A&M Cover Versions 1965-70: "Wave"

Which cover version is your favourite?

  • Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66

    Votes: 9 56.3%
  • The Sandpipers

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Bossa Rio

    Votes: 1 6.3%
  • Julius Wechter & The Baja Marimba Band

    Votes: 6 37.5%

  • Total voters
    16

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
Again I Gotta go with Sergio and Brasil 66 on this one the Sandpipers come in second and the BMB third for me all three are great but this was the first Vocal version of Wave I ever heard so for me it's the definitive cover Your millage may vary
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
I'm torn between three of them. Sandpipers, I can do without, I guess, but the other three are real close in my opinion. I'll give Brasil '66 the edge, just because I heard theirs first.
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
I'm pretty much on the same page as Harry (as I often am with these things). I heard the B'66 version first and it continues to be my favorite.

My second place would have to be Bossa Rio, although I haven't checked it out in a long time. I'll listen to it again -- right now I'm at a computer with no speakers!

I think the BMB version is kinda draggy. But I have always liked their "faster" songs the best.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Although I'm not a fan of any version, I went with Bossa Rio -- as Gracinha's lead vocal is tops among this crowd of covers. I agree with Mike that Julius plays it too slow while for my nickel Sergio is too fast; and the Sandpipers -- being The Sandpipers -- at their nadir are sonically akin to that leaky faucet in the rear bath that's been ignored for six weeks...

My main issue with nearly all vocal versions of Wave is that essentially all vocalists incorrectly sing the melody. Jobim's uncommonly enticing melody, which features that diminished 6th run up the scale, requires a near 2-octave vocal range to sing. Given most pop singers don't possess such a range, in response the last 5 notes of the A-section melody are routinely taken up an octave to close the section. Sinatra gave the original version a whirl in 1970. Arranged by Deodato and with Jobim on guitar, it even incorporates elements of its then recent sister composition, Tide; yet with all of this, that version just drags too slow.


(In 6th grade, my pop organ teacher formally introduced me to bossa nova music and dubbed me a cassette of the Verve Jobim LP and at that time I learned the music for Meditation. She suggested Wave as the next bossa nova piece to learn. I think it was in 10th grade that I found the Jobim / Wave LP. I had no idea there were any vocal versions until I found Equinox in college -- but upon its initial hearing I was disappointed and to this day all of these vocal versions employing the octave jump of the last five notes just sound wrong to me.)
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Though I'm familiar with Frank Sinatra's version, and his somewhat growly attempt to get the melody as intended, the octave jump never bothered me, probably because I heard Sergio's version first.

Just a side-note, if I may, regarding the YouTube presentation of the Bossa Rio track. It's clearly from a vinyl record, and yet A&M Japan released this one on CD. Since this track on YouTube comes from the record company itself, I guess one end of Universal doesn't know what the other end is doing or has done. It also hints at the fact that US master probably burned in the fire.

I found a similar thing with a Baja Marimba Band track just yesterday. It was "Those Were The Days", another album that's been released by A&M Japan on CD, yet the YouTube tracks clearly exhibited the familiar noises from vinyl.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
...Oh, good grief! I just discovered my Bossa Rio CD exhibits the incorrect ID number: It should be SP4191, but instead the CD jacket shows SP4168, which is the ID for We Five / The Return of We Five. Both were issued as part of the Japanese A&M 50th Anniversary SHM cycle back in 2012. (I wonder if the We Five indicates SP4191?)

DSC01677.jpg


DSC01681.jpg
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Quite a mistake there...

I have an earlier Japanese issue of BOSSA RIO from back in 1993-95 (it's POCM-1883) and its front cover shows the drop-down STEREO A&M logo, though there's no catalog number printed underneath on this CD.

I wonder if A&M Japan might have originally given the album a different catalog number (?)
 

John DiPinto

New Member
I voted for Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - it's the one I'm most familiar with. I do think the tempo is a little fast (although it's really just a hair faster than Jobim's original), but I really like John Pisano's guitar work and the "Together" call and response vocals - they give the song a very cool 60's-pop vibe that I Iove. The Bossa Rio version is also very nice though - that's probably what I would consider the "correct" tempo for the song. But, having played the song countless times with bands at parties, I will also say I think it's sexy when it's a little on the downtempo side, so for me the Baja Marimba Band version also works - and they actually play the correct melody at the end of the A section! (Even though I heard the octave-flip version of the melody first, I agree that the real melody is better.) The only one that leaves me cold is the Sandpipers' version.
 

lj

Well-Known Member
I'll pick the Brasil 66 version as my favorite. Lani once said to my pleasant surprise that Jobim no less participated on the Equinox album. John Pisano on the album jacket is credited as the guitarist--most probably on electric guitar. I surmise that Jobim is on acoustic guitar such as on "Triste". I know for a fact and have seen him play the piano, flute and acoustic guitar--never an electric guitar. I also really like the BMB version. The slow tempo doesn't bother me. I love the way the horns are arranged.

In my lifetime I have been blessed to have done a lot of leisure traveling in the USA and abroad. And wherever there is a piano bar I always request "Wave", as it is a perhaps Jobim's most famous Bossa Nova standard that I figure most pianists have in their repertoire. And sure enough they all know "Wave" and gladly perform it. Then this is an opportunity for me to ask if they could play some more Jobim songs. And sure enough they will play a medley of his songs. I sit back and relax with a beer and listen to my favorite music in the world. How lucky can I be.
 

lj

Well-Known Member
Perhaps the Maestro himself Antonio Carlos Jobim has the best version of "Wave", per this 1986 Today Show mini concert. How well I remember this, as before I went to work in 1986 I set my Sony Beta VCR timer so that I could record and later playback this segment when I got home. The video tape became a prized possession. Who would have known through technological change that this segment could be viewed off a home personal computer so many years later.

 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Can't say I care for any of these covers, so I didn't vote. After hearing Jobim's original version from the self-titled album decades, nothing comes even remotely close to it.
 

lj

Well-Known Member
Rudy, you have a good point. It seems quite often that the best version of a song comes from the composer and not from the covers.
 

DAN BOLTON

Well-Known Member
Rudy, you have a good point. It seems quite often that the best version of a song comes from the composer and not from the covers.
True enough, but then and again along comes an artist like Herb who takes an already popular song and makes it all his own.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Can't say I care for any of these covers, so I didn't vote. After hearing Jobim's original version from the self-titled album decades, nothing comes even remotely close to it.
Oof. Very bluntly put, but I can understand and respect this sentiment in this case.

Jobim's "Wave," which I heard a few years back, to me sounds like it could have been recorded in the same vein as the Carpenters' "Horizon." It's shiny, but not too shiny; it's complex, but not too complex to be inaccessible. The vocal versions presented here are good, but agreed with Rudy that Tom Jobim's instrumentation and arrangement are miles head.

I wanted to like Bossa Rio's version better, especially considering that the group is Brazilian, but I think the Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 version is a hair more accessible to my ears--it's the percussion and the tempo that do it for me on their version compared to the others.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
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Oof. Very bluntly put, but I can understand and respect this sentiment in this case.
To me it doesn't sound right with lyrics, so that probably weighs on my decision. It was somewhat of a revelation to hear Jobim's version after growing up hearing it with lyrics, and that's when it really clicked with me. Many of the Bossa Nova tunes from the era were given English lyrics that I don't care for, although I cannot categorically say it's all of them. Ironically, though, Jobim himself liked the English language and enjoyed hearing his tunes sung with those lyrics. So it's a mixed bag. If the lyrics tend to stick to the same meaning or idea of the Portuguese lyrics, then I don't mind it so much. "Waters of March," "Girl from Ipanema," etc. are tunes I enjoy. It's on a case-by-case basis.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
To me it doesn't sound right with lyrics, so that probably weighs on my decision. It was somewhat of a revelation to hear Jobim's version after growing up hearing it with lyrics, and that's when it really clicked with me. Many of the Bossa Nova tunes from the era were given English lyrics that I don't care for, although I cannot categorically say it's all of them. Ironically, though, Jobim himself liked the English language and enjoyed hearing his tunes sung with those lyrics. So it's a mixed bag. If the lyrics tend to stick to the same meaning or idea of the Portuguese lyrics, then I don't mind it so much. "Waters of March," "Girl from Ipanema," etc. are tunes I enjoy. It's on a case-by-case basis.
This is huge, imho. I'm always a bit hesitant with Brazilians songs with English lyrics ("Girl from Ipanema" is one that I do enjoy, by Astrud Gilberto). I know this has been discussed before, but a lot of the Brazilian lyrics of the day were full of double entendre, hidden meanings, and so forth, very much usually for political reasons... so, very often, English lyrics of the era feel sanitized to me.

In this case, when I hear that flute(?) a few seconds in, it's like a warm hug. It's amazing to me that Jobim's album "Wave" was recorded in 1967. Like I mentioned earlier, the sound is so bright (probably because of the triangle in the right channel), almost as if it were recorded at 30 ips on 2" tape.

Not an A&M artist, nor from 1965-1970, but Gal Costa (an icon in popular Brazilian music, Música Brasileira Popular, MBP) performs "Wave" with Portuguese lyrics here:
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Interesting lyrics:

Vou te contar
Meus olhos já não podem ver
Coisas que só o coração pode entender
Fundamental é mesmo o amor
É impossível ser feliz sozinho

O resto é mar
É tudo que eu não sei contar
São coisas lindas
Que eu tenho pra te dar
Vem de mansinho a brisa e me diz
É impossível ser feliz sozinho

Da primeira vez era a cidade
Da segunda o cais e a eternidade

Agora eu já sei
Da onda que se ergueu do mar
E das estrelas que esquecemos de contar
O amor se deixa surpreender
Enquanto a noite vem nos envolver

English:

I am going to tell you
My eyes cannot see anymore
Things that only the heart can understand
Love really is fundamental
It's impossible to be happy alone

The rest is the sea (*also: The rest is the multitude/great number of things)
It's everything I don't know how to tell (*also: It's everything I don't know how to count)
They're beautiful things
That I have to give you (*not "have to" as in obligation, but as in "That I have in order to give you")
The breeze comes gently and tells me
It's impossible to be happy alone

From the first time it was the city
From the second, the quay and eternity

Now I know
From the wave that erected the sea
And from the stars that we forgot to count
Love is left surprised
While the night comes to envelop us (wrap around us)

----

Immediately, I'm struck by how there is wordplay with the word "contar," which often means "to tell" (like in the first line), but also means "to count" (third line from the bottom). It's one word in Portuguese, but it's two words in English. Does anyone know if these Portuguese lyrics were meant to go with the original composition, or if they were written after Jobim was finished with it?

Another version (studio version this time) by Nara Leão, one of my favorite Brazilian singers of the era:
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
That translation is more complimentary to the melody. Has anyone ever tired to sing the translation?

Ever seen the translation for A Banda? A brief reprieve of momentary joy is enveloped within eternal despair. When you hear the American lyric re-write it makes you want to literally break the record (to this day, I'm at a loss as to how Astrud could have recorded such a ridiculous set of lyrics given she clearly knew the significance of the original!) In any event, American culture just doesn't lend itself to such content in popular music...

Portuguese Lyric

Estava à toa na vida
O meu amor me chamou
Pra ver a banda passar
Cantando coisas de amor

A minha gente sofrida
Despediu-se da dor
Pra ver a banda passar
Cantando coisas de amor

O homem sério que contava dinheiro parou
O faroleiro que contava vantagem parou
A namorada que contava as estrelas parou
Para ver, ouvir e dar passagem

A moça triste que vivia calada sorriu
A rosa triste que vivia fechada se abriu
E a meninada toda se assanhou
Pra ver a banda passar
Cantando coisas de amor

Estava à toa na vida
O meu amor me chamou
Pra ver a banda passar
Cantando coisas de amor

A minha gente sofrida
Despediu-se da dor
Pra ver a banda passar
Cantando coisas de amor

O velho fraco se esqueceu do cansaço e pensou
Que ainda era moço pra sair no terraço e dançou
A moça feia debruçou na janela
Pensando que a banda tocava pra ela

A marcha alegre se espalhou na avenida e insistiu
A lua cheia que vivia escondida surgiu
Minha cidade toda se enfeitou
Pra ver a banda passar
Cantando coisas de amor

Mas para meu desencanto
O que era doce acabou
Tudo tomou seu lugar
Depois que a banda passou

E cada qual no seu canto
E em cada canto uma dor
Depois da banda passar
Cantando coisas de amor


English Translation (with notable translation oddities)

I was for nothing in life
my love called me
to see the band pass
singing things of love

my people suffered
said goodbye to the pain
to see the band pass
singing things of love

The serious man counting money stopped
The lighthouse keeper who had the advantage stopped
The girlfriend who counted the stars stopped
To see, hear and pass through

The sad girl who lived silently smiled
The sad rose that used to be closed has opened
And all the kids got mad
to see the band pass
singing things of love

I was for nothing in life
my love called me
to see the band pass
singing things of love

my people suffered
said goodbye to the pain
to see the band pass
singing things of love

The weak old man forgot his fatigue and thought
Who was still young to go out on the terrace and dance
The ugly girl leans out of the window
Thinking the band played for her

The joyful march spread on the avenue and insisted
The full moon that used to be hidden emerged
My whole city got decorated
to see the band pass
singing things of love

But to my disenchantment
what was sweet is over
everything took its place
after the band passed

And each one in his corner
And in every corner a pain
after the band passes
singing things of love


I've said it for years: the Brazilian songwriters of the '60s were the apex of pop songwriting: Valle, Lobo, Nascimento, Gil, et al. As for Nara, I have nearly all of her entire '60s output; I could probably fill volumes discussing the aspects of her recordings...
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
As for Nara, I have nearly all of her entire '60s output; I could probably fill volumes discussing the aspects of her recordings...
You win! I thought I was a fan just by hearing "Lindonéia" on the "Tropicália" LP and hearing some of her other recordings. The only Nara CD I have is a new-ish Japanese pressing of "Dez anos depois."

Edit: It also looks like I have a self-titled CD of hers. Also Japanese. And a Gal + Caetano Veloso CD, "Domingo." All Japanese, and all from 2016.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
As for Nara, I have nearly all of her entire '60s output; I could probably fill volumes discussing the aspects of her recordings...
Fun fact... I just uncovered the obi for "Dez anos depois." (English for "Ten Years Later.") The Japanese name is 美しきボサノヴァのミューズ (Beautiful Bossa Nova Muse). Nara really did have a beautiful voice very much suited for both bossa nova and the more biting tropicália movement. She was a dynamic singer!
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Revisiting this thread.

The Brasil '66 version has always intrigued me as it's the only song of theirs (that I can think of, anyway) that's a start-to-finish duet between Sergio and Lani. Outside of the short bridges sung by Sergio, they sing the whole song in unison.

And, I'd never heard the Frank Sinatra version with the "original" melody, so I checked that out today. I'd have to say I prefer the melody used by virtually everybody else over the original, but I'm sure it's because I heard Sergio's first and to me, that's the way it "should" go.
 
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