Nara Leão, Edu Lobo, Tamba Trio – 5 Na Bossa (1965)

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5 NA BOSSA
Edu Lobo / Nara Leão / Tamba Trio
1965 Philips 632.769 L
2013 Remaster


1 – Carcará  (José Cândido, João do Vale)   
2 – Reza  (Ruy Guerra, Edu Lobo)   
3 – O trem atrasou  (Paquito, Vilarinho, Estanislau Silva)   
4 – Zambi  (Edu Lobo, Vinicius de Moraes)   
5 – Consolação  (Baden Powell, Vinicius de Moraes)   
6 – Aleluia  (Ruy Guerra, Edu Lobo)   
7 – Cicatriz  (Zé Keti, Hermínio Bello de Carvalho)   
8 – Estatuinha  (Gianfrancesco Guarnieri, Edu Lobo)   
9 – Minha história  (Raymundo Evangelista, João do Vale)   
10 – O morro não tem vez (Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes)   

Recorded live at the Paramount Theater, São Paulo

Remastered by Luigi Hoffer and Carlos Savalla at Digital Mastering Solutions

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Well there isn’t a tremendous amount to say about this brief live record.  Solid performances from everyone involved, although the recording itself is less than prestine and seems to have been made worse by questionable remastering that now makes the album feature clipped samples and very obvious noise reduction artifacts… Why do I keep buying CDs just to hear myself complain when I know they’ll screw them up?  Well this otherwise pretty rare so there’s one reason.

Tamba Trio sounds fantastic, as usual, and the two cuts they have to themselves here are nice and long showcases.  Nara is a bit uneven, unfortunately.  Her imperfect intonation was always part of her charm, but in this live setting – inside a large auditorium-style theater and no stage monitors (being 1965) – her pitch is more off than usual.  In fact “Cicatriz,” a song that goes outside her vocal range to begin with, is a downright painful listen.  She sounds excellent singing with Edu Lobo on Aleluia, though.  Sr. Lobo just celebrated his 70th birthday, so it’s a particularly good time to enjoy this rare live recording of him in his youth.  The liner notes thank Aloysio de Oliveira (the man behind Elenco) for loaning him out for this recording.  He sings one of my favorite compositions of his too, “Reza.”

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Various Artists – Bossa Nova: Sua História, Sua Gente (1975)

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Bossa Nova Sua Historia Sua Gente
Philips / Polygram
Original release 1975
CD reissue, unknown date

DISC 1

01 – Sofrer é da Vida – Mario Reis
02 – Você – Dick Farney e Norma Bengel
03 – Nós e o Mar – Doris Monteiro
04 – Só Danço Samba – Donato e Seu Trio
05 – Mocinho Bonito – Billy Blanco
06 – Samba do Avião – Cariocas
07 – Rio – Lucio Alves
08 – As Praias Desertas – Elizete Cardoso
09 – Último Canto – Agostinho dos Santos
10 – Influência do Jazz – Leny Andrade
11 – Minha Saudade – Tamba Trio
12 – Por Toda Minha Vida – Lenita Bruno
13 – Tristeza de Nós Dois – Luiz Eca
14 – Tem Mais Samba – Quarteto em Cy
15 – Boranda – Edu Lobo & Tamba Trio
16 – Berimbau – Baden Powell
17 – The Girl From Ipanema – Astrud Gilberto
18 – Carta ao Tom 74 – Vinícius e Toquinho

DISC 2

01 – Samba da Pergunta – João Gilberto
02 – Samba de Verão – Roberto Menescal e Seu Conjunto
03 – Demais – Maysa
04 – Folha de Papel – Sergio Ricardo
05 – Chora Tua Tristeza – Conj Oscar Castro Neves
06 – Ao Amigo Tom – Claudette Soares
07 – Você e Eu – Sylvia Telles
08 – Coisa Mais Linda – Carlos Lyra
09 – Ela é Carioca – Sergio Mendes e Bossa Trio
10 – Maria Bonita – Nara Leão
11 – Upa Neguinho – Lennie Dale
12 – Que Maravilha – Zimbo Trio
13 – De Palavra em Palavra – Mpb4
14 – Chuva – Os Gatos
15 – Tema do Boneca de Palha – Rosinha de Valença
16 – Olha Maria – Chico Buarque
17 – So Tinha de Ser com Você – Elis & Tom
18 – Ana Luiza – Tom Jobim



There are a lot of bossa nova compilations out there, and a lot of them are pretty shitty.  This one is a good enough listen, though not nearly as
Earth-shaking as some of the reviews I’ve seen on the internet might indicate.   In fact, T. “Strokin”Jurek must have a different record than the one I
have – not only does it not feature any tracks by Jorge Ben as he claims (rather, it has a medley of Ben songs performed by Zimbo Trio, however, which is a big
difference), but it also does NOT contain “credits and complete song details” in any way.  What my copy has is an essay-style account of bossa nova with information on key composers, artists, producers and arrangers.  Not song credits.  Maybe Jurek has a different edition, or maybe he doesn’t read or speak Portuguese?  If so he should probably stop being paid to write reviews of anthological Brazilian releases. What Jurek also seems ignorant of is that astute fans of this music don’t gripe about compilations like this because they are fond of
“nit picking.” Usually they are motivated for a love of music that exceeds the profit motive of the companies that put it out.  A case in point can usually be found in any compilation claiming to represent an entire musical movement, such as this one.  Even in the 1960s, the Brazilian recording industry was consolidated in very few hands, with each label being pretty equally possessive of its own artists and covetous of its neighbors.  As you will see, that has resulted in some misleading attempts to anthologize.

This collection was originally released as a triple-LP box with an oversized booklet.  I had both the vinyl and CD and for once we are at least lucky to have a CD booklet that replicates
the info in the original vinyl down to the letter.  Unfortunately that info is still kind of vague on the sort of info fans want, such as the provenance of the tracks – the dates, the records they came from, who may have played on them – in fact just the sort of info that Jurek claims comes with this set but does not.   It’s my feeling this is a pretty deliberate choice.  Philips didn’t even
exist as a discrete record label during the heydey of bossa nova, but rather took over what had been CBD (Companhia Brasileira dos Discos) and eventually acquired the Elenco label and their catalog in the early 70s.  So this compilation is missing all kinds of crucial stuff released by the EMI-Odeon and RGE labels, for example.  To make things more confusing, some of the artists associated with those labels appear here on selections recorded after they had signed contracts with Philips (João Gilberto, Chico Buarque, Zimbo Trio).  They are great songs, but these artists’ canonical contributions to bossa nova are found on their first few records, and not the ones recorded for Phillips.

What this compilation does do really well is fill in gaps in the fan’s knowledge of artists either within bossa nova or who were seminal and influential on its formation (even if some of them – like Dick Farney – are once again featured in post-1970 contexts).  A lot of material, however, isn’t actually bossa nova but samba canção, a genre that provided a lot of the roots, repertoire, and inspiration for bossa nova but which is distinct enough that its progenitors were initially scandalized by the deviations in rhythms and intervals that the kids brought to the block.  Although it’s not clear how much is intentional and how much is a product of the contractual shenanigans on who has rights to what songs, this record ends up being a cool compilation that manages to
avoid repeating the cliched representations of bossa nova (with the exception fo Girl From Ipanema), even at the expense of omitting most of its key compositions and recordings.
Extra points for including tracks from Os Cariocas, Carlos Lyra, Agostinho dos Santos, US expatriat Lennie Dale, Silvia Telles, and Billy Blanco.

 

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Os Cobras – O LP (1964)

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OS COBRAS
O LP

Released 1964 on RCA (BBL-1290) in Brazil
Reissue 2005 Sony-BMG France
In GLORIOUS MONOPHONIC

01 – Quintessência (J. T. Meirelles)
02 – Nanã (Moacir Santos / Mário Telles)
03 – Depois de Amro (Orlann Divo / Roberto Jorge)
04 – Adriana (Roberto Menescal / Luis Fernando Freire)
05 – Praia (Orlann Divo / Roberto Jorge)
06 – Uganda (Orlann Divo / Roberto Jorge)
07 – The Blues Walk (C. Brown)
08 – 40 Graus (Orlando Costa ”Maestro Cipó”)
09 – Chão (Amaury Tristão / Roberto Jorge)
10 – Menina Demais (Orlann Divo / Roberto Jorge)
11 – Mar Amar (Roberto Menescal / Ronaldo Bôscoli)
12 – Moça da Praia (Roberto Menescal / Luis Fernando Freire)

Tenorio Jr. (piano)
José Carlos “Zezinho” (bass)
Milton Banana (drums)
Raul de Souza (trombone)
Hamilton (trumpet)
Meirelles (sax alto, flute)
Paulo Moura (sax alto)

Special Guests

Jorginho (flute)
Aurino (sax baritono)
Cipó (sax tenor)
Roberto Menescal (guitar on 10 & 12)
Ugo (vibraphone on 10 & 12)

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Lately, in my real job,  I’ve been pushing my way through a chunk of writer’s block rough enough to leave your hands bleeding from the splinters.  That results in a few adverse effects that involve you, blog reader:  I have less time to put into writing for this place, and then when I do have free time it’s usually spent feeling like an idiot about the other stuff I’ve been working on.

But instrumental music is often the only music that I can write to when working on that “other stuff” and this record has gotten a few spins over the last month.  It’s kind of a super group, Brazilian jazz all-stars affair, the result of the label RCA-Victor approaching composer and arranger Roberto Jorge to make a record with the regular heavyweights in Rio’s jazz scene congregating around the jam sessions at places like Little Club and Bottle’s.   The result was a bold declaration of the samba-jazz sound at its best.  On the rhythm section there’s the ubiqutuous Milton Banana – Brazil’s own Art Blakey – on the drum kit, and Tenório Jr. on piano, who was also ubiquitous until he was “disappeared”  and murdered in Argentina while on tour with Vinicius & Toquinho in the mid 70s.   Zezinho is on bass, about whom I can’t tell you much of anything besides that he frequently played with Erlon Chaves.    In the way of horns, there is the brilliant Paulo Moura, whose passing a couple years ago was a huge loss for the world of music.   The guy has probably a million album credits of everything from choro to prog rock, but here we get to hear him in the same group with Meirelles, a sax man every bit his equal.  A lot of the arrangements are by Cipó, who worked with João Gilberto’s first band Garotos da Lua and also contributes one composition and a bit of tenor sax to this record.  There are also a few arrangements by Carlos Monteiro de Souza.

This album really highlights the symbiotic relationship between jazz in the United States and  samba-jazz, jazz-bossa or just jazz in Brazil.  Flows of mutual inspiration were resulting in an amazing amount of innovation and great music on both sides of the equator.  But like in many other contexts, the relationship was also lopsided and unequal.  The infatuation of American jazz for bossa nova, Brazil’s biggest musical export, unfortunately overlooked the immense variety of possibilities presented by other styles of music, such as samba.  If US jazz absorbed anything of samba, it was by way of bossa nova’s own mutations of it.   With apologies for making a simplified, unilineal argument, I’ll do it anyway and say that samba was to bossa nova what the blues was to jazz: the latter would not have existed without the former.  But the blindness to each other’s roots was reciprocal – the blues was not really in the repertoire of musical idioms available to Brazilians either, at least not in the early 60s.  Both jazz and bossa were transnational, globalized music long before anyone used that kind of language to describe them, but when you push back into their roots you find yourself at the limits of the culturally specific.  In spite of a multitude of sociological and economic similarities, a Mississippi sharecropper and a morro resident in Rio were speaking mutually unintelligible languages.

This is another record where singling out individual tracks seems almost superfluous, but their arrangements of a few classic tunes deserve pointing out.  “Naña”, one of Moacir Santos’ most gorgeous and most recorded compositions, is immediately compelling with Tenório’s sparse deconstruction of the chord sequence opening the tune before the lush harmonies of sax, trumpet and flute come in on the main melody.  Remind me some time to post Santos’ “Coisas” album here, as it’s essential listening that makes a lot of the “top 100” lists that people are always making.  Incidentally, Moacir Santos played in a completely unrelated combo calling themselves Os Cobras, who made a one-off album in 1960 and then disappeared.

Another ear-catching track is a version of Clifford Brown’s signature tune, “The Blues Walk”, proving that these guys hold their own on straight bop.  The album is infused with bop throughout, especially noticeable in Meirelles’s own composition “Quintessence” and “Praia” from Orlann Divo & Roberto Jorge, which still sound fresh.  They may start out a bit reverent playing Brown’s tune, but the sense of playfulness and fun soon overtakes everything else. This is followed by the Cipó composition “40 graus” which except for its choruses bears more than a passing resemblance to the rocking samba-jazz-bossa that J.T. Meirelles was making with Jorge Ben at the time.  It’s also the longest track here, clocking in at a whopping four and a half minutes.  The record closes with a short pretty composition by Luiz Fernando Freire and Roberto Menescal (“Moça da praia”, apparently a favorite theme of the bossa crowd), who also features on acoustic guitar.

Using the original liner notes, translated into French for this pressing, it is possible to reconstruct who plays what solo on which tunes.  Anyone who feels so inclined to do so is welcome to compile it and send it to me, and I’ll happily post it here.  As for me, it’s time to get back to chipping away at that writer’s block.

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password: vibes

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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