Tim Maia – O Descobridor dos Sete Mares (1983)

TIM MAIA
Descobridor dos Sete Mares
Released 1983

1. o descobridor dos sete mares
2. terapêutica do grito
3. pecado capital
4. mal de amor
5. 3 em 1
6. neves e parques
7. rio mon amour
8. me dê motivo
9. olá (emoçoes)
10. essa dor me apanha

Tim singing

In 1983, many of Tim Maia’s contemporaries (Jorge Ben, Gilberto Gil, that other guy Caetano) were releasing albums of…. utter crap. So how is that Tim Maia puts out one of the strongest albums of his career?? Because he was a musical demigod, a funky Buddha gracing us with his presence on this material plane for as long as we were lucky to have him.

This album… Man, where do you start? If this album had been released by a North American soul artist, and Tim was singing in English, it would have been a global smash. So goes the imperialisms of capital and language I guess. In fact it is somewhat odd that Tim, who could sing in English without any trace of a Portuguese accent (something that can’t be said for any of other guys listed above), and often had at least one tune in English on his albums, did not do so on this one. The sound and production on this record are also flawless. For some reason I have an image of Tim listening to “Off The Wall” every day in between mixing sessions, relaxing with a spliff in his favorite easy chair. Once again Tim manages to sound utterly contemporary with his times without forcing ANYTHING – everything flows naturally, no sense of somebody trying to “keep up with the times” (*cough* caetano, gil *cough*…). Everything here is a natural extension of the body and soul of his work in the 1970s, with everything — songwriting, musicianship, production — in top form. Maybe it’s more “slick” production wise, but not to its detriment. Some new synth patches, but plenty of organic acoustic and electric piano. And what could make Tim’s already-heavy-hitting sound even better? Kazoo? No. Glockenspiel? Nah. Vibes? Probably, yeah, but alas its not to be on this record. How about…. TIMBALES!!! Hell yeah! I have yet to read Nelson Motta’s book on Tim (but I plan to, soon!) but for some reason I feel like Tim just bought himself a new set of timbales before starting work on this album, because he just goes NUTS on them. It’s frigging fantastic. If I could put together a fantasy tour for 1983 it would be Tim Maia playing shows with Prince and Michael Jackson — with Tim headlining of course.

This album also follows the pacing formula that is common to many a soul record from the 70s and 80s (and maybe still.. I don’t listen to much new stuff 😉 ). That is to say — the entire first side is uptempo funky as hell get you on your feet and moving party down boogie. And then the lights dim, you get your chance for some slow dancing, and, eventually, well… you know the rest. Smoooov, Tim, Smooov…

The huge hit off this record was “Me dê motivo” , a woeful tune of love gone sour. Complete with a nice intro rap. This video clip, which I am thinking to be from the late 80s or early 90s, is pretty amazing. Its a pity it cuts off the beginning AND the end, though…
Watch this performance of Meu Dê Motivo

More Tim on YOUTUBE, an actual MTV-type video from 1983
the title track

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This album has 237 hand claps on it.

Tim Maia – Nuvens (1982)

NUVENS
Tim Maia
Released 1982 on Seroma LP-TM-009
Reissue 2011 on Editora Abril

1 Nuvens
(Deny King, Cassiano)
2 Outra mulher
(Tim Maia)
3 Ar puro
(Tim Maia, Robson Jorge)
4 O trem – 1ª parte
(Tim Maia)
5 A festa
(Tim Maia)
6 Apesar dos poucos anos
(Beto Cajueiro, Tim Maia)
7 Deixar as coisas tristes para depois
(Pedro Carlos Fernandes)
8 Ninguém gosta de se sentir só
(Tim Maia)
9 Hadock Lobo esquina com Matoso
(Tim Maia)
10 O trem – 2ª parte
(Tim Maia)
11 Casinha de sapé
(Hyldon)
12 Sol brilhante
(Rubens Sabino, Tim Maia)

 Tim Maia would have been 70 years old today! So in spite of the efforts of US corporations imposing their mentality on the rest of the world, I am dedicating one more post to the grande mestre.

In his biography of Tim Maia, Vale Tudo, Nelson Motta called this album the best Tim Maia record that nobody ever heard.  Similarly the notes on this reissue go to great pains to point out its small cult following and contrast it against its lack of commercial impact.  Motta is prone to hyperbole in general, and the shoddy liner notes from Editora Abril on their series of Tim reissues can’t be taken too seriously.  But I remember the first time I ever heard this album, at the house of a guy who had an autographed vinyl copy.  I hadn’t even known of its existence, and the rather unflattering photo of Tim entering his Marshmallow Man phase had me skeptical.  So I was surprised at hearing all these new solid tunes, and after much beer and churrasco on that lazy Sunday afternoon I was probably ready to acclaim the album in similar hyperbolic terms.  It would be years before I was able to hear it again.  Does it deserve to be better known?  Most certainly.  Is it one of Tim’s best albums?  Depends on the listener, but its obviously well crafted and a mostly strong set of songs.  (However it is hard to reflect on the music when you can BARELY HEAR what is going on — see below!)  The thing about “Nuvens” is that you can’t call it a “commercial failure” because, as Motta said, nobody really got the chance to hear it.  So even Brazilians who were fans before Tim received the recent surge of hipster interest were by and large unaware of this album.

At this point in his career, Tim had pretty much alienated everyone in the music business through his often volatile temperament, penchant for not showing up for high profile gigs, and appetite for hedonism.  Label execs and promoters were wary of dealing with him.  During the 70s, however, Tim was one of the first Brazilian artists to control the publishing rights for his own material: perhaps taking inspiration from some of his North American soul music counterparts, he recognized music publishing as one of the most egregious forms of exploitation and set up his own company, SEROMA, to publish his songs.  Seroma was a publishing company first and only later an occasional record label, in which capacity Tim consistently lost money.  In many ways Tim was a shrewd businessmen but a horrible administrator, promulgating the motto that Seroma was the only label that “pays on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays after 9 o’clock.”  He kept the label’s treasury under lock and key in his own apartment, was known to occasionally pay musicians with drugs in lieu of money, and seems to have decided what to pay his band Vitória Régia based on his mood.  The decision to make Seroma a label in the first place was practically an accident, developing after RCA rejected the double-album project with which they had lured Tim away from Polygram.  This was what would become the two Racional albums, the sessions for which started out as straightforward soul and funk songs until Tim was introduced to his new-found (and short-lived) religion in Cultura Racional, after which he discarded all the lyrics and any vocal tracks, replacing them with bizarre musings on the world of Animal Energy and commands to “Read the Book, the Book of Life!”   The second Seroma release came a few years later with a wonderful little album, 1978’s “Tim Maia Em Inglês.”  Seroma would stay dormant as a label for a while afterwards, with Tim putting out records on major labels again (plus one on Som Livre in 1977).  Once more disenchanted with the music industry’s vampiric practices, in 1982 he resolved to release yet another album himself and prepared for it by putting out a single that yielded a huge hit, “Do Leme ao Pontal,” and then funneling all the profits from it into the new record.

Unfortunately for Tim, without a distribution deal, Tim was essentially doing all the legwork for the promotion and distribution himself, work for which he clearly was not suited.  The record went largely unnoticed, and was subsequently overshadowed by the phenomenal ‘O Descobridor das Setes Mares’ from the following year.

So, when I first heard that this record was at long last being reissued in 2011, I was very excited.  Until I began to actually hear the results from Editora Abril, that is.  Ed.Abril is actually a publishing company, responsible for the likes of trash-news magazine Veja, and their reissue series was originally intended to be sold at news stands.   In spite of having had a few cool series on LP (the informative História da MPB composers series), they are an empire of paper, and it shows.  The reissues had 50 page “booklets” that were light on information but full of garish graphic design and superfluous photos probably culled from their vast archives (Lulu Santos? Gretchen? why??).  And the sound was PAPER THIN.  Conspicuously avoiding any mention of master tapes or remastering, they managed to somehow downgrade the sound for the records that were previously widely available on CD at one time, such as his first four albums on Polydor.  This isn’t just the nit-picking of an obsessive audio junkie either.  Compare the Ed. Abril versions with any of those, or in fact the newer releases from the Universal boxset, and you will be forced to admit that Editora Abril did something very very bad to the audio.  All the more tragic in the case of ‘Tim Maia em Inglês” and “Nuvens” because those two titles have been long out of print. and fetching ridiculous prices from collectors.  It is painfully obvious that used subpar source material, and then applied a heavy-handed “noise filter” that makes these tracks sound like low-bitrate mp3s even when you are listening to 16-bit PCM WAVs.  Now that the the Abril editions are also out of print, I have been seeing vendors on Mercado Livre (a place notoriously out of touch with reality when it comes to pricing records) selling those pitiful reissues for questionable amounts of money justified by the catchphrase “out of print”.. Time to put a stop to that by any means.

Whether all this preamble above is necessary before talking about the actual music is debatable, but I will say this:  the experience of listening to this shoddy reissue is so much less enjoyable than hearing it on the original vinyl on that lazy Sunday afternoon, that it makes any kind of objective assessment nearly impossible for me.  That is in fact why I waited a year to even write this post – my disappointment was so profound that it killed completely killed my enthusiasm about the record.

Working again with his frequent collaborators Cassiano and Hyldon, Nuvens is from the start an organic set of soul tunes.  The production is slick but avoids the pitfalls of so much early 80s music (contemporary records by icons like Chico Buarque, Caetano or Gil sound positively silly by comparison).  Acoustic guitar, electric piano, percussion, meticulous horn arrangements.  The opening title cut has Cassiano’s melodic stamp of mellow soul all over it, and the next three tunes are pure Tim.  In their original analog form this is a record for breezy summer days.  “Ar Puro” picks up the tempo to get the dance floor moving, and the instrumental funk workout ‘O Trem’ is tremendous, although oddly divided up between the first and second sides.  The magic is broken by the turkey “A Festa” which is ruined by overdubs of giggling women, and even without them the song is the equivalent of Tim ‘phoning it in’.  “Apesar De Poucos Anos” was not written by Cassiano but sounds as if it were, his falsetto backing vocals adding to that feeling.   It could be an affect of the lousy CD reissue but Tim’s lead vocal is almost completely lost in parts of this song, making for a very odd mix.  The ballad that follows is really one of Tim’s best.   “Deixar As Coisas Tristes Prá Depois” opens with a baroque-tingued acoustic guitar figure by Pedro Carlos Fernandes, very brief but very unlike anything else in his discography, and which continues throughout the tune.  The production and arrangement is majestic — or rather it would be if it weren’t stifled by Editora Abril.  The few bars of acoustic guitar and saxophone at the minute and a half mark just slay me.  Next is an awkwardly direct, autobiographical “Ninguém Gostar De Sentir Só” that gives a glimpse to the loneliness hidden behind Tim’s ebullient personality.  It’s also a great tune.  The next is a turkey – “Hadock Lobo Esquina Com Matoso” pays tribute to a São Paulo streetcorner and Tim’s days ‘before the fame’ hanging out with Roberto and Erasmo Carlos.  It’s honestly pretty awful.  O Trem (part 2) continues the funk workout from the first side.  “Na Rua, Na Chuva, Na Fazenda (Casinha de Sapé)” is Hyldon’s signature song and the title of his first album.  Tim is a natural choice for recording this song (which has suffered some awful remakes in recent years) and his voice is much more powerful than Hyldon, but I prefer the original for being more emotionally satisfying and better arranged.  The closing number “Sol brilhante” has a riff that is uncannily similar to the Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love.”  It could be just my imagination or coincidence but it wouldn’t be the first time Tim lifted something directly from US music.  It’s a light and fluffy bit of summer breeze that blows shut the window pane on this little treasure of a record.  Hopefully it won’t be another 20 years before somebody gives this one the reissue it deserves.  I listen to this disc much less than I would if it sounded even halfway decent.

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Tim Maia – Tim Maia (1971) Ed.Abril 2011 Reissue

TIM MAIA
Released 1971 as Polydor (2451 006)
This reissue, Editora Abril / Vitória Régia 2011

1 A festa do Santo Reis (Márcio Leonardo)
2 Não quero dinheiro [Só quero amar] (Tim Maia)
3 Salve Nossa Senhora (Carlos Imperial, Eduardo Araújo)
4 Um dia eu chego lá (Tim Maia)
5 Não vou ficar (Tim Maia)
6 Broken heart (Tim Maia)
7 Você (Tim Maia)
8 Preciso aprender a ser só (Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
9 I don’t know what to do with myself (Hyldon, Tim Maia)
10 É por você que vivo (Rosa Maria, Tim Maia)
11 Meu país (Tim Maia)
12 I don’t care (Tim Maia)

Produced by Tim Maia and Jairo Pires

————————

So far the Editora Abril series of Coleção Tim Maia has been kind of a huge disappointment. With no information on where they are getting their source tapes (a few of the titles I have so far, “With No One Else Around” aka “Tim Maia Canta em Inglês” from 1978, and ‘Nuvens’ from 1982 — the sound quality is akin to a lossy mp3. The reissue of Racional Vol.1 is inferior to the one released by Trama Records a few years back, although Vol.2 fares slightly better. And the booklets! It’s as if they are under some contractual obligation to produce 45-page booklets with each edition, and fill them up with useless trivia of the period like pictures of Jim Morrison. If you cut the pointless graphics and photos out of this, you would have a decent 20 page booklet.

How do I feel about this 1971 in terms of its quality as a reissue? I haven’t had it long enough to say, and up until now I have only had this one on vinyl — you can find my vinyl rip of this one HERE. So far this is probably the best-sounding of the reissues I’ve gotten my hands on, but I haven’t had time to give it a critical listen. The music is so damn happy and upbeat it would put me in a good mood if it was being played through a broken megaphone, so subjectivity is hard.

You can also read my review of the album there, as I don’t have anything else to add to it that I didn’t say the first time.

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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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Marcos Valle – Marcos Valle (1974)

MARCOS VALLE

Released 1974 on Odeon (SMOFB 3854)
Reissued 2011 in the box Marcos Valle Tudo

1 No rumo do sol
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
2 Meu herói
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
3 Só se morre uma vez
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
4 Casamento, filhos e convenções
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
5 Remédio pro coração
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
6 Brasil X México
(Marco Valle)
7 Tango
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
8 Nossa vida começa na gente
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
9 Novelo de lã
(Walter Mariani, Marcos Valle)
10 Cobaia
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
11 Charlie Bravo
(Marcos Valle)

Marcos Valle – vocals, piano, arrangements
Tavito – arrangements
Wagner Tiso – keyboards
José Roberto Betrami – keyboards
Helio Delmiro – electric guitar
Luizão Maia and Alex Malheiros – bass
Robertinho Silva – drums
Vocals – Márcio Lott, Renato Correa, Ronaldo Correa, Marisinha, Regininha, Malu, Aninha e Claudio Telles

Produced by Milton Miranda
Musical direction by Lindolfo Gaya
Production assistant – Tavito
Recording technicians – Roberto, Dacy and Toninho
Remix engineer – Z.J. Merky
Photos and layout – Flavio D’Alincourt
Art – Roberto Souza
Cover – Juarez Machado

2011 reissue coordinated by Charles Gavin
Supervision by Marcos Valle
Remastered by Ricardo Gardia at Magic Master, RJ

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Marcos Valle’s restive spirit once again sees him changing things up. Rather than attempt to repeat the winning formula of 1973’s “Previsão do Tempo”, this album finds Marcos nesting in the clouds of baroque pop and blue-eyed soul. The vocal and orchestral arrangements – aided and abetted by composer Tavito – are meticulous, and the production, as always, is first-rate and delicious. Largely a mellow affair dominated by ballads, it is punctuated with a few more upbeat tunes beginning the with sensitive anti-hero anthem “Meu herói.” While not packing the pure funk punch of the Azymuth tunes of the last album, there are some funky hooks – “Casamentos, filhos e convenções” has a very satisfying chorus with chord changes to offset the verse well enough to be called perfection. Clavinet through a wah-pedal mixed with strings, brass, piano. Very nice analog synth work from Wagner Tiso and José Roberto Betrami on the whole record. The song “Remedio pro coração” reminds me of Taiguara’s albums from the early to mid 70s, but less melancholic and angst-ridden. “Tango” is probably the only Marcos Valle tune to have a bandeon, and is actually almost a tango, and a great song. “Nossa vida começa a gente” is a sonic orgasm, its lush pop exterior subverted by the inclusion of what appears to be a surdo drum dropped into the chorus that would almost make this prime material for a dub remix (but.. please don’t do this). “Novela de lã” is another ballad, downbeat with a lot of room for dynamics, muted electric guitar sneaking in some jazz chords, Hammond organ threatening to swell but never actually doing so, and of course more layered vocal harmonies. “Cobaia” is one of my favorite slow tunes on the album mostly due to the piano line that comes in about 27 seconds in and its interplay with the acoustic guitar. The whole album is full of these subtle touches that disguise the sheer creativity of the arrangements. Seven of the eleven songs clock in around two and a half minutes, three tunes barely crack the three-minute mark, and the album closes with one “long” tune that almost reaches five minutes, the gorgeous instrumental “Charlie Bravo”, which has Wagner Tiso’s influence in it pretty strongly. There is no track by track sessionography for this that I am aware of, which is a shame for this tune in particular – I have a feeling that Marcos himself may not even play on the song but only composed it. Well, “only” composed a five-minute elegy to his own legacy in a composition that evokes everything that came before on the record, and in a way much of his achievements as a musician and composer over the last decade. It is both a fitting and beguiling closer to this very necessary boxset. It leaves me wanting to hear more – and once again, these last few http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifvolumes in the box lack any alternate mixes or bonus tracks – but it also reminds that there is already so much here to keep a lover of good music happy, we should really just be thankful.

I know it was a long wait for this last piece of the Valle box. I hope its been worth it. By far this box has been the most satisfying reissues of any Brazilian artist’s back catalog in many years.

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Marcos Valle – Garra (1971)

GARRA
Marcos Valle
1971 on Odeon (MOFB 3683)

1 Jesus meu Rei
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
2 Com mais de 30
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
3 Garra
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
4 Black is beautiful
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
5 Ao amigo Tom
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Osmar Milito, Marcos Valle)
6 Paz e futebol
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
7 Que bandeira
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Máriozinho Rocha, Marcos Valle)
8 Wanda Vidal
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
9 Minha voz virá do sol da América
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
10 Vinte e seis anos de vida normal
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)
11 O cafona
(Paulo Sergio Valle, Marcos Valle)

———-
bonus tracks 2011

12. Com mais de 30 (versao instrumental)
13. Garra (versao instrumental em sol)
14. Black is beautiful (alternate version instrumental)
15. Que bandeira (alternate version instrumental)
16. Que bandeira (instrumental mix)
17. Wanda Vida (instrumental mix)
Marcos Valle – vocals and piano
Dom Salvador – piano and organ
Marizinha – vocal on Black is Beautiful
Geraldo Vaspar – acoustic guitar, orchestrations on 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8
Orlando Silveira – orchestrations 9, 10
Cesar Camargo mariano – orchestration on 6

Produced by Milton Miranda
Musical direction by Lindolfo Gaya
Assisten producer – Mariozinho Rocha

2011 reissue supervised by Charles Gavin
Reamstered by Ricardo Garcia at Magic Master, RJ

Another classic early 70s album from Marcos Valle, But, this album took a little while to grow on me. Perhaps because, when I’m obsessively-compulsively collecting, consuming, and divulging music, I am busy worshiping the Dark One, Satanáis, Beelzebub, Lucifer, or Jimmy Witherspoon – I am a little put off by the opening track on this one, ‘Jesus Meu Rei.’ On the other hand, there is an apocryphal and even millenarian streak to a lot of the content on this album. Satan may have granted me the power to acquire gluttunous amounts of music over the years, but far be if from me to question The Brothers Valle if their faith is strong. It’s a gorgeous baroque pop tune with whispy harpsichord and strummy acoustic guitar and very, um, “churchy” organ from none other than Dom Salvador. Then tuning into the lyrics and I am surprised, in spite of knowing that I shouldn’t be, of Paulo Sérgios genius. In its hymnal piety the song also calls on Jesus to look around at how the world has changed, and ambiguous lines that can either be a lament of world gone down the wrong path, or perhaps a plea to some type of moral relativity adn realism (“nada e ninguem / sabe o que é mal / e o que é bem / Jesus meu rei / fazendo lei / Passa seu tempo real”). A chorus of voices that’s built since the first verse swells into the transcendent bridge and the softly provocative lines:

De repente, achou a verdade / Informou ao seu ministério / Que o mistério estava na vida / Vida lá fora / Fora dali

Era só olhar para o mundo / Ver a gente amando na grama / E as crianças pelo jardim Escorrendo pra mãe, pro pai // Pro paísFor the non-Lusophile, I regret to inform you that are missing out on quite a bit here and subtle wordplay that translation just can’t get at. Listen to how well the lyrics, vocals, and arrangments hang together and reinforce each other.

When I first played this album I didn’t quite know what to thing of it. But since then I’ve decided this may be the “sleeper” in the whole batch of Marcos’s 1970s output, a near perfect album. In his liner notes Marcos admits to his inability to classify these songs: “sambas-pop-bossa-jazz”, he calls them, but there is definitely some pós-Tropicália rock here too.

“Com mais de trinta” begins by playing with the trendy phrase of the late 60s and early 70s, “Never trust anyone over 30,” after which Paulo gives us a hold LOT of reasons not to trust the number 30. Then seemingly leaving the whole idea of 30 in the dust as the narrator contemplates the things in life he dreams about but never does, his sensation of dislocation in time and space, “Passo a passo, faço mais um traço”.. This is deceptively simple, unadorned lyricism. Bereft of the layered complexity of Chico Buarque’s genius work, or unburdened by the density of Caetano Veloso’s beguiling forays into solipsism, Paulo Sérgio seems to have had a way of saying speaking in a very simple way about very complex ideas. So simply and directly that might leave you utterly unstruck and unconcinved when first encountered. There is a clean symetrical beauty to the words, Marcos’ vocal delivery, and the production and arrangements. When the truth of this hit me, the parts of this album that had seemed like a bit of a confused mess became utterly uncluttered. Paulo had a way of setting words to Marcos’ musical ideas that makes them one of the classic telekinetic songwriting teams. And Paulo had a way of churning out pointed, sardonic, and nuanced critiques of all manner of societal patterns, preconceptions, of issues contemporary and contextual and quasi-eternal, without ever succumbing to bitterness or hipster irony, holding on to his own brand of humanist optimism.

The title track is just plain weird, with Marcos’s out-of-breath ‘ha ha’ sounding completely bizarre in one of his brother’s stranger lyrics concoctions of urban dislocation, ambition, alienation. Musically it’s infectiously punchy in a soft painted-velvet arrangement of drums grooving in the left channel, utterly unhurried and laid-back; Dom Salvador laying down percussive bursts of organ and swells of Hammond vibrato at the end of certain measures; breaks at the ends of the chorus where suddenly flutes and violins sneak their way. Then a verse of Marcos singing scatlike nonsense syllables. Once again, sonically it is a pastiche of elements that probably shouldn’t be thrown together and yet couldn’t sound more natural (and, once again, Paulo Sérgio manages a lyrical mimesis). The alternate version here, at a faster tempo and in different key, sheds light on the creative process and makes me even more impressed with the final version. Its not that the two are terribly different in structure or execution, but the album take is much more “in the pocket.”

The album continues to challenge the listener, to greater or lesser success or failure. “Black Is Beautiful” almost feels like they are (as the British would say) ‘having a go’ at the listener with a playful send-up of Afrocentric pride; then I think to myself, no, they are totally sincere, just hopelessly clumsy and even naive about it. From a sociohistorical context, in Brazil or in the US where the phrase “Black is beautiful” was born, there is so much that is just WRONG with this tune that I wouldn’t know where to start. I still can’t honestly say what they were thinking.. This album has plenty of The Brother’s Valle blue-eyed soul on it, but this song has enough exaggerated torch-song drama to it that I just can’t take it too seriously But it’s also too damn intriguing for me to leave it at face value, and its kind of, well, a bit hilarious:

“Hoje cedo na Rua do Ouvidor // Early today on Ouvidor Street
Quantos louras horríveis eu vi // I saw so many horrible blondes
Eu quero uma dama de cor // I want a lady of color
Uma deusa do Congo ou daqui // A goddess from the Congo or from here
(Que se integre no meu sangue europeu) // To blend with my European blood

Black is beautiful (2x)
Black beauty is so peaceful
I wanna a black
So beautiful”

If this is sardonic, then it may be complex commentary on the foundational myths of Brazilian mestizagem (race-making, and often coerced in the master-slave relationship) as the roots of an alleged “racial democracy” that has never existed in reality. Or, perhaps its just completely silly drivel from two blond-haired blue-eyed surfista beach bums. In which case, its still hard to be mad at these guys. It’s just too damn honest and awkward, and the broken English (is this intentional? These guys spent two years living in the States…) only adds to the sense that somebody is mocking somebody else about…something.

Amigo Tom… At this time Tom Jobim had spent quite a few years in the US recording with the likes of Frank Sinatra and producer Creed Taylor (for his CPI label). This song is a simple `welcome home’, things weren’t the same without you, please don’t leave again, yes things have changed here but it will all be okay in the end.. The melody line and chordal structure is a worthy homage to the master of bossa nova.

“Paz e futebol” takes up the trope of Brazilian culture a culmination of tropical laziness and a Lusitanian aversion towards work, a critique strongly linked to Anglo-Saxon prejudices against Brazil but just as equally bought into by Brazil’s upper class who looks to Europe (or the US) as their model for “civilzation”. This is a gentle rebuttle without an exclamation point to punctuate its rancor. “Que bandeira” is probably just a song of thwarted, spurned love and the misunderstandings in changing relationships. Or maybe it’s a coded critique of the military dictatorship that the censor`s missed because they thought Marcos and Paulo were harmless pothead surfers at this point.. “Wanda Vidal” is lyrically like the opening of some unwritten mystery novel, but was actually on the soundtrack to a telenovela (Os Ossos do Barão) and musically driven by heavily strummed acoustic guitar, bossa-rock drums, chunks of organ chords and piano, congas.. Apparently this song has some cult status in Europe and the US as Madlib apparently did a remix of it. The following tune “Minha voz vira do sol de América” is, in spite of its possibly megalomaniac title, an understated instrumental based around Marcos or Dom Salvador’s piano and Veraldo Gaspar’s lush arrangement, with a stray female vocal drifting in and out (uncredited, but maybe his wife Ana again?). “Vinte e seis anos de vida normal” – this song couldn’t possibly have a cooler introduction of vocal harmonies, strings, followed by strong propulsive drums, erogenous arrangements, and more of Paulo’s lyrical talent in narrating another disaffected, alienated young person who feels they’ve spent their life reading newspapers and watching TV, wishing he’d done things he hadn’t, regretting things he had, until he comes across an announcement in the paper that mentions that he has died, um, reading the newspaper, followed by a stanza of millenarian hyperbole too good to spoil.

“Cafona” (translated roughly as in bad taste, tacky, ‘brega’ or whatever) is either utter nonsense or deep and profound. I’m not sure. But its definitely got one of the deepest grooves around on this disc and Marcos vocals couldn’t be more, well, Marcos. And it was the lead track for a another telenovela sountrack, a show with the same name of “Cafona.” It’s a perfect album closer, and again a perfect marriage of voice-lyric-instrumentation-arrangement.

The instrumental bonus tracks all make for great listening. And sense we mentioned Madlib in this post — is he actually hoping for more remixes and samples? One thing that hasn’t been mentioned in these posts is that, in a big way, Marcos Valle is more valorized outside Brazil than within it, where is almost forgotten except for his bigger hits. In a lot ways he was either ahead of his time, or just ‘out of time’, existing in some weird alternate musical universe. I am aware that these write-ups have perhaps begun leaning towards the breathless prose of idyllic idol praise but, damnit, this album really IS probably a masterpiece. It is nothing if not masterful, and it makes it all sound so easy – as if blending sun-dappled soul music with post-bossa pop, mild psychedelia (as in, about five or six hours into a psychedelic experience..), and rock attitude is just something they guys could do with a shrug or the casual nonchalance displayed in the back cover photos.



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