Gerson King Combo – Gerson King Combo (1977)

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Gerson King Combo
1977 Polydor

1     Mandamentos Black    
2     Just For You    
3     Andando Nos Trilhos    
4     Esse É O Nosso Black Brother    
5     Swing Do Rei    
6     Hereditariedade    
7     Foi Um Sonho Só    
8     Uma Chance    
9     God Save The King    
10     Blows

I’m wasn’t planning on writing at length about this album, but November is ‘Black Consciousness Month’ in Brazil.  I’m running out of time to post a record in solidarity, and recent events in AmeriKKKA have left me feeling pretty shitty today.  So why not spread some cheer?   Mind you, it is kind of ludicrous that there even *needs to be* a “Black Consciousness Day” in the one country that has the most people of African descent outside the continent of Africa, but there you go…  The actual holiday was November 20th, to mark the date in 1695 when the ex-slave and quilombo leader Zumbi of Palmares was beheaded.  The commemoration itself wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for some serious grassroots mobilization that went on in the 70s.  In short, it means different things to different people, it has its problematic aspects, but it’s definitely worth some respect.

One could say the same about Gerson King Combo, actually.  I sometimes think I’m in the minority in my opinions about Gerson King Combo, but then again at some of my friends share them so maybe I’m not such a freak.  Let me start by saying I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Gerson perform live four or five years ago at the Mercado Eufrásio Barbosa in lovely Olinda, and the guy is still quite a showman and force of nature.  I have no regrets about making that show, none at all.

But his actual records present an uncomfortable thing for me – I often find myself wishing I could just listen to the Combo swing their thing without Gerson singing on top of them.  The band is tight as hell and the arrangements are smart and engaging.  But as someone who’s been a big James Brown fan since I was twelve years old,  it’s hard not to break out laughing when I hear Gerson shouting “good God!!!”..  Most of the funk jams on the record don’t feature him singing so much as vocalizing, occasionally bursting into exclamations of  “aaachk-ck-ck-ck-ck-ck-aaaack owww!!” To me it almost begins to seem like a parody, as if Gil Brother was fronting a band in the 70s.  Oddly enough when he does some soul ballad crooning, like on “Foi um sonho só,” he’s not a half bad singer at all, even if he’s certainly no Tim Maia.  But on the dance-floor rump shakers, I find his vocals kind of distracting and in constant danger of giving me a case of incurable giggles.  I think it’s fair to say that Gerson King Combo’s importance lay more in the role he played in iconography of the Black Movement of the time, whether as a performer or as an immediately recognizable sound when a DJ put on one of his records at a baile.  He cut an imposing figure, and it’s a case where the attitude and image were inseparable from the music. The significance of that shouldn’t be underestimated, but his recorded output and legacy does not cast the long shadow that many of his peers can claim. 

The opening cut, “Mandamentos black,” is a classic of the genre.  And there is lots of other fun stuff here (Swing do Rei, Hereditariadade, Uma Chance are all winners), and some socially conscious lyrics in the middle of it all.  Even my ears eventually “adjust” to Gerson’s voice when I’m in the mood for this album.  But still, if anyone uncovers a tape of the all-instrumental mixes, please send me an email, okay?

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8 Comments

  1. Had never heard of Gil Brother before…very strange! Thanks again for illuminating!

  2. Thanks mr flabbergast, let me know too if you come across those instrumentals, great to have this upgrade in the meantime 🙂

  3. Wooow!! Thanks for the upgrade I heard so many years ago in the blogsphere and I think is a great lost funk album from Brazil

  4. Nossa, faz tanto tempo que eu não escuto esse disco que nem me lembro mais desses "good god" que você mencionou. O que eu lembro é que eu gostava dele e que os mp3s que eu tinha deviam ter 192kbps no máximo, se não fosse 128…

    Como outros já disseram, muito obrigado pelo "upgrade", Flabber. Vai ser ótimo ter esse disco em FLAC.

  5. Thanks fot this one, Flabber. 🙂

  6. Muito Bommmm,Muito Obrigado

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