The song “Ser ou não ser” may not be Shakespeare, but Reginaldo Rossi sure did sing some catchy tunes in his heyday. Rossi was the city of Recife’s contribution to the Jovem Guarda music style of Brazilian 60’s pop-rock in the era when electric guitars were considered too low-class and “foreign” by music critics. Although the cover of this 1972 Reginaldo Rossi album looks like it was created by an intern while the graphic arts department was on strike, Rossi got to work in good studios thanks to being signed to CBS, the same label that had Roberto Carlos, so the production value is pretty high. And while he obviously owed a debt to Roberto, Rossi definitely had his own style. He only wrote a couple of the tunes here, but they are some of the best ones. Continue reading
QUERO VOLTAR PRA BAHIA
1970 Odeon MOFB 3664
Reissue 2007 Odeon Classics
1 Piri Piri
(Odibar, Paulo Diniz)
2 Um chope pra distrair
(Odibar, Paulo Diniz)
3 Ninfa mulata
(Odibar, Paulo Diniz)
4 Quero voltar pra Bahia
(Odibar, Paulo Diniz)
6 Marginal III
(Odibar, Paulo Diniz)
7 Chutando pedra
(Odibar, Paulo Diniz)
(Odibar, Paulo Diniz)
10 Ponha um arco-íris na sua moringa
(Odibar, Paulo Diniz)
11 Me leva
12 Sujeito chato
(Pedrinho, Paulo Diniz)
What a lovely little record this is from Paulo Diniz! The title song, dedicated to an exiled Caetano Veloso, was a counter-culture anthem at the time, a big hit in the summertime of 1969/70. And the twelve tracks here are suitably saturated in an understated incense-and-maconha haze while still remaining completely lucid. Whether distracting oneself with a cold beer, or frolicking with mulata nymphs washing clothes by a river (his imagery, not mine..), it may be the perfect recreational sunny day album. Almost.
Vocally and melodically, Diniz borrows a lot from Roberto Carlos and especially Wilson Simonal, even if he couldn’t approach the swagger or emotive range of either. Songs like “Canseira” could have been written for Simonal. In fact I can image them singing it together as a duet, except with Diniz being the voice for a Muppet version of Neil Diamond singing with Simonal on TV. He could have been more popular than Mug!
Which brings me to what may have jumped out at some listeners right away, others perhaps not so much: Diniz’s voice, which on this record is frequently distracting. Before I say anything further, have a listen to this gorgeous album “E Agora José” over at Jthyme’s blog. It is less of a rock record, and Diniz doesn’t sing like a Muppet Neil Diamond. He actually has quite an expressive voice on that album, which only makes his choices on this one more beguiling. It’s fair to say that the “José” record is a more mature artistic statement overall: for one thing, the title track is a musical interpretation of Carlos Drummond de Andrade’s famous poem with the same title, and he makes it sound completely natural. Kind of brilliant actually, and in terms of songwriting most of that album is a quantum leap beyond this one. Maybe the interval of two or three years left Paulo in better command of his voice and his art, or perhaps it’s a reflection of the vision for the record. I mean just LOOK at the cover of “Eu Quero Voltar Pra Bahia” – trippy, right? I mean, you have to sing it like you mean it if you are going with album art like that. Pernambuco since the 1970s seems to have a pattern of yielding interesting and important musicians and songwriters who can’t sing worth a shit (see: anyone associated with ‘Mangue Bit’ and its progeny), and I have been trying to pin down just exactly when that weird tendency started. Maybe it was with Paulo Diniz? Well at least he got better over time. The thing is, his over-driven throat blowing works on about half of this material, but on the rest – in particular on some slower tunes like “Chega” and “Canseira” but also some up-tempo ones like football homage “Me leva,” it is distracting if not outright annoying. “Um chope pra distrair” strikes a nice balance between his two singing styles. In fact this tune is one Diniz’s most famous compositions and rightly so. Muppet-voice aside, the tunes on this record (all of them original except an odd
interpretation of a Lupicínio Rodrigues number) are well put together, with good lyrics, and
the arrangements and musicianship are top notch. Some nice harpsichord too, if you’re into that kind of thing.
“A Misteriosa Luta Do Reino de Parasempre Contra O Império de Nuncamais”
Original release Polydor (Brasil) LPNG 44.037, 1969
This reissue 2006 Discos Mariposa, Argentina
1- De como meu herói Flash Gordon irá levar-me de volta a Alfa do Centauro, meu verdadeiro lar
3- Pare de sonhar com estrelas distantes
4- Onde foi “Morning Girl”
5- My cherie amour
6- Atlântida “Atlantis”
7- Por quem sonha Ana Maria?
8- Mares de areia
9- Regina e o mar
10- Foi bom
11- Rose Ann
12- Comecei uma brincadeira “I started a joke”
13. Meu Bem
14. O Pequeno Príncipe
15. Meu Mundo Parou
Here’s some more pós-jovem guarda psychedelia (or is it psychejovem guardelia-iê-iê?) from former teen-idol and past and present TV star and show host Ronnie
Von! Pretty heady stuff for such a heart-throb: the title translates as “The Mysterious Struggle of the Kingdom of Forever Against the Empire of Nevermore.” And this record was made before that North American whats-her-name made absurdly long and silly album titles trendy! Of his three psych albums from the late 60s-early-70s, this only narrowly loses out to the third one as my favorite. Mostly because it has one too many ‘cover songs’ of contemporary hits on it. In particular, the rather odd choice of My Cherie Amor just doesn’t fit. A Brazilian-Portuguese version of Donovan’s “Atantlis” is a campy highlight though, and his version of Jobim’s “Dindi” is just plain great. I like his version of The Bee
Gee’s “I Started A Joke” even if I prefer the original. It’s got a very fuzzy guitar and everyone is accenting the down stroke (even the piano player!), giving the tune an unexpected headiness (or is it heaviness?) and it makes a good closer for the album. (Everything after that track consists of bonus cuts).
This record is best when it’s at its most psychedelic, which also happens to include most of the tunes co-written by Ronnie. The opening cut is great, so is “Pare de
sonhar com as estrelas distantes”, features a sound collage bridge very much inspired by the Fab Four. Von first got his start in music by way of a friendship with a group called The Brazilian Beatles and appeared on their TV show in 1965 singing “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away,” so it is only natural that his sound followed the instincts of their idols. Although this kind of stuff was vociforously attacted by the reactionaries of the day as being an agent of imperialism and a “mass culture” threat, Von’s music isn’t nearly as derivative as all that. He doesn’t attempt to ape Beatle-esque harmonies, and the approach to arrangements has its fair share of blue-eyed soul (or is it green-eyed soul?) and is just as inspired by contemporaneous Roberto Carlos. In other words, he might have been heavily inspired by The Beatles – along with, um, pretty much everyone else recording pop music in 1969 – but there was far more derivative stuff being produced by pop and psych-pop contemporaries in the anglophone world. There is quite a bit of originality here, and if I were to complain it would be that the record doesn’t have enough of Von’s own compositions. He fixes that on his next record, however.
The track “Rose Ann” manages to squeeze English, Portuguese, and French into the same tune, briefly breaking down into an accordion-driven bit of chanson. There’s some very nice vibraphone on this too. Ronnie was really gifted at doing spoken parts in between his sung vocals. I would like to hear him read an entire audio-book. What great works of literature should we suggest to his agent? Please leave your suggests in the comment suggestion. Meanwhile, “You’re love will be, like summer to me.”
One of favorite tunes on the album is “Regina e o Mar,” which has a perfect blend of a groovy bass line and rhythm guitar, loose drums, creative string arrangements, Ronnie’s soulful vocal, and just the right amount of tape delay. This tune is followed by an unexpected and equally groovy tune penned by Benedito da Paula, which adds horns to the previous winning combination. No tape delay, though. Oh well, it’s good to be sparing with it anyway.
Tagged at the end are some bonus tracks, including yet another cover (The Beatles’ “Girl”), which if the liner notes here are correct he managed to record without crediting them, and Ronnie’s signature hit tune, “O Pequeno Principe”. “Girl” / “Meu Bem” has a pretty wicked tremolo-surf guitar part.
This release on Mariposa Records (Argentina) is a needle-drop, and not a particularly good one, but it gets the job done. Since my birthday is coming up soon, feel free to send me original vinyl copies as a gift. Thanks!
Oh and I almost forgot – the bilingual booklet is a wonderful example of what happens when you use Google Translate to convert Brazilian Portuguese to English. Fun!!
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.
Rarities and singles, 1964-1972
Released by Discobertas, May 2011
01. Olhos Feiticeiros (com Sambacana)
02. Você, Por Telegrama
03. A Vez e A Voz da Paz
04. Dia de Vitória
06. Sem Mais Luanda
07. Cavaleiro Andante
09. Copacabana Velha de Guerra
10. Please Garçon
11. Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5
12. Sei Lá (com A Tribo)
13. Onocêonekotô (com A Tribo)
14. Kyrie (com A Tribo)
15. Tapinha (com A Tribo)
16. Peba & Pobó (com A Tribo)
18. Adeus Maria Fulô
19. Nada Será Como Antes
It would take me half my life and more money than I possess to gather together all the material on this collection, which represents the earliest recordings by Joyce Moreno, whose artistic name during these days was simply “Joyce”. She is internationally famous and well-respected for her classy bossa and MPB albums these days. But in the beginning, she was a pretty courageous, experimental and prodigious talent. The first track on this album, Olhos Feiteiçeiros, was recorded when she was only SIXTEEN YEARS old at the instigation of Roberto Menescal with the group Sambacana. Why do I have lecherous images of Menescal giving Joyce “a back rub” in the studio to relax her? oh that’s right, because I’m a pervert.
There is a gap of four years between that 1964 recording and the rest of the material on this collection. Beginning in 1968 it is as if she didn’t sleep. Makes me feel really lazy, like I ought to make something useful out of my life. She had innumerable songs entered into the famous Festivals (none of them winners), released singles, had songs included on soundtracks to telenovelas, got married to Nelson Angelo and had kids, all before 1972. Two of those festival songs were also recorded (with more positive public reception) by Beth Carvalho – Andança, and Cavalheira Andante. But these versions are super cool, as is the original recording of “Copacabana Velha de Guerra” which would be rerecorded by Elis Regina on her 1970 album “Em Pleno Verão.” I have to say.. I think I like Joyce’s original better.
As fun as the first part of the disc might be, it is with this last song that things start to get really intriguing. Hanging out with the likes of Luis Eça and Nelson Angelo, her music took on a pointedly trippy and experimental edge, influenced by Tropicália but not dominated by it, in fact seeming to be on another path entirely, one that ran from the pristine beaches of Rio with its sunlight reflected in water and flesh and up through the climbing hills and mountains of Minas Gerais where the sun grows colder and refracts in the jagged edges of stone and crystal rock formations. And that’s why it seems natural that by the end of this she is recording a composition from the Clube da Esquina (Nada Será Como Antes by Milton Nascimento and Ronaldo Bastos), and the compilation ends right at the time when she would make her cult-worshiped landmark album with Nelson Angelo in 1972 of pastoral acoustic psychedelia. Although I am partial to the sonic orgasm of that album, but she continued to put out strong albums — Feminina and Água e Luz are probably the most cohesive and consistent, representing something like her creative peak. And she deserves particular credit for being a writer-composer and instrumentalist in a musical landscape where women in MPB have mostly been confined to the role of “interpreter.” This one should not be passed up.
Beth Carvalho “Primeiras Andanças – Os Primeiros Dez Anos” Released 2010 Discobertas (DBOX-01)
Boxset produced by Marcelo Fróes Remastering by Ricardo Carvalheira Graphic design by Bady Cartier
Volume One: Canto Por Um Novo Dia (1973) Tapecar X.19
1. Hora De Chorar
2. Canto Por Um Novo Dia
3. Se E Pecado Sambar
4. Homenagem A Nelson Cavaquinho
5. Evocaçao No. 1
6. A Velhice Da Porta Bandeira
7. Folhas Secas
8. Salve A Preguiça, Meu Pai
9. Mariana Da Gente
10. Fim De Reinado
11. Clementina De Jesus
12. Memoria De Um Compositor
13. Medley – Flor Da Laranjeira /sereia /sao Jorge,
Volume Two: Pra Seu Governo (1974) Tapecar X.22
2. 1800 Colinas (mil E Oitocentas Colinas)
3. Tesoura Cega
4. Maior E Deus
5. Fim Do Sofrimento
6. A Pedida E Essa
7. Pra Ninguem Chorar
8. Me Ganhou
10. Vovo Chica
11. Agora E Portela 74
12. Pra Seu Governo
Volume 3: Pandeiro e Viola (1975) Tapecar X.33
1. So Queria Ser Feliz
2. O Pior E Saber
3. Pandeiro E Viola
4. Amor Sem Esperança
5. Onde Esta A Honestidade
6. Gota D’agua
7. Enamorada Do Sambao
8. O Dia De Amanha
9. Amor Fiel
10. De Novo Desamor
11. Sente O Peso Do Couro
Volume 4: Primeiras Andanças – vol.1 (1965-1970)
2. Por Quem Morreu De Amor
4. Sim Pelo Nao
5. Viola Enluarada
8. Domingo Antigo
9. Cavaleiro Andante
10. Rosa De Gente
13. Guerra De Um Poeta
14. Meu Tamborim
15. O Tempo E O Vento
Volume 5: Primeiras Andanças – vol.2 (1970-75)
1. Geraçao 70
2. A Velha Porta
3. Sem Rumo E Sem Destino
4. Minhas Tardes De Sol
5. So Quero Ver
6. Essa Passou
7. Rio Grande Do Sul Na Festa Do Preto Forro
8. A Mais Querida
9. Amor, Amor
10. Mangueira Em Tempo De Folclore
11. Volta, Meu Amor
12. Meu Perdao
13. Rosa De Ouro – Ao Vivo
14. Foi Um Rio Que Passou Em Minha Vida – Ao Vivo
This boxset is a labor of love from Discobertas, a relatively new reissue label who appear to have acquired the rights to the whole Tapecar Records back catalog. Although I have some gripes about some technical issues in the production, the love and attention to detail on this package make up for it. Of the three studio albums presented all but one (‘Pra Seu Governo’) contain a few bonus rarities tacked to the end, an extra treat that hardly seems necessary given the two full discs of rarities that are part of the package. For those uninitiated into the music of Beth Carvalho, these albums are where you want to start. The studio albums are the most gratifying in terms of straight-through listening experience – they highlight Beth Carvalho fully blossomed into her musical identity, fully in command and focused in her direction, and executing her genius at pulling together so much musicality in the choices of compositions and musicians. They each deserve their own individual write-ups, which is part of the problem with boxsets — they can be daunting to listen to, and even more daunting to write about. I may share these individual with audio from their original vinyl pressings, and share some more thoughts there. Likewise you can find these albums posted on some of the ‘usual suspects’ like Loronix or jthymekind. Just a brief mention here, however, that the album ‘Pandeiro e Viola’ is a bit of a disappointment compared to the other two and falls in the category of “contractual obligation album,” as she had already been lost by Tapecar to RCA Records but still owed them an album. It shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand, obviously, and contains some great interpretations of sambas old and new — I particularly like the juxtaposition of the classic Noel Rosa tune “Onde está a honestidade” with Chico Buarque’s “Gota d’Agua.” But overall the album lacks the passion Beth brings to those first two long players, and there are no tunes that give me goosebumps like “Tesoura cega” (from ‘Pra Seu Governo”), a song so perfect it deserves an entire blog post all to itself, or pretty much ALL of her phenomenal first “Canto Pra Um Novo Dia.”
Now on to the mother-load of rarities that will attract the majority of listeners who already know her album material, the two discs called “As Primerias Andanças,” one dedicated to the decade of the 1960s, the second covering 1970 – 75.
The first disc is stylistically all over the place and, honestly, a bit messy. As off-putting as this disc is on first listen, the material is brought into focus by the truly great liner notes by Marcelo Fróes, some of which is based on interviews Beth gave exclusively for this boxset. They trace her career beginning with her unassuming middle-class life as a young guitar instructor who was persuaded to appear performing on television, soon recorded a single (the flipside of which was a song given to her by Roberto Menescal and Ronôldo Boscoli, “Pra Quem Morreu de Amor”), and from there took off into a dozen different directions. In a time period when the clique-ish cohort of bossa nova was breaking up and fragmenting, Beth moved through a variety of musical circles and personalities, reflected in the impressive variety of names that appear in the songwriting credits on these two discs: the aforemention Menescal/Boscoli, the brothers Valle, Arthur Verocai, Danilo Caymmi, Nelson Motta, Paulinho Tapajós, Milton Nascimento, Antonio Adolfo & Tibério Gaspar, Carlos Lyra & Chico Buarque, and of course – as she transformed into a reigning queen of samba during the 1970s – composers like Paulinho da Viola and especially her mentor Nelson Cavaquinho and his partner Guillherme de Brito.
This first of the two discs sheds a lot of insight into Beth Carvalho’s trajectory as an artist and musician. They flesh out the lacunas in the formation of the deity known as Beth Carvalho providing evidence of what we already knew: Beth Carvalho was born to sing roots-driven samba of the bars and botequins, backed by acoustic instruments and percussion. However, the music industry, and Beth herself, took a while to figure that out. As Beth describes in the liner notes, she felt that she was living in two parallel universes during the 60s: one in which she was surrounded by older sambistas of the velha guarda like Cartola on her excursions into Mangueira’s activities, and another where she was surrounded by her peers of her own age. Which goes far in explaining why the first disc — comprised mostly of rare singles and contributions to albums released in conjuction with the Festivals of Song that dominated Brazilian television and middle-class youth culture at the time — have Beth singing bossa nova, samba canção, jovem guarda, jazz samba, maybe a bit of música engajada.. There is plenty of good music here but it is kind of a jolt for those who are familiar with Beth as she into prominence in the next decade, even more so than the first time I heard her album “Andança.”
A time-out here to talk about some technical issues. If Discobertas is going to continue catering to the relatively specialized, restricted market of collectors who want access to precious unreleased material, rarities, and songs from festivals and TV performances that have long seemed AWOL or missing-in-aciton — they *really* need to start putting more emphasis on AUDIO QUALITY. The first two tracks on ‘Primeiras Andanças – Vol. 1’ sound like low-quality mp3s .( In fact, if you put them in any number of software applications that analyze the full-spectrum of audio frequencies, you will be given a “false positive” saying that these ARE mp3’s…) Other tracks were obviously transferred from vinyl and sound rather dubiously processed; others may have come from second or third generations of master tapes. Why all the guesswork? Because Discobertas seems to have their sites to be the Anit-Charles Gavin of reissues: they give NO information on sources, their limitations or their strengths. Gavin usually provides details like the type of equipment and software used to remaster the releases he has done or supervised. It is almost as if Discobertas just doesn’t want us to, um, *discover* these facts. Why does the song “Contraste”, from the LP “Musicanossa: O Som e o Tempo” sound like it was definitely sourced from vinyl (there are some clips and pops that anyone with a basic waveform editor could have removed, by the way..), while the next two tracks from the SAME ALBUM sound sparkling and new, as if they came from, let’s just say, the master tapes. ”
Viola Enluarada”, from the Brothers Valle, is probably the most beautiful track on this first disc and personally one of my two personal treasured surprises in the box (the other being, “A Velha Porta” on the second disc). Other highlights include the oddity of a frevo written by Arthur Verocai and Arnoldo Medeiras (‘Domingo antigo’) and the even odder “Cavaleiro Andante” a duet with Taiguara which appears to be about extra-terrestrials and/or nuclear holocaust paranoia and critiques of capitalism. This is probably the only time you will hear Beth singing lyrics as strange as
Two more diamonds are the festival-album version of the gorgeous tune “Andança” which has a different mix but sounds like essentially the same studio take as what would appear on the album a the following year, as well her singing an early Milton Nascimento/Fernando Brandt tune, “Sentinela”, taken directly from the “Andança” album. The song features Milton on acoustic guitar, but unfortunately only The Golden Boys accompanying her on vocals. I would have paid extra to hear the two of the performing this as a duet.
The tracks on the next disc continues the pattern of using material culled from a variety of singles and album cuts that were recorded for telenovelas, music festivals, radio broadcasts (like the Project Minerva radio series, which has now also been reissued by Discobertas), and some of the carnaval-season releases like the ‘Samba de Enredo’ albums that would appear every year in the 70s. On this second rarities disc, we hear things slowly evolving stylistically. Opening with some narcissistic pop music of youth celebrating itself for having discovered, um, itself, and bringing in a new age of something or other, in Taiguara’s “Geração 70”. This rather fluffy piece is followed by a truly bad-ass tune “A Velha Porta” with the female backing ensemble ‘As Gatas’. It’s also a post-jovem guarda, Tropicálista-informed pop song and probably the only time you will ever hear Beth let loose with a “oooh-whoa-whoa, hey hey hey hey…” If your not enjoying this song by the 2-minute mark, then you couldn’t find a hook in a meat locker.
“Sem Rumo e Sem Destino” is a wonderfully dreamy, psychedelic song released as a single from a film, “Memôrias de Um Gigolô.” The sweeping, hazy majesty of the tune has a lot to do with the fact that it was arranged by one Antônio Adolfo, and written by him with Tibério Gaspar (who would one day introduce Tim Maia to the Cultura Racional movement). The following tune, “Minhas Tardes de Sol” sounds like it just may have been influenced by (Sir) Paul McCartney, and thus it is needless to say that it is horrible and unlistenable fluff. We then get treated to both sides of a single recorded with Som Três and Milton Miranda at the production helm. The second of these, “Só Quero Ver,” is the most straight-up samba we have heard yet in these rarities, but stylistically Beth is very much working in the style of Elza Soares here. This is followed by a tune where she is working very much in the style of Clara Nunes – ‘Rio Grande do Sul na Festa do Rei Fôrro”with its celebration of candomblé, is a great song. From a single in 1972 (what was on the flip-side??), it bears listening to and thinking about closely and I am apt to change my opinion every time I play it (and I reserve that right!). Vocally, Beth’s voice sounds very relaxed and is taking on the style of phrasing and dynamics that would characterize her work from this point on, but the instrumentation and something about the *attitude* of the song’s execution demonstrates that she is still moving somewhat freely between the extant strains of samba and not laying claim to any particular territory yet. “A Mais Querida” — sound quality, what the FUCK has happened here — another terribly vinyl transfer. Apparently Disbortas only aquired the *rights* to the songs from Tapecar, not the tapes, which apparently gives them the RIGHT to mangle the hell out of the audio. I could teach the twelve-year old who lives two doors down the street from me, a smart kid who is pretty quick with a computer, how to restore audio from scratchy vinyl better than Discobertas has done. I could give any reader of this blog a quick, 10-step tutorial on how to clean up a record with basic practices that nobody seems to be aware of over at that label. These two songs from 1973 are pivotal and important in Beth’s career, coming right around the time of her first LP in this style. Too bad they sound like total shit. The following songs, from Carnaval-season compilations, are all wonderful, and totally dominated by “Meu Perdão” written by her mentor and spiritual father, Nelson Cavaquinho. The last two tracks are interesting as anomalies, with Beth well into her “Queen of the Samba Revival” stage but choosing to cover two classics associated with Portela stalwart, Paulinho da Viola ‘Rosa de Ouro” and “Foi um rio que passou em minha vida”. Both taken at a quick tempo, they are from the Radio Minerva sessions, which up until this year of 2011 have only been available on their original vinyl releases. Let me tell you as a collector — these albums are not *that* difficult or impossible to find if you are willing to spend a modest amount of money: WHY THEN, do these two tracks sound like they taken from a beaten-up copy found in the engineer’s closet?? For fuck’s sake, if you are going to go through the trouble to undertake a project like this – take your time, and do it right.
In a musical marketplace where a lot of bullshit career-boxsets have been released on major labels in Brazil, ones that only present the main albums by an artist (most of them already available to some degree) with no rarities included, this simple, focused box by Discobertas is a breath of fresh air. By and large it is worth every penny on account of the rarities included, the liner notes, sharp graphic design and presentation. However (not to keep flogging a dead horse) its weak point is the audio quality, especially on the rarities but also on the main LPs. A newspaper review I read claimed this box is an improvement to the original vinyl which (according to his unnamed source) had the low frequencies tapered off. I think that reviewer either needs to buy a different turntable that produces low frequencies better, or perhaps pick up other copies of the original LPs. Tapecar’s problem was most definitely NOT one of mixing or mastering – all of the studio albums I have from them sound fine, even great — but perhaps of *consistency* and quality-control in the pressing of vinyl records. Petroleum shortfalls and the oil crises were making themselves felt as Tapecar got going, and if this critique about inconsistent quality applies to the huge labels that had dominated the Brazilian record industry for decades (Odeon, Philips) and were now putting out an inferior product than a decade earlier, then such a critique would be even more applicable to small label like Tapecar. I have multiple copies of some of Beth’s LPs on both Tapecar and RCA — and some of them just sound better than others. Buying Brazilian vinyl from the 1970s is a crapshoot – you may find a disc from 1974 that appears practically brand new, only to take it home and be greeted by all manner of awful noise, extreme warps in the vinyl, or other annoyances. Whereas you can pick up a visually scratched and played-to-death Wilson Simonal album from 1965 and it will play *perfectly*. So for people who don’t have the patience for vinyl, sure – this collection is a blessing. But it does not necessarily sound “better” than the original releases. And the dubious, frequency-shedding “restoration” applied to the two rarities discs, specifically the material obviously sourced from vinyl, is enough evidence for me to say that I will definitely NOT be shelling out the cash for Discobertas reissue of the Project Minverva radio albums. The price is too high, and (if the tracks included here and on the Elza Soares reissues are any example) the quality too poor, to warrant it. Which is sad, because that radio program is important to Brazil’s cultural patrimony and deserves to be heard. I haven’t yet heard anything from the Ed Lincoln box, and until I get an opinion from a source I trust about such things, I’ll stick with the vinyl for him as well. If all this commentary smacks of overwrought ambiguity, then I’d like to ask the reader how they might evaluate a release that is doing both a great service AND a great disservice to the music fan / researcher / historian / obsessive-compulsive or wherever category you might fit into. Because this box was released with these rarities, there is very little chance that these rarities will see a RE-release any time soon. Therefore, we will have to live with the sub-par “restoration” applied to these songs for probably the next decade at the very least. And then of course, if this box had NOT been released, then very very few people would hear this music at all, since I would probably have to sell a kidney to track down all of the material scattered across the two rarities albums. (I should mention that my kidney’s have seen a lot of abuse and aren’t actually worth all that much, so we’re not talking about tons of cash. Just more than I have access to at the moment).