Sergio Mendes / Sergio Mendes & the New Brasil '77

Sergio Mendes & the New Brasil '77

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In the mid- to late '60s, Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 were one of the most successful acts doing stark Latin pop for A&M. By the early '70s, the members of the classic Brasil '66 lineup had moved on and styles had changed. Mendes ended up on Elektra/Asylum in the mid- to late '70s, when the label was best-known for its laid-back and polished pop/rock artists like Carly Simon, the Eagles, and Jackson Browne. For this 1977 set, Mendes didn't pick up an acoustic guitar and sign on Waddy Watchel, however. Sergio Mendes & the New Brasil '77 has Mendes in a fully updated, glossy R&B/pop/jazz mode. For fans that might not be the best news. The covers of "Love Me Tomorrow" and "Mozambique" have all of the accoutrements of stylish late-'70s R&B/jazz and most of their facelessness. The sleek cover of "If You Leave Me Now" does have Mendes' trademark close, halting harmonies, and an inventive arrangement. Stevie Wonder contributes two B+ tracks, "Love City" and "The Real Thing," and both warmly bear his harmonic signatures. Players who were part of Wonder's great '70s band Wonderlove also contribute tracks, like the aforementioned "Mozambique" and the playful "P-Ka-Boo." Like many artists doing albums like this, Mendes all but disappears in the gloss of the mix. The results are fair to good, but anyone liking his '60s work can't help but feel disappointed.

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