Paulinho da Viola – 2 for 1 (1971)

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Record #1 called Paulinho da Viola released in 1971

01 – Perder e ganhar
02 – Sol e pedra
03 – Dona Santina e Seu Antenor
04 – Para um amor no Recife
05 – Mal de amor
06 – Depois da vida
07 – Moemá Morenou
08 – Oculos Escuros
09 – Cuidado, teu orgulho te mata
10 – Lenço
11 – O acaso não tem pressa
12 – Um certo dia para 21

Paulinho da Viola – Vocals, guitar, cavaquinho
Flute and Clarinet: Copinha
Rhythm and percussion: Elton Medeiros, Marçal and OScar
Drums: Elizeu, Juquinha
Bass: Dininho
Trombone: Norato
cornet: Maurilio

Produced by Milton Miranda
Musical director and orchestrator: Lindolfo Gaya
Technical director: Z.J. Merky
Recording technicians: Jorge and Nivaldo

Cover photo: Geraldo Guimarães

Record #2 called Paulinho da Viola released in 1971….

13 – Num samba curto
14 – Pressentimento
15 – Para ver as meninas
16 – Nas ondas da noite
17 – Filosofia do samba
18 – Consumir e viver
19 – Lapa em três tempos – Abre a janela
20 – Coraçao
21 – Minha vez de sorrir
22 – Reclamação
23 – Abracando Chico Soares
24 – Vinhos finos… cristais

Paulinho da Viola, 1971 #2
Musicians uncredited but probably much the same as #1, except who played te harpsichord!!
Produced by Milton Miranda
Musical director: Lyrio Panicali
Arrangements and orchestration: Maestro Gaya
Technical Director: Z.J. Merky
Recording engineers: Jorge ann Nivaldo

Cover photo: Marisa Alves de Lima

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I’ve been wavering back and forth on whether to share this here. Not because of the music – these two records are absolute classics, no problems there! But I do not know who mastered these 2-for-1 Paulinho pressings, and to my ears this is definitely NOT the work of Peter Mew at Abbey Road, who gave such a loving treatment to Paulinho’s catalog in the mid 90s as well as others like Milton Nascimento’s classic records (the good ones..) and non-Brazilian but personal favorite Kevin Ayers. Although music freaks and audiophiles are prone to disagreement over remasters, I find Peter Mew’s work to be some of the best out there, very gentle, maintaining dynamic range, and doing very LITTLE to the original recording. To my ears this 2-for-1, while it doesn’t sound terrible, sounds harsher and more compressed than Mew’s work in general and his work with Paulinho in particular. The careful listener will notice some distortion and modulation in places, and that is a sure sign of an assembly-line style rush job. So, I have been meaning to replace this disc with the individual releases. But not knowing who did the mastering for certain on THIS pressing has kept me from doing that — whoever it is, they are not credited.

BUT — as many of you are now probably saying to yourself, for @#$%’s sake its the music that matters, right? But of course. Even Charles Gavin couldn’t mess up these records (although I’m sure he would give it his best shot). Two records released in 1971 showing Paulinho at the height of his powers, still young and drinking at the font of the Portela samba school. “Pelo Amor em Recife” is one of his best-known compositions; I was lucky enough to hear him perform it IN Recife (well, Olinda actually, but they’re literally connected to each other). With other classics like “Mal de amor” and “Oculos escuros,” there is not a dull moment on this album. “Moemá morenou” is another classic, a samba-de-roda penned with his friend and frequent partner Elton Madeiros. This whole record is more of a classic, straight-up samba recording, and to speak more of production – everything is clear as a bell, especially Paulinho’s voice which is like crystal but does not dominate the balance, rather sitting nicely just barely on top of the instrumentation.

The next album from 1971 is a bit more of an elaborate affair. Immediately you know you are in different territory when you hear the chiming notes of a harpsichord tinkling your samba. Even if you detest harpsichord (I have heard of such people, although I do not quite understand hating an entire instrument), you have to credit Paulinho for a characteristically modest innovation and expansion of his sonic palette. A lot of this record has some post-bossa nova ensemble arrangements that make the record perhaps more “modern”-sounding than his release from earlier in the year, although hinted at on that record with the track “Cuidade, teu orgulho te mata” (Be careful, your pride will kill you…) . “Para ver as meninas” is yet another amazing samba-canção ballad, with what appear to be castinettes in the right channel yet are more likely to be somebody playing a box of matches (samba is excellent at improvising anything around your house into a percussion instrument) and — yet again — harpsichord in the left channel playing modal variations on the melody. This song was, unfortunately, covered by over-rated chanteuse Marisa Monte, but don’t let that keep you away. It is a great song. “Filosofia do samba” is a very famous composition by Candeia (another Portela luminary) and here Paulinho gives it a more than worthy interpretation, perhaps the best version committed to tape. “Consumir e viver” sees Paulinho moving into Samba-Rock territory, something of a rarity to hear him approaching a song with a swinging backbeat worthy of any Jorge Ben (that is Jorge Ben from the mid-1960s; by 1973 Ben had moved on to making amazing records with esoteric lyrics about alchemists and aliens..). “Reclamação” also works the same ground, although a bit more on a heavy bossa nova tip. The material on this second album is on the whole not as strong and memorable as the first, but then that is sort of an unfair comparison — this first album from 1971 is one of the high points of his entire career. one strange thing I noticed, even if you start this disc at track 13 (where the 2nd of the two begins), by the end of it you may find yourself with listening fatigue. Again, this is a direct consequence of the mastering, and further evidence that it was not Peter Mew’s work… I’ll get to the bottom of this mystery yet!

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