Elis Regina – Em Pleno Verão (1970)

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Elis Regina
“Em pleno verão”
Released 1970 Philips (R 765.112 L)
Reissue 2005 (811 467-2)

1 Vou deitar e rolar (Quaquaraquaquá)
(Baden Powell, Paulo César Pinheiro)
2 Bicho do mato
(Jorge Ben)
3 Verão vermelho
(Nonato Buzar)
4 Até aí morreu Neves
(Jorge Ben)
5 Frevo
(Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes)
6 As curvas da estrada de Santos
(Erasmo Carlos, Roberto Carlos)
7 Fechado pra balanço
(Gilberto Gil)
8 Não tenha medo
(Caetano Veloso)
9 These are the songs
(Tim Maia)
10 Comunicação
(Édson Alencar, Hélio Matheus)
11 Copacabana velha de guerra
(Sergio Flaksman, Joyce)

This is a fun album that sees Elis taking herself a bit less seriously than would be the case in years to come. Beginning with the beautiful photo on the album cover, it’s sunshine all the way through. Recorded and released in 1970, it sits on a precipice of musical history sort of like the proverbial time capsule left for the extra-terrestrials to tell them about contemporary MPB. With consistently interesting and flawless arrangements from Erlon Chaves, Elis rips through a repertoire of songs that couldn’t get much better spanning Bossa Nova, Jovem Guarda, Brazilian Soul and Tropicália and spinning them into a weirdly unified whole. A delirious take on “Vou deitar e rolar (Quaquaraquaquá)” from Baden Powell and Paulo César Pinheiro has Elis unable to restrain herself from laughing through most of it, which is a cue to the listener to lighten up a bit. Two fantastic tunes from Jorge Ben nestle nicely with tunes from Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil – “Fechado pra balanço” stands out in particular and is a testament to the stylistic strengths of both composer and interpreter here, as their different personalities are completely intermingled and simultaneously distinct, a talent that was an uncanny ability of Elis. She also continues her tradition of lifting up new talented writers by concluding with a song by a young Joyce (“Copacabana velha de guerra”) and especially the inclusion of Tim Maia’s “These Are The Songs” on which she brought him into the studio to sing. This was the same year that Tim’s debut album would come out, and his inclusion on an album by the reigning queen of MPB helped him to explode on the scene.  But for all the great material on here, currently my favorite cut is “As Curvas da Estrada de Santos” in which she is able to out-swagger Roberto Carlos, with big help from her backing band who really work it out. (Wilson das Neves on drums?? I don’t have musician credits for this one..) Although this album doesn’t seem to have any of the titles that would come to be Elis’ “signature songs” associated with her during the remainder of her short life, it’s a nice solid slab of great music in her discography.

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João Donato – Lugar Comum (1975) with Gilberto Gil

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João Donato
“Lugar Comum”
Released 1975 on Philips
Reissued 2004 on Dúbas Música

1 Lugar comum
(Gilberto Gil, João Donato)
2 Tudo tem
(Gilberto Gil, João Donato)
3 A bruxa de mentira
(Gilberto Gil, João Donato)
4 Ê menina
(Guarabyra, João Donato)
5 Bananeira
(Gilberto Gi, João Donato)
6 Patumbalacundê
(Orlandivo, Durval Ferreira, Gilberto Gil, João Donato)
7 Xangô é de Baê
(Rubens Confeti, Sidney da Conceição, João Donato)
8 Pretty dolly
(Norman Gimbel, João Donato)
9 Emoriô
(Gilberto Gil, João Donato)
10 Naturalmente
(Caetano Veloso, João Donato)
11 Que besteira
(Gilberto Gil, João Donato)
12 Deixei recado
(Gilberto Gil, João Donato)

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Mellow and laid-back and yet also very funky. Classic album, impossible to find on vinyl without selling your organs, but it’s been around in the blogosphere for quite a while. Still, it is very nice that this remaster exists and I hope someone out there takes advantage of the FLAC availability. I have no idea why Donato changed the album cover — which was kind of bland and ugly to begin with — to something even more bland and ugly. Just my opinion. If you want a review that completely misses the point about nearly everything on this album and amazingly fails to mention the presence of Gilberto Gil or collaborations with Caetano Veloso, go look for Thom Jurek’s award-winning AMG prose/drivel about this album. He never disappoints in the mediocrity department.

Worth pointing out that the song ‘Bananeira’ was also a hit for Emilio Santiago on an album that Donato arranged for him in this same year.

The reissue has liner notes in both Portuguese and English that give some pretty detailed anecdotes about each song. Particularly interesting is the story behind the song “Xango é de Baê”. The keyboard tones are, naturally, gorgeous, and the production is impeccable and warm like the hug of an old friend. Indeed. If you don’t know this album, you ought to check it out; If you do already know it, but not this remaster, leave a message here, particularly if you have an opinion about the remastering. I am personally pretty happy with this one.

Gil & Jorge – Ogum Xango (1975)


Jorge Ben & Gilberto Gil
——————————
Gil & Jorge / Ogun Xango

Released 1975 Phonogram (9299 453/4)
This reissue: Salve, Jorge! Boxset 2009

LP 1

1 Meu glorioso São Cristóvão
(Jorge Ben)
2 Nega
(Gilberto Gil)
3 Jurubeba
(Gilberto Gil)
4 Quem mandou (Pé na estrada)
(Jorge Ben)

LP 2

5 Taj Mahal
(Jorge Ben)
6 Morre o burro, fica o homem
(Jorge Ben)
7 Essa é pra tocar no rádio
(Gilberto Gil)
8 Filhos de Gandhi
(Gilberto Gil)
9 Sarro
(Jorge Ben, Gilberto Gil)

Since this album was reissued on the Verve label for years, and thus available domestically in the US, it was actually the first Jorge Ben I had ever heard in my life. Note: if you have your 3-D glasses left over from Avatar, the original album cover of this was apparently designed to be viewed in 3-D. Far out.

I remember not knowing what to think the first time I put it on. The songs were so loose, so long and jangly and laid back — just not what I had expected after everything I had heard about Jorge. Also Gilberto Gil is doing his thing and being, well, Gil — his vocal whoops and falsetto vocalizations can be a little weird and grating. In fact in some ways this might possibly the most ‘psychedelic’ album either one of them recorded. I don’t know if I can back that statement up if you haven’t heard this. This has nothing to the production of this record — very straight-forward recording of a jam session with some slight delay and reverb added to the vocals and guitars. Some bass guitar on one track only. But it’s free-flowing improvisational acoustic attack, with little regard for conventional song structures in the commercial sense, this could almost have the same vibe as an Amon Duul (Mach I) album, albeit with actual talent involved. I have said this before and will repeat it here — I wouldn’t recommend this as an introduction to Jorge Ben, or Gil for that matter. Not because it’s bad, just because its well… kind of weird and atypical. But there is a reason why its a classic. There is great music from start to finish, and songs by both artists that don’t appear anywhere else. ‘Filhos de Gandhi’ is one of my favorites, and unique to this record. Essentially a slowed-down afoxé minus the percussion, its title is taken from one of the more famous carnaval blocos of Salvador, Bahia. Gil tells the story himself on his own website, which I will leave untranslated out of pure laziness, for the moment at least:

“Chegado de Londres, em 72, eu fui passar o carnaval na Bahia, e encontrei o Afoxé Filhos de Gandhi sem massa humana na avenida, reduzido a apenas uns quarenta ou cinquenta na Praça da Sé. O bloco, tão vivo na minha memória, tinha sido um dos grandes emblemas da minha infância e era o mais antigo da cidade. Começou a sair em 49, quando eu tinha sete anos; os integrantes passavam pela porta de casa no bairro de Santo Antonio, todos de branco, com turbantes e lençóis, palhas de alho trançadas e fita na cabeça, e com um toque que era diferente do samba, da marcha, do frevo, dando uma sensação de espaço sagrado (depois viemos a saber que o afoxé era mesmo um toque religioso do candomblé). Eu tinha veneração pelo Gandhi, e ao revê-lo numa situação de indigência, me deu uma dor seguida de um arroubo de filialidade, de amor de filho, arrimo de família; resolvi dar uma força. A primeira coisa que fiz foi me inscrever no bloco – para ‘engrossar o caldo’. Depois fiz a música, e continuei saindo – saí treze anos seguidos. As fileiras foram aumentando, e o Gandhi se recuperando. Os jovens ficaram entusiasmados com minha presença, e os velhos se sentiram mais estimulados a trabalhar; enfim, foi um estímulo geral.”

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Album cover from the US release on VERVE RECORDS:

Gilberto Gil – Refavela (1977) 320kbs

Gilberto Gil
Refavela (1977)
320 kbs

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This is a highly underrated album, a result of Gil’s trip to Lagos with Caetano Veloso. Caetano recorded “Bicho”, also a classic, but this record holds its own against it any day. In my opinion, this is the last of Gil’s records that you can truly call a “classic.” It’s groundbreaking stuff that presages “world music” but the production values here are still nice, warm, and analog (no Peter Gabriel “Real World studios” sounding stuff here!).

Contains complete artwork!!

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Review by Philip Jandovský

Unlike his friend and fellow Brazilian musical legend, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, through the years, has had a strong tendency to follow the temporary shifts in styles and trends that occur within popular music. Because of this the music of Gil usually has sounded very up to date when it was released, but often his recordings haven’t at all aged as gracefully as the timeless music of Caetano Veloso. The tracks on many of the albums of Gilberto Gil have also been of very uneven quality. Refavela is clearly one of the exceptions to this rule. Heavily inspired by traditional African and Afro-Brazilian sounds and rhythms, the songs on this album have aged very well indeed. The title of the album, Refavela, of course, refers to the slum quarters found in the large Brazilian cities, which are called favelas. Among the more famous songs on this album are the beautiful title track, “Refavela,” the funky “Babá Alapalá,” and the Afro-Brazilian rhythmic “Patuscada de Gandhi” and “Ilê Ayê.” There is also a cover of Tom Jobim’s “Samba do Avião.” Refavela is, without doubt, one of the most consistent and probably the best of all albums recorded by Gilberto Gil.