Three Brazilian Albums

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by Joseph Sarrington Smith

As I’m originally from Brazil, and as we’re now in the midst of the Olympics, I’ve decided to recommended 3 albums from Brazil that still continue to have an effect on me, many years after I first heard them. For me, they provide an ongoing fascination with my country of birth, and I hope you enjoy them just as much as I do.

1: Os Mutantes – Mutantes (1969)

Os Mutantes were the band that really seemed to capture the imagination of Brazilian teenagers in the 1960’s. Under the paranoia of a fascist dictatorship, their music was the escapism that the youth craved. This album never fails to put a smile on my face. It just sounds like they had so much fun in the studio. It’s pure creative chaos; a joyful blend of sunny Tropicália and psychedelic experimentation. They took quite a lot of their inspiration from ‘The Beatles’ like most bands did at the time, and the influence is clear throughout. I think the best track on the album is ‘2001’, an infectiously upbeat tune written by band member Rita Lee and legendary Brazilian songwriter Tom Zé.

2: Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges – Clube da Esquina (1972)

This is an absolute gem. I wish more people were aware this exists because I feel as though it hasn’t received the attention it deserves, and that really is a shame. The album doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia page! So, who were they? A Brazilian music artists collective from Minas Gerais whose members were gifted when it came to fusing various genres such as bossa nova, jazz and Brazilian country music. The result is magical. I listen to this album once a month. It invokes a sense of nostalgia which is part of its charm. 21 tracks on the record and no filler in my opinion. I don’t have a favourite track, they’re all great.

3: Caetano Veloso – Araçá Azul (1973)

OK… This is a bit of a weird one. Araçá Azul was so far removed from anything Veloso had done before that apparently, upon purchasing the album, fans demanded a refund; so confused and disappointed they were by his newfound experimentalism. But why had he completely changed direction? The album was made not long after Veloso returned from exile, having been banished to London by the government. My personal interpretation is that this album is meant to convey the anger, frustration and disillusionment that Veloso must surely have felt. For me, the highlight of the album is the stunning, 10 minute epic ‘Sugar Cane Fields Forever’.

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