Monday, November 05, 2007

Brazilian Sound Clash: Soul Grand Prix vs. Soul Layzer

Gatefold of 1976 Soul Grand Prix Album
And now for the Brazilian action, but rather than dive straight into it, I'm giving a little dose of American Funk and Soul by-way-of Brazil. One of my more esoteric genres for record collecting is the Brazilian DJ Crew party albums. I have no idea how many of these are out there, but they are awesome. Far from your K-Tel comps with 12-tacks crammed onto flimsy vinyl, these are soul and funk compilations culled by the biggest DJs of "Black" (pronounced BLA-Kee in portuguese) music in Rio de Janeiro and often mixed together or edited to give the effect of a non-stop party. I've discovered dozens of songs through these albums, many of them very rare. This is what I had to say about them in my Wax Poetics article:

"A good five years before the pioneering disco collection, “Disco Gold,” or Gloria Gaynor’s “Never Can Say Goodbye” LP, both done by legendary disco re-mixer Tom Moulton, Ademir’s LP’s had no actual mixing, but cued his favorite tunes back-to-back to produce a disco-like experience. For Ed Motta, keeper of the Brazilian funk flame and nephew to Brazil’s number one soul brother: Tim Maia, Ademir’s selections still surprise. “Actually he has some records from these sessions that are very hard to find independently released soul & funk [45s], like the DJ Shadow compilations [Brain Freeze with Cut Chemist]. . . people don’t know, for example that some DJs from these days used to travel using cheap chartered flights, flying 35 hours to buy records [in the U.S.], then coming back to Brazil.”

Ademir about to detonate a bomb (left) and Big Boy scoping the crowd for a "Big Girl" (right)

Ademir was one of the first and definitely the most prolific in releasing these funk compilations with at least three compilations under his belt and a fourth one in partnership with Brazil's superstar of youth radio, Big Boy. Ademir & Big Boy even teamed up to host a weekly party in Rio de Janeiro, called Baile da Pesada, the "Heavy Party." This weekly party contributed to the growing popularity of Soul and Funk music in Brazil and spawned many imitators, as I wrote in the Wax Poetics article:

"Competitors sprung up all over Zona Norte, now organized as DJ crews, or equipes de som. Like Jamaica’s mobile DJ sound-systems that started in the early sixties, these homemade sound-systems were generally owned by a local businessman, and operated by an underpaid and anonymous team of DJs. Ed Motta might have still been in diapers then, but his research into the topic reveals that, “they used to listen to loads of American Soul and Funk and some things that were playing in the Northern Soul scene, like some hard-to-find [albums] like Reality, Cane & Able and Mickey Murray.” Ademir’s monopoly on the funk came to and end with the market now flooded with equipes: Soul Grand Prix, Black Power, Mr. Funk Santos, A Cova, Petru’s, Dynamic Soul, Um Mente Numa Boa, Tropa Bagunça, Cashbox, Soul Layzer, Furacão 2000, Mind Power as well as celebrity bailes hosted by Big Boy, Ademir and DJ and TV host, Messiê Limá. Some of these equipes, most notably Furacao 2000, are still active and successful today."

So the post today focuses on some of the later Equipes do Som that became famous in the late seventies in Brazil. Soul Grand Prix is undeniably the best known of the early Equipes due to its leadership from DJ Don Filo (pictured) and that Atlantic records head, Andre Midani, took a risk and made one of Atlantic Brazil's first releases a SGP compilation. From the SGP album I have a rarity in the form of the allstar band dubbed the Hot Stuff Band, made up of Azimuth augmented by drummer Wilson das Neves, doing a funked-up cover of Passport's "Ju Ju Man."

Download: Ju Ju Man

I also have a unique medley of Archie Bell & the Drells tracks made exclusively for this compilation: "I Just Can't Stop Dancin'/Tighten Up." The additional significance of this track is that SGP actually hosted a tour of Archie Bell & the Drells in Brazil in the mid-seventies that evidently was a major bust, forcing SGP to sell some of their sound system to afford Archie and crew to fly back to the states!

Download: I Just Can't Stop Dancing/Tighten Up

Soul Layzer is a far less known Equipe do Som. I found this record among a handful of beat up records at a streetside book seller's shop in Sao Paulo. I didn't think much of the tracklist at the time because I was still very firmly entrenched in the mindset that anything released in the latter half of the seventies (god forbid the eighties!) was inferior to earlier releases. Soul Layzer's sole LP compilation (the I know of) was released in 1980 and was composed of two extended mixes: side A is funky and side B is romantic. Hitting the record shelves in 1980, Soul Layzer's release perfectly captured the divide taking place within the Black Rio scene. Equipes became known by the kind of music they played, either "Funk" (pronounced FUN-KEE) or "Charme" (pronounced SHAR-MEE) and most Equipes catered to one of these two dancing subsets. The "Funk" audiences were the antecedents to what is now known as "Baile Funk" or "Funk Carioca", while "Charme" continues to exist more as a nostalgia movement with well-dressed men and women executing coordinated partners dances to smoothed-out R&B. It might help to think of the difference in terms of the scenes' respective American influences:

"Funk":Hip-Hop ala 2 Live Crew
"Charme":R&B ala The Gap Band

When in Rio I asked some old scensters about Soul Layzer and they recalled the equipe as being from the very neighborhood we were in at the time, but the recollections stopped around there. However, the Side A from their LP is a treasure of early eighties disco gems mixed to perfection by the equipe so skillfully that I often throw this record on while DJing if I need to head for the bathroom, grab a bite, or make-out with a hot DJ groupie (kidding, Baby). I've since tracked down nearly all of the tracks on here for my own collection, but I still struggle when trying to recreate their seamless mixes on here. Side A of "Soul Layzer" is the more uptempo side, featuring tracks from Central Line, Starpoint, Fatback, Lizzy Mercier Descloux and more.
Equipe Soul Layzer - Funk Side
This is a 22-minute MP3, so it might not play too well in the flash player, but be sure to download it for an instant party whenever and wherever you need one.


Anonymous said...

i am really digging that soul layzer track...thanks


the amBASSador said...

the Soul Layzer mix has been re-upped!