Unlike his friend and fellow Brazilian musical legend, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, through the years, has had a strong tendency to follow the temporary shifts in styles and trends that occur within popular music. Because of this the music of Gil usually has sounded very up to date when it was released, but often his recordings haven't at all aged as gracefully as the timeless music of Caetano Veloso. The tracks on many of the albums of Gilberto Gil have also been of very uneven quality. Refavela is clearly one of the exceptions to this rule. Heavily inspired by traditional African and Afro-Brazilian sounds and rhythms, the songs on this album have aged very well indeed. The title of the album, Refavela, of course, refers to the slum quarters found in the large Brazilian cities, which are called favelas. Among the more famous songs on this album are the beautiful title track, "Refavela," the funky "Babá Alapalá," and the Afro-Brazilian rhythmic "Patuscada de Gandhi" and "Ilê Ayê." There is also a cover of Tom Jobim's "Samba do Avião." Refavela is, without doubt, one of the most consistent and probably the best of all albums recorded by Gilberto Gil.
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AllMusic Review by Philip Jandovský