Wilson Simonal – Na Odeon 1961 – 1971 (2004)

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WILSON SIMONAL
Wilson Simonal na Odeon 1961-1971

9 CD Boxset
Released on EMI, 2004

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Disc 1 – Tem Algo Mais and A Nova Dimensão do Samba  (1963-64)

1- TUDO DE VOCÊ
2- AMANHECENDO
3- TELEFONE
4- SAUDADE
5- SAMBA CROMATICO
6- MENINA FLOR
7- LAGRIMA FLOR
8- BALANCO ZONA SUL
9- MENINO TRISTE
10- MEU COMPORTAMENTO
11- SAMBA E VERBO
12- MANHA NO POSTO SEIS
13- NANA
14- MAIS VALIA NAO CHORAR
15- LOBO BOBO
16- SO SAUDADE
17- ELA DIZ QUE ESTOU POR FORA
18- SAMBA DE NEGRO
19- JEITO BOM DE SOFRER
20- ELA VAI, ELA VEM
21- RAPAZ DE BEM
22- INUTIL PAISAGEM
23- CONSOLACAO
24- NANA
25- MAIS VALIA NAO CHORAR

 

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Disc 2 –  Simonal and S’imbora (1965)

 1- GAROTA MODERNA
2- SELECAO DE SAMBA DE ARY BARROSO
3- SO TINHA DE SER COM VOCÊ
4- MARINA
5- MESTICO
6- AS MOCAS DO MEU TEMPO
7- RIO DO MEU AMOR
8- OPINIAO
9- JUCA BOBAO
10- CHUVA
11- DUVIDO DIVIDIR
12- BRUXARIA
13- MANGANGA
14- FICA MAL COM DEUS
15- SONHO DE CARNAVAL
16- SAMBA DO CARIOCA
17- DUAS CONTAS
18- SE TODOS FOSSEM IGUAIS A VOCÊ
19- LADEIRA DO PELOURINHO
20- BALANCO ZONA SUL
21- NOS DOIS
22- O APITO NO SAMBA
23- O TEU AMANHA
24- LENDA
25- LADEIRA DO PELOURINHO

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DISC 3 – Vou Deixa Cair and Tempos De Pilantragem (1966-67)

1- VENTO DE MAIO
2- MEU LIMAO MEU LIMOEIRO
3- O CARANGO
4- MINHA NAMORADA
5- SEM VOCÊ EU NAO VIVO
6- ENXUGUE OS OLHOS
7- MARIA
8- A FORMIGA E O ELEFANTE
9- MAMAE PASSOU ACUCAR EM MIM
10- FRANQUEZA
11- TEM DO
12- SAMBA DO MUG
13- SE VOCÊ GOSTOU
14- A BANDA
15- DISPARADA
16- QUEM SAMBA FICA
17- MASCARA NEGRA
18- TRIBUTO A MARTIN LUTHER KING
19- DEIXA QUEM QUISER FALAR
20- ELA E DEMAIS
21- BALADA DO VIETNAM
22- O MILAGRE

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DISC 4 – Show Em Simonal (1967)

1- BARRA LIMPA
2- RODA
3- THE SHADOW OF YOUR SMILE
4- CANTIGA BRAVA
5- ESTRELA PRINCIPAL
6- ROCINHA ESTUPIDA (SOMETHING STUPID)
7- CONSOLACAO
8- O MORRO NAO TEM VEZ
9- O QUE FACO P´RA ESQUECER
10- PEGUEI UM ITA NO NORTE
11- UN HOMME ET UNE FEMME
12- NEM VEM QUE NAO TEM
13- MEXIRICO DA CANDINHA
14- QUEM TE VIU QUEM TE VE
15- CONSELHO
16- ARUEIRA
17- MEU LIMAO MEU LIMOEIRO
18- TRIBUTO A MARTIN LUTHER KING
19- ESTA CHEGANDO A HORA

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DISC 5 – Alegria, Alegria Volumes 1 and 2 (1967-68)

1- OS ESCRAVOS DE JO
2- AGORA E CINZA
3- VESTI AZUL
4- AOS PES DA CRUZ
5- BELINHA
6- PRA QUE ?
7- NEM VEM QUE NAO TEM
8- FIM DE SEMANA EM PAQUETA
9- PARA PEDRO
10- ESTA CHEGANDO A HORA
11- REMELEXO
12- DISCUSSAO
13- ALEGRIA, ALEGRIA
14- PATA PATA
15- SA MARINA
16- CAE CAE
17- MANIAS
18- RECRUTA BIRUTA
19- NESTE MESMO LUGAR
20- ZAZUEIRA
21- NAO TENHO LAGRIMAS
22- DE COMO UM GAROTO APAIXONADO PERDOOU POR CAUSA DE UM DOS MANDAMENTOS
23- CARTAO DE VISITA
24- PARAÍBA
25- GOSTO TANTO DE VOCÊ
26- VAMOS S’IMBORA
27- NAMORADINHA DE UM AMIGO MEU

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 DISC 6 – Alegria, Alegria Volumes 3 and 4 (1969)

1- SILVIA LENHEIRA
2- MUSTANG COR DE SANGUE
3- MENININHA DO PORTAO
4- SILÊNCIO
5- PRECE AO VENTO
6- WHAT YOU SAY
7- MOCA
8- ALELUIA, ALELUIA
9- MAMAE EU QUERO
10- MEIA-VOLTA (ANA CRISTINA)
11- PENSANDO EM TI
12- ATIRA A PRIMEIRA PEDRA
13- MULHER DE MALANDRO
14- SE VOCÊ PENSA
15- MAQUILAGEM
16- PORQUE HOJE E DOMINGO
17- EVIE
18- BRASILEIRA
19- OLHO D’AGUA
20- CANCAO DA CRIANCA
21- EU FUI NO TORORO
22- QUE MARAVILHA
23- UMA LOIRA
24- QUEM MANDOU
25- PAÍS TROPICAL
26- ADIOS, MUCHACHO v

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DISC 7 – Simonal and Jóia (1970-71)

1- SEM ESSA
2- DESTINO E DESATINO DE SEVERINO NONÔ NA CIDADE DE SAO SEBASTIAO DO RIO DE JANEIRO ( OH YEAH! )
3- COMIGO E ASSIM
4- O MUNDO IGUAL DE CADA UM
5- SISTEMA NERVOSO
6- NA BAIXA DO SAPATEIRO
7- MORO NO FIM DA RUA
8- DEIXA O MUNDO E O SOL ENTRAR
9- AI VOCE COMECA A CHORAR
10- NAO TEM SOLUCAO
11- NA TONGA DA MIRONGA DO KABULETÊ
12- OURICO
13- AFRICA, AFRICA
14- DE NOITE NA CAMA
15- GEMEDEIRA
16- IMPOSSIVEL ACREDITAR QUE PERDI VOCE
17- TRISTEZA
18- TUDO E MAGNÍFICO
19- LAMPIAO EM PROSA E VERSO
20- GAROA DIFERENTE
21- VOCÊ ABUSOU
22- NA GALHA DO CAJUEIRO
23- FOTOGRAFIA

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DISCs 8 and 9 – Singles, lados B e raridies (Singles, B-sides, and rarities)

1- TEREZINHA
2- BIKINIS E BORBOLETAS
3- EU TE AMO
4- BEIJA MEU BEM
5- TEM QUE BALANCAR
6- OLHOU PRA MIM
7- ESTA NASCENDO UM SAMBA
8- GAROTA LEGAL (You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby)
9- FALE DE SAMBA QUE EU VOU
10- WALK RIGHT IN
11- SO DANCO SAMBA
12- NAO PODE SER
13- EU SOU MAIS EU
14- DE MANHA
15- DAS ROSAS
16- CUIDADO CANTOR
17- TA POR FORA
18- MAMAE PASSOU ACUCAR EM MIM
19- MAMAE PASSOU ACUCAR EM MIM ( Versao em Espanhol inedita )
20- A PRACA
21- SAMBA DO CRIOULO DOIDO
22- A ROSA DA RODA
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1- TEREZINHA DE JESUS
2- A SAUDADE MATA A GENTE
3- CORRENTEZA
4- PAÍS TROPICAL
5- ECCO IL TIPO CHE IO CERCAVO
6- NO CLARAO DA LUA CHEIA
7- AS MENININHAS DO LEBLON
8- KIKI
9- EU SONHEI QUE TU ESTAVAS TAO LINDA
10- AQUI E O PAÍS DO FUTEBOL 11- HINO DO FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DA CANCAO
12- CANCAO Nº21
13- QUE CADA UM CUMPRA COM O SEU DEVER
14- RESPOSTA
15- BRASIL EU FICO
16- OBRIGADO PELE
17- O XOTE DAS MENINAS
18- MADALENA
19- A NOITE DO MEU BEM

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208 songs
Nearly-complete artwork (booklet will not scan)
Composer credits embedded in ID tags
Correct Portuguese orthographic characters in ID tags
This box is out of print
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So a few days ago, stuck in a mire of holiday malaise, I considered closing this blog completely.  Five years is a long time to keep one of these things going, even though I don’t update it as often as I would like.  I took it offline temporarily, and the only way to do that was to “restrict” access to blog authors, but the settings here made it look like it became an invitation-only place.  Don’t worry, you were not excluded from the club, it was just a party of one.

I reconsidered.  Thanks to M. for being reasonable when I couldn’t manage it, and to the handful of people who sent messages.  They were much appreciated.

To make up for the brief lapse in judgment, I am sharing this behemoth of a boxset.  I have contemplated doing to many, many times, but always felt this massive burden of having to write some insightful and elegiac homage to Simonal and so I never felt up to the task.  This is in addition to feeling like I had to write reviews of every album here.  The guy was putting out two records a year for a ten-year span, so excuse me if this write-up consists only of saying “Hey this is really good and you should check it out.”  Simonal had been one of Brazil’s most popular singers before some unfortunate altercations with his accountant and/or the military government put him on the wrong side of history for a few decades.  A documentary film about his career as well as this boxset – both mostly spearheaded by his sons – managed to reset the scales of justice a little.  The guy was a force of nature, with a croony swagger that could evoke casino show-biz performances, chilling on the beach, or cruising in your favorite fashionable low-mileage automobile.  This is the part of the write-up where I could just start dropping names to emphasize how important he was, so why not just get right to it – Carlos Imperial, Elis Regina, Som Três and César Camargo Mariano, Orlandivo, Stockhausen, Jorge Ben … Mug.

I am not even going to try and start singling stuff out, because some internaut hipster will inevitably come along and leave comments to the effect of “I can’t believe you didn’t mention X, Y, or Z, which is so obviously the best thing here yadda yadda”, like some people did for the Marcos Valle posts I did a few years ago.  And then I would start thinking about closing the blog again.  So to hell with it, it’s Christmas, you got this stuffed in your stocking and if that’s not enough then I  can insert a piece of coal in your orifice of choice.

This is a lot of music.  It will take anyone a while to digest it.  One of these days I might start posting some needledrops of individual records, as I have mono pressings of some of these that sound quite different – in those days, a stereo hi-fi was basically a piece of furniture with speakers built in, so stereo panning tended to be quite dramatic by today’s standards.  I think the mono mixes have a little more UMPH in many cases.  So whenever I get around to that, I will give more individualized comments on these records.

Did I mention this is filled with rarities?  Almost every disc has some bonus tracks, and then the final 2-CD set is entirely comprised of – you guessed it! – singles, B-sides, and rarities.  In some cases this means we get versions of the same song in Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian but who cares.

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Quinteto Violado – Berra Boi (1973)

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QUINTETO VIOLADO
Berra-Boi
1973 Philips 6349.072

A1         Vaquejada     5:13
A2         Duda No Frevo     2:20
A3         Três Três     1:54
A4         Ladainha     2:22
A5         Engenho Novo     3:39
A6         Minha Ciranda     2:42
A7         Pipoquinha     1:47
B1         Beira De Estrada     2:25
B2         Baião Do Quinjí     1:57
B3         Abraço Ao Hermeto     5:26
B4         Forró Do Dominguinhos     2:17
B5         De Uma Noite De Festa     3:15
B6         Cavalo Marinho     3:13

Sando – flauta
Marcelo – violão
Fernando – viola
Luciano – percussão
Toinho – contra-baixo


Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced (for 16-bit). Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

** There is an annoying dropout at 46 seconds into the track Engenho Novo.  This is actually on the LP and not do to any post-processing at my end.
I have always had mixed feelings about Quinteto Violado for reasons elaborated below, their music is enjoyable, and this is probably as good a record as any to wind up the Festa Junina cycle – they are the kind of group that would headline an outdoor stage tonight, which marks the feast days of both Saint Peter and Saint Paul. While Quintet Violado had common ground with a lot of post-bossa nova MPB, their records played like an aural encyclopedia of Nordestino folklore. In fact they were so encyclopedic that they were chosen by folklorist and shifty entrepreneur Marcus Perreira to be the “house band” for his Música Popular do Nordeste albums, which launched a larger series of records chronicling ‘folkloric’ music from other regions of Brazil. On this, their second album, Quinteto Violado traverse the musical countryside and give us songs embroidered with forró, frevo, vaqueijada, ciranda, bumba-meu-boi, flute ‘fife and drum’ band or pifano music, and chegança-de-marujos / fandango. They also offer an homage to Hermeto Pascoal on one tune where they stretch out and push their own limits in tribute to that avant-garde alchemist of the Northeast, followed by a version of “Forró do Dominghuinhos” that is pretty original, using Dominguinhos’ unforgettable melody line as a release from the tension they build up around it. Unlike their debut album, which was halfway comprised of compositions associated with Luiz Gonzaga, this record is largely of their own authorship, with one “traditional” theme from Pernambuco’s variant of bumba-meu-boi, cavalo marinho, being given a short rearrangement at the end.
Formed by a group of university music students in the early 1970s and getting their start playing at the famous ‘festivals of song,’ Quintet Violado early on centered their musical identity around an embrace of the traditional sounds and folk musics of their native Pernambuco.  There is a heavy dose of cultural appropriation happening, of privileged individuals drawing on the creative work of the povo sofrido.  But if “my problem” with the Quinteto stopped there then it would be a pretty shallow criticism, because cultural mediation takes place at all kinds of levels and with all kinds of nuances. To cite an example, the world of samba is rife not only with tales of exploitation but also of interesting and productive creative partnerships and business relations that cut across class and racial lines.  So, my misgivings have less to do with the fact that these are conservatory-trained musicians delving into folk music, than with other aspects that in many ways seem specific to the northeast and the historical moment when this group formed. Some of what I have to say in this blog post is even more applicable to the Orchestra Armorial that formed out of playwright and poet Ariano Suasunna’s work. The Quinteto Violado was never formally affiliated with Suasunna’s “movement” as far as I know but they were at least lauded by him as the decade wore on, as the kind of ‘popular music’ that young people ought to like. The elements of the Quintet that I find problematic are also present in even more exaggerated form in the Armorial project; I will surely have to do a blog post for an Armorial album now, not because I particularly want to but because I have opened that proverbial can of worms.
Getting back to this record, let’s take a statement from Roberto Menescal who wrote the blurb on the back cover of the LP:

“I believe that Brazilian musicians, including the entire young generation, are coming around to looking within, searching for their own roots and origins, in a path more personal and true where they can walk with security, originality, and inventiveness, and not just building on what has been done outside our country.”

This kind of sentiment is rich in irony coming from someone so central to bossa nova, a music that was excoriated by traditionalists for being unduly influenced by North American jazz. But neither Menescal or the Quinteto Violado were making claims of traditionalism here. Although there are no electric instruments whatsoever on this record, the upright string bass of the band’s leader Toinho is completely foreign to the folkloric music they draw upon, and you can hear the ‘jazzista’ influence both in the solos the members take and in the close intervals used in some of the chord voicings. So  they were not trying to excavate a lost folklore music like the followers of Cecil Sharpe in Britain (many of whom I am a big fan of, incidentally), but wanted to draw on these elements and create new compositions, even when there was a strong element of emulation. Perhaps they were more like Inti-Illimani or certain others involved in the nueva canción who drew on indigenous music. And just like those artists were not necessarily indigenous, the members of Quinteto Violado did not come from the same social background as the people who originally made and continued to make the “folkloric” types of music they used as their palette. This is not in and of itself a problematic thing, except that these “roots” are celebrated as belonging to everyone – this is “our” culture, ‘o povo nordestino.’ Regional and colloquial references are employed in great density to built up an air of authenticity, to the point of really laying it on thick sometimes: in the song “Ladainha”, they manage to reference the ceramic folk-artist Vitalino from the city of Caruarú, alongside the bandit-heroes Lampião and Maria Bonita, and the deified (and mildly heretical) Padre Cícero from the town of Juazeiro, all in the same verse.
Although they might appreciate the cultural references, the intended audience for the music the Quinteto Violado made was not sharecroppers in the sertão, or cane cutters or wagon drivers like the family described in the song “Engenho Novo” here.  Beginning with this album they had moved from performing at the festivals to giving their own somewhat elaborate concerts, which that like all MPB of the era involved stage designers and art directors.  I would be interested to know what some of the regional folk musicians (whose styles were being appropriated) actually thought of the Quinteto’s music at the time, if they ever encountered it at all.  “The people” who provide the inspiration and raw material for this kind of music are left out of its production, consumption, and critical appraisal; in the end, music like this can become yet another way to write people out of their own history.
The Quinteto’s musicianship is indisputable, and their intentions were sincere.  It’s not as if they set out to dispossess a people of their musical traditions and make a ton of money on the backs of it.  The band never really got rich and famous playing this kind of music, but they have made a healthy career for themselves, and maintain a level of visibility that is largely unachievable by those folk musicians of more humble backgrounds.  This is not simply due to the relevant but also too-obvious fact that privilege and connections in the music business often count more than raw talent.  In aesthetic terms, the trained musicianship and refined, conservatory sensibilities of the Quinteto allowed them to recast these rural folk music forms into a form that is more palatable for Brazil’s educated middle class, honing down the rough edges.  The music is not decontextualized so much as recontextualized, stripped of elements that might offend the sensibility of a more erudite public. The frequently bawdy or raunchy language or double-entendre, the occasionally sexist or even racist jokes, and even the elements of social critique that might hint at an awareness of class struggle or exploitation: all are purged from this sanitized representation of cultura popular. To ask and to answer what purpose such representations serve in the long run would be to launch into a discussion verging on the academic, and dragging in outside references that don’t comfortably fit into this blog as I conceive of it. Besides – you will just have to wait and buy my book, if and when it is ever completed and/or published, when you can have footnotes and references to your heart’s content.
Of course, don’t let this write-up put you off from listening to and enjoying this record. It is well-conceived and well-played music, with an energy and enthusiasm that is palpable. There are gorgeous textures produced by the interplay between the acoustic guitar and Brazilian viola (not the bowed but the fretted instrument in the guitar family). There are plenty of reasons to appreciate this record on its own merits without taking any of the above into consideration. And for many Brazilians of the time, encountering Quinteto Violado was probably the first time they had heard of many of these music genres. Just like the first time I ever heard of the Banda de Pifanos de Caruarú was by way of their glorious opening of Gilberto Gil’s Expresso 2222 album, where I also heard my first Jackson do Pandeiro composition. The fact that most people are not compelled to dig deeper into the roots of their favorite contemporary artists does not cause me any great existential pain. The problem lies more with a particular way of celebrating “tradition” and fixing it in time and space in a way that fits a certain agenda, one that may be odds with the communities that originally cultivated it. All too frequently the people and institutions who herald these celebrations make claims that “the old ways” need to be revived and promoted or they will be lost to the ages, but instead of watering the “roots” and allowing them to flourish, they are watering them down and offering up a diluted simulacrum.

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Elis Regina – Na Batucada Da Vida (2006)

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ELIS REGINA
“A Batucada Da Vida”
DVD 1 in a series of 3
2006 // NTSC

– Garoto último tipo (Puppy love)
– Vida de bailarina
– O trem azul
– É com esse que eu vou
– Ladeira da preguiça
– Poema – Retrato do desconhecido
– Folhas secas
– Triste
– Gol anulado
– O mestre sala dos mares
– Bodas de prata
– Canto de Ossanha/ Deixa/ Lapinha/Vou deitar e rolar (Quá quá ra quá quá /Aviso aos navegantes
– O que tinha de ser/ Tatuagem
– Atrás da porta
– Águas de março
– Na batucada da vida

O difícil começo da carreira em Porto Alegre não foi diferente das
histórias dos demais membros dessa confraria a qual Elis pertencia – a
das pessoas determinadas a vencer. Ela tinha talento, sabia do seu valor
e só precisava enfrentar o mundo com coragem e determinação. Foi o que
fez. O resultado todos conhecem e está neste DVD. Um registro único de
interpretações memoráveis de Elis, incluindo a canção de Ary Barroso que
ela aprendeu com Tom Jobim e que dá nome ao DVD.
/////

The difficult beginning of her career in Porto Alegre was not any
different from the stories of the many members of the club to which Elis
belonged: of people determined to win.  She had talent, she knew her
she was good, and she only needed to take on the work with courage and
determination.  And that’s just what she did.  The result which everyone
knows is on this DVD.  A record of the most memorable of the unique,
singular interpretations of Elis, including the song by Ary Barroso that
she learned from Tom Jobim and which gives its name to the DVD.

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A blog reader recently asked if I was still alive.  Well I have a lot more interesting posts than this that I have been planning, but when people are worried about your health you have to give them a pulse.  However I’ve been busy with work lately, too busy to write worthwhile blog posts, and so I dug up this description I had written for this DVD over a year ago for someplace else, with some slight modifications:

This is a minor treasure-trove for fans of Elis Regina with some amazing live-in-the-studio performances that really illustrate her mastery of technique and her emotional sincerity.  That being said, I would much rather listen to Elis sing than watch her sing.  Her emotional connection with the material she sings is downright scary.   In the world of popular music there are so many people who give us fake theatrical emotion on stage (Marisa Monte anyone?) that it is unnerving to see someone in the throws of total surrender to a song — When the tune is happy, she is smiling and ebullient; when the song is sad, she cries; when it’s angry, her wrath adds a meter to her diminutive height and we back away…  It’s probably not a dramatic exaggeration to say that this highly emotional, ultra-sensitive nature combined with the roller coaster of fame and success ultimately killed her, as it has with other artists before and since.  When I first saw some of her live clips I questioned whether she was “for real” or just laying it on think.  My conclusion is that she was pretty real alright.

In the days before botox, a singer or actress could potentially achieve the same effect through plucking their eyebrows and imbibing a shit-ton of cocaine.  Elis seems to have flirted with this strategy during the 70s.  As I said, I would rather listen to her records than watch her.

The audio track on some of the material could be better, but presumably they did the best with what they had.  Some of it sounds greats, other parts not so much.
Another critique is that the earliest years of her career are relegated to an odd photo montage at the beginning and then we are launched right
into the 1970s.  Her recordings prior to 1965 are utterly forgettable, but the period from 1965-70 is the material that I find myself coming back to, much more than her slick 70s MPB.  Where is the footage of her regular program O Fino da Bossa (presumably, tied up for some legal reasons), her duets with Jair Rodriguez or Wilson Simonal?  You can find a bit of that stuff on You
Tube but it sure would be nice to have a clean, quality DVD of it.  For my tastes, her records from 1966-1970 were the peak of her creative power and the strongest in terms of repertoire, and we just don’t get any nuggets from that era.  Even so, this is essential for any fan of Elis Regina, as are the other two DVDs in the series.  And they are live performances, not video clips.

The clip with Tom Jobim is just downright weird.  They seem kind of, um, loaded on something or other.  The DVD notes claimed that Elis was learning the song from Tom, which I guess explains why she doesn’t join in the singing and we are left with his flat, low-key, take-it-or-leave-it vocal; this is followed by Elis singing the same tune, impeccably, years later.  But what I really don’t understand is the claim that Elis *learned* this song from Jobim — Ary Barroso is one of the most famous composers in Brazilian popular music, and ‘Na Batucada da Vida’ isn’t exactly an obscure song.  In other words, I just have trouble believing that someone of Elis’ musical background wouldn’t already KNOW this song by 1974 (when the footage in question was shot…).  But who am I to argue with liner notes written by someanonymous record label person?

 

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Silvio Caldas – Madrugada, 1935 – 1938 (1968 LP)

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Silvio Caldas
MADRUGADA
LP released 1968 on Imperial (IMP 30107)
Recordings, 1935-38

A1         Chão De Estrelas     (1937)
A2         Arrependimento         (1935)
A3         Arranha-Céu         (1937)
A4         Inquietação         (1935)
A5         Madrugada         (1936)
A6         Minha Palhoça         (1935)
B1         Quase Que Eu Disse     (1935)
B2         Pastorinhas         (1937)
B3         Confessando Que Te Adoro (1937)
B4         Professora         (1938)
B5         Choro Por Teu Amor     (1937)
B6         Nunca Mais         (1936)

This post is dedicated to minha sereia no outro lado do mar, Marta.  Veja que tô em baixo tua janela.

Needledrop info: Vinyl -> Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair light settings; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – resampled (and dithered for 16-bit) using iZotope RX Advanced. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag&Rename.

I have a recurring dream where I am walking the streets of Santa Teresa alone at night.  It’s late and there’s nobody really around, just a few stray couples in the scattered restaurants and cafes. Sometimes I am following the old trolley rails, the bondê that still runs there, and sometimes just walking freely, but always climbing and descending, climbing and descending the old hills of that neighborhood.  I drink deeply of the bucolic air, a few degrees cooler and more refreshing here than elsewhere in the city, and as I turn a corner I hear a faint trace of a song.  In those hills on an otherwise silent evening it is difficult to gauge the providence of such sounds, how near or how far their source, and this  uncertainty is only amplified in dreams. But the wind carries the notes of a flute from some stray window, balanced above a slowly strummed guitar  and a muted cavaquinho.  The road twists around further and I am greeted by one of Santa Teresa’s breathtaking views, an ocean of city lights undulating below me, crowned with wisps of cloud blown in off the sea and backlit by moonlight.  An then, overpowering all of it, soars the voice of Silvio Caldas, that vozeirão, and the words of Orestes Barbosa like a broom sweeping me away on their Chaõ de Estrelas.

This LP is a late-60s compilation of classic recordings originally on 78 rpm discs.  As was typical for the Imperial label, the jacket contains no useful information whatsoever, but I’ve cobbled together the most likely recording dates of the songs by consulting the Dicionário Cravo Albin da MPB.  Caldas recorded many of these songs multiple times but these all seem to be the original versions, with quite a few of them being the A and B sides of the same 78.

Silvio Caldas is most usually thought of as the godfather of seresta or serenata, a genre of music whose Iberian name is a linguistic cousin of the English “serenade.”  Seresta is indeed music meant to be played late at night beneath the window of would-be lover, sung with voices pregnant with unironic romanticism and copious amounts of vibrato.  As a genre it is also related to the modinhas, lundus, and choros that also play a part in the origins of samba, and all of which are felt in the repertoires of the other big stars of Brazil’s “Golden Era” like Francisco Alves and Orlando Silva.   But although he is immortalized as “O Serresteiro” (incidentally, the name of an LP on the Recife-based Mocombo label that I stupidly passed up buying once…), Silvio was also an ace at singing sambas and marchinhas.  This brief little LP collection represents those styles well here too.  The immortal sambista Noel Rosa contributed the upbeat Pastorinhas, and Ary Barroso wrote the philosophical paean to romantic suffering and equanimity, Inqueitação.  The lyrics to Inquietação are brilliant, but it’s the partnership between Caldas and Orestes Barbosa for which most people remember Silvio the Seresteiro.  Orestes Barbosa was an established poet, writer of crônicas, and critic back in the days when those roles didn’t exclude active participation in popular music.  He wrote a an enormous amount of song lyrics, collaborating with the likes of Noel Rosa, Francisco Alves, Hervé Cordovil, and others.  But it is the stunning Chão de Estrelas with Silvio Caldas that most people associate with his name today, and at the time it even drew compliments from modernist poet Manuel Bandeira.   The song has been rerecorded countless times from artists as diverse as Maysa to Os Mutantes.  It has that rare perfect fusion of melody and words that is instantly recognizable in anyone’s interpretation.  It’s worth noting that the lyrics are truly written as poem, without a single line or stanza repeated throughout.   Unfortunately the only other collaborations from the pair featured on this collection are “Arranha-céu” and “Quase que eu disse.”

The production on these old records from the 30s was incredible as well.  In an interview at SESC during the 1990s, Silvio went on a bit about the luxuries afforded to artists in modern recording studios, and how back in his day they had none of that.  It was a bunch of people crammed into a tiny little room and arranged around a single microphone.  Then it is all the more impressive that the results usually had such a great balance of instruments and voice.  The version of Chão de Estrelas here not only sounds great but has an especially effective execution, with all the instruments taking their lead from Silvio’s vocal and guitar, at times dragging the beat and giving the arrangement an unhurried feel that I haven’t heard on any subsequent recordings (including Silvio’s) that tend to play it with straight meter.   Some of the tunes here have piano as well.  Sometimes it sounds like they had to put the piano in the hallways outside the sound booth, which may well have been the case! On other tunes like Arranha-céu the piano is up front in the mix.  Another arrangement I love comes early in the collection: Arrependimento (Silvio Caldas – Cristovão de Alencar), which is driven along by pandeiro, the only percussion instrument to feature on most of these recordings.  The aural gooseflesh moment comes about halfway through, when Silvio sings “ai, meu deus” before a slight pause in the music after which the full band comes back in with exquisite vocal harmonies to sing the next verse.  These ‘época de ouro’ songs were almost didactic lessons in musical and poetic economy, little essays packed into three minutes or less.

This needledrop was done close to a year ago when my setup was different, and as tempting as it was to start all over with my improved system, I just don’t have time.  Although my current soundcard has a lower noise floor and the capacity for a higher sampling rate, the nature of the source material is such that I think it would be a case of diminishing returns — this is, after all, an LP that used 78s as their source material and is quite noisy to begin with.

 

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Tim Maia – Nuvens (1982)

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NUVENS
Tim Maia
Released 1982 on Seroma LP-TM-009
Reissue 2011 on Editora Abril

  
1 Nuvens   
(Deny King, Cassiano)  
2 Outra mulher   
(Tim Maia)  
3 Ar puro   
(Tim Maia, Robson Jorge)  
4 O trem – 1ª parte   
(Tim Maia)  
5 A festa   
(Tim Maia)  
6 Apesar dos poucos anos   
(Beto Cajueiro, Tim Maia)  
7 Deixar as coisas tristes para depois   
(Pedro Carlos Fernandes)  
8 Ninguém gosta de se sentir só   
(Tim Maia)  
9 Hadock Lobo esquina com Matoso   
(Tim Maia)  
10 O trem – 2ª parte   
(Tim Maia)  
11 Casinha de sapé   
(Hyldon)  
12 Sol brilhante   
(Rubens Sabino, Tim Maia)

 Tim Maia would have been 70 years old today! So in spite of the efforts of US corporations imposing their mentality on the rest of the world, I am dedicating one more post to the grande mestre.

In his biography of Tim Maia, Vale Tudo, Nelson Motta called this album the best Tim Maia record that nobody ever heard.  Similarly the notes on this reissue go to great pains to point out its small cult following and contrast it against its lack of commercial impact.  Motta is prone to hyperbole in general, and the shoddy liner notes from Editora Abril on their series of Tim reissues can’t be taken too seriously.  But I remember the first time I ever heard this album, at the house of a guy who had an autographed vinyl copy.  I hadn’t even known of its existence, and the rather unflattering photo of Tim entering his Marshmallow Man phase had me skeptical.  So I was surprised at hearing all these new solid tunes, and after much beer and churrasco on that lazy Sunday afternoon I was probably ready to acclaim the album in similar hyperbolic terms.  It would be years before I was able to hear it again.  Does it deserve to be better known?  Most certainly.  Is it one of Tim’s best albums?  Depends on the listener, but its obviously well crafted and a mostly strong set of songs.  (However it is hard to reflect on the music when you can BARELY HEAR what is going on — see below!)  The thing about “Nuvens” is that you can’t call it a “commercial failure” because, as Motta said, nobody really got the chance to hear it.  So even Brazilians who were fans before Tim received the recent surge of hipster interest were by and large unaware of this album.

At this point in his career, Tim had pretty much alienated everyone in the music business through his often volatile temperament, penchant for not showing up for high profile gigs, and appetite for hedonism.  Label execs and promoters were wary of dealing with him.  During the 70s, however, Tim was one of the first Brazilian artists to control the publishing rights for his own material: perhaps taking inspiration from some of his North American soul music counterparts, he recognized music publishing as one of the most egregious forms of exploitation and set up his own company, SEROMA, to publish his songs.  Seroma was a publishing company first and only later an occasional record label, in which capacity Tim consistently lost money.  In many ways Tim was a shrewd businessmen but a horrible administrator, promulgating the motto that Seroma was the only label that “pays on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays after 9 o’clock.”  He kept the label’s treasury under lock and key in his own apartment, was known to occasionally pay musicians with drugs in lieu of money, and seems to have decided what to pay his band Vitória Régia based on his mood.  The decision to make Seroma a label in the first place was practically an accident, developing after RCA rejected the double-album project with which they had lured Tim away from Polygram.  This was what would become the two Racional albums, the sessions for which started out as straightforward soul and funk songs until Tim was introduced to his new-found (and short-lived) religion in Cultura Racional, after which he discarded all the lyrics and any vocal tracks, replacing them with bizarre musings on the world of Animal Energy and commands to “Read the Book, the Book of Life!”   The second Seroma release came a few years later with a wonderful little album, 1978’s “Tim Maia Em Inglês.”  Seroma would stay dormant as a label for a while afterwards, with Tim putting out records on major labels again (plus one on Som Livre in 1977).  Once more disenchanted with the music industry’s vampiric practices, in 1982 he resolved to release yet another album himself and prepared for it by putting out a single that yielded a huge hit, “Do Leme ao Pontal,” and then funneling all the profits from it into the new record.

Unfortunately for Tim, without a distribution deal, Tim was essentially doing all the legwork for the promotion and distribution himself, work for which he clearly was not suited.  The record went largely unnoticed, and was subsequently overshadowed by the phenomenal ‘O Descobridor das Setes Mares’ from the following year.

So, when I first heard that this record was at long last being reissued in 2011, I was very excited.  Until I began to actually hear the results from Editora Abril, that is.  Ed.Abril is actually a publishing company, responsible for the likes of trash-news magazine Veja, and their reissue series was originally intended to be sold at news stands.   In spite of having had a few cool series on LP (the informative História da MPB composers series), they are an empire of paper, and it shows.  The reissues had 50 page “booklets” that were light on information but full of garish graphic design and superfluous photos probably culled from their vast archives (Lulu Santos? Gretchen? why??).  And the sound was PAPER THIN.  Conspicuously avoiding any mention of master tapes or remastering, they managed to somehow downgrade the sound for the records that were previously widely available on CD at one time, such as his first four albums on Polydor.  This isn’t just the nit-picking of an obsessive audio junkie either.  Compare the Ed. Abril versions with any of those, or in fact the newer releases from the Universal boxset, and you will be forced to admit that Editora Abril did something very very bad to the audio.  All the more tragic in the case of ‘Tim Maia em Inglês” and “Nuvens” because those two titles have been long out of print. and fetching ridiculous prices from collectors.  It is painfully obvious that used subpar source material, and then applied a heavy-handed “noise filter” that makes these tracks sound like low-bitrate mp3s even when you are listening to 16-bit PCM WAVs.  Now that the the Abril editions are also out of print, I have been seeing vendors on Mercado Livre (a place notoriously out of touch with reality when it comes to pricing records) selling those pitiful reissues for questionable amounts of money justified by the catchphrase “out of print”.. Time to put a stop to that by any means.

Whether all this preamble above is necessary before talking about the actual music is debatable, but I will say this:  the experience of listening to this shoddy reissue is so much less enjoyable than hearing it on the original vinyl on that lazy Sunday afternoon, that it makes any kind of objective assessment nearly impossible for me.  That is in fact why I waited a year to even write this post – my disappointment was so profound that it killed completely killed my enthusiasm about the record.

Working again with his frequent collaborators Cassiano and Hyldon, Nuvens is from the start an organic set of soul tunes.  The production is slick but avoids the pitfalls of so much early 80s music (contemporary records by icons like Chico Buarque, Caetano or Gil sound positively silly by comparison).  Acoustic guitar, electric piano, percussion, meticulous horn arrangements.  The opening title cut has Cassiano’s melodic stamp of mellow soul all over it, and the next three tunes are pure Tim.  In their original analog form this is a record for breezy summer days.  “Ar Puro” picks up the tempo to get the dance floor moving, and the instrumental funk workout ‘O Trem’ is tremendous, although oddly divided up between the first and second sides.  The magic is broken by the turkey “A Festa” which is ruined by overdubs of giggling women, and even without them the song is the equivalent of Tim ‘phoning it in’.  “Apesar De Poucos Anos” was not written by Cassiano but sounds as if it were, his falsetto backing vocals adding to that feeling.   It could be an affect of the lousy CD reissue but Tim’s lead vocal is almost completely lost in parts of this song, making for a very odd mix.  The ballad that follows is really one of Tim’s best.   “Deixar As Coisas Tristes Prá Depois” opens with a baroque-tingued acoustic guitar figure by Pedro Carlos Fernandes, very brief but very unlike anything else in his discography, and which continues throughout the tune.  The production and arrangement is majestic — or rather it would be if it weren’t stifled by Editora Abril.  The few bars of acoustic guitar and saxophone at the minute and a half mark just slay me.  Next is an awkwardly direct, autobiographical “Ninguém Gostar De Sentir Só” that gives a glimpse to the loneliness hidden behind Tim’s ebullient personality.  It’s also a great tune.  The next is a turkey – “Hadock Lobo Esquina Com Matoso” pays tribute to a São Paulo streetcorner and Tim’s days ‘before the fame’ hanging out with Roberto and Erasmo Carlos.  It’s honestly pretty awful.  O Trem (part 2) continues the funk workout from the first side.  “Na Rua, Na Chuva, Na Fazenda (Casinha de Sapé)” is Hyldon’s signature song and the title of his first album.  Tim is a natural choice for recording this song (which has suffered some awful remakes in recent years) and his voice is much more powerful than Hyldon, but I prefer the original for being more emotionally satisfying and better arranged.  The closing number “Sol brilhante” has a riff that is uncannily similar to the Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love.”  It could be just my imagination or coincidence but it wouldn’t be the first time Tim lifted something directly from US music.  It’s a light and fluffy bit of summer breeze that blows shut the window pane on this little treasure of a record.  Hopefully it won’t be another 20 years before somebody gives this one the reissue it deserves.  I listen to this disc much less than I would if it sounded even halfway decent.