Gilberto Gil – Refazenda (1975)

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PARABÉNS ao Gil, 70 anos!

 REFAZENDA
Gilberto Gil
1975 Phonogram 6349 152
This release 2000 WEA
Same master as 1994 first issue

1 Ela
(Gilberto Gil)
2 Tenho sede
(Dominguinhos, Anastácia)
3 Refazenda
(Gilberto Gil)
4 Pai e mãe
(Gilberto Gil)
5 Jeca total
(Gilberto Gil)
6 Essa é pra tocar no rádio
(Gilberto Gil)
7 Ê, povo, ê
(Gilberto Gil)
8 Retiros espirituais
(Gilberto Gil)
9 O rouxinol
(Gilberto Gil, Jorge Mautner)
10 Lamento sertanejo
(Dominguinhos, Gilberto Gil)
11 Meditação

Produced and mixed by Mazola
Musical coordinator and orchestral arrangements by Perinho Albuquerque
Basic arrangements – Gilberto Gil
Recording technicians – Luigi, João Moreira, Luiz Cláudio
Assistents – Paulo Sérgio, José Guilherme
Photos by João Castrioto
Cover design by Aldo Luiz
Refazenda ‘logo’ by Rogério Duarte

Acoustic guitar and “phase guitar” – Gilberto Gil
Accordion – Dominguinhos
Bass – Moacyr Albuquerque
Drums – Chiquinho Azevedo
Acoustic guitar on the track “O Rouxinol” – Frederiko
Percussion – Hermes, Ariovaldo
Cordas – Phonogram (???)
Flautas – Jorginho, Celso, & Geraldo
Trombones – Maciel & Bogado
Trumpets – Formiga, Barreto * Niltinho
Euphonium on “Jeca Total” – Luiz Paulo

on the track “Essa é pra tocar no rádio”
Drums – Tuti Moreno
Piano and ____ – Aloísio Milanes
Bass – Rubão Sabino
Percussion – Chiquinho Azevedo
Accordion – Dominguinhos

on the track “Pai e Mãe”
Cavaquinho – Canhoto
7-string guitar – Dino de 7 Cordas
Flute – ALtamiro Carrilho

 It’s difficult to pick a favorite Gilberto Gil album, but for a long time I think this one has been on the top of my list. A fan could break down their favorites into qualities, Grammy-style: Gil at his most adventurous and experimental (1969 self-titled), his funkiest (1977’s Refavela). But for an overall listening experience with nary a weak tune anywhere to be found, for it always comes back to Expresso 2222, Refazenda, and Refavela. The latter two are supposed to have been parts of a trilogy which culminated in Realce, which easily qualifies for Gil’s worst album of the 1970s but probably his biggest seller thanks largely to the godawful rewrite of Bob Marley’s “No Woman Don’t Cry” as “Não Chore Mais.”


 

But all that was years away from the tranquility of this record. Since today (June 26) is Gil’s 70th birthday I decided to dust this one off. My original vinyl has been cued up and waiting for a 24-bit treatment, but this early CD pressing sounds nice, much more neutral than the ear-fatiguing remasters from a few years ago an light years beyond what a certain American label has been doing to his back catalog stateside. (If you come across these questionable reissues on a certain indie reissue label, *avoid at all costs!*)

Refazenda is as laid-back and relaxed an album as Gil would ever make. All the songs are built around his acoustic guitar, which at this time he was compulsively processing through a flange effect of greater or lesser intensity. The contribution of accordionist Dominguinhos to the record cannot be overstated. His sensitive playing adds all the right textures to these tunes, and the pieces featuring his writing – “Tenho Sede”, written by Dominguinhos and writing partner Anastácia, and “Lamento Sertanejo” with Gil – are the highlights of the album. I used to harbor mixed feelings about the string arrangements from Perinho Albuquerque on some of the songs. On some, like Tenho Sede, they are majesterial without being overbearing. On others, like the title cut, they seem to get in the way a little, and on “Retiros espirituais” they seem appropriate enough but just kind of … there. I’ve made my peace with them as part of this classic record. Gil himself is responsible for the overall band arrangements and brings the same sensibility (and some of the same musicians) to this material that he did to Gal Costa’s “India.” He invited some heavy company into the studio for the gorgeous chorinho “Pai e mãe”, which has Dino de 7 Cordas on seven-string guitar, Canhoto on cavaquinho, and Altamiro Carrilho on flute. Joining him for “Essa é pra tocar no rádio” is the not-to-stumped drummer Tuti Moreno who was quite likely the only person in a hundred-mile radius capable of playing it. The irony of the title (This is to be played on the radio) is that it’s the most rhythmically angular, strange, frantic, and noncommercial song on the album. It was also featured on Gil’s album with Jorge Ben recorded the same year (Ogum Xangô) where it’s looser and more stream-of-consciousness.

Gil’s northeastern roots show strongly through this whole effort, and it never occured to me until today that he was born between the feasts of São João (St.John) and São Pedro (St.Peter), making him cosmically predisposed to the astral influences of Luiz Gonzaga, Jackson do Pandeiro, and Dorival Caymmi. You can hear Gonzagão in his singing in his choice of intervals and in the unique almost-falsetto scat-yodel that Gil is sometimes prone to break into; Jackson is phrasing and rhythm, whether in its more overt form like the frantic “Esse pra tocar no rádio” or in more subdued wordplay like “Jeca Total,” and Dorival haunts some of the more pensive and plaintive of Gil’s writing. But Jackson do Pandeiro is probably the main current, linha, ou corrente astral on Gil – you can hear his rhythmic innovations in Gil’s unique guitar playing, and he has said (somewhere..) what a transformative effect Jackson’s music had on him, that NOTHING was ever the same rhythmically after Jackson.  Why didn’t they ever make an album together??

The opener “Ela” and “É, povo, é” are both grooving, free-spirited pop. In fact this album is free-spirited enough that this sweetly beautiful album was apparently considered a threat to the nation’s moral fiber in some way, as the album was brought up in some fashion as being lyrically degenerate and inciting the youth to bohemian grooviness when Gil was brought up on pot charges around this time. (I can’t remember it too well but there is a scene in the film Doces Bárbados where Gil is sitting in a government office looking faintly amused but mostly exacerbated as a variety of bizarre charges are being read out loud by a military regime bureaucrat. I had forgotten all about that seen until sitting down to write this — now I am going to have to dig that film up!).

The only weak spot on this record can be blamed on Jorge Mautner, who should really just stick to writing poetry. His albums are mediocre at best, and at their worst, unlistenable. Unfortunately he has friends and connections who keep encouraging him into thinking he ought to record music a few times an era, and it’s all utterly missable. Including here – the tune “Rouxinol” serves no higher purpose than to jar you from your sensory bliss and aural revery. Mautner is a decent poet, and his lyrics read well on paper, but when recorded they always just sound trite to me. But who the hell am I? Just some opinionated guy with a blog.

I’ve spent so long scribbling this that it is no longer Gil’s birthday now. Hopefully somebody out there is still celebrating.

Did I mention “Lamento Sertanejo” is easily one of the best compositions of Gil’s career and one which is still a part of his live repertoire? In fact it is probably the best remembered song on here. If you’re feeling these tunes you should really check out Dominguinho’s performance-interview on the MPB Especial program. I believe it is posted at this blog with the initials FV

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password: vibes

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20 Comments

  1. password:
    vibes

  2. I'm not a BIG Gil fan but love exactly the three albums mentioned here, Expresso, Refavela and Refazenda. So i guess my favs are not too fancy 😉
    Will gladly pick this cd rip as my vinyl is too worn out, many thanks.
    Since i understand only very little portugese, i pick my favourite songs depending on the music exclusively. Always especially loved "Jeca Total" for it's strange kind of funkiness. Is that "bobobom bom bom" a tuba?

  3. are you saying we're not special because of our choices? I want to be special!

    You know, I always thought that was a trombone playing that line on Jeca Total but a glance at the credits shows I've always been mistaken. It's a euphonium. How cool is that?

    You've reminded me that I meant to transcribe Gil's chicken scratch in the credits and list them here.

  4. Sorry but the pass is not working.

  5. For fuch's sake how many times do I have to repeat myself on this point? Look in the top right side bar, first damn thin on the page, if you are having problems.

    THE PASSWORD WORKS

  6. é isso mesmo rapaz!!!!

    thanks man, didn't even think to check YouTube for this 🙂

  7. What I remember from Doces Bárbados started with the one blowhard dictating to the guy typing it all up. The earlier section, I don't remember.. Going to have to get my copy out.

    No mention of this album though, I must have completely invented that. Maybe I was high…

  8. Thanks for the perceptive and thoughtful (as always) review. I agree with you that this is one of Gil's finest. But I think Realce is too. Yes, it may be slick, but there are some pretty hot tracks there. Give it another chance!

  9. naw, that disc just sucks balls.

    ha, seriously though — it's got good songs on it, but it's not a disc I frequently pull off the shelf. I did however mean that the SONG 'Não chore mais' is insipidly bad, not the album. I wouldn't call the album 'insipid', just bad. And it might still get my vote for worst Gil album from the 70s, but I was forgetting his US album "Nightingale" which truly blows. And, wrongly or rightly, I'm not even counting his album with Rita Lee as a real 'disco de carreira', and his soundtrack for the film "Copacabana meu amor" is just king of blah and also not *really* an LP in a way.

    So I guess he had plenty of spotty work in the 70s, but I'd still take the worst of 70s Gil over anything he did in the 80s. Even Realce

    just for you, now, I'll be preparing a 24-bit vinyl rip of it 😉

  10. Been listening to this all morning — thanks!

  11. Flab, you're right about Nightingale (blechh) and his '80s period (although lately I've been rediscovering some wonderful things about those albums, most of which I'd written off at the time). In the '70s, Copacabana meu amor doesn't really count, as it was long-forgotten and never released until it was unearthed by Marcelo Froes for the first Gil box set, which turned up hours' worth of previously unreleased gems.
    But as for Realce, cuts like Sarará Milolo and Toda menina baiana totally smoke, while Rebento and Superhomem have to be considered among Gil's finest. The album reminds me a little of Earth, Wind and Fire at their peak: unabashedly commercial and immaculate-sounding, without compromising lyrically or musically.
    Refazenda is brilliant, and probably Gil's most ambitious album to that point. It has a much more relaxed feel, the song choices are much more idiosyncratic, and the sound is somewhat thin, typical of Brazilian productions of the era. But it's hard not to love. I especially admire Dominginos' contributions.

  12. alright alright, you've convinced me dust off the vinyl and revisit it. There was definitely a time when I didn't hate it – it was actually one of the first Gil albums I ever had, being really easy to find on the streets (literally, in cities where you still find people with vinyl spread out on the sidewalk). It's really just that Marley song that would nauseate me and then after I'd acquired more of his back catalog I found myself favoring other records. Regardless of what I think of it, it's still from the "classic period."

    The mix on Refazenda really is thin, sometimes it seems like they just rolled off everything under 200hz

    I've never seen the Gil box. So many Brazilian boxsets get released and then go out of print shortly afterwards. A friend and I were both stunned to find out there had been an Elza Soares boxset years ago, neither one of us had ever seen it or heard about it.

  13. It is already gone!!?!! please Flabbergast may re up it a big thanks in advance

  14. Yep, already gone. Nice isn't it? Gil is a champion of the Creative Commons and encourages people to record his live shows and spread them all over the internets. Apparently his corporate overlords feel differently about it.

  15. Please any chance to re-up? or send links underwater? I was late Thanks Flabber!

  16. Thanks for this. I’ve been searching all over the internet for this masterpiece, couldn’t find it anywhere. This blog is AWESOME. Also thanks for all the João Nogueira’s records, and please keep’em coming.

    • You’re welcome. I am overdue for more Brazil-centric posts and I plan to get my act together before the Olympics, probably quicker than the Australian team can find lodgings!

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