When David Byrne picked up a Tom Zé LP in a Rio record shop 25 years ago, he had no idea he was embarking on the beginning of an enduring and provocative musical, educational and personal relationship that would last into the 21st century and help to spread Zé's reputation all over the world. That album, Estudando o Samba, was the first of the iconoclastic tropicalismo singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist's "studies" albums that provocatively explored Brazil's various musical traditions. It was followed by Estuado o Pagode (2005), and finally, Estudando a Bossa: Nordeste Plaza (2008), the latter of these gets its first North American CD issue on October 5. To celebrate this fateful anniversary, Byrne's Luaka Bop imprint will release Studies Of Tom Zé: Explaining Things So I Can Confuse You, a hand-numbered limited edition triple 180 gram LP collection of Ze's three "studies" albums (Estuando o Samba was released as Massive Hits by Byrne with a different cover and it's the American release that is presented in the set). Also included is a 45 rpm single of Zé performing with Tortoise at the Barbican, a CD that includes a conversation between the Zé and Byrne, a 12-page booklet with a scholarly essay by Christopher Dunn, and a download key for each album.
Luaka Bop is also giving out free work shirts for a short time with copies purchased from their web site. Ultimately, it's about the music. The studies albums are among the most satisfying, humorous, and confounding in Zé's long career. He has remained determinedly on the margins, exploring, questioning, and experimenting with Brazilian musical history and where it intersects with, and departs from, other global traditions. For Zé, the revolution is ever present.
You can listen to selections from the collection at Luaka Bop.