Thursday, May 9, 2013

Music - World Music: Brazil

All Samuels Public Library cardholders are eligible for three free downloads a week from Freegal, a massive online database containing over 500,000 songs.  Sifting through such an enormous selection of music can be a daunting task, so we here at Samuels have decided to offer a few suggestions for the overwhelmed (or new) Freegal user.  This week we concentrate on Brazilian music:

Os Mutantes 
“Baby” (1968) & (1971)
From Everything is Possible! 

Pop masters Os Mutantes (“The Mutants”) recorded two wildly different versions of Caetano Veloso’s “Baby”; since I can’t decide which one I like more I’m going to recommend them both.  The version from their 1968 debut album showcases the band’s psychedelic side, complete with fuzzed-out guitar licks and some truly awesome organ riffs.  However, those new to the genre of Tropicalia might enjoy the acoustic English-language version from 1971, which is softer and more traditional.   

Jorge Ben
“Ponta de Lança Africano (Umbabarauma)”
From Brazil Classics 1: Beleza Tropical 

Brazilian singer Jorge Ben was already famous for writing “Mas Que Nada,” a song that became a huge hit in America for Sergio Mendes, when he recorded África Brasil, his classic fusion of traditional Brazilian music and African rhythms.  The very funky “Ponta de Lança Africano (Umbabarauma)” locks in on the groove and contains a lot of great call-and-response chanting; the result will sound familiarly modern yet fascinatingly foreign to American ears. 

Tom Zé
“Só (Solidão)”
From Brazil Classics 4: The Best ofTom Zé 

The title of Zé’s tender samba “Só (Solidão)”translates as “Alone (Solitude),” and the song paints a picture of a man mourning the absence of his lover.  You don’t need to be able to understand Portuguese to feel the ache in his lonely lament—the gentle rhythms, the stirring strings, the emotive guitar plucking, and the melancholy in Zé’s voice are more than enough to convey the singer’s heartbreak.        

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