Gilberto Gil

Aquele Abraço [2000]

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Originally released as a miserly eight-song, single-disc collection in 1997, this retrospective now boasts an extra disc of live material (which is actually Gilberto Gil's punchy but subtle 1988 Ao Vivo em Tóquio album). Even so, there's not enough here to do justice to a long and fine career of taking chances and pushing at the boundaries of MPB, Brazil's popular music. The title cut might be one of his most poignant songs, written just before he spent four years in exile at the end of the '60s, "Aquele Abraço" is simply aching with saudade, yet its sambaflavor is irresistible. Gil's "Soy Loco Por Ti, America" became something of a trademark song, but where, for example, is 1992s "Madalena," one of the year's most popular Carnival songs, and such a big hit? And that's the problem: there's too much that's just not here. The live record is more satisfying, if only for "Nao Chore Mais," his cover of Bob Marley's classic "No Woman, No Cry," which signalled the start of Gil's ongoing infatuation with the music of the late Jamaican icon -- the studio version spent months at the top of the Brazilian charts in 1980 (again, it's notably missing from the studio disc here). To put it briefly, this is a thin sketch of Gil's career. For a more detailed painting, look elsewhere.

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