The Tropicália Ten
BRAZIL'S TROPICÁLIA MOVEMENT lasted only from 1967 until 1969, when figureheads Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil went into exile in England to escape their country's military government. But the genre's legacy still echoes through much Brazilian pop. Below are some of the movement's finest flowers, from the roots to the current offshoots.
various artists, Tropicália: 30 Años Mercury/ Polygram Brazil
Collected in a single reissue box, these five late-'60s albums were the opening salvos of a movement. Tropicália's vanguard appears in a group portrait on the sleeve of 1968's Tropicália, a collaboration between Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Nara Leao, Os Mutantes, and Tom Zé. The other four discs are self-titled solo albums by Veloso, Gil, Costa, and Os Mutantes. Parti-colored pop at its finest.
Caetano Veloso, A Arte de Caetano Veloso, Philips/Polygram Brazil
Of countless Caetano compilations, this set covering 1967 to 1973 captures the "Brazilian Dylan" at his weirdest and most exuberant. It includes his now-legendary 1968 appearance on national television, when the poet-pop star ranted at a hostile studio audience while Os Mutantes pumped up the guitar noise. Other highlights include "Maria Bethania," a gorgeous English-language tribute to the pop singer (Caitano's half sister), which he wrote from exile in 1972.
Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, Tropicália 2, Elektra Nonesuch
To mark Tropicália's 25th anniversary in 1993, its two central figures look backward and forward, stirring Bahian R&B, digital cut-ups, and a haunting rendition of Hendrix's "Wait Until Tomorrow" into the mix.
Gilberto Gil and Jorge Ben, Gil e Jorge, Verve/Polygram Brazil
A post-Tropicália acoustic-soul picnic, vintage 1975, with nods to Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield. Rod Stewart nicked the melody of "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" from the song "Taj Mahal," but don't let that deter you.
Tom Zé, Brazil Classics 4: The Best of Tom Zé, Luaka Bop
A funky compilation of '70s tracks from Tropicália's freakiest songsmith, complete with surrealist lyrics and kitchen-appliance backup.
Marisa Monte, Rose and Charcoal, Metro Blue
Alternate title: Tropicália: The Next Generation. The most beguiling female vocalist in '90s Brazilian pop delivers a cover of Lou Reed's "Pale Blue Eyes" and some beautiful duets with frequent collaborator Carlinhos Brown.
Arto Lindsay, Mundo Civilizado, Bar/None; and Hyper Civilizado, Gramavision
Two sides of one vision by this polyglot producer-artist, a central figure in modern Brazilian pop who was once best known here as the noise-guitar kingpin of No Wave. Mundo is a set of bold, beautiful, forward-looking bossa novas with handsome covers of Al Green and Prince songs thrown in for good measure. Hyper is a drum 'n' bass deconstruction of same by We, DJ Spooky, and other illbient types.
Chico Science and Nacao Zumbi, Afrociberdelia, Sony Latin
Not Tropicália per se, but in the same subversive spirit: a psychedelic funk-metal, samba-hop session by the late Science and his crew, Nacao Zumbi. Fans of Limp Bizkit and P-Funk should take serious note.
Carlinhos Brown, Omelete Man, Metro Blue
Think of him as Salvador's equivalent of The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, and the Tropicalistas' '90s heir apparent. From samba-reggae to orchestral pop, this singer/drummer/producer gilds it all.
various artists, Red Hot + Rio, Antilles/Verve
Northerners such as Stereolab, Everything But the Girl, David Byrne, and Money Mark get their Tropicália on, rubbing shoulders with Veloso, Gil, Monte, Milton Nascimento, and others on a set that ranges from reverent covers of bossa nova classics to far-out batucada jungle. Check the like-minded sequel, Red Hot + Lisbon, for a hint at how far the movement's spores have traveled.
Many of the import titles above are available through Dusty Groove; call (773) 645-1200 or go to www.dustygroove.com.
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