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RODRIGO Y GABRIELA Live In Japan Rubyworks (2008)

Rodrigo y Gabriela

I was trying to work out the other day why I seldom listen to a Rodrigo y Gabriela album: there's no denying the talent and the novelty of an exotic couple beating the s--t out of their guitars (in a musical way of course). They've brought heavy metal thunder to polite acoustic music and now with added wah-wah.

Their second live album, (plus bonus DVD featuring five tracks) goes some way to confirm my suspicions. RyG are essentially best savoured in the live context, but on closer examination their tunes are somewhat formulaic and they do tend to go on a bit.

So, for example, the couple develop a basic theme which consists of percussive repeat-fire guitar chords (at times thundering like a herd of wildebeest) underneath semi-flamenco and frequently florid melody. In the case of 'FOC' this goes on for 10 minutes or more. Best savoured live, and after a few shots of Tequila I'd say.

For anyone who has seen them live, this is an excellent souvenir but exposing their strengths and weaknesses in equal parts. The Japanese fans lapped it up. Their key tunes are featured including Metallica's 'One' and 'Stairway to Heaven' but there's only one new piece, 'OK Tokyo' and none of these standouts are on the DVD.

I have nothing against buskers but - interestingly - I feel the same way about RyG as another very talented musician who comes from that background: Ed Alleyne-Johnson. Initially the novelty of a one-man band is scuppered by a certain repetition and predictability.

I can see why the couple's reputation has grown but this latest offering confirms for me the constraints of their format, as well as the possibilities. It is, though, a good value package and is the perfect introduction to their music, and a good opportunity for you to make up your own mind - with or without the Tequila.


Review by David Randall

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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