendition of be My Girl showcases the immense talent of this musician, as although he is not noted for his vocals, his style is totally reminiscent of the earlier days of the Mersey sound, singing about love, the love of his life hopefully becoming his girl, of being young, in love, with the endless days of summer to simply enjoy living in the here and now.
Lazy Sunday is a slightly slower more subtly reflective piece which takes me immediately to the islands of Greece where the lovely beat brings back memories of lazy days spent sipping local wine, enjoying the view looking out to the cerulean blue or Azul, waters far below. Music does tend to take the listener to any place they choose, touching the motions and transporting the spirit to times enjoyed and fondly remembered.
A change of pace is introduced in Heaven Mets Earth which, while rich and full is somewhat different to the previous pieces. It could almost be considered as a dividing line where he shifts from Cuban beat to the more mystical, reverent aspect of his life, still encompassing that inspirational rhythm.
Linstead sings in Spanish about a temptress ‘Hechicera’ which is absolutely perfect, as it also allows the introduction of the piano accordion to give a distinctly continental flavour. As far as singing about temptresses goes, Spanish is a wonderful language to use, as it creates the sultriness needed, and the coquettish nature of the tempter.
Moon Child, shows Linstead’s undoubted skill as a world class guitarist; along with Dance of the Sharman almost appear to go together as they have been inspired firstly, by a ceremony held on a full moon night and then participation in an ayahuasca ceremony, where he played wooden flute, doing so once again in this song.
Rounding out the album are three pieces, all different but interconnected, with the funky Starlight, featuring some incredible electric guitar interspersed with the sound of trumpet in a jazz style rhythm, perfect for beginning to dance the night way, some hand clapping adding to the ambience of the piece.
Friday night revellers winding down from the week are hit with the salsa beat of Friday Night at Babaluu with a screaming trumpet rising over the guitar, the piano setting the pace, the bongo’s adding something special to the almost frenetic pace, as Friday night once again morphs into Saturday.
The final piece is a lovely, mellow, instrumental version of Be My Girl, which draws to a conclusion an album which most definitely does, in Linstead’s words, ‘takes the listener away on a musical vacation to the sunny climes of the tropics’.
Azul is a seriously ‘feel good’ album created once again in the flamboyant style of a world class guitarist who loves to have fun with his music!