Sunday, January 30, 2011
Gonzaguinha - Luiz Gonzaga Jr.. (1974)
"Luiz Gonzaga Jr."
01 É preciso
02 Piada infeliz
03 Meu coração é um pandeiro
04 Uma família qualquer
05 Pois é, seu Zé
06 Rabisco n'areia
07 Assum preto
08 Amanhã ou depois
Sidney Matos - acoustic and electric guitars, organ, electric piano, bass
Arnaldo Luis - bass, acoustic guitar
João Cortez - drums, percussion
Gonzaga Jr. - acoustic guitar, percussion, vocals
Produced by Milton Miranda
Musical direction / arrangements - Maestro Gaya
Production assistant: Renato Corrêa
Technical director - Z.J. Merky
Recording technician - Toninho / Nivaldo
Remix engineer - Nivaldo Duarte
For the last few days I have been thinking of Egypt, how distant it all seems, and how the people around me seem largely unconscious, somnambulantly disinterested of the historical importance of what is going on there, and how it effects all of us. I'm sure I could have chosen to upload any number of more 'appropriate' albums but I have been listening to this one a lot lately and it was sitting here waiting for an upload.
Luiz Gonzaga Jr., o "Gonzaguinha", did not make music for throwing a good party. He could have made a career just off the simple fact that he was the son of the King of Baião, Luiz Gonzaga, and been a mediocre forró singer and still sold tons of albums just by that association. Instead, he chose a different path, that of a deeply-poetic composer more in the mold of the singer-songwriter archetype that became more common in the 1970s seemingly everywhere in the world, but in Brazil often had a directly proportional relationship to the political repression happening in the country. By the early 70s, the 'movimento estudantil' was in tatters, the UNE (the universities' student unions) officially dissolved by the military dicatorship, their meetings resulting in persecution, harassment, disappearances. As the 60s came to a close, the rather heavy-handed and preachy protest music of "música engajada" from the likes of Geraldo Vandre became more a thing of the past, as the optimism that protest music could change the situation and mobilize people faded, and Tropicália's confrontational iconoclasm challenged its musical and ontological premises. The increased censorship after 'Institutional Act 5" of 1968 shut down the Brazilian Congress and gave absolute power to the military resulted in a change of tactics for the socially-conscious activist-oriented songwriter. The usual example is Chico Buarque, who is famous for having his material censored during this period and would perfect the use of the quotidian metaphor as a vehicle for expressions of social unrest, creating more elusive, complex works that were consequently more difficult to challenge by the censorship boards.
But, obviously, there were other wordsmiths besides Chico that were adepts at this. Gonzaguinha is part of a post-68 generation of singer-songwriters that would also include Belchior and Fagner. These latter two were both from the northeastern state of Ceará; Gonzaguinha was born in Rio, but his father was basically a walking-talking-singing symbol of northeastern-ness, and born in Pernambuco. I always think of all three of them together for some reason, but Gonzaguinha's musical output precedes the other two slightly. They all their own styles of writing and performance, but shared a certain atmospheric vibe and themes in their early music.
This album is pretty much all down-beat, heavy, somber material. The album opens with the mind-blowing song "É preciso" which has become probably my favorite composition of his. Lyrically framing a scenario of (under-valued) domestic labor of a mother and the child by her side who accompanies her at home, in the streets, in the open street markets, the words seem to recount the memories of the singer/narrator of his own growing up and a remembered or imagined dialog with his mother as he reflects on his life. The couplet that is repeated and slightly rephrased throughout the song, "Labutar é preciso; lutar é preciso" (hard work/labor is necessary; to struggle is necessary) is sung first as wisdom imparted from mother to son while she works at washing laundry. Later it is sung back from son to mother as the son struggles to get by on his own as a young man. The parallels with the political oppression, the crushing of the labor and student movements, the clandestine groups working to overthrow or at least undermine the military dictatorship ... All of this runs like a subterranean undercurrent beneath the words sung in the plaintive voice of Luiz that grows more urgent and pleading as the song moves along.
The fastest tempo on the album is the song 'Galope' which is still manages to be dissonant and dark. All of the songs are originals except "Assum Preto" which is from Gonzagão (his dad) and Humberto Teixeira, and which Gonzaguinha makes almost unrecognizable from its original version, slowing it down and somewhat pulling it apart. The instrumentation and performances are all wonderful, impeccable musicianship that shines precisely because the musicians know when to hold back and let the song carry *them*, embellishing the music with occasional twists of avant garde post-psychedelic dissonance. The album is consistently great - "Piada infeliz", "Meu coração é um pandeiro", "Uma família qualquer", "Desesperadamente" - there is cinematic majesty and power in these songs, the key to which is their understatement and lack of histrionics.
So give this record a listen. While pockets of resistance in the Arab world try and reclaim their rights after decades of oligarchical tyranny and dictatorships sponsored by powerful allies in the United States and the European community, remember that these struggles have taken place elsewhere and will continue to take place until every last human is free from repression and political violence. Until that unlikely utopia comes about, "LUTAR É PRECISO."
in 320 kbs em pé tré
in FLAC LAWLESS AUDIO
the secret magickal code word is in the commentaries