Erasmo Carlos

Erasmo Carlos & Os Tremendoes

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Originally released in 1970, Erasmo Carlos & Os Tremendoes was simultaneously a final wrap on the Jovem Guarda ("young guard") and a solid first step toward the musical directions Carlos would explore and pursue throughout the decade (and ultimately, his career). In typical fashion, he couldn't have picked a more provocative time. He and Roberto Carlos had released Sentado à Beira do Caminho a year earlier; inspired by American pop (in particular Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey"), it was battled over by critics but became a commercial smash. It was not only a hit in Brazil, but thanks to radio, its reputation spread across Latin America. The ensuing popular demand dictated a Spanish-language version for that market.

This self-produced follow-up was introduced by two pre-release singles: the gentle psych-pop number "Vou Ficar Nu Para Chamar Sua Atenção" ("I'm Going to Get Naked to Catch Your Attention") and an off-kilter read of Ary Barroso's unofficial Brazilian national anthem, "Aquarela do Brasil." This balance of styles and traditions highlighted the album's formula as Carlos, with his requisite sense of humor and musical sophistication, treated both poles as inseparable extensions of one another -- and took his music in an entirely new direction that was lost on most of his audience at the time.

The Brazilian rock of opener "Estou Dez Anos Atrasado" is answered by a stellar cover of Caetano Veloso's "Saudosismo" -- a direct homage to the songwriter (then exiled in London) and the tropicalia movement. The swirling, pillowy MPB of "Gloriosa" finds its counterpart in a brilliant version of Antonio Adolfo's mischievous hit "Teletema." The driving, proto-Bahian funk of "Jeep" was written by Vitor Martins. Carlos' originals include the ingenious "Coqueiro Verde," a glorious weave of MPB, samba, jazz, and Bacharach-styled pop, and "A Bronca da Galinha (Porque Viu o Galo com Outra)" -- translation: "The Fury of the Chicken (Because He Saw the Rooster with Others)" -- an instrumental groover that nods directly toward early James Brown. The misty "Sentado à Beira do Caminho," whose chart showcases organ, brass, and acoustic guitars, possesses a melody as seductive and bittersweet as Roy Orbison's "Blue Bayou." Of his many recordings, this album has aged particularly well. Not only are its performances and selections inspired, but Chiquinho de Moraes' arrangements expertly grasp and illuminate Carlos' vision, adding depth and resonance. While Brazilian music fans are no doubt intimately familiar with this date, newcomers would do well to investigate Erasmo Carlos & Os Tremendoes.

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