Rubens da Mangueira
Eu Sou Assim
1978 Copacabana COLP – 12225
The Mangueira escola de samba has produced no shortage of delights in terms of composers, singers, and musicians, and they are still going strong today. Understandably, with eternal titans like Cartola and Nelson Cavaquinho associated with the institution, other sambistas were destined to forever walk in their shadows as mere mortals, and were proud to do so. This record by Rubens da Mangueira opens with the funky, humorous Estrangeiro no samba. The real stand-out track here to me is the mournful A vida continua lamenting the loss of a fellow brother in samba. The whole album is solid and has never been issued on CD. This is another LP that I ripped and then misplaced for a few years Continue reading
Helio Matheus – Matheus Segundo Matheus (1975)
Original release, RCA-Victor, Brazil
2018 Reissue, Athens Of The North, AOTNLP017
A short-and-sweet Friday post for you to get your weekend started on point. Scottish label Athens Of The North (or AOTN) serves up a reissue of this cult classic that, thanks to a collector’s market gone mad, I will never be able to afford as an original pressing. No idea what they used for their source but it sounds pretty decent, so I feel like this label has done music fans a huge favor by making it available. As you can see below, the list of contributing musicians here is huge and includes members of Azymuth, Sá, Rodrix & Guarabyra and other heavyweights. Helio himself was well established as a writer and arranger in MPB circles at this time, but recorded very little under his own name. It’s a solid offering of samba-soul, samba-rock, MPB, and even a little dreamy orchestral psychedelic pop thrown in. It may have some questionable lyrics (for example, “Briguenta”) but the grooves make up for it. Plus it has maybe the best back-cover photograph of all time..
Dora Lopes – Enciclopédia da Gíria
Mocambo / Rozenblit 1957
Is this a Pride Month post? Sort of, because Dora Lopes was possibly the first “out” singer in Brazilian popular music. But this record was before anyone outside Rio scenesters knew or cared about her sexuality, and even before she was the proprietor of O Caixotinho, one of Rio’s first lesbian nightclubs that served the Copacabana area beginning in the second half of the 60s. This 1957 album is notable for other reasons, like being released on the small Recife imprint Mocambo, and for the fact that Dora gets composer credits on all but a couple songs here in a era when women songwriters were not the norm. The songs and arrangements fit more in the jazz-samba world than the nascent bossa nova scene. Continue reading
Se Você Jurar
1973 RCA-Victor (original release)
2004 Reissue RCA Victor 82876640692
Tonight, Brazil is poised on the brink of an abyss where half the country is ready to elect a military thug who openly celebrates the dictatorship of 1964-1985, and promised to initiate a new one . It’s been a while since I’ve been able to visit there, and watching events unfold from a distance has been a slow, muted kind of heartbreak. No matter what happens tomorrow, things are going to be rough for a while – the slumbering, unslain beast of the country’s authoritarian, slave-ocratic past has been stirred into action, calling for a ‘restoration of tradition’ through bloody retribution. Those forces have convinced half of all Brazilians that democracy is a dirty word, so I wouldn’t expect them to respect the results of any election that is not in their favor. At this point the most I can do, perhaps the most anyone can do at this hour, is to light a candle, pray to the Orixá of your choice, and play some samba.
So I’ve chosen this Ismael Silva album, his first and only ‘long player’ released during his lifetime. Ismael Silva founded the first samba school, Deixa Falar, in the late 1920’s. Although he did make some recordings under his own name in that era, he is most famous for supplying a steady stream of hits to the singer Chico Alves, one of the great early stars of samba. (As was the custom, Francisco Alves was documented as a composer on these, whether or not he ever contributed a single idea). In the wake of the “roots” samba revival of the 1960s, a whole host of sambistas began getting “rediscovered” and putting out records under their own name, like Adoniran Barbosa, Cartola, Zé Keti, and Nelson Cavaquinho. This was Ismael’s turn. The album is a soundtrack, really, for a theatrical concert production telling his life story, alongside that of Carmen Costa, that was written and produced by Ricardo Cravo Albin, who also wrote the original liner notes. “Side A” of the album contains medleys of his classic compositions from the ‘Golden Era’ of samba, while “Side B” features material the world had yet to hear on record. It’s a lively affair, with some “modern” flourishes like a groovy Walter Wanderley / Ed Lincoln-style organ riffs propelling things in the arrangements of Messias Santos, Jr, alongside more traditional samba instrumentation. But I’ll be quiet now, and let the music speak for itself — Continue reading
Novos Baianos – Novos Baianos
1974 Continental SLP-10.144 (Original release)
2016 Japanese reissue, Bomba Records Continental SLP-10.144
Last Sunday, Brazil’s first World Cup match ended in a tie, and now they’ve won their a match against Costa Rica. I didn’t watch. I don’t care about the World Cup. Even if I did, I’m not sure I would be cheering for Brazil this year. Country has lost its damn mind, and Neymar continues to be whitening. Also FIFA continues to be an ethically dodgy facilitator of slave labor littering the world with disused stadiums built as monuments to their power. So let’s listen to a record by some people who embody the “beautiful game” as, in my uninformed naiveté, I imagine it to exist in some parallel utopia – Os Novos Baianos, lovers of futebol and purveyors of fine music, still in the midst of their heyday.
A Voz, O Violão, A Música de Djavan
1976 Som Livre 403.6092
2004 Bomba Records BOM1103 (Japan)
Also reissued under the title “Flor de lis” with several variations on the cover art Continue reading