Expresso 2222, Gilberto Gil's first album back in Brazil after spending two years in exile, is a spirited return to form, filled with driving, funky bass, hammering piano, and percussive guitar work. Gil's compositions are on par with the best of his 1968 and 1969 self-titled albums, but is a more even overall affair forsaking the outright diversity Gil showed on those previous albums for a more cohesive set of songs, and while the performances aren't as outrageously groundbreaking, with Expresso 2222 Gil had already proved how far he was capable of pushing the envelope, and so the insane arrangements were no longer necessary. This makes Expresso 2222 one of Gil's most immediately palatable releases of his entire career, and compared to the standards of global rock & roll it is of the most compelling and complex yet accessible albums released in the 20th century. Gil's compositions are melodic and beautiful, and his arrangements are imaginative as always; from using a chorus of backing vocals to great effect on "O Canto de Ema" and "Sai do Sereno" to the rhythmic interplay between Gil's guitar, vocals, and layered percussion on the title track, Gil is in top form throughout the album.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory McIntosh
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