Novos Baianos – Novos Baianos
1974 Continental SLP-10.144 (Original release)
2016 Japanese reissue, Bomba Records Continental SLP-10.144
Last Sunday, Brazil’s first World Cup match ended in a tie, and now they’ve won their a match against Costa Rica. I didn’t watch. I don’t care about the World Cup. Even if I did, I’m not sure I would be cheering for Brazil this year. Country has lost its damn mind, and Neymar continues to be whitening. Also FIFA continues to be an ethically dodgy facilitator of slave labor littering the world with disused stadiums built as monuments to their power. So let’s listen to a record by some people who embody the “beautiful game” as, in my uninformed naiveté, I imagine it to exist in some parallel utopia – Os Novos Baianos, lovers of futebol and purveyors of fine music, still in the midst of their heyday.
1 Fala Tamborim (Em Pleno 74)
2 Ladeira Da Praça
3 Eu Sou O Caso Deles
5 Isabel (Bebel)
6 Linguagem Do Alunte
7 Ao Poeta
8 Reis Da Bola
A nearly flawless collection of songs, all original except for Isabel (Bebel) which is a giddy testament to the groups apprentice-like relationship to master João Gilberto. The record starts out pretty gently. Fala Tamborim is an original samba that sounds like it would fit in that great tradition in any decade from the 1930s on, and Ladeira Da Praça bridges these commune-dwelling bohemians to the malandro cool of another era. The first appearance of electric instruments comes in the third tune, Eu Sou O Caso Deles. A pleasant acoustic instrumental works as a prelude to Gilberto’s aforementioned lullaby to his daughter, recorded for his (greatest) album a year earlier. Here the Baianos give it a kind of choro treatment before launching into a triumphant electric interpretation that could almost be early Wishbone Ash without the bombast. But the bombast isn’t long in coming, as the raucous Linguagem Do Alunte rips out of your speakers, the band led by the singular voice of young Baby Consuelo – her first real appearance on this album coming only in the second half. And, I’m not kidding, the multiple harmonized guitar lines remind me of 1970-71 Wishbone Ash, which is alright in my book. The final verse even gets double-tracked drums to make the recording even heavier and thicker. Now that they’ve reminded us that they are patron saints of the Brazilian counterculture, they follow this great song up with the album’s only filler track, Ao Poeta, which is amusing if you speak Portuguese, and I suppose its “experimental” but mostly serves as a testament to how some ideas seem much better when you’re really high. A frevo song celebrating football, Reis Da Bola, brings the album back on track, and then it comes to an abrupt end with Bolado, again with Consuelo on lead vocal. It’s a short record, like most Brazilian albums up until the late 70’s, and there’s something to be said for leaving the listening wanting more.
The feast day of St. John the Baptist, São João, is about to crown a month of festas juninas in the Northeast. This is usually the period when I post old forró records here. But besides being generally busier than usual lately, I’m also a bit disengaged and confused by Brazil at the moment, and celebrations of national and regional identity run a risk of legitimizing the authoritarian regime that is consolidating there. Of course, actual artists can wield their creativity like a weapon to subvert the ufanistic chest thumping. But I will leave that to them, as after all I’m just a music blogger.
Also, as this blog enters its 10th year (!) next month, I had been considering making a small plea for patrons (via Patreon) or other donations, but if you have any spare change lying around, I would prefer that you give it to this organization, Raices, who hope to mitigate the trauma and the potential creation of a few thousand orphans by a despotic regime in the northern hemisphere.