Sidney Miller – Línguas de Fogo (1974)

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LÍNGUAS DE FOGO
Sidney Miller
1974 Som Livre 403.6037
Reissued 2005 under direction of Charles Gavin
Remastered by Luigi Hoffer

1 Cicatrizes
2 Um dia qualquer
3 Línguas de fogo
4 Dos anjos
5 Alô
6 Pala palavra
7 No quarto das moças
8 Sombrasileiro
9 Espera
10 Alento
11 Dois toques

This record is as compelling and enigmatic as Sidney Miller himself. The only other thing I have by him is one song a soundtrack record for the 3rd Festival da Músical Popular Brasileira from 1967, in which he sings his “A Estrada e o Violeiro” with Nara Leão, a song for which he won an award for the lyrics. Miller was somewhat set up to be “the next Chico Buarque”, with his compositions being lauded by the likes of Nara who recorded a ton of his songs on her “Vento de Maio” (1967) album. Miller would release his own album on Elenco that year on the strength of the single “A Estrada e o Violeiro”. That album is something of a rarity to track down, but not as hard as his second LP, the quasi-Tropicalista-post-bossa-nova album “Do Guarani ao Guaraná” which had some heavy friends on it like Paulinho da Viola and Jards Macalé. Released in `68, that would be his last album for the next six years. He would spend the following years doing some arranging for Nara Leão’s famous (and also famously rare) “Coisas do Mundo” album, and composing for theatre and cinema, some songs of which became hits on Trilhas Sonoras (soundtracks) to telenovelas. And then in 1974, he puts out this completely weird album.

The record is dreamy, hazy, psychedlicized, progressive MPB that evokes early Lô Borges, or Beto Guedes, or the first Nelson Angelo/Joyce album. In fact it sounds like a ‘lost’ album from the whle Mineiro bunch surrounding the Clube de Esquina, but is actually out on a whole other trip once you start listening closer. The arrangements are all great, balancing his relaxed, almost sedated vocal lines against taught double-tracked flute harmonies or funky electric piano or keyboards or fuzzy electric guitars that sometimes sound like it was plugged straight into the mixing board and using the input as an overdrive. His voice is gorgeous, and while his lyrics may not be as Buarqueian as some of his earliest champions may have been hoping for, they are sophisticated, resonant, and beguiling. This album is very deserving of that tag of “lost masterpiece” that gets thrown around a little too freely these days. Because this really is an exceptional work of music supported by great audio mixing, smart lyrics, and solid experimental folk-rock arrangements that occasionally goes off on some crazy guitar jams. I love everything on this album with the exception of ‘Dos anjos’.

This was the last album Sidney Miller would ever make. He worked for the arts foundation known as FUNARTE for a few years, had plans to make another record, but died at the age of 30 from an apparent cardiac arrest. Rumors were that he had committed suicide. Not sure what to make of that. The melancholic beauty here is stunning, and hints at a soul that had a lot more to say to us.

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Nara Leão, Zé Keti, João do Vale – Show Opinão (1965)

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Show Opinão Nara Leão, Zé Keti, João do Vale
Recorded August 23, 1965 at Teatro Arena in Rio de Janeiro.
Released as Philips 632.775 in 1965 CD Reissue, 2002

Musical director: Dorival Caymmi Filho
Theatrical director: Augusto Boal

Band:
Dorival Caymmi – guitar
Franciso Araújo – drums
Carlos Guimarães – flute
Iko Casto Neves – bass
Bruno Ferreira, Ângela Menezes, Vânia Ferreira, Ângela Santa Rosa – vocal chorus

Audio engineer: Jorge Cardoso
Produced by Oduvaldo Viana Filho, Paulo Pontes e Pichinpla

Today marks the anniversary of Nara Leão’s death in 1989, when she left this world far too early due to a brain tumor, only 47 years old.

This year would also have been the 15th anniversary of our marriage, had she been alive to accept the love letters and propositions I was making to her, unaware that she had passed away. She seemed to have been everything I want in a woman – intelligent, politically engaged, breathtakingly beautiful, and from a wealthy family thereby eliminating my need to work for a living.

This album was recorded on the closing night of the original run of the “Opinão” theatrical production, which would go into a second run with Maria Bethânia taking Nara’s place. A combination of factors – her distancing herself from the bossa nova circle after Ronaldo Boscoli had an affair with Maysa without even the minor courtesy of discretion; her increasing preoccupation with the dire sociopolitical climate of Brazil, her interest in samba, and her marriage to cineaste Ruy Guerra – had led Nara Leão to changing her musical orientation rather quickly after becoming a star. Within a year of her first album release she was throwing in her lot with Carlos Lyra and others more involved with arts of the engajada (engaged) sort that had been evolving alongside initiatives from groups like the CPC in Rio (Centro Popular de Cultura) and MCP in Recife (Movimento Cultura Popular). The idea of bringing the arts “to the people” by staging performances in factories was actually rather elitist in its vanguardism, but its premise of breaking down the barriers between students, workers, and artists isn’t a bad one. This was the climate in which some interesting work emerged alongside the stuff that played out like tedious political tracts. “Opinão” seems to be one of the more creative attempts at synthesizing politics, music, and theatre. It took place in that curious period between March 31, 1964 when the military dictatorship began and 1968 when the decrees of Institutional Act No.5 severely restricted civil, political, and artistic liberties. For that brief period, social critiques like “Opinão” were still able to find a platform and in fact become a phenomenon playing to sold-out theatres. By the early 1970s, such a scenario would be almost unimaginable.

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The liner notes claim that the recording is not an attempt to translate the theatrical production of Opinão to the medium of a phonograph recording but rather a “condensation of the spectacle” made to communicate something about it in an authentic manner. The listener will note the immediate difference this makes to an approach like the dry, humorless P.U.C. / João Cabral de Melo Neto / Chico Buarque collaboration posted last week at Flabbergasted Vibes. Even without the benefit of the staging or sets, you get an idea of what Opinão was all about. And there was quite a lot of fooling around and satire going on as well. Your mileage may vary on this..

Snatches of songs that were part of Cinema Novo films by Nelson Perreira dos Santos and Glauber Rocha appear alongside songs by Vinicius de Moraes and Carlos Lyra, and of course compositions from Zé Keti and João do Vale. The version of “Carcará” on here may be the best I’ve heard, much better than Maria Bethania’s interpretation when she took over the role. And one surprise treat is the inclusion of the Cuban song “Guantanamera” here, which had just been a huge hit a few years earlier both in Cuba and Brazil. Apparently there is some Pete Seeger mixed into the lyrics somewhere on this interpretation although my throbbing headache today has kept me from figuring it all out. The band is recorded so well on this album that I have my doubts whether or not the songs were actually recorded live (my guess is they were not, and that the dialogs were edited in between studio takes). Whatever the case, this album is a historical and musical treasure and something of a rarity these days. Hope you enjoy it.

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Nara Leão, Zé Keti, João do Vale – Show Opinão (1965)

Nara Leão, Zé Keti, João do Vale – Show Opinão (1965)in FLAC LOSSLESS AUDIO

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Nara Leão – O Canto Livre de Nara (1965)

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nara leao

NARA LEÃO
O Canto Livre de Nara
1965, Philips #632.748
CD reissue, 2002 Japan release (courtesy of Kung)

Nara Leão was a very busy woman in the 1960s. After all it is not easy being The Muse of Bossa Nova. By 1965, however, she was broadening the scope of her work to incorporate “musica engajada,” a type of protest folk music that was gaining momentum in the wake of the 1964 military coup and the dictatorship that followed and would endure for twenty years. The first song, Corisco, is from the film Deus e Diabo na Terra do Sol released the previous year, a film directed by Glauber Rocha, who co-wrote the song.. Probably the pinnacle of the Cinema Novo movement, and certainly its best-known offering, this song would have been an immediate cultural reference point to the students, artists, and intellectuals that were following Cinema Novo. The song was the main theme for the character of the same name, a lieutenant of the bandit Lampião. Lampião has honorary status as Brazil’s equivalent of Robin Hood, a bit of a hyperbolic comparison since Lampião wasn’t quite as discriminating in, um, dispensation of vigilante justice. In fact he was as feared by the rural poor as he was by the wealthy landowners of the northeast Brazilian backlands, and it was only during and after the Brazilian military pursued and hunted his gang that he became an icon of peasant resistance. Brazil had just changed from being a monarchy to a Republican government. For a variety of complicated reasons – including the fact that the monarchy ended slavery in Brazil (the last place in the Western Hemisphere to do so) as one of its last official acts – the fall of the monarchy was not quite the occasion to celebrate that one might imagine. In fact there was a growing sense among the rural poor that they were getting a raw deal, and the early years of the Republic saw an efflorescence of various kinds of protest, unrest, revolts, millenarian movements… Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol deals with all of this, including a direct reference to the “colony” of Canudos led by messianic itinerant preacher Antônio Conselheiro, a place which promised redemption to thousands of rural poor seeking a release from the stranglehold of sharecropping and other types of tenant arrangements left in the wake of slavery. Canudos grew to somewhere in the area of 35,000 people, and concerned the new government enough for them to send the military to put a stop to it — which, eventually and after several attempts where the army was embarrassingly beaten back — they eventually did. With a bloody and brutal massacre which became an emblem of the “order and progress” that was, no matter how you want to analyze it, built upon the blood, sweat, and brutality of a slavocratic system.

Why is this important to a Nara Leão album in 1965? Because the story of Canudos is known by all Brazilians. It is part of the curriculum of the school system. Euclides da Cunha immortalized it in his book Os Sertões, an instant classic that went into numerous reprintings almost immediately and was translated into English by the 1940s. The story of Lampião, his lover Maria Bonita, and their band of merry madmen is equally party of the cultural fabric. When Glauber Rocha made these two scenarios a central part of a film released in 1964, he was doing so for a reason. I am no film scholar, but his lens captures visually and narrates both the optimism for change and the anguish of seeing it thwarted. Repeatedly. Cyclically. In Rocha’s narrative, the cattle rustler Manuel is done wrong and taken advantage one time too many by a wealthy ‘coronel’ or rural boss, and he murders him during a fight over his pay. He flees with his wife to the “Holy Mountain”, the analog of Canudos mentioned above. That, well.. that doesn’t work out so well either, and he ends up seeking refuge once more, this time with what is left of Lampião’s band, now led by his lieutenant, the rather ill-tempered and erratic Corisco (also an actual historic figure). The song that follows Corisco’s character throughout the film is an unfolding variation on one musical theme, really. Also titled elsewhere, “Perseguição” (Persecution), the lyrics alternate between a coronel’s command to “deliver Corisco” to answer for his crimes and a peasant’s refusal to do so. The song contains the memorable lines of prophecy, repeated elsewhere in all manner of songs, films, books — “O sertão vai vira o mar, e o mar vai vira sertão” — The desert will turn into the sea, and the sea will turn to desert.

Nara Leão was not randomly choosing this song to open up her album. She had thrown in her lot with the “música engajada” crowd, best typified in the work of Geraldo Vandré, Zé Keti and João do Vale. She had participated in a show with Keti and João do Vale that was also released on record in 196, and their material dominates this record. This new protest music was drawing on the musical traditions of forró, xote, and baião. Deeply northeastern in melodic and rhythmic structure, and alongside the rather long ‘Fisherman’s Suite’ of Dorival Caymmi, the inclusion of this material in Nara Leão’s repertoire makes it pretty clear that we are no longer solely dealing with the beaches of Ipanema and Leblon here. The final song is an anonymously authored tune in the public domain, a song sung by holy men and women in the northeast who would make their livelihood from praying day and night , which Nara mixes with a stanza from the modernist-yet-archetypically-Northeastern poet João Cabral de Melo Netto.

Don’t believe me? The liner notes from Ferreira Gullar write of Nara consciously pursuing and deepening the road she had set out on with her ‘Opinão’ album, of augmenting her role as a singer with that of interpreting “the problems and aspirations of her people.” He writes of Nara wanting to use her voice to “bring… to the largest possible number of people, a contemporary undrestanding of the Brazilian reality, that she feels and identifies in the compositions of Caymmi, of João do Vola, of Zé Keti, of Edu Lobo, of Vinicius and of many others.” According to Gullar, Nara was interested in communicating through song a form of discussion, of dialog with a public. In 1965, the dreams of the post-Kubitschek Brazilian left for a more just society had not yet faded. Both the ideas of “dialog” and even of “a public” to have it with still seemed plausible.

“To sing of love and of life, the love that belongs to all as life does. To sing of solidarity, of peace, and of liberty. Nara discovered that it is possible and it is necessary to make into a reality the idea that all men are equal and that, as a singer, she can contribute to this. And Nara contributes to this as much when she sings of the suffering of the landless peasant, as when she interprets an old samba love-song. Because, to bring together these themes seemingly so different, she teaches us, in the knowledge of her youth, that love, peace, labor, and liberty are synonymous with life.”

Oh, and the music? Yes, well, that is pretty damn good too. The populist vanguardisms are tempered by lean ensemble work, laying out a jazz groove for Nara to carry on her work of conscientização. The band is led by the ubiquitous Luiz Eça, best known for being at the heart of the Tamba Trio. Also helping out with musical coordination is Dori Caymmi. The lineup looks like this:

Luiz Eça – piano
Bass – Bebeto
Drums – Ohana
Flute – Bebeto
Guitar – Dor
i Caymmi
Backing vocals – Peter and his voice orchestra…

Nara Leão – O Canto Livre de Nara (1965)
in 320 kbs
in FLAC LOSSLESS

Nara Leão, Chico Buarque, Maria Bethania – Quando o Carnaval Chegar (1972)

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Nara Leão, Chico Buarque, and Maria Bethania
“Quando o Carnaval Chegar”
Original film soundtrack
released in 1972
This pressing Universal/Mercury 04228264112

1 Mambembe (Instrumental)
(Chico Buarque)

2 Baioque (Chico Buarque)
Interpretação: Maria Bethânia

3 Caçada (Chico Buarque)
Interpretação: Chico Buarque

4 Mais uma estrela

(Bonfiglio de Oliveira – Herivelto Martins)
Interpretação: Nara Leão

5 Quando o carnaval chegar (Chico Buarque)
Interpretação: Chico Buarque

6 Minha embaixada chegou (Assis Valente)
Interpretação: Maria Bethânia / Nara Leão

7 Soneto (Instrumental)
(Chico Buarque)

8 Mambembe (Chico Buarque)
Interpretação: Chico Buarque

9 Soneto (Chico Buarque)
Interpretação: Nara Leão

10 Partido alto
(Chico Buarque)
Interpretação: MPB-4

11 Bom conselho (Chico Buarque)
Interpretação: Maria Bethânia

12 Frevo (Tom Jobim – Vinicius de Moraes)
Interpretação: Chico Buarque

13 Formosa
(J.Rui – Nássara)
Interpretação: Maria Bethânia / Nara Leão

14 Cantores de rádio (Alberto Ribeiro – João de Barro – Lamartine Babo)
Interpretação: Chico Buarque / Maria Bethânia / Nara Leão

Film Credits

Ficha Técnica:
Título Original: Quando o Carnaval Chegar
Gênero: Musical
Duração: 98 min.
Lançamento (Brasil): 1972
Distribuição: Livio Bruni
Direção: Cacá Diegues
Roteiro: Cacá Diegues, Hugo Carvana e Chico Buarque
Produção: Cacá Diegues, Zelito Viana e Mapa Filmes
Música: Chico Buarque
Fotografia: Dib Lutfi
Figurino: Fernando Bede
Edição: Eduardo Escorel

Elenco:
Chico Buarque de Hollanda (Paulo)
Nara Leão (Mimi)
Maria Bethânia (Rosa)
Hugo Carvana (Lourival)
Antonio Pitanga (Cuíca)
Ana Maria Magalhães (Virgínia)
José Lewgoy (Anjo)
Elke Maravilha
Wilson Grey
Luiz Alves
Odete Lara
Vera Manhães
Scarlet Moon
Joaquim Mota
Zeni Pereira
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I don’t know much about this film, or the involvement of Nara, Chico, and Maria in it. I do know that Nara Leão was married to Carlos Diegues during this time. They all acted it in, and there were appearances by other notables like Odette Lara. Chico is credited with helping out on the script (he’s a renowned novelist too at this point, for those who don’t know). In fact this is essentially a Chico Buarque record. It contains other material released elsewhere. Particularly noteworthy is the unbelievably catchy “Partido Alto” which is the stand-out track for me, the one that sticks in your memory. Performed by the group MPB-4, it was in fact written by Buarque.

I did, however, find this synopsis of the film:
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O empresário de um grupo de cantores sem sucesso, lhes consegue um contrato para que se apresentem em homenagem a um rei que chegará à cidade para o Carnaval. Discussões internas, romances inesperados e defecções impedem que o espetáculo se realize. Mas os artistas voltam a se juntar, apresentando-se em shows mambembes.

Flabber translation:

The manager of a group of unsuccessful singers secures a contract for them to present a show in homage to a king when he arrives to the city for Carnaval. Internal debates, unexpected romances, dissent and defections impede the realization of the show. But the artists come together and join as one, and put on spectacular minstrel shows.

————————————————————————————-

Hmmm…. Haven’t seen this film, but it sounds like it belongs to a long tradition of films with great soundtracks (Superfly, The Harder They Come, Shaft, any Quinten Tarantino film): the music is the high point, and perhaps the only reason to see it.. I could be wrong though, maybe someone who has seen it can correct me. But one thing is certain, it seems like they were having a good time on the set…

Meet Chico Buarque, international man of letters…
chico dude

*Flabbergasted Vibes does not condone the use of illicit mind-altering substances.

Nara, Chico, and Maria – Quando o Carnaval Chegar (1972) in 320kbs

Nara, Chico and Maria – Quando o Carnaval Chegar (1972) in FLAC LOSSLESS AUDIO

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