Albums Brazilian Outernational

Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – Fool On the Hill (AMLS 922) (1968)

ANOTHER THRIFTY VINYL WORLD CUP SPECIALSAM_0421Mendes is obviously a guy who knows how to play ball. Already a bona fide star in his home country, he allowed Herb Alpert to “discover” him and take credit (and profit) for this discovery. Further evidence of Mendes’ ingratiating nature comes in his crowd pleasing program selection and easy-on-the-ear arrangements. He was rewarded here with a Top Three Lp.

And yet, despite evidence to the contrary, he’s no musical lightweight; the chops and finesse he and his band bring to proceedings overrides accusations of that sort, not to mention the fact that two-thirds of this set (by the likes of Edú Lobo and Baden Powell) is sung/part-sung in Portuguese . And they still manage to capture the syncopated wistfulness of the best Brazilian pop.SAM_0422NB: The hill ‘pon which the Fool sits, at least in terms of the gatefold cover, is nothing less than a tit.

Albums Brazilian Space Age Bachelor Pad

Laurindo Almeida & The Bossa Nova All Stars ‎– Viva Bossa Nova! (T 1759) (1962)

A THRIFTY VINYL WORLD CUP SPECIAL SAM_0419Imagine a decent enough guy calling himself a doctor because he hangs out with a doctor friend. Maybe even the doctor friend has described to him a few operations. Would you want that first guy operating on your gall bladder? Of course not.

Now, imagine a group of decent enough musicians calling themselves “Bossa Nova All Stars” just because they’ve got a Brazilian guitarist in their band and this guitarist has taught them how to play “One Note Samba”. In fact, that and “Desafinado” represent the only specific nods to leader Almeida’s home country on Viva Bossa Nova!, the rest made up of Easy-Listening musical apostasy like “Moon River” and “Lazy River”. The electronic organ makes things particularly tepid.

The enterprise reminds me of the episode of The Office in which David Brent is convinced that his old songs can easily be made au courant by “drop[ing] some drum ‘n’ bass shit on ’em“.

I would say, “I should have guessed” today as I bought Viva!, but I did guess, I just hoped I was wrong.


Albums Brazilian

Os Bambas – O Melhor em Samba Vol. 7 (OKeh 112278) (1972)


(Alternate Universe) — It’s official. With an estimated 50 million copies sold, the Brazil pressing of Os Bambas’ O Melhor em Samba is the most popular record Lp of all time in one particular given alternate universe, one of an infinite number of possible four dimensional spheres of existence.

The 1972 album’s popularity is easily explained when you know that lively, middle-of-the-road samba music is that particular parallel universe’s most popular music genre and style. Not to say it’s without objective charm, really, but other alternate universes, our’s for example, might find Os Bambas’ O Melhor em Samba generic with little of the verve and delight of the previous decade’s alternate universe Bossa Nova; which, as it happens, is exactly the same as our universe’s.

But no, not there, not in that solitary spacetime. There, the collection, otherwise known as The Best in Samba Volume 7 by the Unsteady, went gangbusters, remaining in its charts for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988, giving it a longer chart run longer than any other album in that universe’s unique cosmology of manifold events making up everything both perceived and perceivable.

Much lore surrounds O Melhor em Samba in that lone space-time continuum’s history. For example, there exists an amusing, but apocryphal, rumour about O Melhor em Samba soundtracking that universe’s movie version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (which stars Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman). The story was started in the late 1980s when marijuana addicted alternate universe university students noticed that, if synchronised just so with the movie, George throws a fruit bowl at Martha just when the song “Alô , Alô  Taí Carmen Miranda” begins.

Albums Brazilian Jazz P-R-O-G spells Prog

Deodato 2 (CTI 6029) (1973)

Eumir Deodato gets his fair share of kudos (“All-time classic funk jazz masterpiece…no home should be without this album!” according to the fine people at Sounds of the Universe) and opprobrium (Rolling Stone called his work “striding, chichi elevator music”). Guess what? They’re both right. Bearing no trace of his Brazilian roots, the Creed Taylor-produced Deodato 2‘s lengthy broiling rhythms are regularly broken up by horn blasts of light melody, all intricately played with the speed and indulgence of a prog rocker. “Super Strut” hits this mark most satisfyingly, while Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue” is not the blaspheme it appears on paper. Guitarist John Tropea is given especially free reign.

As if the inclusion of “Nights In White Satin” wasn’t enough of a signifier of jazz’s pop audience courtship, the note offering a “same-size reproduction of the cover [of that hunky Deodato], without type, is available for $1.50” from Creed Taylor is. It’s like a freakin’ Bobby Goldsboro album!

I got this (and the ARS record) at two different Ohio Thrift Store shops at opposite ends of Columbus when I spent a long laugh-filled afternoon last week driving around with good friends Jovan and Phillip. We must have hit about 5 stores. While these two Lps represent the sum total of the haul that day, it was, of course, time very well spent.

Albums Brazilian Compilations Jazz Outernational

Antonio Carlos Jobim – The Girl From Ipanema (MFP 50437)

Given the recording dates involved (’67-’70), I was, perhaps unrealistically, hoping for a Hard Bossa Brazilian Fusion take on Jobim’s deal when I bagged The Girl From Ipanema last Saturday in Hythe. Alas, while “Tema Jazz” comes close, this late ’70s MFP comp of Jobim’s three A&M Lps (originally titled Look To the Sky) is a mostly terminal lapse in to adult mood music designed to soothe anxious turn-of-the-decade Americans; arranged by Deodato, among others, I probably should have guessed. Only on the trio of songs lifted from Wave (“Wave,” “Lamento” and “Mojave”) does ‘Ton recapture some of the minor key lull, hypnotic swing and mellow edge that characterises the best Bossa; I think it’s because his guitar, not piano, is featured on those numbers, but I could be wrong.

And really, that (re)title!

Albums Brazilian Compilations Outernational

Sergio Mendes & Brazil ’66 – Greatest Hits (AMLS 985) (1970)

More like the Fifth Dimension than the cross-over jazz of Stan Getz, let alone the urgent Bossa Jazz of the Tamba Trio, this is the fun-sized Brazilian pianist/bandleader Mendes in full-on American E-Z Listening mode. A couple Bacharach/Davids, three Lennon/McCartneys, plus the inevitable “Mas Que Nada”, Brazil ’66 constructs syncopated sixties Sunshine Pop which verges on the unctuous if you’re in the wrong mood or a fan of anything heavier than, say, the Carpenters.

Mmm…unifold cover.