Marcos Valle – Marcos Valle (1970) with Som Imaginário

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MARCOS VALLE

Marcos Valle with Som Imaginário
Released 1970 (Odeon MOFB 3596)
Reissued 2011 in the box Marcos Valle Tudo

1 Quarentão simpático
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
2 Ele e ela
(Marcos Valle)
3 Dez leis [Is that law]
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
4 Pigmalião
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Novelli, Marcos Valle)
5 Que eu canse e descanse
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
6 Esperando o Messias
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
7 Freio aerodinâmico
(Marcos Valle)
8 Os grilos
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
9 Suíte imaginária: Canção – Corrente – Toada – Dança
(Marcos Valle)
———-
bonus tracks

10. Esperando o Messias (instrumental version)
11. Freio aerodinamico (instrumental version)
12. Berenice (B-side)

Marcos Valle – vocal, piano

Leonardo Bruno – arrangements on 3, 7, 11
Orlando Silveira – arrangements on 2, 4, 5
Ângela Valle – vocals on Freio aeorodinâmico and Ele e ela
Noveli – bass
Nelson Ângelo – acoustic guitar
Som Imaginário:
Wagner Tiso – keyboards
Tavito – electric guitar
Luiz Alves – bass
Robertinho Silva – drums
Produced by Milton Miranda
Musica director – Lyrio Panicalli

———————————-

First let me confess: When I first took this box set home, this is the first album I took out of the shrink-rap and put on the stereo. It had been a long time since I’d heard it and everything about it just calls out to you to play it again once you’ve known its charms — including the classic album cover (and back cover, contracapa)

This album is the kind the critics call a “career milestone”, I think. It marks in no uncertain terms the Brothers Valle’s turn to resplendent weirdness and a series of masterpieces or near-masterpieces for the first half of the 70s. The shift isn’t objectively all that dramatic from 1969’s “Mustangue cor de sangue”, but the album is considerably more confident and focused. It kicks off with the powerful “Quarentão Simpático”. It sports a relaxed psychedelic pop groove and Paulo Sérgio Valle really showing his lyrical genius with a portrait of an outwardly-brusque but big-hearted friendly barstool dweller that reminds him of his father

“Quarentão, rei do palavrão
Não parece não
Mas é tido como um tipo que não faz mal não
Que só beija a mão
Não quer confusão
Tão simpático, me lembra muito bem meu pai

Fez do seu mundo o fundo de um bar
Sempre o mesmo bar
Não viu que a vida foi
E a zinha à toa pode ser a mãe ou a sua irmã….”

Apparently the evocative personage sketched in this song ended up as the theme music for a character in the telenovela Fogo Sobre Terra for the character Diogo Fonseca (played by Jardel Filho). It is confusing in Marcos’s brief notes introducing the album – he makes it seem as if the song was written with the telenovela in mind but my brief research (and I *do* mean brief) shows that the novela actually ran from 1974 to 75. The song also isn’t listed anywhere in the soundtrack that I found in the Wiki article, and that’s the extent of my research – as important as the telenovela phenom was to the decade of the 1970s (and its continued importance), they just generally bore me to tears and I almost compulsively avoid knowing anything about them. It’s a character flaw of mine.

The album continues with instrumental / scat-sung “Ele e ela” which has some some awkward sounds of a guy and gal smooching and kissing and giggling, made even more awkward when I looked at the album jacket and saw that the female voice is HIS SISTER, and now I can’t really listen to the song without feeling kind of creepy.

This is followed by the groove gospel of “Deis leis”, which is lyrically either broken English aaaamixed with Portuguese or a surreal pastiche, either way the song is pretty bad-ass. The arrangements by Leonardo Bruno (heavy strings and brass in the left channel, and weird crowd-sounds that remind me of people on a roller coaster) do a lot to take the tune “to another level.” “Pigmalião 70” is swinging bossa pop; I don’t know what the deal is about this tune but it’s another televnovela tune, this time from a show in 1970 with the same name, and a song by this name appeared on the soundtrack twice, once performed by Erlon Chaves (probably instrumental) and again credited to a group called “Umas e outras”. Before my time, and I haven’t yet started collecting LPs from telenovelas (which could easily become another obsession and my doctor has advised me to avoid it, if possible). “Que eu canse e descanse” is a lush ballad that would have fit nicely anywhere on “A viola enluarda” and also fits very nicely here as a respite from the dayglo-and-velvet trippiness that resumes in short order with “Esperando o Messias” (Waiting for The Messiah), more foot-tapping pop with brilliant lyrics. I am mildly surprised that this song wasn’t questioned by the censors of the time, whose unlimited reach by 1970 were forcing all kinds of revisions by songwriters or just banning songs altogether – because the song is a powerful critique of the Brazilian middle-class, again couched in a character portrait of a young married couple consumed by work, TV, consumerism, rational planning and with no time for love, sex or the finer things in live. Paulo Sérgio does not waste a word in his parsimony and, like all his word, there is a profound empathy in all of it, so perhaps even a paranoid censor couldn’t find an objection. It’s also breathlessly groovy and the instrumental version in the bonus tracks highlights this fact.

“Feio aerodinamico” is another instrumental with some wordless vocalizations from Ana Maria Valle, an earlier version of which was included on the previous disc in the boxset. Catchy and memorable and engrossing (and apparently a Euro-disco hit, according to Marcos “years later”). “Os grilos” belongs in a soundtrack somewhere, maybe a Brazilian equivalent of a Quenton Tarantino film, in some scene involving beach-bum hedonism and drug deals and possibly violent scenes that would scar the song forever like he did with Stealers Wheel “Stuck In The Middle With You”…. The song first appeared on the USA album “Samba 68” where it had completely different lyrics about his wife sneaking out through a window at night for a date when they were youngsters, whereas here it becomes a bohemian love song with the protagonist courting his lover with offers of a life of leisure and ‘no stress.’ Another ‘nota 10’ on the production, with an infectious groove topped by vocals dripping with tape delay to add a lysergic edge to it all.

Up until this point of the album, Marcos has had help in the backing band fro Som Imaginário, whose name will be familiar to any collector of Brazilian psych and prog rock, but who have thus far kept themselves in more of a ‘supporting’ role, and proving themselves as equally adept at executing jazz-bossa and pop arrangements. (Not a colossal shock, actually – One listen to the song “Supergod” from their first album should demonstrate why they were perhaps the ultimate choice as accompaniment for this album). This restraint changes, but only a little, with the album’s closer, the 9-minute “Suite Imaginária” which is straight-up orchestral progressive-pop/rock with a strong presence of Wagner Tiso on the piano, split up into four or five “movements.” It’s a pretty radical move for the blond-haired blue-eyed heart-throb Marcos Valle to end his album with this abstract baroque beauty, with harpsichord and organ pounding out some slow modal chord changes (with the harpsichord adding blues flourishes) alongside a chorus of melancholic wordless melodies, a “flute break” with harpsichord and percussion, followed by dreamy piano arpeggios. If this tune tickles your musical erogenous zones, just wait until we get to 1972’s “Vento Sul”, recorded with the band O Terço, which is saturated with the cosmic haze of early 70s psychedelic art-rock.

This is one of the only that I can clearly recall hearing the original vinyl. Although I was rather full of beer when I heard it, I have to say I recall the drums being LOUDER on some tracks. Or maybe I just want to hear them mixed louder. Or maybe everything seems louder after a few beers. But it’s Robertinho Silva for fuch’s sake. Bad-ass drummer and ubiquitous session player during the 70s. So without a copy on wax I can’t make a fair comparison but it wouldn’t be unusual for a modern mastering job to ‘soften the edges’ off an album like this. Even so, I find the mastering quite agreeable, not too loud, and keeping sufficient dynamics and detail to make me happy. Good headphone listening too.

It’s nice to hear the instrumental tracks before the vocal overdubs, and (if anyone still needs any proof) show clearly that there is a lot of tightness and deliberateness to what comes off on first listen as a rather spontaneous or even sprawling album. “Berenice” is pretty little tune released as a single. A lot of Marcos Valle from this period makes me wonder if Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys had any interaction with Marcos during his stay of 2 years in the USA. It seems like Van Dyke Parks would have dug the arrangements on these tunes, as well as obviously appreciating the eternal summer-breeziness of all of Marcos’ music. Any Beach Boys fanatics want to chime in on this question?

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