Poly e Seu Conjunto – Saia Vermelha (1963)

Poly e Seu Conjunto
Saia Vermelha
 1963 / 1976 Continental

 SUKIYAKI  (Ei Rohusuke, Nakamura Hachidai)
BONANZA  (Jay Livingston, Ray Evans)
NÃO ME DIGA ADEUS  (Paquito, L. Soberano, J.C. da Silva)
É BOM PARAR (Ruben Soares)
LAMENTO BORINCANO (Rafael Hernandez)


 LA POLLERA COLORA (SAIA VERMELHA)  (Juan Madera, W. Choperena)
THAT HAPPY FEELING (Vento do Mar)  (Warren)
El Suco Suco  (Tarateño Rojas)
EL MANISERO  (Moises Simons)
PARA VIGO ME VOY  (Ernesto Lecuona)
Here is an album from Poly e Seu Conjunto, Saia Vermelha, probably from 1963. I say “probably” because the copy in front of me is a reissue on the Continental/Phonodisc label from 1976, and discographical info on Poly (sometimes spelled “Poli”) is hard to find – but two tracks off this LP were released as the A and B side of a single in ’63, so it’s safe bet. I speculated as to whether this might be a collection of material actually assembled in the mid-70s, but the brief liner notes and the fact that these songs sound as if they were recorded all around the same time and with the same musicians makes me stay with that bet of early ’60s.

Poly himself is somewhat enigmatic: a multi-instrumentalist, he was best known for his electric guitar and in particular, his LAP STEEL guitar work. A great deal of his recorded output preceded the arrival of rock and roll on Brazilian shores, years before the iê-iê-iê and jovem guarda movements would turn the use his preferred instrument into a lightning-rod for bitter polemic about cultural authenticity and Brazilian identity. Not having anything to go on, I can’t really speculate how his music was received by the Brazilian listening public, but I will hazard a guess that his work was astutely ignored by the music critics. His body of work from the 1950s and 60s demonstrates a stylistic willingness to record anything and everything that was on the hit parade charts of the day, from the popular Brazilian genres of samba-canção, música sertaneja, baião, boleros and ‘fox’. Which would make his records unremarkable amongst hundreds of others, except for the fact that his all-instrumental recordings often featured the lap steel – known as the “Hawaian guitar” in those days. I find myself making comparisons of Poly as some kind of Brazilian mix of Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys and Les Paul’s early records when he was experimenting with recording his guitar at different tape speeds. By the time the songs on Saia Vermelha were being recorded, Poly had also embraced early rock and roll (with a distinctly ‘surf’ edge), genres popular in Latin America like cumbia and rumba, and hit songs from Bolivia (El Suco Suco), Cuba (Para Vigo Me Voy), or Puerto Rico (Lamento Borincano). But the 78-rpm single which is duplicated at the outset of this Long Player sort of says all you need to know about this transnational genre-hopping musical musical chameleon/opportunist – one side featured the Japanese hit “Sukiyaki” which to this day is the only Japanese-language song to crack the U.S. top forty, and the flip side featured the theme to the TV show ‘Bonanza.’ His accompaniment throughout this disparate repertoire is usually comprised of some combination of string bass, piano, cavaquinho, acoustic guitar, accordion, and percussion.

Apparently Poly also worked for a time at Universal Pictures’ Brazilian studios as part of their orchestra, and this quite likely influenced his choice of songs. At least that’s the case for the last tune on here, known to most North Americans as “I’ve Been Working On The Railroad” but which is given the title of “The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You”, with the subcredit “as heard in the film “Assim Caminha a Humanidade.”) This struck me as so odd that I had to look this up, and learned that this was the name of the Brazilian release of the Hollywood film Giant (Liz Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean) and that a song by the title “The Eyes of Texas” exists as the alma mater of the University of Texas at Austin, sung to the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.”

The best stuff here is when Poly is on the lap steel / Hawaiian guitar. In fact when he’s NOT on the steel guitar, the material can be kind of forgettable. Here are two of the stand-out tracks:

Não Me Diga Adeus


Lamento Borincano

I’m not crazy about the audio quality of this rip and I just may redo the whole thing someday. I’ve had three copies of this vinyl at one time or another and I can’t even be entirely certain which one I used for the source. While editing this I found myself getting annoyed, thinking that my stylus should have been cleaned better or something – however it’s quite likely likely that that the distortions are on the original record, since these 70s repressings on Phonodisc are sort of notoriously inconsistent, not to mention that at least portions of this LP were sourced from 78’s to begin with…

(Process) Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply, cork ringmat); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 2496 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; Click Repair light settings; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced (for 16-bit). Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.