Tim Maia – O Descobridor dos Sete Mares (1983)

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

This album has 237 hand claps on it.

Elis Regina – Na Batucada Da Vida (2006)


“A Batucada Da Vida”
DVD 1 in a series of 3
2006 // NTSC

– Garoto último tipo (Puppy love)
– Vida de bailarina
– O trem azul
– É com esse que eu vou
– Ladeira da preguiça
– Poema – Retrato do desconhecido
– Folhas secas
– Triste
– Gol anulado
– O mestre sala dos mares
– Bodas de prata
– Canto de Ossanha/ Deixa/ Lapinha/Vou deitar e rolar (Quá quá ra quá quá /Aviso aos navegantes
– O que tinha de ser/ Tatuagem
– Atrás da porta
– Águas de março
– Na batucada da vida

O difícil começo da carreira em Porto Alegre não foi diferente das
histórias dos demais membros dessa confraria a qual Elis pertencia – a
das pessoas determinadas a vencer. Ela tinha talento, sabia do seu valor
e só precisava enfrentar o mundo com coragem e determinação. Foi o que
fez. O resultado todos conhecem e está neste DVD. Um registro único de
interpretações memoráveis de Elis, incluindo a canção de Ary Barroso que
ela aprendeu com Tom Jobim e que dá nome ao DVD.

The difficult beginning of her career in Porto Alegre was not any
different from the stories of the many members of the club to which Elis
belonged: of people determined to win.  She had talent, she knew her
she was good, and she only needed to take on the work with courage and
determination.  And that’s just what she did.  The result which everyone
knows is on this DVD.  A record of the most memorable of the unique,
singular interpretations of Elis, including the song by Ary Barroso that
she learned from Tom Jobim and which gives its name to the DVD.


A blog reader recently asked if I was still alive.  Well I have a lot more interesting posts than this that I have been planning, but when people are worried about your health you have to give them a pulse.  However I’ve been busy with work lately, too busy to write worthwhile blog posts, and so I dug up this description I had written for this DVD over a year ago for someplace else, with some slight modifications:

This is a minor treasure-trove for fans of Elis Regina with some amazing live-in-the-studio performances that really illustrate her mastery of technique and her emotional sincerity.  That being said, I would much rather listen to Elis sing than watch her sing.  Her emotional connection with the material she sings is downright scary.   In the world of popular music there are so many people who give us fake theatrical emotion on stage (Marisa Monte anyone?) that it is unnerving to see someone in the throws of total surrender to a song — When the tune is happy, she is smiling and ebullient; when the song is sad, she cries; when it’s angry, her wrath adds a meter to her diminutive height and we back away…  It’s probably not a dramatic exaggeration to say that this highly emotional, ultra-sensitive nature combined with the roller coaster of fame and success ultimately killed her, as it has with other artists before and since.  When I first saw some of her live clips I questioned whether she was “for real” or just laying it on think.  My conclusion is that she was pretty real alright.

In the days before botox, a singer or actress could potentially achieve the same effect through plucking their eyebrows and imbibing a shit-ton of cocaine.  Elis seems to have flirted with this strategy during the 70s.  As I said, I would rather listen to her records than watch her.

The audio track on some of the material could be better, but presumably they did the best with what they had.  Some of it sounds greats, other parts not so much.
Another critique is that the earliest years of her career are relegated to an odd photo montage at the beginning and then we are launched right
into the 1970s.  Her recordings prior to 1965 are utterly forgettable, but the period from 1965-70 is the material that I find myself coming back to, much more than her slick 70s MPB.  Where is the footage of her regular program O Fino da Bossa (presumably, tied up for some legal reasons), her duets with Jair Rodriguez or Wilson Simonal?  You can find a bit of that stuff on You
Tube but it sure would be nice to have a clean, quality DVD of it.  For my tastes, her records from 1966-1970 were the peak of her creative power and the strongest in terms of repertoire, and we just don’t get any nuggets from that era.  Even so, this is essential for any fan of Elis Regina, as are the other two DVDs in the series.  And they are live performances, not video clips.

The clip with Tom Jobim is just downright weird.  They seem kind of, um, loaded on something or other.  The DVD notes claimed that Elis was learning the song from Tom, which I guess explains why she doesn’t join in the singing and we are left with his flat, low-key, take-it-or-leave-it vocal; this is followed by Elis singing the same tune, impeccably, years later.  But what I really don’t understand is the claim that Elis *learned* this song from Jobim — Ary Barroso is one of the most famous composers in Brazilian popular music, and ‘Na Batucada da Vida’ isn’t exactly an obscure song.  In other words, I just have trouble believing that someone of Elis’ musical background wouldn’t already KNOW this song by 1974 (when the footage in question was shot…).  But who am I to argue with liner notes written by someanonymous record label person?



Silvio Caldas – Madrugada, 1935 – 1938 (1968 LP)

Silvio Caldas
LP released 1968 on Imperial (IMP 30107)
Recordings, 1935-38

A1         Chão De Estrelas     (1937)
A2         Arrependimento         (1935)
A3         Arranha-Céu         (1937)
A4         Inquietação         (1935)
A5         Madrugada         (1936)
A6         Minha Palhoça         (1935)
B1         Quase Que Eu Disse     (1935)
B2         Pastorinhas         (1937)
B3         Confessando Que Te Adoro (1937)
B4         Professora         (1938)
B5         Choro Por Teu Amor     (1937)
B6         Nunca Mais         (1936)

This post is dedicated to minha sereia no outro lado do mar, Marta.  Veja que tô em baixo tua janela.

Needledrop info: Vinyl -> Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair light settings; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – resampled (and dithered for 16-bit) using iZotope RX Advanced. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag&Rename.

I have a recurring dream where I am walking the streets of Santa Teresa alone at night.  It’s late and there’s nobody really around, just a few stray couples in the scattered restaurants and cafes. Sometimes I am following the old trolley rails, the bondê that still runs there, and sometimes just walking freely, but always climbing and descending, climbing and descending the old hills of that neighborhood.  I drink deeply of the bucolic air, a few degrees cooler and more refreshing here than elsewhere in the city, and as I turn a corner I hear a faint trace of a song.  In those hills on an otherwise silent evening it is difficult to gauge the providence of such sounds, how near or how far their source, and this  uncertainty is only amplified in dreams. But the wind carries the notes of a flute from some stray window, balanced above a slowly strummed guitar  and a muted cavaquinho.  The road twists around further and I am greeted by one of Santa Teresa’s breathtaking views, an ocean of city lights undulating below me, crowned with wisps of cloud blown in off the sea and backlit by moonlight.  An then, overpowering all of it, soars the voice of Silvio Caldas, that vozeirão, and the words of Orestes Barbosa like a broom sweeping me away on their Chaõ de Estrelas.

This LP is a late-60s compilation of classic recordings originally on 78 rpm discs.  As was typical for the Imperial label, the jacket contains no useful information whatsoever, but I’ve cobbled together the most likely recording dates of the songs by consulting the Dicionário Cravo Albin da MPB.  Caldas recorded many of these songs multiple times but these all seem to be the original versions, with quite a few of them being the A and B sides of the same 78.

Silvio Caldas is most usually thought of as the godfather of seresta or serenata, a genre of music whose Iberian name is a linguistic cousin of the English “serenade.”  Seresta is indeed music meant to be played late at night beneath the window of would-be lover, sung with voices pregnant with unironic romanticism and copious amounts of vibrato.  As a genre it is also related to the modinhas, lundus, and choros that also play a part in the origins of samba, and all of which are felt in the repertoires of the other big stars of Brazil’s “Golden Era” like Francisco Alves and Orlando Silva.   But although he is immortalized as “O Serresteiro” (incidentally, the name of an LP on the Recife-based Mocombo label that I stupidly passed up buying once…), Silvio was also an ace at singing sambas and marchinhas.  This brief little LP collection represents those styles well here too.  The immortal sambista Noel Rosa contributed the upbeat Pastorinhas, and Ary Barroso wrote the philosophical paean to romantic suffering and equanimity, Inqueitação.  The lyrics to Inquietação are brilliant, but it’s the partnership between Caldas and Orestes Barbosa for which most people remember Silvio the Seresteiro.  Orestes Barbosa was an established poet, writer of crônicas, and critic back in the days when those roles didn’t exclude active participation in popular music.  He wrote a an enormous amount of song lyrics, collaborating with the likes of Noel Rosa, Francisco Alves, Hervé Cordovil, and others.  But it is the stunning Chão de Estrelas with Silvio Caldas that most people associate with his name today, and at the time it even drew compliments from modernist poet Manuel Bandeira.   The song has been rerecorded countless times from artists as diverse as Maysa to Os Mutantes.  It has that rare perfect fusion of melody and words that is instantly recognizable in anyone’s interpretation.  It’s worth noting that the lyrics are truly written as poem, without a single line or stanza repeated throughout.   Unfortunately the only other collaborations from the pair featured on this collection are “Arranha-céu” and “Quase que eu disse.”

The production on these old records from the 30s was incredible as well.  In an interview at SESC during the 1990s, Silvio went on a bit about the luxuries afforded to artists in modern recording studios, and how back in his day they had none of that.  It was a bunch of people crammed into a tiny little room and arranged around a single microphone.  Then it is all the more impressive that the results usually had such a great balance of instruments and voice.  The version of Chão de Estrelas here not only sounds great but has an especially effective execution, with all the instruments taking their lead from Silvio’s vocal and guitar, at times dragging the beat and giving the arrangement an unhurried feel that I haven’t heard on any subsequent recordings (including Silvio’s) that tend to play it with straight meter.   Some of the tunes here have piano as well.  Sometimes it sounds like they had to put the piano in the hallways outside the sound booth, which may well have been the case! On other tunes like Arranha-céu the piano is up front in the mix.  Another arrangement I love comes early in the collection: Arrependimento (Silvio Caldas – Cristovão de Alencar), which is driven along by pandeiro, the only percussion instrument to feature on most of these recordings.  The aural gooseflesh moment comes about halfway through, when Silvio sings “ai, meu deus” before a slight pause in the music after which the full band comes back in with exquisite vocal harmonies to sing the next verse.  These ‘época de ouro’ songs were almost didactic lessons in musical and poetic economy, little essays packed into three minutes or less.

This needledrop was done close to a year ago when my setup was different, and as tempting as it was to start all over with my improved system, I just don’t have time.  Although my current soundcard has a lower noise floor and the capacity for a higher sampling rate, the nature of the source material is such that I think it would be a case of diminishing returns — this is, after all, an LP that used 78s as their source material and is quite noisy to begin with.




Tim Maia – Nuvens (1982)

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
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.

password: vibes


Noriel Vilela – Eis o "Ôme" (1969)


Noriel Vilela
Released 1969 on Continental CLP 11565
Reissue 2011 EMI/COPA 0095

1 Promessado
(Carlos Pedro)
2 Saravando Xangô
(Avarése, Edenal Rodrigues)
3 Só o Ôme
(Edenal Rodrigues)
4 Meu caboclo não deixa
(Avarése, Edenal Rodrigues)
5 Pra Iemanjá levar
(Delcio Carvalho)
6 Samba das águas
(Josan de Mattos)
7 Eu tá vendo no copo
(Avarése, Edenal Rodrigues)
8 Acredito sim
(Avarése, Edenal Rodrigues)
9 Peço licença
10 Cacundê, cacundá
(José de Souza, Orlando)
11 Acocha malungo
(Sidney Martins)
12 Saudosa Bahia
(Noriel Vilela, Sidney Martins)


Here’s a genuine relic. The sole album from the somewhat mysterious Noriel Vilela. It seems that not a whole lot is known about him. He had a basso profundo voice. He sang with a vocal group in the early 60s, Nilo Amaro e Seus Cantores de Ebáno, whose American doo-wop and gospel-influenced songs featured a huge all-black chorus where he sang alongside three baritones. The group only recorded one 78 and one long-player that I know of, and it was Noriel’s memorable bass voice that carried their biggest hit, “Leva o sodade,” where he sang lead on two verses.

After the Cantores de Ebáno kind of dropped out of circulation in the mid to late 60s, Noriel attended to his family and his job as a machinist, until being encouraged to approach Continental Records about recording his own album.

The result couldn’t be more different than the music of Nilo Amaro. The album is a nonstop upbeat blast of sambalança , samba-rock, and sometimes just plain samba. Accompaniment of funky sixties organ, drums, brass and woodwinds, and an occasional electric guitar that gets a solo on the finale. Smartly there is some baritone sax and bass clarinet to play off of Noriel’s voice. And the lyrics of pretty much every tune treat themes tied to the syncretistic Umbanda religion of Brazil. Devotional prayers to the orishás Xango and Iamanja never swung so hard as they do here. The title track is loaded with the mystique of crossroads vows, cocks crowing at midnight, and getting your problems resolved with, um, a little help from your friends. It’s a scorcher of a tune. Then there is the fairly straightforward sambas of “Meu caboclo não deixa” and “Acredito sim,” which is a simple but effective proclamation of faith in an often stigmatized religion. Which brings me to another interesting thing about this record. In the late 60s and throughout the 70s there was something of a niche market for umbanda records. All the ones I’ve come across were on small labels or specialized subsidiaries of larger labels. They tended to feature mostly batuques, traditional or stylized recordings intended for ceremonial contexts even if listened to for leisure on a hi-fi. There were exceptions, like the album I borrowed from a friend that has a swinging cover of “Jesus Cristo” by Roberto Carlos. But mostly it’s ritualized, ceremonial music, and not shot through with swinging pop elements like this album from Noriel Vilela. Of course, the genre of samba has a rich symbiotic relationship with the terreiros of Afrobrazilian religious traditions, and references both subtle and explicit can be found throughout the history that music’s sung poetry. But this album isn’t straight up samba. In fact it seems more aimed at the discotheques than the botequins. So although the title cut may have been a hit, there was probably a limit as to just how far a record like this could penetrate the mainstream, and it almost surely was regarded as something akin to novelty-music or kitsch by the snobbish gatekeepers of MPB at the time.

Perhaps it’s telling that Noriel’s biggest hit had nothing whatsoever to do with umbanda. It was also not even on this LP. Released only as a single, his rendition of Tennesee Ernie Ford’s hit “Sixteen Tons” was a smash and has become something of a cult hit over the years. Here it is on Youtube

16 Toneladas

As you can hear, it’s pretty badass. The lyrics also have nothing to do with the original from Ernest Ford (via Merle Travis), but are just a celebration of how groovy and badass their samba and sambalança is.. If the producers of these reissues had any sense it would have been included here. Probably a complication with publishing rights or the desire not to pay them by the record execs.

Because Noriel has nothing to say on the subject. He died young in 1974, apparently from an allergic reaction to anesthetic at a dentist’s office. His recording career seemed to already have been at a standstill by then, but I’d like to think that if he’d lived longer he would at least have been cast in the role of a singing frog in an animated film. At least, that’s often the bizarre image that pops into my head. An animated frog singing about umbanda.


mp3 icon flac button