Various Artists

Studio Rio Presents: The Brazil Connection

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In this unusual pairing, German production team the Berman Brothers (real life brothers Christian and Frank Berman) set up shop in Rio de Janeiro to assemble this compilation of classic American songs set to Brazilian samba and bossa nova backing tracks. Somehow obtaining the rights to the original recordings of songs like Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing," Billie Holiday's "You've Changed," and Sly & the Family Stone's "Family Affair," the Bermans have set the original vocal performances to lively new backing tracks by a crack band of Brazilian studio musicians, including legends like Marcos Valle and Roberto Menescal. While many would consider this a novelty album of sorts, the catalog of tunes they've chosen adapts quite well to the laid-back musical style, and hearing vintage Aretha Franklin and the Isley Brothers sing over tasteful tropical arrangements makes for a surprisingly enjoyable listen.

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