Caetano Veloso

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Caetanear Review

by Brian Olewnick

In the tradition of many records out of Brazil, this album was issued with virtually no information as to its provenance (although Fontana was sure to include a couple of hunky photos of Veloso!), but it appears to be a collection of songs from the ten or so years prior to its release. Depending on the listener's predilection for the singer in pop group surroundings or as a solo performer, this could be heard as a perfectly fine sampler of Veloso's work from this period, the one just before his American "debut" on the spectacular Nonesuch album Caetano Veloso. For many listeners, the saccharine string and pop arrangements will make some of the pieces difficult to bear, Veloso's incredible voice and his heart-rending melodies all but buried under layers of gooey pap. But, as those experienced with his music understand, this is often part and parcel of many of his recordings, particularly the ones originating in his home country. Many of his finest songs are included here, such as "O Quereres," "Luz do Sol," and "O Leãozinho," though it's certainly arguable that all get better treatment elsewhere (though his rendition of "Sampa" is stunningly beautiful). Still, taken at face value, Veloso's pure musicality and transcendent singing make wading through all the sludge a not altogether unenjoyable task. It's worth it for Veloso completists or those who, somehow, are attempting to approach Brazilian pop from a treacly jazz-pop standpoint.

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