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Tired of your Spotify playlists? The Purbalite is here to help, with our Essential Listening series.
The legendary jazz-funk composer/vibraphonist Roy Ayers’ Vibrations is a classic record filled with dusty instrumentations, colorful melodies, and lyrics of endearment sprinkled with moments of raw despair.
Listening to this album front to back, it is evident that it is a letter to a past lover as well as it is to the world on songs like “Better Days” and “Higher.”
“Better Days” serves as a mantra of future successes. The sudden bridge about 30 seconds into the song hits the soul even harder with the powerful message Ayers proclaims. “Higher” is a more up-tempo and psychedelic song — with a beat switch toward the middle, echoey vocals, and usage of synthesizers.
The funky 1976 hit “Searching” makes listeners want to get up and dance. When Ayers isn’t singing the repetitious hook, there are glimpses of poetic lyrics detailing a conversation he is having with a butterfly about his search for love.
“The Memory” is one of the darker songs he has released. In it, he uses a much more dark and muffled voice compared to his usual higher octave voice. It’s almost haunting to listen to, but its vibrant vibraphones, in and out piano chords, and upbeat bassline make it seem like it would be a happier song.
Overall, this album still holds up amazingly decades later.
This is a much needed listen for those who’ve been wanting a solid introduction into jazz music and others who simply love the funkiness of the ’70s.
The best first listens of the album are “Searching,” “Vibrations,” and “The Memory.”