It’s Wednesday, which means the time has come again for me to take a closer look at a tune I previously mentioned in passing only or have not covered at all to date. In this case, I’m bending the rules a bit since technically I already published a post about the song I decided to highlight today, but it was brief and dates back a few years to June 2019.
The first time I heard about Gino Vannelli must have been around 1980. I seem to recall my brother-in-law had the versatile Canadian singer-songwriter’s sixth studio album Brother to Brother on vinyl, which I ended up taping on music cassette. Released in September 1978, Vannelli’s most successful record is primarily known for the romantic ballad I Just Wanna Stop, a song that had been written by his brother Ross Vannelli, which Gino didn’t want to record initially since he didn’t like it!
The tune that I’ve picked for this post is the album’s title track. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find many details about it. But when I heard my good music friend Mike Caputo perform Brother to Brother last Saturday night with his excellent band Good Stuff who celebrate the music of Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, Gino Vannelli and Sting, it reminded me what a killer of a tune it is musically speaking. Check this out – the musicianship is truly outstanding!
Like most other tunes on the album, Brother to Brother was written by Gino Vannelli. The tune wasn’t among the record’s four singles, which in addition to I Just Wanna Stop included Wheels of Love, The River Must Flow and Appaloosa. At 7:16 minutes, Brother to Brother wasn’t exactly radio-friendly, plus I guess it’s fair to say it wasn’t as “easily digestible” as those other songs, especially I Just Wanna Stop.
One of Brother to Brother’s highlights is the guitar solo by Carlos Rios, which starts at around 2:49 minutes. Also noteworthy is the great bass and drum action beginning at approximately 4:35 minutes by Jimmy Haslip, cofounder of American jazz fusion band Yellowjackets, and rock and jazz drummer Mark Craney, respectively. Here’s a nice live version of the tune from a 2015 recording titled Live in LA, featuring Gino’s other brother Joe Vannelli on keyboards. Like Ross (backing vocals), Joe (electric piano, synthesizers) played on the original recording. Both brothers, especially Joe, also played on many of Gino’s other records.
Gino Vannelli, who in June 2022 turned 70, remains active to this day. His most recent album is titled Wilderness Road and was released in 2019. Based on Wikipedia, since his 1973 debut Crazy Life, Vannelli has put out 20 additional albums. This total includes what looks like three live recordings and one compilation.
According to a recent news post on Vannelli’s website, a new album, The Life I Got, is scheduled for the summer. After nearly 3.5 years, he also resumed touring in early March with two shows in Florida. Currently, his schedule lists four upcoming gigs slated for September in California, Illinois and Michigan.
Admittedly, my knowledge of Gino Vannelli’s music remains limited. Based on what I’ve heard, he’s a talented, versatile and I think underappreciated artist.
Sources: Wikipedia; Gino Vannelli website; YouTube