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I first dug in to Latin American bands back on Vol43: 'Transfusión de Luz'. [Editor's note: there have now been five Latin rock volumes: 118 (Chicano Rock) 84 (Brazil), 89 (Mexico), 104 (Peru) and 43 (general South America)] That one ended up using mostly Argentinian bands, a country that certainly had more than it's fair share of heavies! This new volume is the result of my searches for Brazilian bands, and it's been a lot of fun doing it. I had a few left over from 43, and it was TDATS reader Diego de Almeida who recently encouraged me to finish it by sending a few more band names. What I've found is that there were not a lot of Brazilians at any time in the 70s that set out to make the heavier kind of stuff I usually look for. The country did apparently have more than it's fair share of beat & mersey-sound copy cats in the 60s, and lots of great psychedelic singles were produced, and the prevailing sounds of the 70s were the Tropicália and MPB (Música Popular Brasileira) acts rather than anglo/euro/US influenced rock and prog.
I guess you could say that Brazil's Tropicália scene was comparable to Germany's 'Krautrock', being that it was intertwined with the emergent avant-garde counterculture of the young generation. It reminds me of Norway's 'Trønderrock' (see Vol81) and Sweden's 'Progg' (see Vol75) movements, with it's frequent use of traditional and folk music. It also faced Brazil's socio-political turmoil and like Franco's Spain, was up against a dictatorship's attempts at censorship. Two of it's leaders, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, were arrested by Brazil's military regime and forced into exile in London. According to RYM, the record 'Tropicália ou Panis et Circencis' represented an important coming-together of musicians in 1968 that helped establish the scene.
01. Naná Vasconcelos - No Norte do Polo Sul (1972)
from album 'africadeus-n.angelo-novelli'
02. O Terço - Deus (1972)
from 2nd album 'o terço'
03. Casa das Máquinas - Liberdade Espacial (1975)
from album 'lar de maravilhas'
04. Kris Kringle - Sarabande (1971)
from album 'sodom'
05. Som Imaginário - Ué (1971)
from 2nd album 'som imaginário'
06. O Bando - ...É assim falava Mefistófeles (1969)
from album 'o bando'
07. A Bolha - Sem Nada (1971)
08. Beatniks - Alligator Hat (1968)
09. Perfume Azul do Sol - 20000 Raios de Sol (1974)
from album 'nascimento'
10. Rock da Mortalha - Satânico Estripador (1976)
11. Loyce e Os Gnomes - Que é Isso? (1969)
12. Novos Baianos - Barra Lúcifer (1976)
from album 'caia na estrada e perigas ver'
13. Som Nosso de Cada Dia - Bicho do Mato (1975)
from album 'snegs'
14. Blow Up - Tá Cozendo o Tempo (1971)
from 2nd album 'blow up'
15. Módulo 1000 - Salve-se Quem Puder (1970)
from album 'não fale com paredes'
16. Joelho de Porco - Aeroporto de Congonhas (1976)
from album 'são paulo - 1554 / hoje'
17. O Peso - Eu Não Sei de Nada (1975)
from album 'em busca do tempo perdido'
18. Rita Lee & Tutti Frutti - ...Tem uma Cidade (1974)
from album 'atrás do porto tem uma cidade'
Rio de Janeiro's O Terço (trans:'The Rosery') formed in 1968 and became one of the first Brazilian progressive rock groups. By their second album, the record of theirs which is most interesting to to me, they were veering from folk to heavier sounds and the track I used, 'Deus', is a great piece of doomy psych with a mellon collie atmosphere. Flavio Venturini (keyboards, vocals) and Sergio Magrão (bass, vocals) left in 1976 and joined '14 Bis', who I checked out but was not so impressed by.
|Lar de Maravilha|
After the concert I talked to Zé Rodrix, who I already knew since he was part of 'Momento Quatro', when he sang on the 'Fahrenheit 2000' tv show, hosted by Taiguara and Eliana Pitman, which I wrote some texts for, on TV Tupi . Moreover Zé was my confessed fan from the times I worked at 'Falção Negro' and he always enjoyed pronouncing my name in Hungarian.
Conversation goes, conversation comes! And then the short film I wanted hit me! A film with Som Imaginário!! In times when nobody even imagined that one day there would be video clips, it was a snap of an idea. There was a beautiful song by Wagner, with different climates, in a progression that went from the romantic to the mystic. A big trip. I traveled in it. I had a text from Fredera (Frederyko) that said it was 'time for the new star' and so on.
My idea was to start with images of the group accompanying Gal (she accepted to participate in a take, that was all I needed) and then explode in the progression of the song for free outdoor shots. In the beautiful places where I was going with Luiz Fernando and Luli. The Cinematography, of course, had to be Luiz’s. Everybody agreed with the idea, including Milton Nascimento. I listened to the song countless times, with the Fredera’s text, At one point it needed a beautiful woman, a magical figure to give it a 'Iemanjá’s mood', because there was going to be a lot of sea in the scenes. She would make the offer (which was neatly armed by my brother Jorge) would vanish into the sea itself. And it had to be a child who would be the proper expression of a new star. Easy, Tania Scher and her daughter Claudia who was 2 years old and had a magical sweetness.
And then the news! The Federal Censorship banned Fredera’s text. Subversive. Star must mean communist! My script had been thought up over the song and the text. What should I do? Well, let's go ahead anyway.
We had already filmed in black and white, 16 mm to be expanded and grainy, taken at Theatre Opinião(...) and we went to Filgueiras. Luli, who would later be acclaimed as a songwriter, was my direction assistant , taking care of the continuity of that visual trip.
Who had a girlfriend brought a girlfriend, who had a wife brougth a wife! A wonderful Astral!!! Lizzie Bravo, at the time married to Zé Rodrix, became pregnant with her daughter Marya in this trip. Tavito and Zé Rodrix began to have ideas to write 'Casa no Campo' in this trip. But the French woman appeared!
One of the locations was a small island which we found out and when we were ready to shoot, a French lady who was the owner of the island (we did not even know that it had an owner) appeared, saw a lot of bearded men (almost all of us were wearing facial hair ornaments), some girls enjoying a naturist bath and did not want we to shoot in her island. At first I tried to be gentle as if she was Madame Vincent from the G. Maugier book herself, used at the Alliance Française. It did not work. I asked her if she liked 'Travessia' from Milton Nascimento, something that she certainly knew from the TV festival – 'Look at him here with us!' The French woman did not take easier. I know I had just mistreated Mata Hari that threatened to call the DOPS(Department of Political and Social Order). I suggested she followed the example of Villegaignon in 1558 and returned to France. I remember that she took my picture to 'file' it but I gave her a lovely smile for the camera making a 'V' of peace with my hand.
Anyway, there were wonderful locations in Mangaratiba, including a beach where the seagulls flew over and landed on the guys from the group at the right time. It was a quiet operation to arm the camera away and take the guys by boat to the edge of the beach.
The last shot of the film was made in traveling (not easy to ride on the sand) and that was the end of the negative. We could not repeat it. But the material was great, and we were already combining with Egberto Gismonti to make a short film with him. It would be beautiful. But there was no MTV. Let alone Canal Brasil. 'A Nova Estrela' then had its debut to the public. It was an invited-only event at Cine Jóia, one of the smallest movie theatres that ever existed in Rio, (...) There was no law requirement for short films, and Brazilian exhibitors practically aired national productions only when required by law. Still, I signed the film and the INC (National Institute of Cinema) chose it to represent Brazil at the Berlin International Film Festival. Nothing happened, but the film made a nice trip back and forth to Europe!
The other international exhibition of the film was at Public Theatre’s cinema in New York, in the 80’s. I had an old 35mm copy and I was missing the film. It was a 'ultra prive' session... just me and Fabiano Canosa. Fabiano was the cinema programmer. Unfortunately the copy was scratched, with jumped frames and filled with oil. It could not be displayed.
Across the years, Lizzie Bravo always pushed me to get a copy of the short film. Once when we had lunch with Bituca in New York, he told me that he never got to see it. Gee, Milton Nascimento had to watch it! This was still in the 80's.
A couple of days after I arrived in Budapest last year, a surprise in the mail box! Paulo Mendonça sent me a DVD of 'A Velha Estrela' (The Old Star), discolored by the years, but bringing the evocation of an important era. Too bad the sound was distorted (Did it have to be the sound?). But I felt a very special happiness, and later I laughed a lot. I didn’t remember the reason of some things.
But then comes into scene - or should I say into Skype - Lizzie. She sent me the original Mp3 track… with Frederyko’s text. I synchronized on the computer and I finally remembered my film. I uploaded it on Youtube. Paulinho and Lizze were one of the first 1737 people who watched it before I blocked it for a while.
Why the blockage? Because finally, three and a half decades later, on Monday, March 12th, 2007, Canal Brasil, at 7pm... 'A Nova Estrela' ( The New Star) comes to television! Less than 9 minutes had never taken so long to be shown to so many. And I think this trip will be a gift for many people. For me, it certainly is. I was 26 years old. I am 62 years old."
|A Bolha - Sem Nada EP (1971)|
|Perfume Azul do Sol - Nascimento (1974)|
|Rock da Mortalha|
|Loyce e Os Gnomes|
Rosicrusions and The Bavarian Illuminati. Its all came from this book. Bergier and Pauwels were two right wing French journos who some how managed to get access to the French National Archives. They forged documents in relation the Priory of Sion to support their political agenda , which was to undermine the left and the communists in post war France by alleging that Mary Magdalene came to France in the 1st century AD bringing with her the child of christ.That the Merovingians protected her descendants and the Royal Family of France was related by blood to the Royal family of Davis through Christ! I know it sounds strange so please read the book". There is also more information here and here. As Dusted Magazine's review describes the track 'Que é Isso?' (trans:'What is That?'), it is a very early example of nihilistic Brazilian fuzz and I love the dragging, shuffling pace. This is what good psych is all about, stretching out time... another particularly good track on that comp is 'God Save The Queen', by a very obscure one-single-only band called '14 Bis', which I will use at some point in the future. As mentioned previously, one of two Brazilian bands with that name.
|Os Novos Baianos|
|Som Nosso de Cada Dia|
|Blow Up's 2nd album (1971)|
|Joelho de Porco|
|O Peso - Em Busca Do Tempo Perdido LP|
|Rita Lee & Tutti Frutti|
An interesting coincidence that I have noticed in the bunch of bands I used here is that no less than three of them chose to make both of their first two albums self-titled, thus they had the same names; O Terço, Som Imaginário and Blow Up. Of course, I've noticed bands have done this before, but three within this collection is strange! As bands must be aware that this is bound to cause problems and mistakes for people trying to order/buy or differentiate between their records, especially back in the pre-information age, it makes you wonder why they (or maybe their labels) did it.
This ties in with another thing I noticed about a lot of the Brazilian bands I listened to while choosing for this volume; despite them all being technically very good musicians, they tended to be unsure of what over-all sound they were aiming for, they lacked direction over an album, or over their range of albums. The result being that the style a band chose from song to song could vary wildly, to the point where they sounded like different bands playing them; often it was clear to me that a band might for instance have been thinking, "right, this one will be our Deep Purple rocker, this one will be our blues song, this one will be our soft pop hit-maker, and this one will be our wah wah-filled Hendrixy one etc....you get my drift. I can offer no explanation why this has been more apparent with the Brazilain bands I studied, maybe there's just an eclectic, restless nature to Brazilians!
To get back to my first point, it seems to back up the idea that they were consciously re-inventing themselves from song to song or album to album, and so they called their second album by the same name as the first, as though the first album had never happened. Please feel free to comment on this, and please let me know if you do not agree with me here too! Eclectic or not, I love all the tracks I have chosen here so enjoy, and adeus for now!
Some time after reading this I received a new opinion on Tropicália from Pedro Carvalho; "Just one historical correction to a mistake that many foreign writers make when writing about Brazilian music of this period: MPB was not "initially approved of by Brazil's military government because they saw it as a patriotic alternative to the the influence of the rock and pop music invasion from abroad". What happened was that the regime approved of any style of music as long as it wasn't perceived as politically or culturally provocative. They had absolutely no problem with romantic pop singers that played Anglo-American styles as long as they were bland. The country's biggest pop/rock star at the time, Roberto Carlos, always had a good relationship with the government.
Don't forget that the military government was decidedly Pro-American, never mind the flag waving.
The people who were actually opposed to foreign influences in music were actually leftists. The majority of the left in Brazil at the time followed a nationalist/anti-imperialist agenda and saw rock as a tool for cultural colonialism. Thus, the main anti-rock faction came from the more political side of the MPB scene. They even organized a parade against electric guitars in 1967. Ironically some participants, such as Gilberto Gil would change their minds and start having rock bands as sidemen very soon after. Also in 1967, Caetano Veloso was the first MPB singer to play in front of a rock band in a festival, which generated a reaction identical to the one Bob Dylan had in Newport in 1965. This is actually a good analogy. The anti-rock reaction in Brazil were not the government, they were the local equivalent to Pete Seeger and the purist folkies who booed Dylan.
However, starting in 1967, the MPB/rock crossover started by Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Os Mutantes (and followed a bit later by Os Novos Baianos) became the soundtrack to the Brazilian version of the summer of love. And even though these were definitely not political artists in the mainstream traditional leftist sense (as many acoustic MPB stars were), they were a cultural and behavioral threat to the status quo, because their attitudes, directly or indirectly, promoted free love, conscience alterations, long hair, free thinking and other "anarchic" values that were considered subversive by the authorities.
I hope I made myself clear, in brief, the government didn't really care about "foreign influences", they were only against leftist politics or crazy hippie stuff."