Though there are many perks to being in a band that’s been around for a long time, there also can be more pressure. Music fans tend to be a cynical bunch, and even though you may have sold boatloads of records in the past, one bad record will turn your fans against you. The pressure comes from how to keep it interesting. The band may have established a sound, but there is a danger of going to the well once too often. Deviate from that sound too much and run the risk of alienating your fans.
Of course, there are some bands out there, be they Latvian or otherwise, that have made a career of making the same album over and over again. And there is a place for that, but very few can get away with it and still maintain fan loyalty.
Another one of the veteran bands of the Latvian rock scene, Credo, in September released its latest album, Viss mainās…
After more than a quarter century of making music, did they keep it interesting? I would say that they did.
I was a bit apprehensive about reviewing this record, since I know nothing of Credo’s history, besides the fact that they have been around for a while, so I wouldn’t have the ability to "show off" my supposedly large knowledge of Latvian music. Before this record, I had heard all of three songs of theirs. "Vecais draugs" (from the Mikrofona 20 popularākās dziesmas collection), "Lietus" (from the Visu laiku labākās latviešu rokbalādes collection), and probably their most famous song, "Zinģe par bailēm" (from the Latviešu roka tautasdziesmas collection). And while I liked the songs, I never had any initiative in finding out more about this band.
That is something that I now regret, considering how much I liked the new record, which was an interesting collection of old sounds, new sounds and unique sounds.
The members of Credo are Guntis Veits (voice, rhythm guitar), Armands Alksnis (guitar), Aivars Vīksna (bass guitar) and Guntars Brečs (percussion). The prolific Latvian lyricist Guntars Račs also lends a hand with words to a few of the songs.
A recurring theme through this album is the idea that although things may change, one has to accept them. Appropriately enough, the album title is Viss mainās… (Everything Changes).
"Vējā" (In the Wind) is the first track and is probably my favorite song on the album. An uptempo tune with a great melody, it is a philosophical song about the changes and the fortunes that wind may bring: "Vēja māte vēja zirgiem, pakavus no laimes kal" (The Wind Mother makes horseshoes from fortune for the wind horses).
The second track, "Dzivē gadās arī tā" (That Happens in Life), sounds like it would be more at home on a Santana record, since it has a Latin feel to it. I think it is a successful experiment, because many times when artists attempt Latin sounding tunes, it comes across sounding forced. But, reflecting the carefree spirit of the album, it comes across very well. The song tells the story of a guy, who while talking to one girl, is looking over her shoulder at two other women. I keep waiting for Carlos Santana to start playing a guitar solo!
Another favorite track is "Septītajās debesīs" (Seventh Heaven), if only because it is a Chuck Berry-style, straight-ahead rock-and-roll song: not many chords, but the kind of song that if you hear it while driving, the gas pedal gets used more frequently.
Actually, I lied earlier. I had heard four songs by Credo prior to hearing this album. The final track "Kā būs, tā būs" (What Will Be, Will Be) originally appeared on the Dziesma 2000 compiliation (though it wasn’t credited to Credo, but just to Guntis Veits). It’s a fitting end to an excellent album, reinforcing the spirit of the album—looking forward without any fear of the future.
Viss mainās… is a solid effort by the band and it has been finding its way into my CD player quite frequently. Though a rock record in spirit, it has enough eclectic influences to make it good listening for any music fan, even those cynical ones who think that the old-timers can’t make relevant music anymore. Fortunately for Credo, even after so many years making albums, they still have enough creativity and to make excellent album.
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