Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Roberto Carlos . . . yes, that Roberto Carlos (unless you're referring to the soccer player)
My foray into Tim Maia mania brought us to one of Tim Maia's early band-mates from the Sputnik's, Roberto Carlos. This led to me dragging out the few Roberto Carlos LPs I own and ripping the best tracks from them. We're gonna have another Roberto Carlos post in a little bit, where we compare versions of one of his most famous songs, "Se Voce Pensa." But for now we're gonna sample some of his best songs from the three albums I own.
Roberto is like the Elvis of Brazil and maybe because of this is referred to as "O Rei" or "The King". Along with his brother-from-another-mother Erasmo Carlos and Wanderlea, they formed the holy trinity of Jovem Guarda, or Young Guard rock n' roll in mid-60s Brazil. I've been seriously researching and enjoying Brazilian music for over ten years now and only recently have I come to really appreciate Roberto's work. He's best known for his often syrupy, romantic ballads so that was an initial turn-off, but when I chanced upon his 1969 album with "Nao Vou Ficar" (among other great tunes) my interest was piqued. What I like about this period of his, honestly the only period I know, is that 1) the up-tempo number really swing with great horn arrangements and some killer songs with great melodies and memorable lyrical hooks. The hits among these songs are iconic hits that most Brazilians know by heart. Roberto's voice is an acquired taste; it's simultaneously fragile and urgent. The combination of his vocals and the great band make for some interesting Brazilian rock gems. According to DJ Greg Caz, the execs at CBS spared no expense on Roberto's records and from as early as the late 1960s sent Roberto to L.A. to record his albums with session musicians there. That might explain why Roberto's records showed a funkier, tougher R&B sound earlier than contemporary Brazilian recordings from some of his Jovem Guarda peers, Tim Maia being one of them.
Roberto and his songwriting partner, Erasmo, were adored and jokingly mimicked by Tropicalistas Caetano, Gil and Gal. Gal covered most of Roberto's hits from this period and you'll get a taste of one of those in the next Roberto Carlos post. That's probably how I first heard of him, specifically Gal's namedropping of Roberto and Erasmo following her shout-outs to her Tropicalista comrades on her tune "Meu Nome e Gal", which was actually written by Roberto and Erasmo! So, clearly, the lines were blurred between the Tropicalists and the Jovem Guarda crews. Erasmo's 1971 record would blur the lines even more by employing Sergio Dias and Lanny Gordin to play on his album.
Roberto Carlos - Não Há Dinheiro Que Pague
A classic record from 1968 with some huge hits such as "Se Voce Pensa" and the following song, "Eu Te Amo". I don't think this one was a huge hit, but it's pretty great nonetheless!
Roberto Carlos - Eu Te Amo, Te Amo
A great slow-burner that's a Jovem Guarda classic.
Roberto Carlos - As Curvas da Estrada de Santos
Another slow-burner from this classic album that also includes Tim Maia's "Nao Vou Ficar."
Roberto Carlos - Se Eu Pudesse Voltar Ao Tempo
This album has a couple great tunes, but I couldn't recognize any "hits" that I'm aware of as far as being covered by others. The opening horn arrangement on this one reminds me of "Baby" from Erasmo Carlos' 1976 album. It's also screaming out to be sampled . . .
Sonia Melo - Eu Te Amo, Te Amo
I can't even remember when or how I got this record, but I picked this tune out from the mostly crap selection. Sonia's version has a great hyperactive bass player and some very groovy keyboards. Just to show how prolific and popular Roberto and Erasmo were, this album was made up entirely of their songs.
Check out some AWESOME Roberto Carlos videos on Soul Spectrum Videos!