What a lovely little record this is from Paulo Diniz! The title song, dedicated to an exiled Caetano Veloso, was a counter-culture anthem at the time, a big hit in the summertime of 1969/70. And the twelve tracks here are suitably saturated in an understated incense-and-maconha haze while still remaining completely lucid. Whether distracting oneself with a cold beer, or frolicking with mulata nymphs washing clothes by a river (his imagery, not mine..), it may be the perfect recreational sunny day album. Almost.
Vocally and melodically, Diniz borrows a lot from Roberto Carlos and especially Wilson Simonal, even if he couldn't approach the swagger or emotive range of either. Songs like "Canseira" could have been written for Simonal. In fact I can image them singing it together as a duet, except with Diniz being the voice for a Muppet version of Neil Diamond singing with Simonal on TV. He could have been more popular than Mug!
Which brings me to what may have jumped out at some listeners right away, others perhaps not so much: Diniz's voice, which on this record is frequently distracting. Before I say anything further, have a listen to this gorgeous album "E Agora José" over at Jthyme's blog. It is less of a rock record, and Diniz doesn't sing like a Muppet Neil Diamond. He actually has quite an expressive voice on that album, which only makes his choices on this one more beguiling. It's fair to say that the "José" record is a more mature artistic statement overall: for one thing, the title track is a musical interpretation of Carlos Drummond de Andrade's famous poem with the same title, and he makes it sound completely natural. Kind of brilliant actually, and in terms of songwriting most of that album is a quantum leap beyond this one. Maybe the interval of two or three years left Paulo in better command of his voice and his art, or perhaps it's a reflection of the vision for the record. I mean just LOOK at the cover of "Eu Quero Voltar Pra Bahia" - trippy, right? I mean, you have to sing it like you mean it if you are going with album art like that. Pernambuco since the 1970s seems to have a pattern of yielding interesting and important musicians and songwriters who can't sing worth a shit (see: anyone associated with 'Mangue Bit' and its progeny), and I have been trying to pin down just exactly when that weird tendency started. Maybe it was with Paulo Diniz? Well at least he got better over time. The thing is, his over-driven throat blowing works on about half of this material, but on the rest - in particular on some slower tunes like "Chega" and "Canseira" but also some up-tempo ones like football homage "Me leva," it is distracting if not outright annoying. "Um chope pra distrair" strikes a nice balance between his two singing styles. In fact this tune is one Diniz's most famous compositions and rightly so. Muppet-voice aside, the tunes on this record (all of them original except an odd interpretation of a Lupicínio Rodrigues number) are well put together, with good lyrics, and the arrangements and musicianship are top notch. Some nice harpsichord too, if you're into that kind of thing.
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