Latin music fans will know all about Ed Motta. Big Ed’s a massive star in his native Brazil where he peddles a very distinct blend of soul/funk/Brazilian flavours but for his latest long player he tries something quite different. ‘AOR’, you see, is Motta’s homage to “adult-oriented-rock” and the concise nine tracker is really quite charming and hugely accessible and it might just be the album to break him to a wider audience.
In his notes Ed says the music is a tribute to bands like The Doobie Brothers, Chicago and Steely Dan…the emphasis, though, is on Steely Dan. Even the album title is a less than oblique reference to that band’s famous ‘FM’ and lyrically the set’s stuffed with Dan-like concepts … wavelengths, radios etc. Musically, the sound (especially the tonality and preciseness of the guitars delivered by people like David T Walker and Bluey Mauncik) and chord structures are Steely Dan to a T. Motta also uses a brass section in precisely the same way as Becker and Fagen…. subtle and insinuating with occasional jazzy solos (like the one on ‘Playthings Of Luv’ from Chico Amaral).
Like all the classic Steely Dan long players and those great Donald Fagen solo sets it’s impossible to pick standouts… the music just flows from one track to another creating that famous Dan vibe that’s hard to resist. If pushed to pick one cut that best gives you the flavour I’d suggest ‘1978 (Leave The Radio On)’…. even the title is classic Steely Dan isn’t it? Then again, try ‘Dondi’ or ‘Smile’ or ‘Simple Guy’ – all great cuts on the best album Steely Dan never made.