Marcos Valle – Garra (1971)

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)

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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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Maysa – Maysa, Amor… e Maysa (1961) Mono Vinyl

MAYSA, AMOR… E MAYSA

Maysa (1961)

RGE XRLP 5121

1 Estou para dizer adeus (Benil Santos, Raul Sampaio)

2 Quem quiser encontrar o amor (Carlos Lyra, Geraldo Vandré)

3 Quizas, quizas, quizas (Oswaldo Farrés)

4 Chorou, chorou (Luiz Antônio)

5 I love Paris (Cole Porter)

6 Raizes (O. Guilherme, Denis Brean)

7 Murmúrio (Djalma Ferreira, Luiz Antônio)

8 Besame mucho (Consuelo Velazquez)

9 É fácil dizer adeus (Tito Madi)

10 Chão de estrelas (Silvio Caldas, Orestes Barbosa)

Vinyl First Pressing -> Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply) > Creek Audio OBH-15 -> M-Audio Audiophile 2496 Soundcard -> Adobe Audition 3.0 at 24-bits 96khz -> Click Repair light settings, additional clicks and pops removed in Audition -> dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced -> ID Tags done in foobar2000 v.1.0.1 and Tag & Rename.

——————————————-

Time for a break from the flood of Marcos Valle! This post was actually prepared and written months ago, but somehow I never got around to actually posting it. So, here it is, from a tasty damn-near perfect promo copy of this 1961 LP.

Although strictly speaking Maysa’s work is not jazz, her vocal phrasing (dramatic and filled with vibrato), the instrumentation, and the arrangements on this one are enough to convince me that she fits nicely alongside any other vocal jazz crooner out there. Maysa, whose life story was interesting enough that they made a TV mini-series about, began her singing career quite young — essentially being disowned by her wealthy family for it, since `respectable ladies` from Brazil`s upper class in the 1950s didn’t do things such as sing in night clubs. She was already well respected as a chanteuse of Brazilian romantic and popular song when the bossa nova wave hit the shores, and she quickly incorporated the sounds and repertoire, most famously in her recording of `O barquinho` which resulted in an album that is a touchstone of bossa nova.

This album has become one of my favorites of hers. I just love the lushness and simplicity of the arrangements and instrumentation, the coloration added by the stray jazzista solo. A violin solo here, funky organ chords, trap kits played with brushes, and a voice like velvet. It’s quite possible that the estimable Walter Wanderley is on organ here too. A repertoire that covers some classic composers of Brazilian romantic song and samba canção, bossa nova, and music from elsewhere in Latin America — her recording of “Quizas, quizas, quizas” was actually among the first handful of versions of this song that would end up being recorded probably hundreds of times (including many anglicized versions) The album closes with one of the most poetic tunes in the Brazilian canon, by the master of ‘seresta’ ou ‘serenata’, Silvio Caldas – somebody whose work I have really been getting into: “Chão de Estrelas” was his signature song and a master composition, and Maysa gives it a royal treatment here.

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Marcos Valle – The Lost Sessions (1966)

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Marcos Valle

“The Lost Sessions”

Originally recorded in 1966

Released in 2011 in the boxset Marcos Valle Tudo

1. Os grilos (Crickets sing for Ana Maria)

2. Uma lágrima

3. Lá eu não vou

4. Batucada surgiu (Batucada)

5. Primeira solidão

6. O amor é chama

7. É preciso cantar

8. Pensa

9. Mais vale uma canção

10. Lenda

11. Se você soubesse

Bonus tracks

12. Os grilos (instrumental version)

13. Batucada surgiu (instrumental version)

Marcos Valle – piano, acoustic guitar, vocals on tracks 1, 4, and 7

Dom Salvador – piano

Unknown musicians – everything else

Arrangements and orchestrations – Eumir Deodato, Geraldo Vespar and Marcos Valle

Produced by Milton Miranda

This is actually the “last” disc in the boxset but I am sharing it out of respect for several regular blog readers, particularly pawylshyn, who know much more about Marcos than I do and who are being tortured by the long wait for this disc of ‘unreleased’ material. In fact quite a few tracks appeared on the expensive Japanese pressings of the normal albums (which I believe he has, all of them..) but this album’s release is still a blessing to the world This is the album Marcos was working on when his second album — containing the hits of the title track (Preciso Aprender Ser Só) and *especially* “Samba de Verão”, which was covered in the US by Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis, and Ruben & The Jets — blew up on the record charts and he became an internationally-known name. Enter Ray Gilberto, most famous for writing that lovely song “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah”, but who at the time was writing English lyrics for Tom Jobim’s compositions to be released stateside. So basically they convinced Marcos to stop what he was working on, record a mostly instrumental album that I don’t think is very good (Braziliance!, although we’ve established opinions differ on that one) and then go to the US and make ‘Samba 68’ (which IS good). The abandoned album has had tracks show up here and there, mostly on the expensive Japanese reissues of some of his original catalog. But here is the original albumas it was when Marcos abandoned it. I’ll hremark again how cool I think it is that he left things just as they found them when they dug out the master tapes. No additional overdubs or studio trickery. The result is a somewhat spare but beautiful record that leaves it to our imaginations to ‘complete’. It would have come between two of Marcos’ most profound albums (O compositor e o cantor and A viola enluarda) had he not embarked on his “American journey”.

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Marcos Valle – O cantor e o compositor (1965)

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MARCOS VALE
O COMPOSITOR E O CANTOR
1965 on Odeon (SMOFB-3413)
Reissue in 2011 on EMI (026461-2) (SET 026447-2)

1 Gente (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
2 Preciso aprender a ser só (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
3 Seu encanto (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Pingarrilho, Marcos Valle)
4 Passa por mim (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
5 Samba de verão (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
6 A resposta (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
7 Deus brasileiro (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
8 Dorme profundo (Pingarrilho, Marcos Valle)
9 Vem (Luiz Fernando Freire, Marcos Valle)
10 Mais amor (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
11 Perdão (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
12 Não pode ser (Paulo Sérgio Valle, Marcos Valle)
BONUS TRACKS
13. Vamos pranchar
14. Deus brasileiro (instrumental)
15. Não pode ser (instrumental)

Marcos Valle – voice and piano
Eumir Deodato – arrangements, orchestrations, piano and organ
Sergio Barroso – bass
Wilson das Neves, Dom Um Româo – drums
Nelson Ângelo – acoustic guitar
Rubens Bassini – percussion
Hamilton and Maurílio Santos – trumpet
Edson Maciel – trombone
Jorginho – alto sax
Jt. Meirelles, Walter Rosa – tenor sax
Aurino Ferreira – baritone sax

Produced by Milton Miranda
Musical direction – Lyrio Panicalli
Technical superviso – Z.J. Merky
Sound engineer – Jorge Teixeira ROcha
Layout – Moacry Rocha
COver photo – Mafra

2011 Info
Project curator and producer: Charles Gavin
Supervision: Marcos Valle
Texts by Marcos Valle
Remastered from original tapes by Ricardo Garcia at Magic Master Studios, RJ
Assistant engineer: Matheus Gomes

———————

This is album is a leap ahead of his first album and situated firmly in jazz-bossa with some traces of innovative pop that would become more prominent in his work later. It also has what is may be the most perfect composition of his entire career: “Preciso aprender a ser só” (I Need To Learn To Be Alone). “Samba de verão” is undoubtedly the most reinterpreted song in his catalog, recorded by a bunch of other artists afterwards includes several version of English.. “Deus brasileiro”, “Dorme profundo” lush and shimmery and wonderful. A lot of the same ‘heavy hitters’ from the debut are playing on this album too, with the added bonus of Wilson das Neves and Dom Um Romão on the drums. Also notice a young Nelson Angelo on acoustic guitar. Anybody know who is playing flute on this album (perhaps one of the saxophonists doubling on flute?) — they are not credited in the notes. But kudos to this reissue project for including musician credits in the first place, as these earlier Odeon releases did NOT include ‘backing musicians’ in general, although arrangers usually took pride of place.

Listen to how HARD the ensemble swings on “Seu encanto” and it ought to put to rest any remaining critics (are they any still living?) who thought bossa nova was overly-influenced by or even ‘imitating’ North American jazz: this song is equal to anything recorded elsewhere in its jazz credentials. Goddamn the ruffing is amazing. Just wish I knew who played the flute on it. The tune “Vem” qualifies for this premium category.

As blogger friend Le Porce Rouge put it, it seems as if every album recorded in Brazil after 1965 had a cover version of a track off this album. It’s influence must have been huge like a musical atom bomb in the climate of 1965, when bossa nova was struggling to redefine itself in a changing musical landscape. The Brothers Valle seemed unconcerned with all that and simply forged ahead with what they wanted to do, categories be damned. The record was successful enough to draw attention of music executives from abroad, who began clambering at Marcos (and Paulo’s) door to bring them to the US and record, after the likes of people like Johnny Mathis and Connie Francis (!!!) had recorded hit versions of “Samba de verão.” It is kind of a shame, since Marcos had only just ‘hit his stride’ with this album and it would be a few years before he recorded again on Brazilian soil. In the USA he would make a delightful little album, “Samba 68”, but also a dreadful little one called “Braziliance!”, and then find his way back home.

The bonus tracks feature the B-side “Vamos prenchar” which was released on the single (compato) for ‘Samba de verão’, and the instrumental takes of “Dues brasileiro” and “Não pode ser”.

Amidst all the greatness on the record, the tune “Dorme profundo” is very special to me as the ‘sleeper’ cut that somehow distills the best of what the album has to offer to me.

In regards to the sound quality issues pawlyshyn mentioned concerning the (expensive) Japanese remasters, I regret to inform you that at least some of those problems remain so perhaps it is a problem with the tapes. “Dorme profundo” has a drop-out, for example, at 1 minute and 36 seconds in the right channel. I’m pretty sure there are a few others scattered around. The is some distortion in places in the upright bass and drums but I’ve become accustomed to it on the Odeon releases from this period — they needed a Rudy Van Gelder to set them straight on how to record the rhythm section of jazz combos with proper separation. But as far as digital distortions go, I haven’t noticed any yet but since I have only had this box for two weeks, feel free to point them out if you come across them. Usually they jump out at a person, but I haven’t noticed any yet.

The back of the album jacket had original liner notes by Paulo Sérgio which unfortunately are only reproduced in microscopic form in the CD artwork. But I’ve taken the liberty of translating them here:

“”Marcos composes in the middle of the night. For this reason his sambas have the flavor of ‘saudade’ for the end of night, waiting for the day to be born. They are songs of love, that demand poetry in the lyrics in place of shouts of revolution, as some people want. It is true that sometimes this exremely lyrical composer has his moments of realism, like in “Gente”, for example. But without capitulating to some type of pre-fabricated formula. It is what we would like to call “lyrical realism.” As a singer, Marcos creates a contagious intimacy. There is nobody better suited to sing his own songs, that come to us still warm from his heart. It is one of the privleges of the singer-composer. On this album we again have the partnership of Marcos and Eumir Deodator, arranger of choice. They are two friends united by a perfect musical identification, by talent, and by the seriousness engraved on everything they do. Here they put into practice what for so long they have studied: the union of heart and technique. In the orchestration of Eumir and the singing of Marcos is the voice of poetry.”
-Paulo Sergio Valle, original liner notes
free translation by Flabbergasted Enterprises

Enjoy this one, folks.

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Beth Carvalho – Primeiras Andanças 1965-75 (2010)

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Beth Carvalho
“Primeiras Andanças – Os Primeiros Dez Anos”
Released 2010 Discobertas (DBOX-01)

Boxset produced by Marcelo Fróes
Remastering by Ricardo Carvalheira
Graphic design by Bady Cartier

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Volume One: Canto Por Um Novo Dia (1973) Tapecar X.19

1. Hora De Chorar
2. Canto Por Um Novo Dia
3. Se E Pecado Sambar
4. Homenagem A Nelson Cavaquinho
5. Evocaçao No. 1
6. A Velhice Da Porta Bandeira
7. Folhas Secas
8. Salve A Preguiça, Meu Pai
9. Mariana Da Gente
10. Fim De Reinado
11. Clementina De Jesus
12. Memoria De Um Compositor
13. Medley – Flor Da Laranjeira /sereia /sao Jorge,

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Volume Two: Pra Seu Governo (1974) Tapecar X.22

1. Miragem
2. 1800 Colinas (mil E Oitocentas Colinas)
3. Tesoura Cega
4. Maior E Deus
5. Fim Do Sofrimento
6. A Pedida E Essa
7. Pra Ninguem Chorar
8. Me Ganhou
9. Falencia
10. Vovo Chica
11. Agora E Portela 74
12. Pra Seu Governo

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Volume 3: Pandeiro e Viola (1975) Tapecar X.33

1. So Queria Ser Feliz
2. O Pior E Saber
3. Pandeiro E Viola
4. Amor Sem Esperança
5. Onde Esta A Honestidade
6. Gota D’agua
7. Enamorada Do Sambao
8. O Dia De Amanha
9. Amor Fiel
10. De Novo Desamor
11. Sente O Peso Do Couro
12. Cansaço
13. Alegria
14. Pesquisa

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Volume 4: Primeiras Andanças – vol.1 (1965-1970)

1. Namorinho
2. Por Quem Morreu De Amor
3. Ponteio
4. Sim Pelo Nao
5. Viola Enluarada
6. Contraste
7. Berenice
8. Domingo Antigo
9. Cavaleiro Andante
10. Rosa De Gente
11. Andança
12. Sentinela
13. Guerra De Um Poeta
14. Meu Tamborim
15. O Tempo E O Vento

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Volume 5: Primeiras Andanças – vol.2 (1970-75)

1. Geraçao 70
2. A Velha Porta
3. Sem Rumo E Sem Destino
4. Minhas Tardes De Sol
5. So Quero Ver
6. Essa Passou
7. Rio Grande Do Sul Na Festa Do Preto Forro
8. A Mais Querida
9. Amor, Amor
10. Mangueira Em Tempo De Folclore
11. Volta, Meu Amor
12. Meu Perdao
13. Rosa De Ouro – Ao Vivo
14. Foi Um Rio Que Passou Em Minha Vida – Ao Vivo

This boxset is a labor of love from Discobertas, a relatively new reissue label who appear to have acquired the rights to the whole Tapecar Records back catalog. Although I have some gripes about some technical issues in the production, the love and attention to detail on this package make up for it. Of the three studio albums presented all but one (‘Pra Seu Governo’) contain a few bonus rarities tacked to the end, an extra treat that hardly seems necessary given the two full discs of rarities that are part of the package. For those uninitiated into the music of Beth Carvalho, these albums are where you want to start. The studio albums are the most gratifying in terms of straight-through listening experience – they highlight Beth Carvalho fully blossomed into her musical identity, fully in command and focused in her direction, and executing her genius at pulling together so much musicality in the choices of compositions and musicians. They each deserve their own individual write-ups, which is part of the problem with boxsets — they can be daunting to listen to, and even more daunting to write about. I may share these individual with audio from their original vinyl pressings, and share some more thoughts there. Likewise you can find these albums posted on some of the ‘usual suspects’ like Loronix or jthymekind. Just a brief mention here, however, that the album ‘Pandeiro e Viola’ is a bit of a disappointment compared to the other two and falls in the category of “contractual obligation album,” as she had already been lost by Tapecar to RCA Records but still owed them an album. It shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand, obviously, and contains some great interpretations of sambas old and new — I particularly like the juxtaposition of the classic Noel Rosa tune “Onde está a honestidade” with Chico Buarque’s “Gota d’Agua.” But overall the album lacks the passion Beth brings to those first two long players, and there are no tunes that give me goosebumps like “Tesoura cega” (from ‘Pra Seu Governo”), a song so perfect it deserves an entire blog post all to itself, or pretty much ALL of her phenomenal first “Canto Pra Um Novo Dia.”

Now on to the mother-load of rarities that will attract the majority of listeners who already know her album material, the two discs called “As Primerias Andanças,” one dedicated to the decade of the 1960s, the second covering 1970 – 75.

The first disc is stylistically all over the place and, honestly, a bit messy. As off-putting as this disc is on first listen, the material is brought into focus by the truly great liner notes by Marcelo Fróes, some of which is based on interviews Beth gave exclusively for this boxset. They trace her career beginning with her unassuming middle-class life as a young guitar instructor who was persuaded to appear performing on television, soon recorded a single (the flipside of which was a song given to her by Roberto Menescal and Ronôldo Boscoli, “Pra Quem Morreu de Amor”), and from there took off into a dozen different directions. In a time period when the clique-ish cohort of bossa nova was breaking up and fragmenting, Beth moved through a variety of musical circles and personalities, reflected in the impressive variety of names that appear in the songwriting credits on these two discs: the aforemention Menescal/Boscoli, the brothers Valle, Arthur Verocai, Danilo Caymmi, Nelson Motta, Paulinho Tapajós, Milton Nascimento, Antonio Adolfo & Tibério Gaspar, Carlos Lyra & Chico Buarque, and of course – as she transformed into a reigning queen of samba during the 1970s – composers like Paulinho da Viola and especially her mentor Nelson Cavaquinho and his partner Guillherme de Brito.

This first of the two discs sheds a lot of insight into Beth Carvalho’s trajectory as an artist and musician. They flesh out the lacunas in the formation of the deity known as Beth Carvalho providing evidence of what we already knew: Beth Carvalho was born to sing roots-driven samba of the bars and botequins, backed by acoustic instruments and percussion. However, the music industry, and Beth herself, took a while to figure that out. As Beth describes in the liner notes, she felt that she was living in two parallel universes during the 60s: one in which she was surrounded by older sambistas of the velha guarda like Cartola on her excursions into Mangueira’s activities, and another where she was surrounded by her peers of her own age. Which goes far in explaining why the first disc — comprised mostly of rare singles and contributions to albums released in conjuction with the Festivals of Song that dominated Brazilian television and middle-class youth culture at the time — have Beth singing bossa nova, samba canção, jovem guarda, jazz samba, maybe a bit of música engajada.. There is plenty of good music here but it is kind of a jolt for those who are familiar with Beth as she into prominence in the next decade, even more so than the first time I heard her album “Andança.”

A time-out here to talk about some technical issues. If Discobertas is going to continue catering to the relatively specialized, restricted market of collectors who want access to precious unreleased material, rarities, and songs from festivals and TV performances that have long seemed AWOL or missing-in-aciton — they *really* need to start putting more emphasis on AUDIO QUALITY. The first two tracks on ‘Primeiras Andanças – Vol. 1’ sound like low-quality mp3s .( In fact, if you put them in any number of software applications that analyze the full-spectrum of audio frequencies, you will be given a “false positive” saying that these ARE mp3’s…) Other tracks were obviously transferred from vinyl and sound rather dubiously processed; others may have come from second or third generations of master tapes. Why all the guesswork? Because Discobertas seems to have their sites to be the Anit-Charles Gavin of reissues: they give NO information on sources, their limitations or their strengths. Gavin usually provides details like the type of equipment and software used to remaster the releases he has done or supervised. It is almost as if Discobertas just doesn’t want us to, um, *discover* these facts. Why does the song “Contraste”, from the LP “Musicanossa: O Som e o Tempo” sound like it was definitely sourced from vinyl (there are some clips and pops that anyone with a basic waveform editor could have removed, by the way..), while the next two tracks from the SAME ALBUM sound sparkling and new, as if they came from, let’s just say, the master tapes. ”

Viola Enluarada”, from the Brothers Valle, is probably the most beautiful track on this first disc and personally one of my two personal treasured surprises in the box (the other being, “A Velha Porta” on the second disc). Other highlights include the oddity of a frevo written by Arthur Verocai and Arnoldo Medeiras (‘Domingo antigo’) and the even odder “Cavaleiro Andante” a duet with Taiguara which appears to be about extra-terrestrials and/or nuclear holocaust paranoia and critiques of capitalism. This is probably the only time you will hear Beth singing lyrics as strange as

“”Atenção! Atenção! Atenção! Comunicar!
Produção, produzir, consumir, comunicar,
Construir, destruir, dominar!
Computador eletro-nuclear
Computador eletro-nuclear”

Two more diamonds are the festival-album version of the gorgeous tune “Andança” which has a different mix but sounds like essentially the same studio take as what would appear on the album a the following year, as well her singing an early Milton Nascimento/Fernando Brandt tune, “Sentinela”, taken directly from the “Andança” album. The song features Milton on acoustic guitar, but unfortunately only The Golden Boys accompanying her on vocals. I would have paid extra to hear the two of the performing this as a duet.

The tracks on the next disc continues the pattern of using material culled from a variety of singles and album cuts that were recorded for telenovelas, music festivals, radio broadcasts (like the Project Minerva radio series, which has now also been reissued by Discobertas), and some of the carnaval-season releases like the ‘Samba de Enredo’ albums that would appear every year in the 70s. On this second rarities disc, we hear things slowly evolving stylistically. Opening with some narcissistic pop music of youth celebrating itself for having discovered, um, itself, and bringing in a new age of something or other, in Taiguara’s “Geração 70”. This rather fluffy piece is followed by a truly bad-ass tune “A Velha Porta” with the female backing ensemble ‘As Gatas’. It’s also a post-jovem guarda, Tropicálista-informed pop song and probably the only time you will ever hear Beth let loose with a “oooh-whoa-whoa, hey hey hey hey…” If your not enjoying this song by the 2-minute mark, then you couldn’t find a hook in a meat locker.

“Sem Rumo e Sem Destino” is a wonderfully dreamy, psychedelic song released as a single from a film, “Memôrias de Um Gigolô.” The sweeping, hazy majesty of the tune has a lot to do with the fact that it was arranged by one Antônio Adolfo, and written by him with Tibério Gaspar (who would one day introduce Tim Maia to the Cultura Racional movement). The following tune, “Minhas Tardes de Sol” sounds like it just may have been influenced by (Sir) Paul McCartney, and thus it is needless to say that it is horrible and unlistenable fluff. We then get treated to both sides of a single recorded with Som Três and Milton Miranda at the production helm. The second of these, “Só Quero Ver,” is the most straight-up samba we have heard yet in these rarities, but stylistically Beth is very much working in the style of Elza Soares here. This is followed by a tune where she is working very much in the style of Clara Nunes – ‘Rio Grande do Sul na Festa do Rei Fôrro”with its celebration of candomblé, is a great song. From a single in 1972 (what was on the flip-side??), it bears listening to and thinking about closely and I am apt to change my opinion every time I play it (and I reserve that right!). Vocally, Beth’s voice sounds very relaxed and is taking on the style of phrasing and dynamics that would characterize her work from this point on, but the instrumentation and something about the *attitude* of the song’s execution demonstrates that she is still moving somewhat freely between the extant strains of samba and not laying claim to any particular territory yet. “A Mais Querida” — sound quality, what the FUCK has happened here — another terribly vinyl transfer. Apparently Disbortas only aquired the *rights* to the songs from Tapecar, not the tapes, which apparently gives them the RIGHT to mangle the hell out of the audio. I could teach the twelve-year old who lives two doors down the street from me, a smart kid who is pretty quick with a computer, how to restore audio from scratchy vinyl better than Discobertas has done. I could give any reader of this blog a quick, 10-step tutorial on how to clean up a record with basic practices that nobody seems to be aware of over at that label. These two songs from 1973 are pivotal and important in Beth’s career, coming right around the time of her first LP in this style. Too bad they sound like total shit. The following songs, from Carnaval-season compilations, are all wonderful, and totally dominated by “Meu Perdão” written by her mentor and spiritual father, Nelson Cavaquinho. The last two tracks are interesting as anomalies, with Beth well into her “Queen of the Samba Revival” stage but choosing to cover two classics associated with Portela stalwart, Paulinho da Viola ‘Rosa de Ouro” and “Foi um rio que passou em minha vida”. Both taken at a quick tempo, they are from the Radio Minerva sessions, which up until this year of 2011 have only been available on their original vinyl releases. Let me tell you as a collector — these albums are not *that* difficult or impossible to find if you are willing to spend a modest amount of money: WHY THEN, do these two tracks sound like they taken from a beaten-up copy found in the engineer’s closet?? For fuck’s sake, if you are going to go through the trouble to undertake a project like this – take your time, and do it right.

In a musical marketplace where a lot of bullshit career-boxsets have been released on major labels in Brazil, ones that only present the main albums by an artist (most of them already available to some degree) with no rarities included, this simple, focused box by Discobertas is a breath of fresh air. By and large it is worth every penny on account of the rarities included, the liner notes, sharp graphic design and presentation. However (not to keep flogging a dead horse) its weak point is the audio quality, especially on the rarities but also on the main LPs. A newspaper review I read claimed this box is an improvement to the original vinyl which (according to his unnamed source) had the low frequencies tapered off. I think that reviewer either needs to buy a different turntable that produces low frequencies better, or perhaps pick up other copies of the original LPs. Tapecar’s problem was most definitely NOT one of mixing or mastering – all of the studio albums I have from them sound fine, even great — but perhaps of *consistency* and quality-control in the pressing of vinyl records. Petroleum shortfalls and the oil crises were making themselves felt as Tapecar got going, and if this critique about inconsistent quality applies to the huge labels that had dominated the Brazilian record industry for decades (Odeon, Philips) and were now putting out an inferior product than a decade earlier, then such a critique would be even more applicable to small label like Tapecar. I have multiple copies of some of Beth’s LPs on both Tapecar and RCA — and some of them just sound better than others. Buying Brazilian vinyl from the 1970s is a crapshoot – you may find a disc from 1974 that appears practically brand new, only to take it home and be greeted by all manner of awful noise, extreme warps in the vinyl, or other annoyances. Whereas you can pick up a visually scratched and played-to-death Wilson Simonal album from 1965 and it will play *perfectly*. So for people who don’t have the patience for vinyl, sure – this collection is a blessing. But it does not necessarily sound “better” than the original releases. And the dubious, frequency-shedding “restoration” applied to the two rarities discs, specifically the material obviously sourced from vinyl, is enough evidence for me to say that I will definitely NOT be shelling out the cash for Discobertas reissue of the Project Minverva radio albums. The price is too high, and (if the tracks included here and on the Elza Soares reissues are any example) the quality too poor, to warrant it. Which is sad, because that radio program is important to Brazil’s cultural patrimony and deserves to be heard. I haven’t yet heard anything from the Ed Lincoln box, and until I get an opinion from a source I trust about such things, I’ll stick with the vinyl for him as well. If all this commentary smacks of overwrought ambiguity, then I’d like to ask the reader how they might evaluate a release that is doing both a great service AND a great disservice to the music fan / researcher / historian / obsessive-compulsive or wherever category you might fit into. Because this box was released with these rarities, there is very little chance that these rarities will see a RE-release any time soon. Therefore, we will have to live with the sub-par “restoration” applied to these songs for probably the next decade at the very least. And then of course, if this box had NOT been released, then very very few people would hear this music at all, since I would probably have to sell a kidney to track down all of the material scattered across the two rarities albums. (I should mention that my kidney’s have seen a lot of abuse and aren’t actually worth all that much, so we’re not talking about tons of cash. Just more than I have access to at the moment).

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in MIRROR 2 — Part 1 /// Part 2

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João do Vale – MPB Especial 1973

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A MÚSICA BRASILEIRA DESTE SÉCULO POR SEUS AUTORES E INTÉRPRETES
João do Vale – MPB Especial 1973
Released 2000 SESC – SP (JCB-0709-023)

1 O canto da ema
(Alventino Cavalcante, Ayres Viana, João do Vale)
2 É de dois, dois
(Jesus Santana, João do Vale)
3 Algodão
(Luiz Gonzaga, Zé Dantas)
4 Minha história
(Raymundo Evangelista, João do Vale)
5 Cesário Pinto
(Zé Gonzaga)
6 Estrela miúda
(Luiz Vieira, João do Vale)
7 Maria Filó (o danado do trem)
(Luiz Vieira, João do Vale)
8 Sanharó-Tambo
(Luiz Guimarães, João do Vale)
9 Segredo do sertanejo (Uricuri)
(José Cândido, João do Vale)
10 Quatro fia feme
(Ary Monteiro, João do Vale)
11 Peba na pimenta
(Adelino Rivera, José Batista, João do Vale)
12 Pisa na fulô
(Silveira Júnior, Ernesto Pires, João do Vale)
13 Sina de caboclo
(J.B. de Aquino, João do Vale)
14 Filho de peixe, peixinho é
(Ernesto Pires, João do Vale)
15 A voz do povo
(Luiz Vieira, João do Vale)
16 Lavadeira e o lavrador
(João do Vale)
17 Orós II
(Oséas Lopes, João do Vale)
18 Carcará
(José Cândido, João do Vale)

This is for the FANS, man. Actually the disc is both priceless and also a disappointment: João do Vale, like many people featured on the MPB Especial and Ensaio programs, was more of a composer than a recording artist — aside from the album “Opinão” with Nara Leão and Zé Keti, I am only aware of one other album under his own name, recorded in the 1980s, which as I recall is only so-so. Thus, when seeing that this program existed it was one of those eye-popping moments of ‘Oh wow, I gotta hear this’… The review below in Portuguese pretty much says everything I would have said, so I just translated for you below. (By the way, I think it is really cool that Clique Music happens to have reviews of so many of the volumes in this collection…). The only thing I would add to it is that it’s “relaxed” quality is perhaps understated – the musical portions of it come across as totally imprompto and unrehearsed, as if João eschewed any notion of preparing beforehand and just came into the studio expecting the musicians to keep up. Eduardo Gudin was sort of a house musician for this program, and there are several cases where João begins singing a capella and Gudin and percussionist Carlinhos come in slowly as the song goes on, as if they are picking up the chord progression and rhythm just by listening and following along.

———review in Portuguese found at Clique Music —————-

Dorival Caymmi disse certa vez que a música de João do Vale tinha cheiro de barro, um traço selvagem e autêntico, qualidades só encontradas em compositores genuinamente populares como ele próprio. No Programa MPB Especial (Ensaio), reproduzido nesta coleção Sesc São Paulo, João do Vale nunca esteve tão relaxado e próximo da definição traçada pelo velho Caymmi. Normalmente tímido (tinha de tomar generosas doses de cachaça para se soltar nos shows), o compositor maranhense desfila com desenvoltura um repertório de clássicos, dos forrós erotizados O Canto da Ema e Pisa na Fulô a canções de protesto, caso de Sina de Caboclo, Segredo do Sertanejo (Uricuri) e Carcará, seu maior sucesso, eternizado na voz de Maria Bethânia. Faltaram grandes canções, como Na Asa do Vento e Pé do Lageiro, e um acordeão para acompanhar o violão de Eduardo Gudin e a percussão de Carlinhos. Afinal, forrós como Pisa na Fulô e O Canto da Ema sem sanfona é a mesma coisa que João Gilberto sem violão ou Jimi Hendrix sem guitarra. Mas isso não tira o brilho do disco. Só as histórias contadas por João já valem o programa. O compositor lembra que foi trabalhar como ajudante de pedreiro no Rio de Janeiro na mesma época em que Marlene estourou nas rádios com uma canção sua, Estrela Miúda. Enquanto colocava massa entre os tijolos, ouvia a música ser tocada nas rádios de toda a vizinhança. Um dia, não resistiu e resolveu contar aos companheiros de obra que o autor daquele sucesso era ninguém menos que ele mesmo. Recebeu um olhar torto da turma e ainda foi ridicularizado: “Conversa, neguinho, tu tá delirando. Coloca mais massa aí sô!” (Tom Cardoso)

—————-
translation:
Dorival Caymmi once said that the music of João do Vale had the scent of clay, a trace of the untamed and the authentic, qualities encountered only in genuinely “popular” composers like him. In the Programa MPB Especial (Ensaio) reproduced in this SESC São Paulo collection, João do Vale was never as relaxed or closer to the definition outlined by the old Caymmi. Normally shy (he had to drink generous shots of cachaça in order to get out on stage), the composer from Maranhão proudly displays a repertoire of classics, of sexy forró like “O Canto de Ema” and “Pisa na Fulô” to protest songs such as “Sina de Caboclo”, “Segredo do Sertanejo (Uricuri)” and “Carcará”, his biggest hit immortalized in the voice of Maria Bethânia. The program lacks some major songs, like “Na Asa do Vento” and “Pé do Lageiro”, as well as an accordion to accompany the acoustic guitar of Eduardo Gudin and the percussion of Carlinhos. In the end, hearing forrós like “Pisa na Fulô” and “O Canto da Ema” without sanfona / accordion is the same thing as João Gilberto or Jimi Hendrix without guitars. But this doesn’t detract from the allure of the disc. Just the stories alone told by João make the program worth it. The composer recalls going to work as an assistant bricklayer in Rio de Janeiro around the same time that Marlene exploded on the radios with his song “Estrela Miúda.” While spreading mortar between the bricks, he heard the song being played on radios all around the neighborhood. One day, he couldn’t resist any longer and decided to tell his work mates that the author of that hit song was none other than himself. He received disbelieving, sidelong glances from the bunch of them and was ridiculed: “Bullshit, neguinho, you’re delirious. Bring more cement over here, already!…” (Tom Cardoso, translated by Ameribucano, Flabbergast)

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