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Deodato - Juanita (1976)

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Published on Apr 22, 2012

Review by Amy Hanson: Although Brazilian fusionist Deodato is perhaps best remembered in America for his work with Kool & the Gang, it's important to remember that his career spanned some three decades, and placed a delicious brew of jazzy disco on the charts across much of the 1970s. What he'd begun on the U.S. charts in 1973 with his funked-up rendering of "Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)" and continued later that year with a rendering of George and Ira Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," he continued on 1976's Very Together, reinventing the popular "Peter Gunn" theme to much acclaim. You've heard the Mancini version, you've heard Emerson, Lake & Palmer, you may even have heard Art of Noise -- all have offered very different takes on this simple, brooding theme. But, you haven't heard anything until you've sampled Deodato's concoction, as the original's menaced intent is mercilessly spliced with massive doses of disco, then rounded off with the breathless refrain, "bad bad Peter Gunn." A triumph -- and the album's barely begun. Deodato tackles two further covers, an odd, near instrumental version of Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" that uses guitar and horns to effect the intent of Marley's vocals, and a warped "Theme From Star Trek," all chukka-chukka guitar and sweeping vocals in true disco style. If it weren't for the traditional Deodato jams that punctuate this song, one would be looking instead for the venerable Meco. Of course, Deodato's own songs round out the proceedings in fine style. From the pure fusion of "Amani" and the spangled disco of "Spanish Boogie" to the funk-leaning jazz of "Juanita," Deodato never takes his eye off the ball -- indeed, while it was the crop of the covers that propelled him into the U.S. limelight, it's across his own remarkable visions that he shines the brightest, and probably has the most fun.

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