Elis Regina – Ela (1971)

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ELA
Elis Regina
1971 Phonogram
CD Reissue 1998 Philips

1 Ih! meu Deus do Céu
(Ronaldo Monteiro, Ivan Lins)
2 Black is beautiful
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
3 Cinema Olympia
(Caetano Veloso)
4 Golden slumbers
(McCartney, Lennon)
5 Falei e disse
(Baden Powell, Paulo César Pinheiro)
6 Aviso aos navegantes
(Baden Powell, Paulo César Pinheiro)
7 Mundo deserto
(Erasmo Carlos, Roberto Carlos)
8 Ela
(César Costa Filho, Aldir Blanc)
9 Madalena
(Ronaldo Monteiro, Ivan Lins)
10 Os argonautas
(Caetano Veloso)
11 Estrada do Sol
(Dolores Duran, Tom Jobim)

Produced by Nelson Motta
with studio assistance from Roberto Menescal
Arrangements by Chico de Morais
Front cover by Aldo Luiz


Today, January 19, marked 30 years since the death of one of Brazil’s most beloved divas, Elis Regina. The last few years of her career saw her recording lots of crap, but during the 60s and the better part of the 70s she had a long string of solid records, even if the quality of her repertoire (and the number of songwriters from which she drew) dwindled over time. I’ve picked this record not because it’s representative or a masterpiece or anything like that — it’s neither – but because I think it probably gets overlooked since it is chronologically sandwiched between a couple of her other records that overshadow it.

I always considered this sort of a weak effort but the album has grown on me over the years. It is sort of Elis’ foray into the nascent Brazilian soul movement of the time, a genre for which she wasn’t particularly well-suited. There were two big hits off it – Madalena from Ivan Lins, and Black Is Beautiful from Marcos and Paulo Sérgio Valle. The former is classic Elis Regina and deserved to be a smash hit; the latter is much better on the original ‘Garra’ album from Marcos Valle. The lyrics are so bizarre by today’s standards (and rather politically incorrect, although kind of hilarious) that I really can’t picture anyone other than Marcos Valle pulling it off. The thing about the Brothers Valle is they could be very clever, subtle, and ironic without seeming to be any of those things, and I’ve speculated elsewhere on the different interpretations a listener could give their song ‘Black Is Beautiful’. But with Elis’ schmaltzy, cabaret-style version, what you get is an over-literal, superficial reading of the tune that drags on for at least a minute too long. And like many things superficial, it was a bigger success.

In fact this album stands out for Elis and/or Nelson Motta’s choice to tackle material that was pretty strongly associated with other popular artists. The most obvious of these being, naturally, her taking on The Beatles` “Golden Slumbers”. Although I didn’t like it the first time I heard it, I`ve changed my mind about it and now think its damn cool and is one of the strongest cuts here. Her version of Cinema Olympia, a song written by Caetano Veloso but associated with Gal Costa after appearing on one of her first records, is kind of redundant and pointless, although I appreciate the funky wah-wah guitar. And, sure, Elis could sing the phonebook and I would be happy, but when taking on material associated with one of her peers as esteemed as Gal, she ought to bring something more to the song, instead of less… Much better is her irreverent recording of Caetano’s, “Os Navegantes”, which appeared on his “white album” recorded as something like a Portuguese fado. Here, the verses are sung like a soul ballad, and the choruses are organ-fringed lounge jazz. The tune never takes off with the fire that Elis was capable of imparting to it, but in a way it’s her restraining of herself that makes it work. Not sure about the lounge arrangement though; this song makes me wonder what the whole album would have sounded like with Erlon Chaves on arrangements, who had done some wonderful work with Elis. The song “Mundo deserto” by Erasmo and Roberto Carlos is pretty bad ass. I like Elis singing their songs. Probably the most unexpected tune is a Jobim/Dolorus Duran piece that closes the album, `Estrada do sol`, which is almost outrageously bombastic and pretty goddamn original. It’s a great closer for a bit of an uneven album that I continue to appreciate more over time.


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Marcos Valle – Marcos Valle (1974)

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MARCOS VALLE

Released 1974 on Odeon (SMOFB 3854)
Reissued 2011 in the box Marcos Valle Tudo

1 No rumo do sol
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
2 Meu herói
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
3 Só se morre uma vez
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
4 Casamento, filhos e convenções
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
5 Remédio pro coração
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
6 Brasil X México
(Marco Valle)
7 Tango
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
8 Nossa vida começa na gente
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
9 Novelo de lã
(Walter Mariani, Marcos Valle)
10 Cobaia
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
11 Charlie Bravo
(Marcos Valle)

Marcos Valle – vocals, piano, arrangements
Tavito – arrangements
Wagner Tiso – keyboards
José Roberto Betrami – keyboards
Helio Delmiro – electric guitar
Luizão Maia and Alex Malheiros – bass
Robertinho Silva – drums
Vocals – Márcio Lott, Renato Correa, Ronaldo Correa, Marisinha, Regininha, Malu, Aninha e Claudio Telles

Produced by Milton Miranda
Musical direction by Lindolfo Gaya
Production assistant – Tavito
Recording technicians – Roberto, Dacy and Toninho
Remix engineer – Z.J. Merky
Photos and layout – Flavio D’Alincourt
Art – Roberto Souza
Cover – Juarez Machado

2011 reissue coordinated by Charles Gavin
Supervision by Marcos Valle
Remastered by Ricardo Gardia at Magic Master, RJ

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Marcos Valle’s restive spirit once again sees him changing things up. Rather than attempt to repeat the winning formula of 1973’s “Previsão do Tempo”, this album finds Marcos nesting in the clouds of baroque pop and blue-eyed soul. The vocal and orchestral arrangements – aided and abetted by composer Tavito – are meticulous, and the production, as always, is first-rate and delicious. Largely a mellow affair dominated by ballads, it is punctuated with a few more upbeat tunes beginning the with sensitive anti-hero anthem “Meu herói.” While not packing the pure funk punch of the Azymuth tunes of the last album, there are some funky hooks – “Casamentos, filhos e convenções” has a very satisfying chorus with chord changes to offset the verse well enough to be called perfection. Clavinet through a wah-pedal mixed with strings, brass, piano. Very nice analog synth work from Wagner Tiso and José Roberto Betrami on the whole record. The song “Remedio pro coração” reminds me of Taiguara’s albums from the early to mid 70s, but less melancholic and angst-ridden. “Tango” is probably the only Marcos Valle tune to have a bandeon, and is actually almost a tango, and a great song. “Nossa vida começa a gente” is a sonic orgasm, its lush pop exterior subverted by the inclusion of what appears to be a surdo drum dropped into the chorus that would almost make this prime material for a dub remix (but.. please don’t do this). “Novela de lã” is another ballad, downbeat with a lot of room for dynamics, muted electric guitar sneaking in some jazz chords, Hammond organ threatening to swell but never actually doing so, and of course more layered vocal harmonies. “Cobaia” is one of my favorite slow tunes on the album mostly due to the piano line that comes in about 27 seconds in and its interplay with the acoustic guitar. The whole album is full of these subtle touches that disguise the sheer creativity of the arrangements. Seven of the eleven songs clock in around two and a half minutes, three tunes barely crack the three-minute mark, and the album closes with one “long” tune that almost reaches five minutes, the gorgeous instrumental “Charlie Bravo”, which has Wagner Tiso’s influence in it pretty strongly. There is no track by track sessionography for this that I am aware of, which is a shame for this tune in particular – I have a feeling that Marcos himself may not even play on the song but only composed it. Well, “only” composed a five-minute elegy to his own legacy in a composition that evokes everything that came before on the record, and in a way much of his achievements as a musician and composer over the last decade. It is both a fitting and beguiling closer to this very necessary boxset. It leaves me wanting to hear more – and once again, these last few http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifvolumes in the box lack any alternate mixes or bonus tracks – but it also reminds that there is already so much here to keep a lover of good music happy, we should really just be thankful.

I know it was a long wait for this last piece of the Valle box. I hope its been worth it. By far this box has been the most satisfying reissues of any Brazilian artist’s back catalog in many years.

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Marcos Valle – Previsão do Tempo (1973)

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PREVISÃO DO TEMPO
Marcos Valle
1973 on Odeon (SMOFB 3788)
2011 Reissue in box Marcos Valle Tudo

1 Flamengo até morrer
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
2 Nem paletó, nem gravata
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
3 Tira a mão
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
4 Mentira
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
5 Previsão do tempo
(Marcos Valle)
6 Mais do que valsa
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
7 Os ossos do barão
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
8 Não tem nada não
(Eumir Deodato, Marcos Valle, João Donato)
9 Não tem nada não
(Eumir Deodato, Marcos Valle, João Donato)
10 Samba fatal
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
11 Tiu-ba-la-quieba
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
12 De repente, moça flor
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

Marcos Valle – vocals, Fender Rhodes, acoustic guitar, orchestrations on tracks 1 & 10

with
Azymuth:
José Roberto Bertrami, Arp Strings, Hammond, synthesizers and orchestrations on 1, 6, 8, 9, 11 & 12
Alex Malheiros – bass
Ivan Conti (Mamão) – drums

Participation of O Terço on tracks 1 & 10
Sérgio Hinds – electric guitar
César das Merces – bass
Vinícius Cantuária – drumsWaltel Branco – orchestration on “Os ossos do barão”

Produced by Milton Miranda
Musical director – Lindolfo Gaya
Production Assistant – Paulo Sérgio Valle
Technical director – Z.J. Merky
Recording technicians – Nivaldo Duarte, Toninho, Dacy
Remix engineer – Jorge Teixeira

Photos – Paulo Sérgio Valle
Layout – Joel Cocchiararo

Remastered in 2011 by Ricardo Garcia at Magic Master Studio, RJ

My apologies for the long delay in getting this post up and out, but I think this album is probably worth the wait. ‘Previsão do Tempo’ (or “Weather Report” in English) is most certainly a career highlight for Marcos Valle and one of his best of the decade. Retaining some of the dreaminess of ‘Vento Sul’ (and some of the musicians from O Terço on a few tracks), whereas that album is dreamy-sedated-sprawling-spaced-out, this one is leaner, focused, funkier, but still grooving with the same bohemian vibe that permeates all that is The Brothers Valle at this point. The album opens with a musical tribute to the Flamengo football club. Kinda boring really. I find songs about sports fucking boring, sorry. But at least it gives us the tip that the tone of this album is a little ‘lighter’ than the last. Oddly enough it’s a fairly straight MPB-style samba as played by O Terço in 1973, whose other song on the album, “Samba fatal” is a hell of a lot darker and heavier. For the rest of the album Valle has Azymuth as his backing band. And it is an analog keyboard lover’s geekfest galore from this point out. Production is incredible. ‘Nem paléto nem gravatá’ is their celebration of adamant nonconformity, a hippie shout of “hell no!”, seeing as in 1973 everyone else but them were all wearing suits and ties.*

The song ‘Mentira’ teaches you the proper way to pronounce the word ‘mentira’ to a carioca. If you say it any other way, such as how the remaining 97% of Brazil pronounces the word, you will be invariably corrected by an American who has never been outside of Rio or treated like backward outside / off-worlder by a native resident of the city. Oh, and this tune was a huge hit in the European discos, as Marcos tells us in his introductory note.

They are able to follow this slab of funk with gorgeously delicate ballads like the instrumental title song, “Mais do que valsa,” and “De repente, moça flor”. While sill maintaining a texture like buttered velvet with Rhodes electric piano, analog synth gurgles, brushed drums, and blue-eyed soulsearching vocals. “Os ossos de barão”, an ode to the material world where all is for sale. And the two part “Não tem nada não” is actually just one tune with a false fade-out and an outro, but is divided here into separate tracks. Pan-Latin fusion post-bossa funk. Some of Paulo’s less interesting lyrics but I feel like he was writing more for the sound of the words and fitting them into the lockstep groove of the band than trying for profundity. The aforementioned “Samba fatal”, aptly named for its gravity, is timed well in the sequence. Not sure if these tracks with O Terço were a continuation of and/or outtakes from the Vento Sul sessions (neither Valle nor Gavin give us actual recording dates in otherwise pretty thorough info), but the two tunes with them do not sound to my ears like throw aways. Most likely they were recorded after they had been touring together and Marcos had a few songs he’d been working on during rehearsals. Its ominous minor-chord changes, organ, and fuzzy-braincell guitar (mixed just perfectly in the right channel) compliments some of Paulo’s best lyrics on the album.

*irony

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Marcos Valle – Vento Sul (1972) with O Terço

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“Vento Sul”
Marcos Valle
with O Terço

Released 1972 on Odeon SMOFB 3725
Reissued 2011 in the boxset Marcos valle Tudo

1 Revolução orgânica
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
2 Malena
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
3 Pista 02
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
4 Vôo cego
(Cláudio Guimarães)
5 Bôdas de sangue
(Marcos Valle)
6 Democústico
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
7 Vento Sul
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
8 Rosto barbado
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
9 Mi hermoza
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
10 Paisagem de Mariana
(Frederyko)
11 Deixa o mundo e o sol entrar
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)BONUS TRACK
12. O beato

Marcos Valle – vocals, piano
Ian Guest- orchestration and arrangements on `Bodas de sangue`
Hugo Bellard – orchestration and arrangements on `Deixa o mundo e o sol entrar`

O Terço:
Sérgio Hinds – electric guitar and coro
Vinícius Cantuária – drums, second vocal on ‘Revolução orgânica’, coro
César das Mercês – bass, and coro

Cláudio Guimarães – electric guitar
Fredera – electric guitar on ‘Pasagem de Mariana’
Robertinho Silva – drums, percussion
Paulo Guimarães – flute

Produced by Milton Miranda
Musical director – Lindolfo Gaya

———————-

“Vento Sul, from 1972, is an album very different from the earlier records – I experienced a lot in terms of rhythms, harmonies, melodies, arrangements and instrumentation. O Terço, one of the best bands of the era, accompanied me in all this and we recorded it all together. I also counted on the collaboration of Fredera, Robertinho Silva and the talented twins Cláudio and Paulo Guimarães (they were also part of the band in our shows). The bonus track here is a verion I did for Odeon of “O beato”, a song that was part of the soundtrack for the novela ‘Selva de Pedre.’

I consider this album a very experimental one: it was practically created in a modest fisherman’s house that we rented in Búzios, in a communitarian spirit. It marked my ‘hippie’ era…
– Marcos Valle, liner note / blurb

So here were are (finally) with the next installment as the Brothers Valle continue their trend of changing the approach to songwriting and recording and continued to make ingenious decisions regarding their musicians and production choices. This album features the band O Terço as part of the backing band, which unfortunately for Brazilians of a certain age will be associated with wanky overblown progressive rock from the mid-70s. But in their early days they were much more psychedelic, and I make no apologies for my own soft spot for early 70s prog. And on this album O Terço sounds more like the earliest O Terço than O Terço actually did by 1972 — the dreamy, acoustic haze from when Jorge Amiden was in the band (see the ‘Karma’ album also posted here). Also in the musician credits are stalwarts like Robertinho on the drums and Paulo Guimarães on flute

The marriage is a happy one. The album was recorded in Búzios, which was practically a hippie commune that received famous visitors like Joplin and Mick Jagger in the years leading up to this album, before it blew up into an overpriced tourist trap. It is the first album since 1963’s “Samba Demais” to feature songs that were not written by at least one of the Valle brothers. The collective creative process on this album is evident by how smoothly tunes like “Vôo cego” by Cláudio Guimarães and “Paisagem de Mariana” (Frederyko) fit in with the Valle’s tunes. In fact “Vôo cego” (or ‘Blind Flight’ in English) is one of my favorite songs on the album. It is followed by a beautiful instrumental tunes, ‘Bodas de sangue’, that was arranged by Ian Guest, someone I don’t know much about other than the fact that he also has album credits on Donato’s “Quem é quem” and on some Milton Banana Trio albums; and that, contrary to his very English-sounding name, he was in fact Brazilian and an important figure in jazz circles and taught quite a few students a music professor. The song is followed up by the quirky, somewhat experimental, somewhat silly ‘Democústico’, where you’ll hear an agogô played in an afoxê rhythm balanced against squiggly wah-wah guitar lines.

The lysergic textures of this record can hypnotize the unwary, so do not listen to this while operating heavy machinery. The title song “Vento sul” has an open, meandering, incompleteness to it that is equally charming and beguiling. Reflective lyrics dealing with the identity politics of alternative lifestyles in the tune ‘Rosto barbado’ give way to playfully schizoid moodshifts in ‘Mi hermoza’, which alternates between open acoustic strumming and big aural spaces to a chugging midsection that is about as hard-rocking as the Valles are likely to get. Sounds as much or more like an O Terço song than the tunes here actually written by O Terço members, in fact. It is followed by “Paisagem de Mariana”, a song that fits flows nicely in its surroundings and which bears a pretty heavy stylistic similarity to any number of Milton Nascimento/Ronaldo Bastos/Fernando Brandt compositions between 1970 – 72. “Deixa o mundo e o sol entrar” is a another gorgeous tune anchored in acoustic guitars with careful piano, occasional drums, and a meandering melody line that is as warm as the song’s title. It is a perfect finale for this masterpiece-in-miniature. For this reissue, I actually wish they had included a minute of blank audio / silence at the end in which to collect our wits. Not that “O beato” doesn’t fit with the rest of this — oddly enough, for a telenovela track, it is as equally hazy and tripped out as anything else on this disc. But the original album has a kind of poetic closure to it with “Deixa o mundo” that gets a bit lost when followed immediately by another song.

Since it is sandwiched in Valle’s discography between two giant albums, ‘Garra’ and ‘Previsão do Tempo’, it seems like `Vento Sul` may have gotten overlooked to some degree. At least one of my Brazilian friends who is old enough to have been alive when this album was released (unlike myself), and who is also more of an O Terço fan that I am, was completely unaware of it until I passed along this reissue to him. And as much as I personally love this album, it lacks any obvious hit singles or even anything that jumps out as particularly “catchy”, which could turn off listeners who are particularly enamored with the Valle Brothers’ pop sensibilities. Even though it has ‘big names’ attached to it, this album FEELS obscure, with repeated listenings never quite diminishing the sense that we are privy to some aural hidden treasure and secret between friends. These are qualities that should put it high up on the list of favorites for anyone into ‘cult’ favorite psychedelic Brazilian music from the late 60s and 70s. Marcos, in his blurb (too short to be called liner notes, really) seems to insinuate that this album is kind of an exception or even diversion in his discography, an experimental side-trip. It may be that, but it is also an exploration and perhaps a deepening of some of the aural territory he had already been traversing in the previous two albums. The next album, `Previsão do Tempo’, marks a return to more structured compositions, soul and funk influences, and songs that are easier to sing along to when you play them loudly. But don’t shrug off this album – it deserves a careful listen, with or without additional chemical enhancement.

Back cover liner notes, free translation (as in loose, as well as the fact that I don’t charge for this…)

I’m in the middle of the album. Five songs are already recorded. I’m certain that they are going to be some of the best things I’ve ever done. As good or better than “Samba Demais” (my first album) or “Viola Enluarda.”

The songs on this album were made with much care and tranquility, and I sincerely think that it’s been a long, long time since I’ve done anything that pleases me so much. I’ll say the same for the lyrics by Paulo Sérgio. We’re giving you the full picture of what we’ve recently been sketching out in our music. Nothing rushed, no worries about commercialism.

Paulo Sérgio came up with the idea to form a group. We formed one. It was a wonderful idea.

Sérgio, VInicius, Cézar, Frederico, Paulo e Cláudio (twins), Robertinho e Maurício Maestro. Musicians and people of the highest caliber.

We are working like eight arrangers. Every day we get together to hang out and talk and the ideas for each song keep coming. And the result couldn’t be better, I think; we all think so.

The album cover is from Juarez Macho, logically. Renato is responsible for the production and I can say that he also is part of the group, because he’s collaborating like a motherfucker with us on this album.

We are lucky to have the recording technicians are Zilmar and Nivaldo. Milton Miranda is the Director of Production, and is also one of the most sensational people I’ve ever known.

It’s all there.

– Marcos

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Marcos Valle – Garra (1971)

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GARRA
Marcos Valle
1971 on Odeon (MOFB 3683)

1 Jesus meu Rei
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
2 Com mais de 30
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
3 Garra
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
4 Black is beautiful
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
5 Ao amigo Tom
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Osmar Milito, Marcos Valle)
6 Paz e futebol
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
7 Que bandeira
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Máriozinho Rocha, Marcos Valle)
8 Wanda Vidal
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
9 Minha voz virá do sol da América
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
10 Vinte e seis anos de vida normal
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
11 O cafona
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

———-
bonus tracks 2011

12. Com mais de 30 (versao instrumental)
13. Garra (versao instrumental em sol)
14. Black is beautiful (alternate version instrumental)
15. Que bandeira (alternate version instrumental)
16. Que bandeira (instrumental mix)
17. Wanda Vida (instrumental mix)
Marcos Valle – vocals and piano
Dom Salvador – piano and organ
Marizinha – vocal on Black is Beautiful
Geraldo Vaspar – acoustic guitar, orchestrations on 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8
Orlando Silveira – orchestrations 9, 10
Cesar Camargo mariano – orchestration on 6

Produced by Milton Miranda
Musical direction by Lindolfo Gaya
Assisten producer – Mariozinho Rocha

2011 reissue supervised by Charles Gavin
Reamstered by Ricardo Garcia at Magic Master, RJ

Another classic early 70s album from Marcos Valle, But, this album took a little while to grow on me. Perhaps because, when I’m obsessively-compulsively collecting, consuming, and divulging music, I am busy worshiping the Dark One, Satanáis, Beelzebub, Lucifer, or Jimmy Witherspoon – I am a little put off by the opening track on this one, ‘Jesus Meu Rei.’ On the other hand, there is an apocryphal and even millenarian streak to a lot of the content on this album. Satan may have granted me the power to acquire gluttunous amounts of music over the years, but far be if from me to question The Brothers Valle if their faith is strong. It’s a gorgeous baroque pop tune with whispy harpsichord and strummy acoustic guitar and very, um, “churchy” organ from none other than Dom Salvador. Then tuning into the lyrics and I am surprised, in spite of knowing that I shouldn’t be, of Paulo Sérgios genius. In its hymnal piety the song also calls on Jesus to look around at how the world has changed, and ambiguous lines that can either be a lament of world gone down the wrong path, or perhaps a plea to some type of moral relativity adn realism (“nada e ninguem / sabe o que é mal / e o que é bem / Jesus meu rei / fazendo lei / Passa seu tempo real”). A chorus of voices that’s built since the first verse swells into the transcendent bridge and the softly provocative lines:

De repente, achou a verdade / Informou ao seu ministério / Que o mistério estava na vida / Vida lá fora / Fora dali

Era só olhar para o mundo / Ver a gente amando na grama / E as crianças pelo jardim Escorrendo pra mãe, pro pai // Pro paísFor the non-Lusophile, I regret to inform you that are missing out on quite a bit here and subtle wordplay that translation just can’t get at. Listen to how well the lyrics, vocals, and arrangments hang together and reinforce each other.

When I first played this album I didn’t quite know what to thing of it. But since then I’ve decided this may be the “sleeper” in the whole batch of Marcos’s 1970s output, a near perfect album. In his liner notes Marcos admits to his inability to classify these songs: “sambas-pop-bossa-jazz”, he calls them, but there is definitely some pós-Tropicália rock here too.

“Com mais de trinta” begins by playing with the trendy phrase of the late 60s and early 70s, “Never trust anyone over 30,” after which Paulo gives us a hold LOT of reasons not to trust the number 30. Then seemingly leaving the whole idea of 30 in the dust as the narrator contemplates the things in life he dreams about but never does, his sensation of dislocation in time and space, “Passo a passo, faço mais um traço”.. This is deceptively simple, unadorned lyricism. Bereft of the layered complexity of Chico Buarque’s genius work, or unburdened by the density of Caetano Veloso’s beguiling forays into solipsism, Paulo Sérgio seems to have had a way of saying speaking in a very simple way about very complex ideas. So simply and directly that might leave you utterly unstruck and unconcinved when first encountered. There is a clean symetrical beauty to the words, Marcos’ vocal delivery, and the production and arrangements. When the truth of this hit me, the parts of this album that had seemed like a bit of a confused mess became utterly uncluttered. Paulo had a way of setting words to Marcos’ musical ideas that makes them one of the classic telekinetic songwriting teams. And Paulo had a way of churning out pointed, sardonic, and nuanced critiques of all manner of societal patterns, preconceptions, of issues contemporary and contextual and quasi-eternal, without ever succumbing to bitterness or hipster irony, holding on to his own brand of humanist optimism.

The title track is just plain weird, with Marcos’s out-of-breath ‘ha ha’ sounding completely bizarre in one of his brother’s stranger lyrics concoctions of urban dislocation, ambition, alienation. Musically it’s infectiously punchy in a soft painted-velvet arrangement of drums grooving in the left channel, utterly unhurried and laid-back; Dom Salvador laying down percussive bursts of organ and swells of Hammond vibrato at the end of certain measures; breaks at the ends of the chorus where suddenly flutes and violins sneak their way. Then a verse of Marcos singing scatlike nonsense syllables. Once again, sonically it is a pastiche of elements that probably shouldn’t be thrown together and yet couldn’t sound more natural (and, once again, Paulo Sérgio manages a lyrical mimesis). The alternate version here, at a faster tempo and in different key, sheds light on the creative process and makes me even more impressed with the final version. Its not that the two are terribly different in structure or execution, but the album take is much more “in the pocket.”

The album continues to challenge the listener, to greater or lesser success or failure. “Black Is Beautiful” almost feels like they are (as the British would say) ‘having a go’ at the listener with a playful send-up of Afrocentric pride; then I think to myself, no, they are totally sincere, just hopelessly clumsy and even naive about it. From a sociohistorical context, in Brazil or in the US where the phrase “Black is beautiful” was born, there is so much that is just WRONG with this tune that I wouldn’t know where to start. I still can’t honestly say what they were thinking.. This album has plenty of The Brother’s Valle blue-eyed soul on it, but this song has enough exaggerated torch-song drama to it that I just can’t take it too seriously But it’s also too damn intriguing for me to leave it at face value, and its kind of, well, a bit hilarious:

“Hoje cedo na Rua do Ouvidor // Early today on Ouvidor Street
Quantos louras horríveis eu vi // I saw so many horrible blondes
Eu quero uma dama de cor // I want a lady of color
Uma deusa do Congo ou daqui // A goddess from the Congo or from here
(Que se integre no meu sangue europeu) // To blend with my European blood

Black is beautiful (2x)
Black beauty is so peaceful
I wanna a black
So beautiful”

If this is sardonic, then it may be complex commentary on the foundational myths of Brazilian mestizagem (race-making, and often coerced in the master-slave relationship) as the roots of an alleged “racial democracy” that has never existed in reality. Or, perhaps its just completely silly drivel from two blond-haired blue-eyed surfista beach bums. In which case, its still hard to be mad at these guys. It’s just too damn honest and awkward, and the broken English (is this intentional? These guys spent two years living in the States…) only adds to the sense that somebody is mocking somebody else about…something.

Amigo Tom… At this time Tom Jobim had spent quite a few years in the US recording with the likes of Frank Sinatra and producer Creed Taylor (for his CPI label). This song is a simple `welcome home’, things weren’t the same without you, please don’t leave again, yes things have changed here but it will all be okay in the end.. The melody line and chordal structure is a worthy homage to the master of bossa nova.

“Paz e futebol” takes up the trope of Brazilian culture a culmination of tropical laziness and a Lusitanian aversion towards work, a critique strongly linked to Anglo-Saxon prejudices against Brazil but just as equally bought into by Brazil’s upper class who looks to Europe (or the US) as their model for “civilzation”. This is a gentle rebuttle without an exclamation point to punctuate its rancor. “Que bandeira” is probably just a song of thwarted, spurned love and the misunderstandings in changing relationships. Or maybe it’s a coded critique of the military dictatorship that the censor`s missed because they thought Marcos and Paulo were harmless pothead surfers at this point.. “Wanda Vidal” is lyrically like the opening of some unwritten mystery novel, but was actually on the soundtrack to a telenovela (Os Ossos do Barão) and musically driven by heavily strummed acoustic guitar, bossa-rock drums, chunks of organ chords and piano, congas.. Apparently this song has some cult status in Europe and the US as Madlib apparently did a remix of it. The following tune “Minha voz vira do sol de América” is, in spite of its possibly megalomaniac title, an understated instrumental based around Marcos or Dom Salvador’s piano and Veraldo Gaspar’s lush arrangement, with a stray female vocal drifting in and out (uncredited, but maybe his wife Ana again?). “Vinte e seis anos de vida normal” – this song couldn’t possibly have a cooler introduction of vocal harmonies, strings, followed by strong propulsive drums, erogenous arrangements, and more of Paulo’s lyrical talent in narrating another disaffected, alienated young person who feels they’ve spent their life reading newspapers and watching TV, wishing he’d done things he hadn’t, regretting things he had, until he comes across an announcement in the paper that mentions that he has died, um, reading the newspaper, followed by a stanza of millenarian hyperbole too good to spoil.

“Cafona” (translated roughly as in bad taste, tacky, ‘brega’ or whatever) is either utter nonsense or deep and profound. I’m not sure. But its definitely got one of the deepest grooves around on this disc and Marcos vocals couldn’t be more, well, Marcos. And it was the lead track for a another telenovela sountrack, a show with the same name of “Cafona.” It’s a perfect album closer, and again a perfect marriage of voice-lyric-instrumentation-arrangement.

The instrumental bonus tracks all make for great listening. And sense we mentioned Madlib in this post — is he actually hoping for more remixes and samples? One thing that hasn’t been mentioned in these posts is that, in a big way, Marcos Valle is more valorized outside Brazil than within it, where is almost forgotten except for his bigger hits. In a lot ways he was either ahead of his time, or just ‘out of time’, existing in some weird alternate musical universe. I am aware that these write-ups have perhaps begun leaning towards the breathless prose of idyllic idol praise but, damnit, this album really IS probably a masterpiece. It is nothing if not masterful, and it makes it all sound so easy – as if blending sun-dappled soul music with post-bossa pop, mild psychedelia (as in, about five or six hours into a psychedelic experience..), and rock attitude is just something they guys could do with a shrug or the casual nonchalance displayed in the back cover photos.


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