Aldo Sena – Solo de Ouro (1984)

Aldo Sena e Seu Conjunto
1984 RGE 309.6006

01     Big Show
02     Lambada Do Papão
03     Juliana
04     Lambada Do Campeão
05     Paraíso
06     Gosto De Você
07     Solo De Ouro
08     Lambada Do Leão
09     Menina Do Cinema
10   Lambada Do Bomba
11     Festa Do Amor
12    Transfusão De Bordão

This post is obviously coming far too late in the day for you to break it out at your Sunday barbeque or churrasco, but there is always next weekend.  It’s been a while since I posted anything and I’ve been told that it is of paramount important for your “brand” to stay constantly active in social media.

This is Aldo Sena, one of the greats of guitarrada, a party music from Pará listened to by working class people, and hence largely ignored by the Brazilian cultural elite because they only care about poor people when they can be turned into folklore.  The songs on this record comfortably move between related styles like lambada and brega, and there is even a reggae-brega that isn’t half bad.  When I first heard the vocal tunes on this record, I felt like they were
filler, but I no longer feel that way.  They are pretty good,
especially Menina do Cinema which has that strum-along sing-along Jovem Guarda thing going, and I like Gosto de Você although it may
be the least dread faux-reggae song you’ve heard in a while (hopefully
you won’t find it dreadful..).

Most of Aldo’s repertoire here is instrumental music, centered on his electric guitar that has a clean tone you might associate more with surf music than Brazilian music.  A lot of the popular music of northern Brazil has as much if not more in common with things happening with its neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean than with the sounds found in MPB.  You are more likely to hear music that sounds like bachata or cumbia than bossa nova.  Mestre Vieira, who is kind of the godfather of this stuff (more James Brown than Corleone of course), used to play lots of choro and chorinho at the very beginning of his career, but also played lots of mambo and merengue, an omnivorous music appetite that would have caused music critic José Ramos Tinhorão to begin foaming at the mouth.  If guitarrada suddenly came on the scene today, there would be people using words like “transnational” and “hybrid” and “postmodern,” but in the 70s and 80s the gatekeepers of taste would have been, well, unlikely to use those words.  Words weren’t really necessary anyway when you could just keep people from being part of the conversation from the beginning.

Things have changed, though, with Aldo Sena having been featured as the youngest member in a “supergroup” called Mestres de Guitarrada along with Mestre Vieira and Mestre Curica.  They received attention via showcase presentations at  Itaú Cultural in far away lands like São Paulo, and a CD of music released in a great looking but highly impractical wooden box format that has been pretty much out of print and scarce since it the week it was released.  Neither of those things would have happened without the intervention of researchers and producers with access to the cultural elite.  So it goes with “cultural preservation” and “rescue” missions.  You can see a clip of one of these Itaú Cultural shows below, with some of the audience restricted to chair-dancing until finally people can’t resist any longer and end up dancing in the aisles.

Although the power of AM radio airplay should not be underestimated, the bread and butter of artists like Aldo Sena was in live performances.  The other live clips, filmed more recently by an audience member at a small club in Ceará, proves that he still sounds great, and the people still dance.  Boy do they dance.  In the clip that I’ve put first, the band rips through the song “Melô do Bode,”  a song by Vieira e Seu Conjunto that is one of my favorite things in the whole world (you can find it here), and the clip below it featuring the fabulous dancers is a carimbó.  The last two clips below that are studio tracks from the actual album featured in this post.

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** Interesting side note: this needledrop is from an LP that once belonged to Rádio Tamandaré, an AM station in Recife that began in the 1950s and has since converted to an entirely evangelical Christian format (100% Jesus!).


Vieira e Seu Conjunto – Lambadas das Quebradas Vol. 2 (1980)

Vieira e Seu Conjunto

Lambadas das Quebradas Vol.2
1980 Musicolor (104.405.359)
01 – Lambada do Rei
02 – Ela Voltou
03 – Bicharada No. 2
04 – Mariazinha
05 – O Seresteiro
06 – Duas Línguas
07 – Lambada do Mapinguari
08 – Joía
09 – Você Se Afastou De Mim
10 – Lambada do Sino
11 – Melô do Bode
12 – Sambista Brasileiro
Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 2496 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; Click Repair light settings, sometimes turned off; 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.
There are dozens of Brazilian musical genres that are not only mostly unknown outside its borders but also fail to garner the respect of the gatekeepers of taste that comprise the music-critic establishment (with some notable exceptions). There are dozens of factors in their critical invisibility, and geography is one, but you could boil them all down to the Brazilian elite’s ambivalent relationship to “the popular,” a term laden with racial baggage and class distinctions, and the stubborn refusal of o povo (’the people’) to like what the gatekeepers tell them they are supposed to like, whether it was the CPC or José Ramos Tinhorão or others. It bears reminding the foreign cultural cybernauts here that the “popular” in MPB (Música Popular Brasileira) has nothing to do whatsoever with record sales (it comprises a relatively small portion of the total) or demographic distribution (its consumption is pretty solidly restricted to the middle classes upwards). The construction of the category itself is fascinating and, for the curious, I highly recommend Sean Stroud’s recent book. In all fairness, though, it’s also not as if every musician’s overriding goal was to get a feature interview in O Pasquim magazine either, or that the vast majority of musicians cared passionately one way or another if Tinhorão thought electric guitars were the Devil’s imperialist plaything.  However, since the guitarrada of Mestre Vieira and his band (subject of this blog post, believe it or not) was played on amplified electric guitar, it’s no big surprise that it took years before the critics reluctantly took any notice.
In any event, in the late 1970s while the carioca middle class was at home drinking wine to their Djavan and Ivan Lins records, or out being seen at the Canecão, up in the north of the country there was a thriving music scene around the city of Belém, Para, and its environs: genres like carimbó and sirimbó, siriá, guitarrada, lambada and more. In spite of vowing to roll out some of this stuff over the last three or four years, I have been negligent in bestowing attention to it on this blog. There have been a couple stumbling blocks: first is that I find most of these records in average to poor condition from street vendors (the stuff is by and large “party music,” and thus typically much-played and poorly cared-for), and my obsessive-compulsive quirks – one of which is insisting on presenting the audio here in as good a state as I can get it – seem to get worse as the years progress. So I look at this pile of records, play them with their crackles and pops, and put them away again. The second major stumbling block is my own lack of context – hell, I still haven’t been to visit Belém! So what can I authoritatively say about what made these records resonate with their public, enough to sustain some of these folks with careers that spanned decades? How can I account for this “regional” music being popular enough to still regularly turn up on the sidewalks of Recife two thousand kilometers away and yet barely registering as a blip on the radar of most accounts about Brazilian music? Why does some of it sometimes remind me of Peruvian chicha, or cumbia or merengue, of soukous or calypso, or even West African jùjú music? Can I say such things without the musicological technical wherewithal and jargon to back it up?
I’ve resolved to put those qualms aside and just share some of the music. The impetus for this is profound, originating in a spiritual epiphany I had while under the spell of a viral video about goats yelling like people, while recording one of my podcasts, and deciding to play a song about a goat off this album. Serendipity! This is the second album by one of the founders of both the guitarrada and lambada genres (in fact he is pretty much The King of guitarrada), Joaquim de Lima Vieira, born on October 29, 1934, in the city of Barcarena, in the state of Pará. He is still alive and kicking too, here is a recent photo:

 photo mestrevieira_zps88c621ea.jpg photo mestrevieiranotheatrodapaz_foto_luciana_medeiros1_zps80631aec.jpg

(this gorgeous photo on the bottom was taken by Luciana Medeiros, and I will take a wild guess and say it was probably taken inside Belém’s famous opera house.)

This is animated music and should be an interesting and even an exciting listen, especially for the guitarists out there. The rawness and rough edges are refreshing in an era when MPB had lost any shred of spontaneity and punk rock hadn’t quite arrived yet in Brazil to give folks a shot in the arm, with the band playing cheap instruments that have trouble staying in tune, and a vocalist to match. The only virtuoso here is Vieira himself and that is fine by me. The drummer cracks me up: half the time he engages in sloppy tom-tom fills that remind me of my first garage band, while the rest of the time he pulls off these bad-ass tight snare fills and turnarounds that sound like he’s been listening to ska and rocksteady all day. Check out the intense interaction with the guitar in  Lambada do Maringuari (in the Soundcloud player below).  He even injects some sambalanço into the final track, “Sambista Brasileiro,” which also features some tamborim (small drum played with a stick in samba music). A lot of the record is comprised of instrumentals, and of the tracks that do have vocals the lyrics run the narrow range of romantic/lovelorn songs (Mariazinha, Ela Voltou, Você Se Afastou de Mim) to humor and wordplay (Duas Línguas, Melô do Bode, and Maringuari, this last being about a creature that is sort of the Amazonian Bigfoot). Even the instrumentals have a sense of humor, with ‘Bicharada No.2’ featuring some guitar runs intended to evoke farm animals. I mean in terms of sonic resemblance, not as in evoking with a magic circle chalked on the ground and some incantations. That I suppose that could work too. Another good instrumental is the brega-seresta of “O Seresteiro”As I mentioned earlier, this record was pretty ‘well-played’ in its time, a polite way of saying it’s pretty beat up.  (Check out that awesome seam split repair on the front cover!)  This being the case, I didn’t spend an inordinate amount of time trying to clean up the audio (although probably a lot more time than you would believe after hearing it..).   Do you really need this in 24-bit?  Not really, it’s pretty certainly overkill unless you want to take a stab at going through it with a fine-toothed comb and cleaning up it better for yourself.  But I offer it here anyway.  Until I pick up a better copy, this will have to do for now!


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