Discussion in 'Look Around: Sergio Mendes/Brazilian Music Forum' started by AM Matt, Sep 10, 2016.
Does anyone know why Sergio left A&M to Bell Records back in 1972?? Matt Clark Sanford, MI
I would guess his contract with A&M was finished and he was label shopping or it might have been some other reason that we don't know again its just a guess on my part. But i think someone has the actual reason here.
I posted about this some time ago when I stumbled into a multi-page document written *by* Sergio for some kind of interview. He was already on to Elektra by then (the IV was to promote "The Real Thing"), but he clearly states that after several years and albums, everyone felt it was time for a change and that there were no hard feelings. Whether or not that's the *whole* story is of course debatable. He had obviously not been selling huge amounts of records during the "end times" on A&M, but I always felt it was sad that he left the label.
I think a number of circumstances had come into play. Herb had effectively taken Sergio's lead singer away. Jerry Moss was on his "We need more rock acts for the label" kick, no longer supporting acts like The Sandpipers, Bossa Rio, and the Baja Marimba Band (who also went to Bell). Sergio's sales had sagged at that point, and sometimes a change of scenery helps to reinvigorate.
I too was sad to see Sergio on another label, but I did like some of the tracks on LOVE MUSIC, particularly the title track.
Further, Sergio's "IN CONCERT" had been recorded, but it didn't get a U.S. release due to declining numbers here. Even though a U.S. catalog number (U.S. - SP 4378 / U.K. AMLS 64378) had been assigned, it was released across the pond and on the continent. Too bad, nice album, but another example of timing being everything! Later, after Sergio's 2nd stint at A&M and contract ended, the irony was that Sergio's next album after leaving A&M, won him a GRAMMY in 1992 - "BRASILEIRO" in the World Music category.
Does anyone know what the last thing Sergio recorded for A&M was? I've always assumed it was "The Crab" - one of my favorite Sergio A&M recordings and sounds like nothing else Sergio recorded before or since. It's a perfect song to blast in your car while you are sailing down the highway on the way to the beach.
"The Crab" also has a pleasing roughness to it that seems to be "the road not taken". Choosing his new direction with Brasil' 77, Sergio could have opted for an urban funkiness (sort of "Sergio and The Family Mendes") instead of the sweet, smooth barely-Brazilian pop of "Love Music".
I fell in love with "Love Music" instantly upon hearing it on the radio, but I didn't know that Sergio had left A&M until I first laid my eyes on the "Love Music" single. At that time, our music store did not sell singles - only albums. I had written to a radio station in Billings telling them I liked that song and please play it more often, and they sent me the single in the mail. I opened it up and was shocked to see it not be on the A&M label. It just didn't seem possible, after all those years, that Herb would let Sergio go to another label. Of course I was thinking with sentimentality and not with any business instincts.
Since then I always figured it was low sales that caused Sergio to move on. That was pretty common in the heyday of the record biz: An artist would stay at a label until he ran out of hits (or failed to make any hits), and often a switch of labels (and with it, a switch in promotion teams) would re-ignite the artist's sales.
Bell Records was actually a pretty good fit for Sergio, because they were heavily into "pop" groups like the Fifth Dimension and other "soft rock" kind of outfits -- the kind of music Sergio had been leaning toward before he took the Primal Roots detour. I can't say for certain of course, but I'd be willing to bet that he had to give up a bit of his creative freedom to get that Bell deal. The conversation at Bell probably went along the lines of "We need to make some hits, so rather than you producing yourself, we're going to hook you up with Bones Howe and Bob Alcivar...those guys know how to make hits!" I always thought the first Bell album was Sergio's "I'll do whatever you think is best" record for them, while the second one was more like what he did at A&M, with more Brazilian material to go along with the American-influenced pop tunes. It's possible to make a quite nice 12-tune playlist combining the best tunes from those two Bell albums.
I've always wondered when "The Crab" was recorded. To me it sounds more like it came from the Pais Tropical sessions, what with it's pop-style arrangement. Still, it's been included on a couple of CD incarnations of Primal Roots, so who knows?
THE CRAB (Karan-gai-jo) b/w AFTER SUNRISE – A&M 1346-S - © 1972 – Δ 87924
(Couldn't find a Monarch chart with Delta #s that high.)
NONSTOP may well have been the last Sergio (2nd term) A&M single in 1986 (not 100% sure on this).
I thought that "The Crab" was Sergio's last shot with A&M. It has a "Marinheiro So" sound to it.
Maybe "The Crab" has Karen and Gracinha singing (versus Gracinha and Geri).
Oh, who sang the japanese version of "Pais Tropical"?
I always associate Bell with THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY. They were a division of Columbia Pictures and...was what the "Colgems" catalog morphed-into (around when The Monkees fizzled out; 1969).
In 1975, Bell was bought by mogul/A&R guy CLIVE DAVIS and he renamed it: "ARISTA".
Colgems released The Monkees "Changes" in June of 1970 but did not chart in Billboard until Rhino reissued it in September of 1986. Colgems disbanded in April 1971 when "Barrel Full Of Monkees" (greatest hits) was the last one to be released. Colgems moved to Bell Records. Sergio Mendes went instead of Arista moved to Elektra (which Tony Orlando & Dawn also moved). Matt Clark Sanford, MI