Helio Matheus – Matheus Segundo Matheus (1975)
Original release, RCA-Victor, Brazil
2018 Reissue, Athens Of The North, AOTNLP017
A short-and-sweet Friday post for you to get your weekend started on point. Scottish label Athens Of The North (or AOTN) serves up a reissue of this cult classic that, thanks to a collector’s market gone mad, I will never be able to afford as an original pressing. No idea what they used for their source but it sounds pretty decent, so I feel like this label has done music fans a huge favor by making it available. As you can see below, the list of contributing musicians here is huge and includes members of Azymuth, Sá, Rodrix & Guarabyra and other heavyweights. Helio himself was well established as a writer and arranger in MPB circles at this time, but recorded very little under his own name. It’s a solid offering of samba-soul, samba-rock, MPB, and even a little dreamy orchestral psychedelic pop thrown in. It may have some questionable lyrics (for example, “Briguenta”) but the grooves make up for it. Plus it has maybe the best back-cover photograph of all time..
Well this is a new thing for the blog, the first time I have ever hosted a “leaked” track unavailable elsewhere, and hopefully it won’t get us shut down after managing to survive this many years. The track below was deemed unsuitable for release on the rarities discs included with the recent 2103 Nara Leão boxset, and was passed along to me by an audio engineer in friend in São Paulo who made me swear never to share it with anyone except at home through a stereo. Well that guy turned out to be a royal prick so I am disregarding the promise now.
In the mid-1970s, Nara had gone into semi-retirement in order to raise her children and eventually pursue a degree in psychology. I suppose the urge to perform in someone as creatively powerful as Nara doesn’t just go dormant, and the retirement didn’t last all that long by today’s standards. These days it is normal for pop stars to release one record every three years, because they are mostly overpaid lazy fucks, but it must have seemed an eternity to her fans back in the day. She returned to recording with a deliberately nostalgic work looking back to the golden age of Brazilian song, hence the title, Meu Primeiro Amor (“My First Love”). It is a great record but probably came across a bit anachronistic in light of the whirlwind of changes – social, musical, political – that had swept across Brazil in the decade leading up to it: changes which, of course, Nara played pivotal and multiple roles as a cultural and musical icon. Given how the newly-uncovered track featured here lay buried for almost forty years with no indication that it ever existed, it is difficult to say if this recording session was simply an attempt by Nara to musically invent herself, to experiment with new sounds, or maybe to make a little cash with a more contemporary-sounding single. Whatever the case, she apparently did not care for the resulting recording and disowned it.
For the session, she chose João Donato to work out the arrangements and take on production duties (he would later end up producing her next album, Os Meus Amigos São Um Barato ). The complete personnel on this track is unknown, but what little was written on the insert inside the tape reel documents that the session involved Hyldon and Cassiano on guitar, both seminal figures in the Brazilian soul scene of the mid-70s, and the melody sounds like one or both of them may have a writing credit here. And though I can’t prove it, I swear I can hear their friend Tim Maia on backing vocals. Normally his voice overtakes everyone else on every session he was ever on, however, so maybe they just kept him really far from the microphone or made him sing in the hallway. The tune starts out with a throwback nod to her bossa-cum-capoeira heyday, but the intro is just an illusion that does not prepare the listener for what comes next: some of the most funky pieces of music to be made in Brazil in the mid-70s, music that is so forward-thinking it wouldn’t sound out of place on the radio decades later. All that being said, as incredible as it is to have an unissued track from Nara Leão with these unlikely collaborators, I can understand why she chose not to release it. Her voice just isn’t particularly suited to funk and soul music, and although she did have a reputation for iconoclasm in the 60s, perhaps in the mid 70s she opted not to jeopardize her good standing as a canonical MPB singer by attempting a polemical style like funky samba soul, especially with such sexual overtones. She even chose to sing, rather awkwardly, in English, which would have further enraged much of her devoted following.
So here is the track, titled “Descontrolada”, and if it doesn’t get this blog shut down for good, I hope to see you all soon in another post. If the gods have mercy, I promise to post more often than I have been lately.
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
01. Desapareça, Vá, Desapareça
02. Nó na Garganta
03. Vem Cá, Meu Bem, Vem Cá
05. Não Vá embora
07. Maior é Deus
08. Samba da Preguiça
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.”
1 Bom dia Portela
(Bebeto de São João, David Correia)
2 Pranto livre
(Everaldo da Viola, Dida)
3 Não é hora de tristeza
(Walter da Imperatriz, Lino Roberto, Wilson Medeiros)
4 Meia noite já é dia
(Norival Reis, David Correia)
(Nezinho, Campo, Tatu)
6 Partido do lê lê lê
7 Deusa do rio Niger
(Motorzinho, Walter Norambê)
8 Quem há de dizer
(Alcides Gonçalves, Lupicínio Rodrigues)
9 Louvei Maria
10 Xamêgo de crioula
11 Falso papel
13. Salve a Mocidade
14. Festa do Círio de Nazaré
(Aderbal Moreira, Dario Marciano, Nilo Mendes)
15. O Mundo Fantástico do Uirapuru (Tatu, Campo, Nezinho)
Produced by José Xavier
Arrangements by Ed Lincoln
Album artwork by Randall
This is Elza Soares’s first album for the Tapecar label after she asked to be let go from her contract at Odeón. It is also noteworthy for the fact that organist Ed Lincoln was the arranger on the album, and his keyboard work can be heard peppered throughout the record. And whereas her Odeon albums were built around her singular and unique interpretations of time-tested samba clasics or more recent compositions from time-tested composers, this album contained new songs by mostly unknown writers, with the one big exception being the Lupicínio Rodrigues tune ‘Quem há de dizer.’ And check out the heavily-Jorge-Ben influenced `Deusa do Rio Niger` and the samba-soul `Giringonca`!!
The reissue — which possibly marks the first time this has ever been on CD — also includes three bonus tracks. The first was a hit from a telenovela that was dominating the TV airwaves at the time, the “Salve a Mocidade” from the novela ‘O Rebu.’ This was quite probably the biggest hit that Elza had during the entire decade of the 1970s. The other two tracks appeared on one of the many Tapecar carnaval compilations, this one called ‘Samba Enredo 75’.. I see some of these Tapecar releases on the street every now and then and should really pay closer attention — I had mostly assumed they contained album tracks available elsewhere and basically ignored them. Alas, I was quite wrong!
I find the sound a bit lifeless and ‘stiff’ sounding, but the only vinyl copy of this that I have found has a skip on it that makes a vinyl rip impossible. And the bonus tracks are a nice touch. You can’t go wrong with any Elza Soares from the 60s or 70s, and this album is a fine example of why!
There are some lame and poorly-written internet bios of Elza at allmusic and Wikipedia, and this one from All Brazilian Music is not much better, but anyway here it is. Oh, and Elza has recently written her own autobiography (or had someone ghost-write it for her) in 2009, but I have not picked up a copy yet.
Finally, here it is — The grand finale, the 2-CD ‘bonus’ of the Jorge Ben boxset. Two discs of material that is either unreleased or only available on rare compilations or on B-sides, all from Ben’s golden years of genius and productivity. For Ben fans this is the most anticipated part of the box, since he has never had any similar releases of rare stuff. My only gripe is the FUGLY packaging (*for non-native English speakers, that is Fucking + Ugly). With all this rare audio, there is not a single rare photograph in the booklet, no real liner notes, and the graphic design gives me a migraine headache.
I am cranky and curmudgeonly today. I am blogging on autopilot this week and I don’t like it. I had hoped to post this when I had some pithy remarks and observations. I moved recently (for the third time in as many years) and had managed to prepare the rest of this box before the tumult overtook me, while this two-disk set needed a bit more TLC. It’s new enough that the tracklists do not exist in the online databases like freedb so everything had to be manually entered in. Normally I also like to restore the orthographic characters to the Portuguese titles in the ID-tags, so that the proper orthography is visible in your digital music player. I have also taken to putting composer’s names in the ID tags. I am not sure if anyone notices or appreciates this type of obsessive-compulsive fussiness or not, but it keeps me going. However sometimes it, er, holds things up. I have received nearly daily requests for this collection of rarities since the first posts from this box-set appeared at Flabbergasted Vibes. For those who have been patiently waiting, I hope you find it was worth it. I think you probably will.
Perhaps I will post some of my pithy comments and witty observations about the actual music, sometime in the near future, in the comments section here.
People keep asking me when this one is coming, and since it is my birthday today, I feel like giving back to the world. I could ramble on and on about how incredible this album is, or I could let it’s mysterious majestic funk speak for itself. The culmination of the preceding two albums’ forays into hermetic mysticism, alchemy, umbanda, and futebol, this album is a magnum opus and also something of a swan song — Jorge Ben would never again come anywhere close to making an album this good! I was astonished to learn last year that it has been out of print for a while. I have the old ‘Samba & Soul’ series pressing, and shared it once around the corner. I am fairly certain it has been here before too. This album is essential, essential, essential listening! And on this record, we get full musician credits: