Jorge Ben – Solta o Pavão (1975)

Jorge Ben
Released 1975
Phonogram / Philips (6349 162)This reissue, Salve, Jorge! Boxset

1 Zagueiro
2 Assim falou Santo Tomaz de Aquino
3 Velhos, flores, criancinhas e cachorros
4 Dorothy
5 Cuidado com o bulldog
6 Para ouvir no rádio (Luciana)
7 O rei chegou, viva o rei
8 Jorge de Capadócia
9 Se segura malandro
10 Dumingaz
11 Luz polarizada
12 Jesualda

I was lucky enough to find a vinyl copy of this album years ago for the price of a sandwich or maybe just a bag of chips. It was a near-perfect copy marred only by a single skip on one track. But a combination of wanting to preserve this relic, and as much as I love vinyl I must admit this: the convenience of CDs, led me to rather ignore this album in favor of its predecessor, the famed “A Tábua de Esmeralda”, which has been available in various pressings much more so than this title.. I also thought A Tábua was a better album, the best he ever made. Well now I am not so sure. Since getting this new boxset I have been playing the hell out of this CD more than the others. The songs may not reach out and pinch you like “A Tábua” does I think the album is for the most part the equal of its “twin”. The album even has a similar weak spot — the slightly-annoying “Cuidado com o bulldog” is the equivalent of A Tábua’s “Brother”, i.e. a song that you often just want to skip over. Except that “bulldog” is structurally more interesting and band rocks the fuck out of it. (I keep locking horns with people over the song “Brother”.. Okay, it’s not *that* bad.)

Musically there is a frenetic energy and tension to some of the songs that differs from A Tábua, in a way leading into the funk overdrive of his next album, Àfrica Brasil. The production from Sr. Tabajos is once again brilliant. Woodwind arrangement on ‘Dorothy’. Enough said. The drums on that tune and some others suffer a little bit from the mastering, which sounds like it was sent through a Manley tube compressor running warm enough to reheat my soup. “Assim falou Santo Tomas de Aquinas” is a thing of beauty infused with inner light. The track Jorge de Capadócia is a sonic orgasm bringing timbales, analog synths, and an odd coda with repeating plucked guitar string heavily phased and tremolo’d in a way that reminds me of “Future Days”-era Can..(I have no idea why everything has been reminding me of Can lately, seeing as I have not listened to them in quite some time. Maybe its a sign to dig those records out..). Jorge’s occasionally odd mix of profundity and levity is just irresistible to me. He wants to save the senior citizens, the flowers, the children, and the dogs. All in the same song. How can I argue with that? The album kind of peters out at the end, the final tracks sort of lose your attention, but it never wears out its carpet and I’ve found myself wanting to play it over again when it ends. And I never do that.

The beguiling subject matter is very much an extension of “A Tábua”, diving further into the mystical, the arcane, the heraldric symbolism and imagery of alchemy, and influenced by the writings of St.Thomas of Aquinas. The sparse liner-notes on the back cover treat this somewhat lightly, noting (correctly) Jorge’s own alchemy at combining these interests with the cotidian life of Rio de Janeiro and his love of futebol and so on. But it’s also a very serious thing. What I wouldn’t give to have seen this boxset released with a real, comprehensive BOOKLET: where are the rare photos? the interviews? The narratives and stories behind each of these records? I want to know his favorite movies and books and invite him as my Facebook friend.. Wait a minute, that´s not actually true. But the stars know I paid enough for the box, and the least they could do is give us a few photos of Ben looking cool.

Perhaps Jorge himself is reluctant to talk about these ideas that were bubbling in the cauldron of his mind and spirit while creating the most interesting albums of his career. I don’t know if there are any interviews where he talks about them, or if any journalists or biographers have shed any decent insights on these albums ( África Brasil is part of the ‘trilogy’ of esoteric masterpieces, thought not always considered as such). If anyone happens to know of anything like this, let me know!

There are full musician credits on this one, for a change. You can read them yourself in the artwork. In the tradition of the Ohio Players, all the musicians have their astrological sign listed. There are just too many musicians to list, but I will pay homage to the rhythm section of Dadi Aroul Flabi (bass) and Gusta Von (drums) who are just massive all throughout.

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The Jazz Crusaders – Old Socks New Shoes New Socks Old Shoes (1970)

Jazz Crusaders – Old Socks New Shoes New Socks Old Shoes (1970)
Originally released as Chisa #804 (Motown distribution)

This reissue, Verve Originals, EU release, 2008

01 – Thank You
02 – Funny Shuffle
03 – Why Do You Laugh At Me
04 – Jackson!
05 – Rainy Night In Georgia
06 – Golden Slumbers
07 – Jazz!
08 – Time Has No Ending
09 – Hard Times
10 – Way Back Home

Wayne Henderson – trombone
Wilton Fedder – sax, bass
Joe Sample – electric piano
Stix Hooper – drums

with Arthur Adams, Freddie Robinson – guitars

I have spent quite a few hours wondering why it is that when I feel like total shit, putting on virtually any (Jazz) Crusaders record cheers me up. Something about their records are just comfortable in an early-to-mid 1970s way, like hearing John Sebastian sing the theme to “Welcome Back, Kotter” and forgetting there was an illegal disgusting war going on somewhere in Asia. Their soul-jazz fusion had a playful plaid-and-corduroy mainstream sensibility to its execution, enough so to make it sometimes pass from one ear and innocuously out the other if you aren’t particularly tuned in. But when you pay closer you begin to understand more about whatever it is that makes these records so *warm*, and I suspect it’s because that ‘whatever’ involves layers of complexity and texture tucked away in the shag carpet.

Recorded at Wally Heider’s studio in San Francisco, this album is neither their best nor their worst. This is the last time they would release an album as the JAZZ Crusaders before simply dropping the ‘jazz’ and becoming simply “The Crusaders.” Actually if they lost it unintentionally, it would have been pretty easy to figure out how to go back and find it, as they left it on the second cut of Side Two (track 7 on the CD), the most unimaginatively-titled “Jazz!”. Wayne Henderson was apparently prone to exclamatory punctuation in 1970 (Jackson!). “Old Socks News Shoes New Socks Old Shoes” is also one of only two of their albums to be released on the Chisa label.

The album is peppered with instrumental covers of songs that had just been recently huge hits, “Thank You” (Sly Stone), “Rainy Night in Georgia” (Brook Benton, written by Tony Joe White), and “Golden Slumbers” (The Beatles). One could almost say that the band sounds more inspired interpreting this material than their own compositions on this album. “Rainy Night in Georgia” is lusciously laid-back, with an opening percussive section that reminds me, oddly enough, of Jaki Liebezeit’s drumming for Can. In fact Stix Hooper keeps this up throughout the entire sound, with the ending coda winding down in a pattern of psychedelic raindrops courtesy of his drumming and some strummed guitar appregios (courtesy of either Arthur Adams or Freddie Robinson, or both). “Golden Slumbers” kind of steals its thunder, however. I personally find this track far superior than their more famous Beatles cover, Eleanor Rigby (which, in spite of being a very peculiar choice for a soul-jazz instrumental treatment, would be turned into an epic running around 15 minutes for their live gigs..) The Crusaders put more, I don’t know, *pathos* into this reading, it’s suitably sad, melancholic and triumphal in all the right measures to make it a fitting tribute to one of Lennon & McCartney’s best tunes, rather than just cheese. The Crusaders frequently run the cheese gamut from Stilton to fondue without ever becoming overly-processed. And for this they must be respected. Must! The song ‘Hard Times’ is almost unrecognizable as the Ray Charles hit from ten years previous. The original compositions from the Crusaders seemed to be in a sort of limbo in this period, and Henderson and Sample would find their footing again over the next few albums. But all the tracks are good, with the aforementioned “Jazz!” being the one near throw-away, a basic electric hard-bop number that seems to exist only to remind us of the band’s origins.

Jorge Ben – Força Bruta (1970) [2009 remaster]

1970 Philips (R 765.121 L)
2009 Reissue, Salve Jorge! Boxset
1 Oba lá vem ela
2 Zé Canjica
3 Domenica Domingava num domingo linda
4 Charles Jr.
5 Pulo pulo
6 Apareceu Aparecida
7 O telefone tocou novamente
8 Mulher brasileira
9 Terezinha
10 Força brutawith Trio Mocotó

I don’t typically like to make posts here that only a feature a review someone else has written. But I have been too otherwise preoccupied to post here lately and I realized I had gone amiss in my vaguely chronological presentation of the new Jorge Ben box by skipping ahead to 10 Anos Depois (but then, we started with Negro é Lindo, so it doesn’t matter..) Also, this album already received a post once, way back when this blog first started (it is still here, if you search for it, featuring the Dusty Groove label’s reissue).

So here is Força Bruta, Ben’s first great album in a decade of really great albums for him. The track “Pulo, pulo” would be covered by Elza Soares in 1972 in a great samba-soul sendup. And then there’s all the other tracks, which are … all great. I will let the aforementioned review take it from here, courtesy of Sylus Magazine. Well written and better than the trite garbage found on most of the websites people use to copy-and-paste music ‘critique’, I quite enjoy this guy’s write-up. And, it also manages to emphasize once again that Caetano Veloso is a douchebag.

It might sound like a slight to call Jorge Ben Brazil’s most genteel offering
from the early ’70s—he didn’t have a beard; he didn’t go to jail—but it
shouldn’t, per se. Gentility—a kind of aesthetic gentility, at least—is one of
those oddly polarizing qualities in Brazilian music: some people find it
soothing and soulful, others hear it as limp and indifferent. Even Ben at his
most rugged (1976’s África Brasil) doesn’t have the haywire quality of Gilberto
Gil’s work from the same time, a difference in approach all the more obvious
when the two collaborated in 1975 for Gil e Jorge (Gil is usually the one
screaming). Nah, Ben always seemed like the mannered one of his generation, but
sacrificing some passion in a bargain for consistency isn’t a crime—I’d rather
listen to an OK Ben album than a Caetano Veloso album that annoys me, and there
seem to be more of the latter than the former.

By the time Ben recorded
Força Bruta at age 30, he was already a legitimate pop star in Brazil; he’d
crossed over into the States via a Sergio Mendes cover (“Mas, Que Nada”) when he
was 23; and he’d already had hits backed by Trio Mocotó (who played with him on
this record). It’s in the context of history that the laid-back quality of Ben’s
music becomes refreshing, almost bulletproof: it’s hard to imagine one of our
own pop stars at the height of his or her popularity being self-assured enough
to make an album as loose as Força Bruta, not to mention using a cover photo of
them playing the harmonica with their eyes half-closed. Ben was chill as hell
and did not mind letting you observe.

But it all proceeds as you’d
expect: demure samba-rock laced with sliding strings, an agreeable, samey
atmosphere, no strife on the horizon. Ben manages to be soulful without being
gritty; any hoarseness in his voice is a play, part of his overall finesse.
Again, this could be a bad thing for you—I’m preferential to 1974’s A Tábua de
Esmeralda because it’s a little less accommodating—but it also seems like a
ridiculous thing to really lodge a complaint about. When Ben was relaxing with
Força Bruta, other prominent musicians of his generation were freaking out over
a new military dictatorship and making big, declarative artistic statements.
Gentility might not always be a flattering word, but temperance and
consideration usually are—and Ben was nothing if not both.

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Jorge Ben – A Tábua de Esmeralda (1974)

Jorge Ben
A Tábua de Esmeralda
Released 1974
Philips / Phonogram (6349 083)

This reissue – Salve, Jorge! Boxset (2009)

1 Os alquimistas estão chegando os alquimistas

2 O homem da gravata florida

3 Errare humanun est

4 Menina mulher da pele preta

5 Eu vou torcer

6 Magnólia

7 Minha teimosia, uma arma pra te conquistar

8 Zumbi

9 Brother

10 O namorado da viúva

11 Hermes Trismegisto e sua celeste Tábua de Esmeralda

12 Cinco minutos

I realized just the other day that I completely skipped over the marvelous ‘Força Bruta’ in my presentation of this new Jorge Ben box. Not sure how that happened, but I will remedy the situation soon (although the DGA reissue IS here, in fact it was one of the first posts ever on this blog).

This album obviously merits more spilled ink than I have given it here, but I am exhausted and this is a good album for rejuvenation, and it speaks well enough for itself. Many people think this is Jorge Ben’s best album ever. I am one of them, although I have decided of late that it is impossible to consider it as a separate entity from the two albums to follow. Taken as a hole, they are all equally mindblowing. ‘A Tábua’ is brilliant in every way. Not a bad track on it (although the song ‘Brother’ often gets skipped over by me…). From the first notes, this album casts a spell on you fit for a hermetic magician. It is one of Ben’s most experimental album and also one of his most accessible. All of the songs are classics but the one that I know for sure has stuck around in his live sets is the hit, Zumbi, named after the last leader of the famous quilombo Palmares. Caetano Veloso, being the royal douchebag that he is, managed to completely mangle and destroy this song on one of his many bullshit records over the last ten years. If you have been subjected to that version, I apologize. But if you have never heard Ben’s original then at least you have this to look forward to. I have an aquaintance who worked in Brazil, and when I met her she thought that Jorge Ben was some old guy who made shitty records. I think maybe she was confusing him with Caetano. Admittedly, Jorge doesn’t make too many new records of interesting material, but his live shows are a blast precisely because he doesn’t try to stay ‘relevant’ to the flavor of the moment but gives the people what they want — classic Jorge Ben tunes, all night long… This aquaintance who formerly poo-pooed Jorge Ben now goes around singing songs off this album, and I haven’t even received as much as a ‘thank you’ although I hold myself largely reponsible for her conversion. At least, I know that I told her that he was not some lame douche-y guy making bad music. THAT guy, I insisted, was Caetano Veloso.

I had always thought that ‘Zumbi’ was the only track to really become iconic off this record, although obviously the whole album is ‘classic’ in the way we tend to mean that when talking about popular music. However, I was corrected by a friend who pointed out that the opening cut, “Os alquimistas estão chegando os alquimistas” was something of a stoner anthem. Now, this guy is a bit younger than I am and he might be basing this entirely on a film he mentioned in the same conversation — a rather awful-sounding summertime coming-of-age film set in 1980 called ‘Pode Crer’, which I haven’t seen — where the song was used prominently in a goofy drug scene. Still, he might be correct. Because I also have another friend who says she woke up to this album every day for a year, and she is kind of a stoner who hangs out with a lot of rock stars and artists, so perhaps there is more to this anthemic song than bad Globo-produced films. (Wake ‘n Bake, maybe?)

This album is a serious work of art and I am not treating it seriously enough. I will attribute this to the unbelievable heat and the fact that I slept for 13 hours after not sleeping at all for a few days, which does peculiar things to my  coherence. But even if I could muster the lucidity to tell you what lucre this album is in terms of artistic vision, integrity, production, and beguiling lyrics, I would only be detracting from what your own ears can tell you. This album does not need mediation via music critics. If you have heard it already, you already know all that you need to know. If not, you must place yourself in the crucible of transformation.

I must mention that I was also rather obsessed with alchemy at one point in my life.   If you want to gaze at some trippy, old works of alchemical art, check out this great online resource — this guy has tons of stuff in his galleries, including work from Nicolas Flamel (where the cover of this album originates..)

(not the main page, just a sample of some cool stuff)

For some material specifically on Nicolas Flamel, check here

Paulinho da Viola – Paulinho da Viola (1968)


Paulinho da Viola (1968)
Odeon (MOFB 3560)Produced by Milton Miranda
Musical Director – Lyrio Panicali
Production Assistant – Herminio Bello de Carvalha
Orchestration and arrangments – Maestros Nelsinho and Gaya
Technical Director – Z.J. Merky
Recording engineers – Zilmar and Nivaldo
Lab technician – Reny R. Lippi
Lay-out and photo – Pedro de Moraes

1996 EMI Reissue (852503 2)
Remastered at Abbey Road by Peter Mew

1 Vai, amigo
2 Encontro
(Paulinho da Viola)
3 Doce veneno
(Carlos Lentine, Goulart, Valsinho)
4 Sem ela eu não vou
(Paulinho da Viola)
5 Não te dói a consciência
(A. Garcez, A. Monteiro, Nelson Silva)
6 Coisas do mundo, minha nega
(Paulinho da Viola)
7 Batuqueiro
8 Amor proibido
9 A gente esquece
(Paulinho da Viola)
10 Meu carnaval
(Cacaso, Élton Medeiros)
11 Samba do amor
(Élton Medeiros, Hermínio Bello de Carvalho, Paulinho da Viola)
12 Maria Sambamba

Classic samba by the master of classic samba, Paulinho da Viola. Having recorded and album called ‘Samba de Madrugada’ with his friend and partner Elden Medeiros a few years previous, this is actually Paulinho’s first disc released under his own name. The liner notes contain a big chunk of autobiographical writing from Paulinho, talking about the first Carnaval blocos he formed in his neighborhood of Botafogo and the trajectory through which he eventually came into contact with the Portela samba school and began working around people like Candeia, Casquinha, Monarco and others. Eventually he began hanging around the bar ‘Zicartola’ with the likes of Cartola, Elton Medeiros, Nelson Sargento, Nelson Cavaquino, Elizete Cardoso.

This album struck me as odd the first time I heard it, because many of the arrangements are the same type of swinging jazz-samba that Milton Miranda and Maestro Gaya were producing for everybody else in the late 1960s. For someone introduced as I was to Paulinho via his 1970s work during the great ‘samba revival’, you might miss the more roots-oriented vibe of those records. The orchestrations here don’t get in the way at all, in fact they are quite well-down and even complimentary, but they are also not particularly necessary. However the repertoire, which contains classic sambas by all his friends — Cartola, Candeia, Elton, Casquinha — can’t be beat! This is an important first entry (sort of) in the discography of a master.

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Yabby You – Jesus Dread 1972-1977 (1997)

I’ve been depressed for a few days due to fucking my personal life up all over again. I think I have probably broken every spiritual rule of every ethical, mystical, or religious tradition out there in the last week or so, straying from righteousness in thought and word. Thoughts are not deeds but thought-forms that take shape and enter the air as words have force, have power, have to be cared for so as not to injure or bruise the ears they fall upon. I may not accept Jesus as my savior, but I do accept Yabby You into my life. Yabby You will set me back on the path of righteousness. His words do not enter into wickedness. My disturbed mental and spiritual state won’t allow for me to write a decent description in this moment, and the one below is just fine. Even better are the liner notes included in the wonderful booklet from Blood & Fire, one of the most righteous labels to ever stalk the earth. A labor of love, this set. All respect to Yabby You, may his soul be at rest.
Yabby You – Jesus Dread 1972-1977

Released 1997 on Blood & Fire Records

1 Love Thy Neighbour 3:35
2 Conquering Lion 3:25
3 Fisherman Special 3:16
4 Yabby Youth 3:13
5 Big Youth Fights Against Capitalism [King Tubby’s Version] 3:07
6 Covetous Men 2:56
7 Run Come Rally 3:16
8 Rally Dub [Upsetter Mix] 3:18
9 Antichrist 2:39
10 God Is Watching You 2:56
11 Pablo Dread in a Red 3:06
12 King Tubby’s Rock [King Tubby’s Version] 3:21
13 Warn the Nation 2:25
14 Honey Dub [King Tubby’s Version] 3:00
15 Carnal Man 3:04
16 Love of Jah 3:03
17 Love of Jah [King Tubby’s Version] 2:58
18 The Man Who Does the Work 2:42
19 Jah Vengeance 2:48
20 Revenge 2:53
21 Freshly 3:14
22 Natty Dread on the Mountain Top 2:58
23 Gwan and Lef’ Me 2:47
24 Tubby’s Vengeance [King Tubby’s Version] 2:57
25 Death Trap 3:07
26 Man of the Living 2:58
27 King Tubby Special [King Tubby’s Version] 3:22
28 Lord of Lords 3:19
29 Lord Dub [King Tubby’s Version] 3:15
30 Chant Jah Victory 3:31
31 Jah Victory Dub [King Tubby’s Version] 3:38
32 Walls of Jerusalem 3:40
33 Jerusalem Dub [King Tubby’s Dub] 3:40
34 King Pharoah’s Plague [Discomix] , 5:14
35 Plague of Horn 3:23
36 King Pharaoh Dub [King Tubby’s Version] 3:20
37 Jesus Dread 3:26
38 Chant Down Babylon Kingdom [Discomix] , 5:07
39 Chanting Dub [King Tubby’s Version] 2:43
40 Hornsman Chant 2:44
41 Fire in a Kingston 3:13
42 Fire Dub [King Tubby’s Version] 2:33
43 Judgement on the Land 3:06
44 Repatriation Rock [King Tubby’s Dub] 3:23
45 Deliver Me from My Enemies 2:52
46 Born Free [Discomix] Rose, 5:53
47 Love Thy Neighbour [King Tubby’s Version] 3:34

Review by Rick Anderson

The title of this two-disc set comes from the fact that Yabby You (born Vivian Jackson; his nickname comes from the chorus to his song “Conquering Lion”) is a devout Christian Rastafarian. The depth of his religious faith informs every note on this remarkable album, which contains some of the darkest, dreadest reggae ever made. The medium-slow tempos, the minor chords, the song titles (“Love Thy Neighbor,” “Carnal Mind,” “Warn the Nation,” etc.) all reflect an intent that goes beyond mere music-making. And yet the music itself is spectacular. Most of the songs featured on the album are presented in several versions — an original vocal mix, a dub version, a deejay version (with toasting performed by such deejays as Dillinger and Big Youth over the dub cuts), and, often, an instrumental version featuring saxophonist Tommy McCook. The McCook tracks tend to sound like filler, but the album is still utterly essential. It’s hard to imagine a better example of golden-era reggae at its finest.


Errol Alphonso Performer
Family Man Barrett Organ, Bass
Steve Barrow Liner Notes, Compilation, Interviewer, Annotation
Big Youth Performer
Dicky Burton Performer
Basil “Benbow” Creary Drums
Santa Davis Drums
Dillinger Performer
Sly Dunbar Drums
Bobby Ellis Trumpet
Clinton Fearon Bass
Carl Gayle
Albert Griffiths Guitar
Dirty Harry Hall Fife
Bernard Touter Harvey Piano
Dave Katz
King Tubby Mixing
Earl Lindo Organ
Tommy McCook Saxophone, Performer
Kevin Metcalfe Editing, Mastering
Dennis Morris Photography
Augustus Pablo Piano, Melodica, Performer
Lee “Scratch” Perry Voices, Mixing
Prince Jammy Mixing
Prophets Performer
Michael Rose Performer
Robbie Shakespeare Bass
Phillip Smart Mixing
Earl “Chinna” Smith Guitar
Adrian Talbot Design
Uziah “Sticky” Thompson Percussion
Trinity Performer
Wayne Wade Performer
Bunny Wailer Percussion
Earl “Bagga” Walker Organ
Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace Drums
Andy Walter Digital Restoration
Michael Williams Design
Yabby You Vocals
Tapper Zukie Performer

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