Nara Leão – Dez Anos Depois (1971)

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Nara Leão
Dez Anos Depois
Released 1971
This edition, Japanese SHM mastering

Recorded in Paris and Rio de Janeiro

LP 1

1. Insensatez (Tom Jobim e Vinícius de Moraes)
2. Samba de uma nota só (Tom jobim e Newton Mendonça)
3. Retrato em branco e preto (Tom Jobim e Chico Buarque)
4. Corcovado (Tom Jobim)
5. Garota de Ipanema (Tom Jobim e Vinícius de Moraes)
6. Pois é (Tom Jobim e Chico Buarque)
7. Chega de Saudade (Tom Jobim e Vinícius de Moraes)
8. Bonita (Tom Jobim e Ray Gilbert)
9. Você e eu (Carlos Lyra e Vinícius de Moares)
10. Fotografia (Tom Jobim)
11. O grande amor (Tom Jobim e Vinícius de Moraes)
12. Estrada do sol (Tom Jobim e Dolores Duran)

LP 2

1. Por toda minha vida (Tom Jobim e Vinícius de Moraes)
2. Desafinado (Tom jobim e Newton Mendonça)
3. Minha namorada (Carlos Lyra e Vinícius de Moraes)
4. Rapaz de bem (Jony Alf)
5. Vou por aí (Baden Powell e Aloysio de Oliveira)
6. O amor em paz (Tom Jobim e Vinícius de Moraes)
7. Sábia (Tom Jobim e Chico Buarque)
8. Meditação (Tom Jobim e Newton Mendonça)
9. Primavera (Carlos Lyra e Vinícius de Moraes)
10. Este seu olhar (Tom Jobim)
11. Outra vez (Tom Jobim)
12. Demais (Tom Jobim e Aloysio de Olieveira)

I was listening to the radio the other day and caught the second half of an interview with the daughter of Nara Leão who was there to talk about Nara’s new revamped website and other subjects. She briefly mentioned this album, and how her mother had used it as a way to revisit her formative musical years as “the muse of bossa nova”, in the time before she became estranged from that crowd, a process which included switching record labels, hanging out more and more at the Zicartola club, and favoring protest music while accusing bossa nova of idle romanticism and middle-class alienation. By 1970 she was living in France and shortly about to retire from the music business almost entirely: she opted to spend most of the seventies raising her children, and earning her PhD in psychology (!!). So this album is kind of a sweet swan song, a double album overflowing with the canonical bossa nova repertoire presented in tastefully spare arrangements. The first of the two LPs is entirely acoustic, while the second LP brings in the arrangers Roberto Menescal (her first guitar instructor along with Carlos Lyra, incidentally), Luis Eça, and Rogério Duprat, who add orchestration and occasionally rhythm parts.

Nara wouldn’t record again for another five years, and that album (Meu Primeiro Amor, 1975) would steer clear of bossa nova and revel in songs and songwriters from earlier eras. She didn’t tour or play live during this period, but decided to jump back into the show business racket with both feet in 1977 after she learned that she was suffering from a malignant brain cancer.

The first time I heard this album I felt there was something distant, disembodied, or disconnected about some of it, as if Nara was looking back on the decade that had just passed from a long distance provided by the reflective insights of maturity. Well it wasn’t until looking at the credits that I understood that there was in fact an issue of distance at work, at least through the second half of it: not just because Nara was recorded in France, but because everything ELSE was recorded in Rio. That is to say, Nara’s guitar and vocal were tracked separately from the accompaniment and orchestrations, which were done at a studio in Rio. The exception to this is the second acoustic guitar provided by “special guest” Tuca – who I believe was also living in Paris at the time and recording with people like Françoise Hardy. So my imagining of the process is like this – Nara and Tuca go into Polydor, France, to be recorded by the mysterious “Mr.Bonzon” listed on the album jacket, then the tapes are flown to Rio where the songs used on the second LP are sweetened with arrangements by Menescal, Eça, and Rogério Duprat. Rogério gives us two memorable tracks in his best baroque embellishment (and both featuring harpsichord), “Minha namorada” and “Primavera.” While there is nothing to complain about with these arrangements from such talented company, I confess a predilection for the unadorned simplicity of the first half of the set. Just two acoustic guitars, the occasional stray piano line, and Nara’s alluring voice. Oh, and a blast of annoying bongos thrown in there on one track that shall remain a surprise for you.

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Trio Mocotó – Trio Mocotó (1973)

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Trio Mocotó
Released 1973 on RGE

Fritz Escovão (Luís Carlos de Souza)- cuíca and vocals), Nereu Gargalo (Nereu São José)- pandeiro and vocals) e João Paraíba (João Carlos Fagundes Gomes) drums and vocals

with Amilson Godoi (piano), Olmir Stocker (guitar), Itiberê (bass), and Bira (percussion)

Arrangements and orchestration by Rogérgio Duprat, Sérgio Carvalho, João Carlos Pegoraro, Waldemiro Lemke

SIDE ONE
01. Desapareça, Vá, Desapareça
02. Nó na Garganta
03. Vem Cá, Meu Bem, Vem Cá
04. Recordar
05. Não Vá embora
06. Desculpe

SIDE TWO
07. Maior é Deus
08. Samba da Preguiça
09. Palomares
10. Swinga Sambaby
11. Tô Por Fora da Jogada
12. Gotas da Chuva na Minha Boca


Feeling hungry? Help yourself to a steaming plate of mocotó. Trio Mocotó to be precise. These guys are more famous for being the percussion section underpinning some of Jorge Ben’s greatest records than they are for their own material. And it’s easy to understand that – as good as this album is, their original tunes are rather lackluster and their flat, boring vocals would have made them very popular with the hipster crowd in present-day Olinda or Recife. Which is my way of saying that their vocals are bloody awful and rather irritating (with the exception of Não Vá Embora and Palomares). Trio Mocotó excels at creating a groove, but without a musically-charismatic frontman like Jorge Ben to lead them, their stuff can feel a little uninspired. But this is still essential listening for anyone interested in the samba-soul, samba-rock scene of the mid-70s and has some wonderful moments. As you can see from the album credits, there were a TON of arrangers working on this album; Unfortunately their credits are not specified as to which songs were arranged by whom, but I am willing to guess that Rogério Duprat arranged “Nó na garganta” and possibly “Palomares.” The latter tune is easily the high point of the record — Once you make it through the chord changes of the first verse, you may say to yourself, “boy these guys really took a page from the Jorge Ben textbook of songwriting”, until you look at the album credits and see that it IS actually a Jorge Ben song. Kind of a throwaway tune, as he had songs to spare. He would end up recording it himself sometime in the 90s. Get this album just for this tune, if nothing else, and you will find the rest of the songs growing on you after a while. Other strong cuts here http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifinclude ‘Maior é Deus’ (NOT the Paulo César Pinheiro tune, by the way), the mellow sentimentality of ‘Recordar’, and Ben-like “Swinga Sambaby”, and the propulsive opener, ‘Desapareça’, which features nice Hammond B3 as well as an uncredited saxophone solo. It’s a very short solo, perhaps they just grabbed a sax player from the corridor of the recording studio and asked him to play a few bars and forgot to ask his name when they payed him.. If you are like me and find Burt Bacharach-Hal David songs to be cloying potential suicide-triggers, don’t even THINK about listening to the final song, the ridiculous closer “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Cuica.”

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Arnaldo Baptista – Loki? (1974)

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1 Será que eu vou virar bolor?
2 Uma pessoa só (Mutantes)
3 Não estou nem aí
4 Vou me afundar na lingerie
5 Honky tonky (Patrulha do Espaço)
6 Cê tá pensando que eu sou loki?
7 Desculpe
8 Navegar de novo
9 Te amo podes crer
10 É fácil

All songs by Arnaldo Baptista except “Uma pessoa só” by Mutantes.

Recording in 16-tracks at Eldorado Studio (SP)
Produced by: Menescal/Mazola
Audio technician: Marcus Vinicius
Album cover by Aldo Luis, photo by Leila

Featuring: Dinho, Liminha, Rogério Duprat, Rita Lee, Rafa, and Arnaldo Baptista

The world of popular music is full of mythic figures whose eccentric reputations unfairly obscure and overshadow their actual contributions. Arnaldo Baptista is one such figure. In my younger days when I had just discovered them and was gripped by Os Mutantes “fever” (Mutant Mania?), I sought out this record with high expectations, knowing only that it was Arnaldo’s “nervous breakdown album” after which he took a long, um, “rest” and a break from the public eye. I admit I was slightly put off by the fugly album jacket design but I kept hope alive.

I brought it home full of eagerness, put it on the stereo expecting “The Madcap Laughs” and instead I got “The Madman Across the Water.” This is not a slam or a dis, as I will defend early Elton John and challenge anyone who wants to argue about it to a duel. Not a duel to the death with pistols or sabres, mind you, but maybe with a fencing foil. But still, Sir Elton doesn’t even rank in the realm of ‘loony’ tortured souls. So I was rather shocked to find myself listening to a subdued album of piano-driven rock music (hell, there isn’t any guitar on the whole record until the very end), rather than the Brazilian equivalent of “Oar,” “Easter Everywhere” or the aforementioned “Madcap.” What “Loki?” offers us is a piece of reflective pop music, a fragmented narrative of a life in the midst of post-psychedelic fragmentation of identity and doubt, of struggling with the ambiguities of celebrity and modernity, a “concept album” whose concept continually eludes the listener. For sure, the album is peppered with oddball, beguiling lyrics in praise of fruits and vegetables (“xuxu beleza, tomate maravilha”), lingerie, or an unexplained aversion to Alice Cooper, and his vocal delivery occasionally bursts into an odd Screamin’ Jay Hawkins warble, but for the most part Baptista’s stream-of-consciousness tales bring us a mix of the quotidian and the transcendent moments that made up a life lived to the limits of mental, spiritual, and physical exhaustion. For my money Baptista was the driving force behind Mutantes — I have never been terribly impressed with Rita Lee’s solo work, even the first two albums that Baptista produced. For me, those records are listenable largely by way of Arnaldo’s involvement; In fact her record “Hoje é o primeiro dia do resto da sua vida” is sort of a counterpart to this one.

But “Loki?” is far more tranquil and pensive; it’s occasional prog-rock flourishes never become cloying or annoying. Some of the songs flow one into the other in true rock-opera fashion. Mileage may vary, however, for the non-Portuguese speaker, as the music here is very much driven by the lyrics. Some of the tunes are self-referential to themselves; in other words, conjuring phrases and images already dealt with in other places on the album. I particular love his occasional use of an English lyric thrown in seemingly at random that matches perfectly the rest of what is going on musically and discursively. There are metaphysical musings – We are all one and the same person, I am the Alpha and Omega, and so on. “Uma Pessoa Só” is graced by the lush arrangements of Rogério Duprat, cradling Baptista’s explorations into the inner cosmos. And then there are moments of raw, confessional tenderness and intimacy — “Desculpe” and “Te amo podes crer” are both too plaintive and profound, too human and eternal, to suffer any hackneyed translations at my hands. My favorite song in the whole bunch is “Navegar de novo” which mixes reminiscence of going to the cinema with his girl, lamenting that the car he bought six months ago is already out of fashion, the tough impersonality of São Paulo; with musings about humanity, the speed of light, the conquest of space, of Brazil as being still a child, and, um, urban planning (I think..) Rita Lee sings backup on “Não estou nem aí.” The album ends with two minutes of an open-tuning 12-string solo guitar piece whose only lyrics, “I love myself like I love you. It’s easy. It’s easy,” his hushed voice mixed into the left channel as if he is whispering in your ear, before he ends the tune banging out guitar chords that rock out more than anything else on the record, giving way to a heavily-flanged fade out. The end. Like one of his more obvious anglophone parallels, one Roger Barrett, the album leaves me with the persistent feeling that there was (is) much more to the man than the “loony” tales and stories, the idiosyncratic behavior, the health problems. Don’t let the legend and the myth distract you from what this album is – a beautiful swan-song.

Additional info contributed by blog friend CK:

I love this album, which I bought back in the days of vinyl records. I’d
like to comment on the so-called Rita albums produced by Arnaldo. The
story that I’ve heard is that her first album, Build Up, was not
originally Rita Lees idea. Os Mutantes went into a forced recess due to
her husband Arnaldo deciding on an adventurous vacation with a friend
traveling by motorcycle from São Paulo to New York. Hitting into some
difficulties along the way (I think he made it to Panama), Arnaldo gave
up on the idea and returned to São Paulo to find Rita midway into an
album. So it was agreed that he can produce some of the remaining
recordings. So yes, he did have a hand in it, but its not like he was
the mastermind behind the helm of the whole thing.

Regarding her
so called second album, ‘Hoje É O Primeiro Dia Do Resto Da Sua Vida’,
the story of this album is quite well known. Mutantes informed their
record company that they have enough material for, and intend to,
release a double album. The record company explained that Mutantes did
not sell enough to warrant a double album. The compromise was to have
the second album out as a Rita Lee album, because she was always the
bands main pull or main attraction in minds of the populous. Arnaldo was
the musical genius, Sergio the guitar wiz kid, but it was Rita’s charm
and charisma that made Mutantes television friendly. So, this is really a
Rita’s album at all although it is officially credited to her.

Regarding
Loki the album, one of the important things to know about the album is
that it was recorded after Rita and Arnaldo split up. Almost all the
songs are directed to Rita in one way or another. Será Que Eu Vou Virar
Bolar questions his musical future without her (venho me apegando ao
passado e em ter você ao meu lado // trans.: I’ve been getting attached
to the past and with you by my side). Uma Pessoa Só is a rerecording of a
Mutantes composition form their 1973 album O A E O Z (The A And The Z),
that was shelved until the nineties. In Não Estou Nem Aí he shows
himself unwilling to deal with the pressures in his life; rather get
high every morning (Não estou nem aí pra morte, nem aí pra sorte/ Eu
quero mais é decolar toda manhã). Rita Lee and Lucy Turnbull, who at
that time were working as a duo called ‘Cilibrina do Eden’, sing
background vocals on this and the following Vou Me Afundar Na Lingerie.
Arnaldo jokingly tuants them (or maybe it’s a shout-out?) on Cê Tá
Pensando Que Eu Sou Loki? (Cilibrina pra cá / Cilibrina pra lá / Eu sou
velho mas gosto de viajar). Descuple is an obvious open letter to Rita
Lee that warranted her to write and record her answer Agora Só Falta
Você on her 1975 album Fruito Proibido. Certainly not the answer Arnaldo
was hoping for. Desculpe is heart breaking in it’s vocal
interpretation, and has Limninha and Dinho giving us pure Mutantes power
in its execution, with only brother Sergio absent. Te Amo Podes Crer
follows Navegar de Novo, both stream of conscience type lyrics, and
follows the pattern of woes for the person identified as ‘you’ that left
and doesn’t want to return. Its a sad record thematically, but
beautiful in it’s playing. The Last song É Facil, Arnaldo amazes me as
how good a guitar player he really is, although he hardly plays the
instrument, up to that point in his carrer.

NOTE #1: There is noticeable noise / digital drop-outs beginning at the 1 minute and 20 second mark on the track “Uma pessoa só”. You may only notice them if you use headphones or a accurate speakers for playback. I compared two different CD copies of this first pressing, and the noise is in the exact same place. Quite likely damaged master tapes. I recently came across a new remaster of this album released on by the Universal group. I have not heard it and am not too inspired to pick it up, since the first pressings on Philips typically sound better than the newer remasters.

NOTE #2: There is a documentary about Arnaldo Baptista also called “Loki.” To my chagrin and consternation I still have not managed to see it. I am sure it has some lovely anecdotes about this album. Hopefully nothing that will make my commentaries look silly (or sillier..).

 

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