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Canciónes para Aliens

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Album Review

Fito Páez has been threatening to make a covers album for some time, but it was not until 2011's Canciones para Aliens that he finally found the time in his schedule. Produced by jazz pianist Leo Sujatovich, immaculately arranged, and featuring a stellar cast of session musicians and high-profile guests, Páez clearly intends this album to reflect his boundless eclecticism (some would say his Napoleonic musical ambitions). Indeed, the track list reads like a map of the American continents, with a few incursions into Europe throw in for good measure, as it includes famous songs from Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Cuba, USA, England, France, Spain, and Italy — technically even Japan, as a Ryuchi Sakamoto tango makes the cut, too. Likewise, the genres and/or arrangements here range, firstly, from classical to punk rock with an emphasis on Latin American popular music, and secondly, from the extremely faithful rendition to the virtually unrecognizable cover. To the former category belongs his take on Charly García's "Yo No Quiero Volverme Tan Loco," which mirrors the original to the point of inviting the great León Gieco to reprise his own guest appearance on García's record almost 30 years ago; to the latter, belongs his multi-part deconstruction of Queen's "Somebody to Love." Unfortunately, Páez has long been suffering from the misapprehension that his amazing talents as a composer, musician, and arranger, automatically make him a great singer. Even his most hardcore fans know, of course, that nothing could be further from the harsh truth. This, however, should not be an impediment in itself, as plenty of rock/pop vocalists — Dylan is always the first to come to mind — have built great careers out of limited vocal means. Páez himself does fine at singing his own stuff, or at tackling material or genres suited to his style, as on the Charly García song mentioned above. The problem is when he overreaches, and Canciones para Aliens is full of telling examples. Dylan has been known to indulge in bizarre cover choices, but surely he never thought himself to be an adequate replacement for the likes of Freddie Mercury, Mercedes Sosa, Chico Buarque, or Marvin Gaye, all of whom Páez gleefully tries to outsing here with predictable results. For the love of God, he even includes a version of Verdi's aria Va Pensiero (not a typo, on this record Fito Páez sings Giuseppe Verdi, the famous opera chap), over which it is better to keep a merciful silence. Furthermore, even when he is actually doing a fine job, as in his version of Jacques Brel's "Ne Me Quitte Pas," for unknown reasons he feels the urge to change the words from "Don't leave me" to "You will forget me in time" in his Spanish adaptation, thus perversely missing the whole point of the song. Canciones para Aliens still has its moments, particularly when Páez takes the material back into familiar rock territory (the album's single, Nino Bravo's "Un Beso y una Flor," or the punk-meets-Zappa version of Paquita la del Barrio's hilarious "Rata de Dos Patas"), or when legends of Latin American music such as Chico Buarque, Hugo Fattoruso, Pablo Milanés, or León Gieco, show up to give Páez a hand. Still, the only possible verdict is that Canciones para Aliens largely appears to be the ludicrous whim of a fatally deluded ego that, sadly, not so long ago was a great artist.

Customer Reviews

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Born: March 13, 1963 in Rosario, Argentina

Genre: Rock y Alternativo

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Rodolfo "Fito" Paez was born in Rosario, Argentina on March 13, 1963. He formed Staff, his first band, when he was 13. In 1977, he played in El Banquette with Rubén Goldín and Jorge Llonch. He began to appear solo in pubs the following year. Straight out of high school, he began touring with several bands and soon after that produced his first solo album, Del '63, which was released in 1984. It was promoted first in his hometown, but later garnered attention in Buenos Aires. The recording was put...
Full Bio
Canciónes para Aliens, Fito Páez
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Pop Latino, Music, Latino
  • Released: Nov 28, 2011

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