1970 Philips (R 765.121 L)
2009 Reissue, Salve Jorge! Boxset
1 Oba lá vem ela
2 Zé Canjica
3 Domenica Domingava num domingo linda
4 Charles Jr.
5 Pulo pulo
6 Apareceu Aparecida
7 O telefone tocou novamente
8 Mulher brasileira
10 Força brutawith Trio Mocotó
I don’t typically like to make posts here that only a feature a review someone else has written. But I have been too otherwise preoccupied to post here lately and I realized I had gone amiss in my vaguely chronological presentation of the new Jorge Ben box by skipping ahead to 10 Anos Depois (but then, we started with Negro é Lindo, so it doesn’t matter..) Also, this album already received a post once, way back when this blog first started (it is still here, if you search for it, featuring the Dusty Groove label’s reissue).
So here is Força Bruta, Ben’s first great album in a decade of really great albums for him. The track “Pulo, pulo” would be covered by Elza Soares in 1972 in a great samba-soul sendup. And then there’s all the other tracks, which are … all great. I will let the aforementioned review take it from here, courtesy of Sylus Magazine. Well written and better than the trite garbage found on most of the websites people use to copy-and-paste music ‘critique’, I quite enjoy this guy’s write-up. And, it also manages to emphasize once again that Caetano Veloso is a douchebag.
It might sound like a slight to call Jorge Ben Brazil’s most genteel offering
from the early ’70s—he didn’t have a beard; he didn’t go to jail—but it
shouldn’t, per se. Gentility—a kind of aesthetic gentility, at least—is one of
those oddly polarizing qualities in Brazilian music: some people find it
soothing and soulful, others hear it as limp and indifferent. Even Ben at his
most rugged (1976’s África Brasil) doesn’t have the haywire quality of Gilberto
Gil’s work from the same time, a difference in approach all the more obvious
when the two collaborated in 1975 for Gil e Jorge (Gil is usually the one
screaming). Nah, Ben always seemed like the mannered one of his generation, but
sacrificing some passion in a bargain for consistency isn’t a crime—I’d rather
listen to an OK Ben album than a Caetano Veloso album that annoys me, and there
seem to be more of the latter than the former.
By the time Ben recorded
Força Bruta at age 30, he was already a legitimate pop star in Brazil; he’d
crossed over into the States via a Sergio Mendes cover (“Mas, Que Nada”) when he
was 23; and he’d already had hits backed by Trio Mocotó (who played with him on
this record). It’s in the context of history that the laid-back quality of Ben’s
music becomes refreshing, almost bulletproof: it’s hard to imagine one of our
own pop stars at the height of his or her popularity being self-assured enough
to make an album as loose as Força Bruta, not to mention using a cover photo of
them playing the harmonica with their eyes half-closed. Ben was chill as hell
and did not mind letting you observe.
But it all proceeds as you’d
expect: demure samba-rock laced with sliding strings, an agreeable, samey
atmosphere, no strife on the horizon. Ben manages to be soulful without being
gritty; any hoarseness in his voice is a play, part of his overall finesse.
Again, this could be a bad thing for you—I’m preferential to 1974’s A Tábua de
Esmeralda because it’s a little less accommodating—but it also seems like a
ridiculous thing to really lodge a complaint about. When Ben was relaxing with
Força Bruta, other prominent musicians of his generation were freaking out over
a new military dictatorship and making big, declarative artistic statements.
Gentility might not always be a flattering word, but temperance and
consideration usually are—and Ben was nothing if not both.