Saturday, April 20, 2013

Zé Gonzaga - O Baile da Tartaruga from Viva o Rei do Baião - CBS 1971

Zé Gonzaga - O Baile da Tartaruga from Viva o Rei do Baião - CBS 1971

Click on the video above to play the song.
iOS? click here: http://youtu.be/5fJrgA6OWZ0

Trying to describe the music of forró to a non-Brazilian is like trying to translate a word from another language that is not directly translatable.

Writers have tried describing forró music by making interesting, albeit shaky, comparisons to more familiar genres. If I were to imagine a music that sounded like a mix of common descriptors like ska, zydeco and polka, which forró has been compared to, it wouldn't sound much like forró. 

A zydeco or a Parisian valse-musette accordion player could not play forró without serious study. It would be like an Irish fiddle player joining the London Symphony Orchestra. The way forró grooves as a musical language is as distinct as English is from Portuguese.

The melodies make forró familiar, but the differences in beat and instrumentation make the dish. It's uniquely built from a hybrid of European and African cultural music, like many genres in North America, but forró is a distinct speicies.

O Baile da Tartaruga (Jafet / Osmar Safety / Augusto Mesquita) - The Dance Of The Turtle - is the first forró tune that I have ever heard that actually reminds me of zydeco or Cajun music. There is something about the distorted rhythmic accordion and the beat that is reminiscent. O Baile da Tartaruga is one of the most unhinged and wild forró recordings ever. The song must have been a big hit for Zé Gonzaga, because he recorded at least 3 versions. This version from 1971 is my favorite.

Zé Gonzaga from forroemvinil

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Genival Lacerda - Ralador De Côco (O bom) (1974) Tropicana

Genival Lacerda - Ralador De Côco (O bom) (1974) Tropicana

Ralador De Côco (O bom) is a pedal-to-the-metal, throbbing, turbocharged forró côco monster. It’s relentless. It’s breathless. Not only is it Genival Lacerda's greatest album, it’s one of the greatest forró albums ever recorded. It’s also a very difficult LP to find.

Genival Lacerda - Ralador De Côco (mono forroemvinil & stereo forrolpgringo transfer versions) from Ralador De Côco (O bom) (1974) Tropicana  

Click on the video above to play the song.
iOS? click here: http://youtu.be/tS7ats6EkLA

Genival Lacerda - Maria Nega (forrolpgringo stereo transfer version) from Ralador De Côco (O bom) (1974) Tropicana 

Click on the video above to play the song.
iOS? click here: http://youtu.be/F7xVd6evLdE

The rarity of forró..

Most forró albums are pretty rare. Collectors and dealers speculate, based on available stock of used LPs, rumors, collector demand and perhaps industry insider information, that average major label pressings ranged from 500 to 2000 copies. It’s anyone’s guess how many records private labels pressed. Luiz Gonzaga probably had substantially larger pressings, but he was the great exception.

Forró records were probably played at parties or casually around homes, with varying degrees of care. Quite a few LPs were probably thrown away over the years. Most excellent / mint copies that I've acquired came from liquidated radio station libraries. Finding these records can be exceedingly difficult, especially outside of Brazil. Like Jackson do Pandeiro's O Dono Do Forró, Genival Lacerda’s Ralador De Côco (O bom) was ridiculously hard to track down. This is slightly odd, because Genival (and Jackson, for that matter) was a popular and well known artist back then. Tropicana was a pretty big label for forró. It was distributed by CBS. You’d think that the pressing size would have been generous and copies would be fairly common, but it took 4 years of hunting to find a copy of the LP.  *Thank you Joel Stones of Tropicalia In Furs for your generous help!

Something Sounds Odd with this LP....

I first downloaded Ralador De Côco (O bom) in 2009 from a great blog called forroemvinil. After 4 years of listening to an MP3 dub, I put the LP on the turntable and I was surprised to hear loud accordion and flute coming through the speakers.  After a little tinkering with the stereo, I realized that the version on forroemvinil, which is what I have been listening to for FOUR YEARS, featured the left channel in both the left and right speakers.  This means the right half of the stereo image was gone in the forroemvinil transfer.  

So, in 2013, I got both an album that I knew and loved and something that sounded brand new. Although it’s nice to hear the album properly, the incorrect transfer, which featured almost nothing but percussion, cavaquinho and vocals has a certain seductive and reduced power of it's own.

You can really hear how distinctive the difference is with the forroemvinil transfer vs. my new transfer below. I actually prefer the forroemvinil mix for certain songs because of the rawness and energy, primarily thanks to the economy of the instrumentation.

Genival Lacerda - Celina & Desafio (forrolpgringo stereo LP mix transfers) from Ralador De Côco (O bom) (1974) Tropicana  

Click on the video above to play the song.
iOS? click here: http://youtu.be/jbkZWypbGqw

Genival Lacerda - Celina & Desafio (mono double left channel forroemvinil mix transfers) from Ralador De Côco (O bom) (1974) Tropicana  

Click on the video above to play the song.
iOS? click here: http://youtu.be/MVItXjWT4ok

Genival The Great...

Genival sounded fiery and masterful on Ralador De Côco (O bom)Like the Beatles slamming through the recording of Please Please Me after 100s of gigs and years of experience, 20 years of recording and road work made Lacerda a master. Not everything catches fire for an artist, but when it does, the world is lucky enough to get a record like this one.

Lacerda’s songs tended to sound faster and more hyper than any other forró artist. Genival’s voice sounded close the point of frying and cracking throughout the album. The songs are like a live-in-the-studio greatest hits with entirely new material. The tunes are immediate, wild and even epic. Genival’s Ralador De Côco (O bom) caught fire with the right songs and band in the right studio at the right moment. It’s by far his best album and greatest artistic achievement.

Genival the great... Genival Lacerda strikes a pose for Ralador De Côco (O bom) 1974

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ary Lobo - Deixa A Onda Passar & O Vendedor De Sururú from Quem é o Campeão? - RCA 1966

Ary Lobo - Deixa A Onda Passar from Quem é o Campeão? - RCA 1966

Click on the video above to play the song.
iOS? click here: http://youtu.be/FbxUlzf9cjE

Ary Lobo - O Vendedor De Sururú from Quem é o Campeão? - RCA 1966

Click on the video above to play the song.
iOS? click here: http://youtu.be/ZyOCrbIif2k

This week, we re-enter the wonderful world of Ary Lobo with a super rare LP, this time from 1966. My previous Ary Lobo post featured a song from Ary’s first full length LP, Último Pau De Arara (in the short-lived 10” format), from 1958. Although songs from that LP have appeared on CD and LP compilations, it has never been reissued in its entirety. I may be mistaken, because Ary’s catalog is so fragmented, but songs from Quem é o Campeão? have never been compiled or reissued at any time.

Like Jackson do Pandeiro, Ary Lobo had the ability to stretch his talent beyond basic forró and baião.  Deixa A Onda Passar (labeled ‘samba’ on the back sleeve - written by Assumpção Corrêa & José Lima) & O Vendedor De Sururú (labeled ‘sambaião’ on the back sleeve - written by Jaime Silva & Neuza Teixeira) were pleasant surprises when I first heard them because the sound leaned towards jazz and samba. The distortion on Lobo's voice is more noticeable on this album, although it was common on his records. It stands out on Quem é o Campeão?, especially on O Vendedor De Sururú, especially as the song builds. Soul distorts microphones.

LPs from Brazil in the 50s and 60s often labeled the genre of each song next to the song title on the back of the LP sleeve. The description of sambaião, for
O Vendedor De Sururú, seemed to suggest that Ary was testing the waters with a new hybrid musical mash up of samba and baião. Regardless of what the music was labeled as, both of these songs were exceptional examples of prime, sophisticated Brazilian music from 1966.  

Quem é o Campeão? was Ary Lobo’s last RCA LP. Ary Lobo recorded 9 LPs and a number of 78s and 45s (compactos) for RCA between ‘58 (possibly before) - ‘66. Although he recorded for lots of other labels until 1980, his most collectible work is his early period. Currently, there is not an available discography (discografia) containing a complete list of his 78 and 45 rpm (compacto) releases.

I am baffled that 5 of the 9 RCA LPs were reissued on CD and 4 were not. The gaps are not chronological: 1958, 1960, 1964 and 1966. Are the tapes missing?  Did RCA consider these albums less important?
Lobo’s artistic prowess remained intact, so it seems unlikely that these releases were considered unworthy based on artistic grounds. Perhaps one day, an archivist will be able to snoop around the RCA library and get some answers. Who knows? If my Portuguese improves, maybe I will do it. 
Ary Lobo -Quem é o Campeão? - 1966: Calm and cool on his last RCA LP cover.