Nara Leão – “Descontrolada” (1976) unreleased single!

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Well this is a new thing for the blog, the first time I have ever hosted a “leaked” track unavailable elsewhere, and hopefully it won’t get us shut down after managing to survive this many years.
The track below was deemed unsuitable for release on the rarities discs included with the recent 2103 Nara Leão boxset, and was passed along to me by an audio engineer in friend in São Paulo who made me swear never to share it with anyone except at home through a stereo.  Well that guy turned out to be a royal prick so I am disregarding the promise now.

In the mid-1970s, Nara had gone into semi-retirement in order to raise her children and eventually pursue a degree in psychology.  I suppose the urge to perform in someone as creatively powerful as Nara doesn’t just go dormant, and the retirement didn’t last all that long by today’s standards. These days it is normal for pop stars to release one record every three years, because they are mostly overpaid lazy fucks,   but it must have seemed an eternity to her fans back in the day.   She returned to recording with a deliberately nostalgic work looking back to the golden age of Brazilian song, hence the title, Meu Primeiro Amor (“My First Love”).  It is a great record but probably came across a bit anachronistic in  light of the whirlwind of changes – social, musical, political – that had swept across Brazil in the decade leading up to it: changes which, of course, Nara played pivotal and multiple roles as a cultural and musical icon.  Given how the newly-uncovered track featured here lay buried for almost forty years with no indication that it ever existed, it is difficult to say if this recording session was simply an attempt by Nara to musically invent herself, to experiment with new sounds, or maybe to make a little cash with a more contemporary-sounding single.  Whatever the case, she apparently did not care for the resulting recording and disowned it.

For the session, she chose João Donato to work out the arrangements and take on production duties  (he would later end up producing her next album, Os Meus Amigos São Um Barato ).   The complete personnel on this track is unknown, but what little was written on the insert inside the tape reel documents that the session involved Hyldon and Cassiano on guitar, both seminal figures in the Brazilian soul scene of the mid-70s, and the melody sounds like one or both of them may have a writing credit here.  And though I can’t prove it, I swear I can hear their friend Tim Maia on backing vocals.  Normally his voice overtakes everyone else on every session he was ever on, however, so maybe they just kept him really far from the microphone or made him sing in the hallway.  The tune starts out with a throwback nod to her bossa-cum-capoeira heyday, but the intro is just an illusion that does not prepare the listener for what comes next: some of the most funky pieces of music to be made in Brazil in the mid-70s, music that is so forward-thinking it wouldn’t sound out of place on the radio decades later.   All that being said, as incredible as it is to have an unissued track from Nara Leão with these unlikely collaborators, I can understand why she chose not to release it.  Her voice just isn’t particularly suited to funk and soul music, and although she did have a reputation for iconoclasm in the 60s, perhaps in the mid 70s she opted not to jeopardize her good standing as a canonical MPB singer by attempting a polemical style like funky samba soul, especially with such sexual overtones.  She even chose to sing, rather awkwardly, in English, which would have further enraged much of her devoted following.

So here is the track, titled “Descontrolada”, and if it doesn’t get this blog shut down for good, I hope to see you all soon in another post.  If the gods have mercy, I promise to post more often than I have been lately.

Jamelão – A Voz do Samba Vol. 2 (2002)

Jamelão
A Voz do Samba, Volume 2
2002 Warner Brasil (092745933-2)


1. Vingança
2. Nervos de aço
3. Ela disse-me assim
4. Exemplo
5. Volta
6. Nunca
7. Meu natal
8. Torre de babel
9. Meu barraco
10. Loucura
11. Cadeira vazia
12. Esses moços (Pobres moços)
13. Quem há de dizer
14. Sozinha

All songs composed by Lupicínio Rodrigues, with the following tracks featuring co-authors: “Meu Barraco” with Leduvy de Pina; “Cadeira Vazia”  and “Quam Há De Dizer”  with Alcides Gonçalves.

Original recordings spanning from 1959 to 1987.

————————

In my last post on Jamelão, Volume 1 of this anthology, I was pretty emphatic in my disinterest for hearing an entire hour of samba-enredos back to back, as well as my belief that the record didn’t really do justice to Jamelão.  The man himself would probably have disagreed with me; at least regarding the first part of this complaint, because he was in fact exalted as a master of the form of samba enredo.  But I’ll continue to stand by the second half of my gripe:  the “Jamelão I know and love” is right here on THIS disc, which begins in the 1950s and is comprised entirely of compositions from his friend Lupicínio Rodrigues.  The 50s were an auspicious time for Jamelão:  he moved from the Sintér label to Discos Continental and began working with the wonderful Orchestra Tabajara, with whom he criss-crossed Brazil and made it as far as France on tour.  It was while touring with Tabajara that he crossed paths with Lupicínio in Porto Alegre, and soon after the two began a partnership that would make their names practically synonymous with each other.  A great many artists have recorded memorable versions of Lupicínios work, some preceding Jamelão like Orlando Silva and Francisco Alves, and many who followed him – two tracks on this collection, “Nervos de aço” and “Volta” both received impressive renditions by Paulinho da Viola and Gal Costa, respectively, which I happened to be listening to recently because I have become fixated on the magical year of 1973 for some reason.  The list of other renditions of these tunes would doubtless be quite large, but it was the voice of Jamelão that made Lupicínio Rodrigues a household name and etched him in the collective consciousness.  Orchestra Tabajara, who had relocated from Paraiba to Rio right about the time Jamelão approached them with songs to record, pull off some swinging performances with inventive arrangements.  Pianist and bandleader Severino Araújo,  could give the ubiquitous Maestro Gaya a run for his money.  The brass charts are all delicious, and check out the jazzy interplay on “Vingança” or “Meu barraco.”  

This collection is so good that I even like the tracks recorded in the 1980s, so often a decade of embarrassment for artists whose careers began elsewhere in time.   As is sadly typical of Brazilian reissues, this collection is sparse on detailed notes, apart from a brief text written by the stalwart Tarik de Souza.   Seems like typical record label suits skimping on the artistic patrimony of a giant like Jamelão who deserves better.  The dodgy mastering job is credited to a generic “Oficína de Áudio e Video”, and some of the cuts from the 60s sound like they had reverb added to them.   This was probably done to give more continuity to the collection – indeed, it is hard to distinguish what decade each song was recorded in without peeking at the credits – but this is also due as much to the infallible integrity of Jamelão and Orchestra Tabajara, without the “help” of any digital enhancement.   


Sometime this year I will post some of the Continental LPs I have Jamelão. I posted about the first disc in this series here.  And you can find more of his stuff at Orfãos do Loronix.

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Wilson Simonal – Na Odeon 1961 – 1971 (2004)




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
——————————————
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
========================================

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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Tim Maia – O Descobridor dos Sete Mares (1983)

TIM MAIA
Descobridor dos Sete Mares
Released 1983

1. o descobridor dos sete mares
2. terapêutica do grito
3. pecado capital
4. mal de amor
5. 3 em 1
6. neves e parques
7. rio mon amour
8. me dê motivo
9. olá (emoçoes)
10. essa dor me apanha

Tim singing

In 1983, many of Tim Maia’s contemporaries (Jorge Ben, Gilberto Gil, that other guy Caetano) were releasing albums of…. utter crap. So how is that Tim Maia puts out one of the strongest albums of his career?? Because he was a musical demigod, a funky Buddha gracing us with his presence on this material plane for as long as we were lucky to have him.

This album… Man, where do you start? If this album had been released by a North American soul artist, and Tim was singing in English, it would have been a global smash. So goes the imperialisms of capital and language I guess. In fact it is somewhat odd that Tim, who could sing in English without any trace of a Portuguese accent (something that can’t be said for any of other guys listed above), and often had at least one tune in English on his albums, did not do so on this one. The sound and production on this record are also flawless. For some reason I have an image of Tim listening to “Off The Wall” every day in between mixing sessions, relaxing with a spliff in his favorite easy chair. Once again Tim manages to sound utterly contemporary with his times without forcing ANYTHING – everything flows naturally, no sense of somebody trying to “keep up with the times” (*cough* caetano, gil *cough*…). Everything here is a natural extension of the body and soul of his work in the 1970s, with everything — songwriting, musicianship, production — in top form. Maybe it’s more “slick” production wise, but not to its detriment. Some new synth patches, but plenty of organic acoustic and electric piano. And what could make Tim’s already-heavy-hitting sound even better? Kazoo? No. Glockenspiel? Nah. Vibes? Probably, yeah, but alas its not to be on this record. How about…. TIMBALES!!! Hell yeah! I have yet to read Nelson Motta’s book on Tim (but I plan to, soon!) but for some reason I feel like Tim just bought himself a new set of timbales before starting work on this album, because he just goes NUTS on them. It’s frigging fantastic. If I could put together a fantasy tour for 1983 it would be Tim Maia playing shows with Prince and Michael Jackson — with Tim headlining of course.

This album also follows the pacing formula that is common to many a soul record from the 70s and 80s (and maybe still.. I don’t listen to much new stuff 😉 ). That is to say — the entire first side is uptempo funky as hell get you on your feet and moving party down boogie. And then the lights dim, you get your chance for some slow dancing, and, eventually, well… you know the rest. Smoooov, Tim, Smooov…

The huge hit off this record was “Me dê motivo” , a woeful tune of love gone sour. Complete with a nice intro rap. This video clip, which I am thinking to be from the late 80s or early 90s, is pretty amazing. Its a pity it cuts off the beginning AND the end, though…
Watch this performance of Meu Dê Motivo

More Tim on YOUTUBE, an actual MTV-type video from 1983
the title track

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This album has 237 hand claps on it.

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.
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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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