Beth Carvalho – Pra Seu Governo & Canto Por Um Novo Dia (2003 2-em-1)

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Beth Carvalho
2 X 1: PRA SEU GOVERNO (1974) / CANTO POR UM NOVO DIA (1973)
2003 EMI Music 583745 2

PRA SEU GOVERNO (1974) Tapecar LPX.22

1. Miragem (Nelson Cavaquinho / Guilherme de Brito)
2 1800 Colinas (Gracia do Salgueiro)
3 Tesoura Cega (Walter Queiroz / César Costa Filho)
4 Maior É Deus (Eduardo Gudin / Paulo César Pinheiro)
5 Fim de Sofrimento (Monarco)
6 A Pedida É Essa (Norival Reis / Vicente Matos)
7 Pra Ninguém Chorar (Paulo César Pinheiro / Edmundo Souto)
8 Me Ganhou (Gisa Nogueira)
9 Falência (Nelson Cavaquinho / Guilherme de Brito)
10 Vovó Chica (Jurandir da Mangueira)
11 Agora É Portela 74 (Paulo César Pinheiro / Maurício Tapajós)
12 Pra Seu Governo (Haroldo Lobo / Milton de Oliveira)

CANTO POR UM NOVO DIA (1973) Tapecar LPX.19

13 Hora de Chorar (Mano Décio da Viola / Jorginho Pessanha)
14 Canto Por Um Novo Dia (Garoto da Portela)
15 Se É Pecado Sambar (Manoel Santana)
16 Homenagem a Nelson Cavaquinho (Carlos Elias)
17 Evocação (Nelson Ferreira)
18 Velhice da Porta-bandeira (Eduardo Gudin / Paulo César Pinheiro)
19 Folhas Secas (Nelson Cavaquinho / Guilherme de Brito)
20 Salve a Preguiça Meu Pai (Mário Lago)
21 Mariana da Gente (João Nogueira)
22 Fim de Reinado (Martinho da Vila)
23 Clementina de Jesus (Gisa Nogueira)
24 Memória de Um Compositor (Darcy da Mangueira / Betinho)
25 Flor da Laranjeira (Humberto de Carvalho / Zé Pretinho / Bernardino Silva)
26 Sereia (Tradicional)
27 São Jorge Meu Protetor


If I had to invent a singer, she would (naturally) need to have a very beautiful voice.  After this, I would train her enough to sing well, learning the secrets of phrasing, division, breathing, projection, naturalness, these things that you learn in school.

Later, I would say to her that all of this was not enough.  A singer is not a musical instrument.  She is a person, a human being, and it is fundamental that this is made clear when she sings.  The emotions, sadness, joy, depression, anguish – all this that popular music suggests has to be transmitted when it’s time to sing.  So much depends on her so that the music is not shorn of its sensations when it’s communicated.

Finally, I would tell her to sing things that come from the people.  The songs made by the geniuses of the people, full of talent and unspoilt by commercial ambitions and the neurosis of novelty so common to composers of the middle class.  I would suggest that she serve as a point of entry between popular culture and consumerism, not allowing the goal to jeopardize the origin.  She would have to be, therefore, a singer of great talent.

Beth Carvalho saved me the trouble of this work.  She already exists.

– Sérgio Cabral


This is a bit of a ‘stop gap’ post because the world should filled with music but I don’t have a lot of time to help with this Divine Mission today.  Along with Clara Nunes, Beth was one of the people whose albums first got me into samba when I was just visiting there as a tourist.  I think the first album I heard, at a friends house was Nos Botequins da Vida, one of her first efforts for RCA.  Shortly after, I was lucky enough to find that album and one of these – Canto Por Um Novo Dia, I think – in my regular stop-and-frisk of the street vendor’s carts in every city I passed through.   They are pretty common albums, nothing “rare groove” about ’em, but it’s your loss if you overlook them on that count.  I still feel like Beth gets taken for granted by many Brazilian music fans, maybe because her management did not have the strategic foresight to arrange for her to die young.  She is still around performing, making the occasional record, but has thus far shown zero interest in surrounding herself with young hipsters in the studio to ‘update’ or reinvent what she does, so has yet to become subjected to any awkward revivals.

On top of their strong repertoire drawing from the best of the many composers available to her, these early albums also have the presence of her mentor Nelson Cavaquinho playing guitar on many tracks.  You can hear his distinctive plucking of the strings from behind the sounding board, as well as some occasional backup singing, alongside Dino 7 Cordas.  There is also Abel Ferreira on clarinet, Copinha on flute, Wilson das Neves on drums, Paulo Mauro on a couple of arrangements.  This last handful is all on on Pra Seu Governo, which is inverted chronologically on this 2-on-1 CD.  I’m not sure why they did this, but it probably is the stronger of the two albums in terms of immediately just grabbing hold of you.  It has also the best samba marimba ever, on Monarco’s O Fim do Sofrimento…  The earlier album Canto Por Um Novo Dia is equally excellent, and features arrangements by César Carmargo Mariano, at the time in the middle of a string of classics for Elis Regina.  It opens with the heart-wrenching Hora de chorar, which is a bit less upbeat of an ‘opening number’ than Miragem, perhaps. Beth delivers a great mix of tunes on both albums from composers old and new, and maintains the laid back, roda de samba vibe that I think is one of the things that endeared her so much to Nelson Cavaquinho.

So now, the sound … It is a big step up from the horrific Discobertas boxset (I’ll keep laying into that point until people stop buying them – I’ve never seen a label so worthy of going out of business).  But this EMI reissue has still got “issues.” The EQ is relatively neutral, but the source for both albums appears to be vinyl copies.  I suspect Tapecar didn’t keep their masters or else preserved them so poorly that they are useless now. So, surely EMI has access to fancier A/D conversion units than I have at my disposal, but unfortunately they also slapped some heavy CEDAR noise reduction on it that sucks all the transient frequencies out.  There is audible compression too that you can really hear kicking in at some places, but it’s used judiciously for the most part, adjusted to sound pretty natural and doesn’t distract too much.  However, listen to the whole disc with a pair of headphones and I all but guarantee you will have listening fatigue and a headache before you are a couple songs into Canto Por Um Novo Dia.   Although my vinyl copies of these are probably less than pristine, they might still warrant a needledrop here sometime for the handful of us who still care about these things.

 


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Beth Carvalho – Primeiras Andanças 1965-75 (2010)

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Beth Carvalho
“Primeiras Andanças – Os Primeiros Dez Anos”
Released 2010 Discobertas (DBOX-01)

Boxset produced by Marcelo Fróes
Remastering by Ricardo Carvalheira
Graphic design by Bady Cartier

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Volume One: Canto Por Um Novo Dia (1973) Tapecar X.19

1. Hora De Chorar
2. Canto Por Um Novo Dia
3. Se E Pecado Sambar
4. Homenagem A Nelson Cavaquinho
5. Evocaçao No. 1
6. A Velhice Da Porta Bandeira
7. Folhas Secas
8. Salve A Preguiça, Meu Pai
9. Mariana Da Gente
10. Fim De Reinado
11. Clementina De Jesus
12. Memoria De Um Compositor
13. Medley – Flor Da Laranjeira /sereia /sao Jorge,

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Volume Two: Pra Seu Governo (1974) Tapecar X.22

1. Miragem
2. 1800 Colinas (mil E Oitocentas Colinas)
3. Tesoura Cega
4. Maior E Deus
5. Fim Do Sofrimento
6. A Pedida E Essa
7. Pra Ninguem Chorar
8. Me Ganhou
9. Falencia
10. Vovo Chica
11. Agora E Portela 74
12. Pra Seu Governo

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Volume 3: Pandeiro e Viola (1975) Tapecar X.33

1. So Queria Ser Feliz
2. O Pior E Saber
3. Pandeiro E Viola
4. Amor Sem Esperança
5. Onde Esta A Honestidade
6. Gota D’agua
7. Enamorada Do Sambao
8. O Dia De Amanha
9. Amor Fiel
10. De Novo Desamor
11. Sente O Peso Do Couro
12. Cansaço
13. Alegria
14. Pesquisa

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Volume 4: Primeiras Andanças – vol.1 (1965-1970)

1. Namorinho
2. Por Quem Morreu De Amor
3. Ponteio
4. Sim Pelo Nao
5. Viola Enluarada
6. Contraste
7. Berenice
8. Domingo Antigo
9. Cavaleiro Andante
10. Rosa De Gente
11. Andança
12. Sentinela
13. Guerra De Um Poeta
14. Meu Tamborim
15. O Tempo E O Vento

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Volume 5: Primeiras Andanças – vol.2 (1970-75)

1. Geraçao 70
2. A Velha Porta
3. Sem Rumo E Sem Destino
4. Minhas Tardes De Sol
5. So Quero Ver
6. Essa Passou
7. Rio Grande Do Sul Na Festa Do Preto Forro
8. A Mais Querida
9. Amor, Amor
10. Mangueira Em Tempo De Folclore
11. Volta, Meu Amor
12. Meu Perdao
13. Rosa De Ouro – Ao Vivo
14. Foi Um Rio Que Passou Em Minha Vida – Ao Vivo

This boxset is a labor of love from Discobertas, a relatively new reissue label who appear to have acquired the rights to the whole Tapecar Records back catalog. Although I have some gripes about some technical issues in the production, the love and attention to detail on this package make up for it. Of the three studio albums presented all but one (‘Pra Seu Governo’) contain a few bonus rarities tacked to the end, an extra treat that hardly seems necessary given the two full discs of rarities that are part of the package. For those uninitiated into the music of Beth Carvalho, these albums are where you want to start. The studio albums are the most gratifying in terms of straight-through listening experience – they highlight Beth Carvalho fully blossomed into her musical identity, fully in command and focused in her direction, and executing her genius at pulling together so much musicality in the choices of compositions and musicians. They each deserve their own individual write-ups, which is part of the problem with boxsets — they can be daunting to listen to, and even more daunting to write about. I may share these individual with audio from their original vinyl pressings, and share some more thoughts there. Likewise you can find these albums posted on some of the ‘usual suspects’ like Loronix or jthymekind. Just a brief mention here, however, that the album ‘Pandeiro e Viola’ is a bit of a disappointment compared to the other two and falls in the category of “contractual obligation album,” as she had already been lost by Tapecar to RCA Records but still owed them an album. It shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand, obviously, and contains some great interpretations of sambas old and new — I particularly like the juxtaposition of the classic Noel Rosa tune “Onde está a honestidade” with Chico Buarque’s “Gota d’Agua.” But overall the album lacks the passion Beth brings to those first two long players, and there are no tunes that give me goosebumps like “Tesoura cega” (from ‘Pra Seu Governo”), a song so perfect it deserves an entire blog post all to itself, or pretty much ALL of her phenomenal first “Canto Pra Um Novo Dia.”

Now on to the mother-load of rarities that will attract the majority of listeners who already know her album material, the two discs called “As Primerias Andanças,” one dedicated to the decade of the 1960s, the second covering 1970 – 75.

The first disc is stylistically all over the place and, honestly, a bit messy. As off-putting as this disc is on first listen, the material is brought into focus by the truly great liner notes by Marcelo Fróes, some of which is based on interviews Beth gave exclusively for this boxset. They trace her career beginning with her unassuming middle-class life as a young guitar instructor who was persuaded to appear performing on television, soon recorded a single (the flipside of which was a song given to her by Roberto Menescal and Ronôldo Boscoli, “Pra Quem Morreu de Amor”), and from there took off into a dozen different directions. In a time period when the clique-ish cohort of bossa nova was breaking up and fragmenting, Beth moved through a variety of musical circles and personalities, reflected in the impressive variety of names that appear in the songwriting credits on these two discs: the aforemention Menescal/Boscoli, the brothers Valle, Arthur Verocai, Danilo Caymmi, Nelson Motta, Paulinho Tapajós, Milton Nascimento, Antonio Adolfo & Tibério Gaspar, Carlos Lyra & Chico Buarque, and of course – as she transformed into a reigning queen of samba during the 1970s – composers like Paulinho da Viola and especially her mentor Nelson Cavaquinho and his partner Guillherme de Brito.

This first of the two discs sheds a lot of insight into Beth Carvalho’s trajectory as an artist and musician. They flesh out the lacunas in the formation of the deity known as Beth Carvalho providing evidence of what we already knew: Beth Carvalho was born to sing roots-driven samba of the bars and botequins, backed by acoustic instruments and percussion. However, the music industry, and Beth herself, took a while to figure that out. As Beth describes in the liner notes, she felt that she was living in two parallel universes during the 60s: one in which she was surrounded by older sambistas of the velha guarda like Cartola on her excursions into Mangueira’s activities, and another where she was surrounded by her peers of her own age. Which goes far in explaining why the first disc — comprised mostly of rare singles and contributions to albums released in conjuction with the Festivals of Song that dominated Brazilian television and middle-class youth culture at the time — have Beth singing bossa nova, samba canção, jovem guarda, jazz samba, maybe a bit of música engajada.. There is plenty of good music here but it is kind of a jolt for those who are familiar with Beth as she into prominence in the next decade, even more so than the first time I heard her album “Andança.”

A time-out here to talk about some technical issues. If Discobertas is going to continue catering to the relatively specialized, restricted market of collectors who want access to precious unreleased material, rarities, and songs from festivals and TV performances that have long seemed AWOL or missing-in-aciton — they *really* need to start putting more emphasis on AUDIO QUALITY. The first two tracks on ‘Primeiras Andanças – Vol. 1’ sound like low-quality mp3s .( In fact, if you put them in any number of software applications that analyze the full-spectrum of audio frequencies, you will be given a “false positive” saying that these ARE mp3’s…) Other tracks were obviously transferred from vinyl and sound rather dubiously processed; others may have come from second or third generations of master tapes. Why all the guesswork? Because Discobertas seems to have their sites to be the Anit-Charles Gavin of reissues: they give NO information on sources, their limitations or their strengths. Gavin usually provides details like the type of equipment and software used to remaster the releases he has done or supervised. It is almost as if Discobertas just doesn’t want us to, um, *discover* these facts. Why does the song “Contraste”, from the LP “Musicanossa: O Som e o Tempo” sound like it was definitely sourced from vinyl (there are some clips and pops that anyone with a basic waveform editor could have removed, by the way..), while the next two tracks from the SAME ALBUM sound sparkling and new, as if they came from, let’s just say, the master tapes. “

Viola Enluarada”, from the Brothers Valle, is probably the most beautiful track on this first disc and personally one of my two personal treasured surprises in the box (the other being, “A Velha Porta” on the second disc). Other highlights include the oddity of a frevo written by Arthur Verocai and Arnoldo Medeiras (‘Domingo antigo’) and the even odder “Cavaleiro Andante” a duet with Taiguara which appears to be about extra-terrestrials and/or nuclear holocaust paranoia and critiques of capitalism. This is probably the only time you will hear Beth singing lyrics as strange as

“”Atenção! Atenção! Atenção! Comunicar!
Produção, produzir, consumir, comunicar,
Construir, destruir, dominar!
Computador eletro-nuclear
Computador eletro-nuclear”

Two more diamonds are the festival-album version of the gorgeous tune “Andança” which has a different mix but sounds like essentially the same studio take as what would appear on the album a the following year, as well her singing an early Milton Nascimento/Fernando Brandt tune, “Sentinela”, taken directly from the “Andança” album. The song features Milton on acoustic guitar, but unfortunately only The Golden Boys accompanying her on vocals. I would have paid extra to hear the two of the performing this as a duet.

The tracks on the next disc continues the pattern of using material culled from a variety of singles and album cuts that were recorded for telenovelas, music festivals, radio broadcasts (like the Project Minerva radio series, which has now also been reissued by Discobertas), and some of the carnaval-season releases like the ‘Samba de Enredo’ albums that would appear every year in the 70s. On this second rarities disc, we hear things slowly evolving stylistically. Opening with some narcissistic pop music of youth celebrating itself for having discovered, um, itself, and bringing in a new age of something or other, in Taiguara’s “Geração 70”. This rather fluffy piece is followed by a truly bad-ass tune “A Velha Porta” with the female backing ensemble ‘As Gatas’. It’s also a post-jovem guarda, Tropicálista-informed pop song and probably the only time you will ever hear Beth let loose with a “oooh-whoa-whoa, hey hey hey hey…” If your not enjoying this song by the 2-minute mark, then you couldn’t find a hook in a meat locker.

“Sem Rumo e Sem Destino” is a wonderfully dreamy, psychedelic song released as a single from a film, “Memôrias de Um Gigolô.” The sweeping, hazy majesty of the tune has a lot to do with the fact that it was arranged by one Antônio Adolfo, and written by him with Tibério Gaspar (who would one day introduce Tim Maia to the Cultura Racional movement). The following tune, “Minhas Tardes de Sol” sounds like it just may have been influenced by (Sir) Paul McCartney, and thus it is needless to say that it is horrible and unlistenable fluff. We then get treated to both sides of a single recorded with Som Três and Milton Miranda at the production helm. The second of these, “Só Quero Ver,” is the most straight-up samba we have heard yet in these rarities, but stylistically Beth is very much working in the style of Elza Soares here. This is followed by a tune where she is working very much in the style of Clara Nunes – ‘Rio Grande do Sul na Festa do Rei Fôrro”with its celebration of candomblé, is a great song. From a single in 1972 (what was on the flip-side??), it bears listening to and thinking about closely and I am apt to change my opinion every time I play it (and I reserve that right!). Vocally, Beth’s voice sounds very relaxed and is taking on the style of phrasing and dynamics that would characterize her work from this point on, but the instrumentation and something about the *attitude* of the song’s execution demonstrates that she is still moving somewhat freely between the extant strains of samba and not laying claim to any particular territory yet. “A Mais Querida” — sound quality, what the FUCK has happened here — another terribly vinyl transfer. Apparently Disbortas only aquired the *rights* to the songs from Tapecar, not the tapes, which apparently gives them the RIGHT to mangle the hell out of the audio. I could teach the twelve-year old who lives two doors down the street from me, a smart kid who is pretty quick with a computer, how to restore audio from scratchy vinyl better than Discobertas has done. I could give any reader of this blog a quick, 10-step tutorial on how to clean up a record with basic practices that nobody seems to be aware of over at that label. These two songs from 1973 are pivotal and important in Beth’s career, coming right around the time of her first LP in this style. Too bad they sound like total shit. The following songs, from Carnaval-season compilations, are all wonderful, and totally dominated by “Meu Perdão” written by her mentor and spiritual father, Nelson Cavaquinho. The last two tracks are interesting as anomalies, with Beth well into her “Queen of the Samba Revival” stage but choosing to cover two classics associated with Portela stalwart, Paulinho da Viola ‘Rosa de Ouro” and “Foi um rio que passou em minha vida”. Both taken at a quick tempo, they are from the Radio Minerva sessions, which up until this year of 2011 have only been available on their original vinyl releases. Let me tell you as a collector — these albums are not *that* difficult or impossible to find if you are willing to spend a modest amount of money: WHY THEN, do these two tracks sound like they taken from a beaten-up copy found in the engineer’s closet?? For fuck’s sake, if you are going to go through the trouble to undertake a project like this – take your time, and do it right.

In a musical marketplace where a lot of bullshit career-boxsets have been released on major labels in Brazil, ones that only present the main albums by an artist (most of them already available to some degree) with no rarities included, this simple, focused box by Discobertas is a breath of fresh air. By and large it is worth every penny on account of the rarities included, the liner notes, sharp graphic design and presentation. However (not to keep flogging a dead horse) its weak point is the audio quality, especially on the rarities but also on the main LPs. A newspaper review I read claimed this box is an improvement to the original vinyl which (according to his unnamed source) had the low frequencies tapered off. I think that reviewer either needs to buy a different turntable that produces low frequencies better, or perhaps pick up other copies of the original LPs. Tapecar’s problem was most definitely NOT one of mixing or mastering – all of the studio albums I have from them sound fine, even great — but perhaps of *consistency* and quality-control in the pressing of vinyl records. Petroleum shortfalls and the oil crises were making themselves felt as Tapecar got going, and if this critique about inconsistent quality applies to the huge labels that had dominated the Brazilian record industry for decades (Odeon, Philips) and were now putting out an inferior product than a decade earlier, then such a critique would be even more applicable to small label like Tapecar. I have multiple copies of some of Beth’s LPs on both Tapecar and RCA — and some of them just sound better than others. Buying Brazilian vinyl from the 1970s is a crapshoot – you may find a disc from 1974 that appears practically brand new, only to take it home and be greeted by all manner of awful noise, extreme warps in the vinyl, or other annoyances. Whereas you can pick up a visually scratched and played-to-death Wilson Simonal album from 1965 and it will play *perfectly*. So for people who don’t have the patience for vinyl, sure – this collection is a blessing. But it does not necessarily sound “better” than the original releases. And the dubious, frequency-shedding “restoration” applied to the two rarities discs, specifically the material obviously sourced from vinyl, is enough evidence for me to say that I will definitely NOT be shelling out the cash for Discobertas reissue of the Project Minverva radio albums. The price is too high, and (if the tracks included here and on the Elza Soares reissues are any example) the quality too poor, to warrant it. Which is sad, because that radio program is important to Brazil’s cultural patrimony and deserves to be heard. I haven’t yet heard anything from the Ed Lincoln box, and until I get an opinion from a source I trust about such things, I’ll stick with the vinyl for him as well. If all this commentary smacks of overwrought ambiguity, then I’d like to ask the reader how they might evaluate a release that is doing both a great service AND a great disservice to the music fan / researcher / historian / obsessive-compulsive or wherever category you might fit into. Because this box was released with these rarities, there is very little chance that these rarities will see a RE-release any time soon. Therefore, we will have to live with the sub-par “restoration” applied to these songs for probably the next decade at the very least. And then of course, if this box had NOT been released, then very very few people would hear this music at all, since I would probably have to sell a kidney to track down all of the material scattered across the two rarities albums. (I should mention that my kidney’s have seen a lot of abuse and aren’t actually worth all that much, so we’re not talking about tons of cash. Just more than I have access to at the moment).

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O Fundo de Quintal – O Samba É no Fundo do Quintal (1980)

Fundo de Quintal
“Samba é no Fundo de Quintal”
Released 1980 on RGE

1 Você quer voltar
(Gelcy do Cavaco, Pedrinho da Flor)
2 Sou Flamengo, Cacique e Mangueira
(Luiz Carlos)
3 Prazer da Serrinha
(Rubens da Silva, Hélio dos Santos)
4 Olha a intimidade
(Diogo, Almir Baixinho)
5 Volta da sorte
(Luverci Ernesto, Almir)
6 Marido da madame
(Luiz Carlos, Beto Sem Braço)
7 Bate na viola
(Everaldo da Viola, Dida)
8 Gamação danada
(Flor, Almir, Neguinho da Beija)
9 Lá no morro
(Dona Fia, Marujo, Almir Baixinho)
10 Bar da esquina
(Jotabê, Jorge Aragão)
11 Voltar a paz
(Sereno do Cacique)
12 Zé da Ralé
(Diogo, Almir Baixinho)

“To my cherished public I say this: buy this album, that brings us a demonstration of the most authentic samba. As a sambista, friend, and godmother, I sign below.
-Beth Cavalho
Rio, September 5, 1980

Beth Carvalho, the reigning Queen of Samba Pagode, was not kidding around about these guys with her ‘blessing’ as godmother. Fundo de Quintal formed the backing band on some of her memorable albums from the late 70s and early 80s. And this, their first album on their own, is a classic record from classic purveyors of samba. Two of Fundo de Quintal’s luminaries — Jorge Aragão and Almir Guenito — would go their own ways for successful solo careers, but the heavyweights like Arlindo Cruz and Valter Sete Cordas would step in to fill the void. It is unfortunate that these days “pagode” has come to be a word commonly associated with an awful, saccharine, glossed-up pop-samba sung by boy-band-lookalikes. That stuff has nothing at all in common except a word with the original progenitors of “samba-pagode” like Fundo de Quintal, so if your palette has been spoiled by the former, do yourself a favor and give this disc a spin.

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