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Brasil '66 singles

Discussion in 'Look Around: Sergio Mendes/Brazilian Music Forum' started by Harry, Nov 14, 2014.

  1. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Active Member

    If they were a Holiday Inn lounge act, that would be all the motivation they would have needed.

    But for a group that was selling millions of records two years before, the criteria for what to record and release needed to be a little more solid.

    They'd watched the peak chart positions for their singles go from #4 for "The Look of Love" to #6 for "Fool on the Hill" to #16 for "Scarborough Fair" to #62 for "Pretty World" to #66 for "(Sittin' on the) Dock of the Bay" to #95 for "Wichita Lineman" to not even charting for "Norwegian Wood" (which is what happened to "For What It's Worth").

    And they'd seen the album sales (in those days driven by singles play on the radio) head south as well (FOOL ON THE HILL #3; CRYSTAL ILLUSIONS #33; YE-ME-LE #71; STILLNESS #130).

    Fail to turn that decline around and you'll lose your recording contract...which is exactly what happened to Sergio.
    Intuitive Samba likes this.
  2. Steven J. Gross

    Steven J. Gross Well-Known Member

    Interestingly, soon after I bought the single Amazon stopped selling the single- and made it available only on the album...
  3. If that's the history behind their chart activity I'll bet they recorded it because it was a very popular song and they were hoping it would boost them on the charts. They knew they were probably on the verge of loosing their recording contract and knew they needed something to put them back on top. Would a #1 single be enough to give the recording company hope?
  4. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    Brasil '66 did a lot of songs that might not have made "lyrical sense" for them but just because they were good songs with big hooks. "For What It's Worth" was a popular song and they were trying to be more American-sounding with the Stillness album, so it's no surprise they did it.

    As to their recording contract...I've always wondered about the mechanics behind that. Obviously, if they'd hit big with "FWIW," A&M probably would have wanted to sign them to another few-albums' worth. But the singles didn't succeed, and the Pais Tropical album had a couple other stabs at hit singles ("Gone Forever," "So Many People") and those didn't connect either, so....maybe they were on notice that they had one more chance. So they went on to do the Primal Roots album. Sergio is no dummy, and he HAD to know that album was destined to be a poor seller. Were they at the end of their contract anyway and he just decided "This is an album I really want to do, so screw the sales, we're outta here anyway"? Or did that album hasten their departure? Maybe Herb said, "Look, we've done all we can here -- maybe you need to go somewhere and hook up with a great producer who can get you some hits." Lots of conjecture possibilities.
    Intuitive Samba likes this.
  5. Yeah, you're probably right Mike, only the shadow knows. lol You'd probably have to ask them personally why they did what they did. I'd like to ask Mr. Alpert why he decided to put Mexican Saurkraut on the Lonely Bull LP, I have to say it's not one of my favorites. I imagine he has some things he recorded that he says "What was I thinking"! I am collecting the A&M (I guess you'd call them compiliations) of the artists they recorded. I have Family Portrait, Music Box, Something Festive and just bought a promo called Love that Music Valentine.
  6. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Active Member

    Yes, it would. But "Dock of the Bay", "Wichita Lineman" and "Norwegian Wood" were very popular songs too...and look how they did...#66, #95, no-show (yes, the chart numbers are actual peak numbers from Billboard). There was nothing to suggest that this was going to be any different, other than perhaps a belief that Kent State (which would have been very fresh when the album was being recorded) made the song relevant again. But it really wasn't. Even Steven Stills had moved on from "For What It's Worth" to "Ohio" (yes, I know Neil Young wrote it, but Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young recorded it---and made it to #14.

    Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad recording...it just wasn't a good choice for a single---especially at that stage of the career, and at that point in music's evolution. Late '70 was right about when the artist and the song needed to mesh...when MOR-leaning artists covering rock hits really began to fall out of favor once and for all. "Chelsea Morning" would have been a better choice...a song that was gaining popularity via the Joni Mitchell LP track and some TV performances without anyone having the definitive single....and a lyric with no logical disconnects.
    Intuitive Samba likes this.
  7. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Active Member

    Actually, scratch the above. Though it wasn't in the list we started the thread with, Brasil '66 followed "For What It's Worth" with "Chelsea Morning"...and once again, didn't chart on the Hot 100.
  8. Trevor

    Trevor Member

    For What It's Worth hit #10 in the Adult Contemporary Chart:


    Maybe "they" decided to release a Karen Philipp song to see where it would go in the charts. By this time, I think it was known that Lani would be leaving the group. So, this was a "testing of the waters".

    Also, Karen was kind of a hippie in some respects. She mentioned going to San Francisco in an article. Maybe Karen picked the song to sing because it would be her first single. So Many People had it's own political lyrics. Maybe that was Karen's thing.
    Chelsea Morning is by Joni Mitchell who was a bit of a hippie herself. Karen did sing that song too.
  9. Harry

    Harry Charter Member Moderator Thread Starter

    As the thread starter, I was most concerned with mono tracks, and I don't know if "Chelsea Morning" ever had a mono release. Currently there are no promos listed on eBay - they're all stock singles in stereo.

    "So Many People" apparently DID have a stereo/mono promo, in answer to JMK's query in post #2. I just found one and ordered it.

    I also noticed that the "Righteous Life/Lost In Paradise" stereo single I have was mastered with the CSG processing.

    Steven J. Gross likes this.
  10. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    Well it depends on how you look at it. In the realm of your typical "Brasil '66" singles, no, it's pretty different from anything they'd done before. But Sergio was clearly trying to move in a new direction, as evidenced by the even "harder edge" of songs like "After Midnight" and "Zanzibar" from his next album. Looking at it that way, it seems like a little more logical choice -- although the most radio-friendly song on the album (to my ears) would be "Righteous Life," considering it has a nice simple sound and wasn't associated with anybody else. "Chelsea Morning" would be a contender too -- only thing keeping "Chelsea Morning" from being my number 1 pick is the rhythm of it. At that time, the singer-songwriter era was really gaining momentum and that song might have been a little too "noisy" (for lack of a better word). A lot going on with that rhythm. Although I do have to mention, the first time I heard that song was on the radio!

    I really wish some of the singles from the Stillness album had caught on -- it's my favorite B'66 album and it would have been fun to see what direction the music would have gone, had this album and its singles been hits.

    I think the biggest thing that plagued Sergio by this time is the same thing that happens to all artists eventually -- he peaked. Even though he did some great songs in the early '70s, his hit-singles era was over and there wasn't much that could be done about it, at least not for another decade or so!
  11. JMK

    JMK Well-Known Member Contributor

    Many of the singles referenced in the last few posts received a lot of airplay--I know, because I was listening. :) And as was mentioned, many of them did relatively well on the Adult Contemporary side of things. Re: the departure from A&M. As I think I posted in another thread, I stumbled into a long handwritten account *by* Sergio (written to an interviewer) which stated quite clearly it was an amicable, mutual decision to "move on" after 10 (or so) albums. Whether that's "spin" or not is debatable, I guess.
  12. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I've always wondered what the marketing people at A&M thought of his last 3 albums there. Stillness had such a wide-ranging style, all the way from semi-rock to the 1940s vibe of "Cancao do Nosso Amor." Pais Tropical had an even wider stylistic range, plus that Portuguese title, and of course the band's name-change. Then came Primal Roots with its completely non-commercial vibe. The marketers probably just went 'Whatever' and threw up their hands by that time!
  13. Harry

    Harry Charter Member Moderator Thread Starter

  14. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Active Member

    All the Sergio singles did pretty well on the Adult Contemporary/Easy Listening charts. Trouble was, those charts were pretty close to meaningless. Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" made #6 on the Easy Listening chart back in 1965, and was on that chart for seven weeks. At the time, Billboard (in print, on the chart) said the songs on the chart were:

    "Not too far out in either direction, the following singles, selected from the current Hot 100, are the most popular middle of the road records. Rank here is based on relative standing in the Hot 100."

    Trouble was, I can't recall or even picture an MOR station in 1965 playing "Subterranean Homesick Blues", which was #39 on the Hot 100 the week it peaked at #6 on the Easy Listening (then called Pop-Standard) chart. But songs they did play weren't on that chart and were higher up the Hot 100...like the Seekers' "I'll Never Find Another You" at #4, Petula Clark's "I Know A Place" at #7, The Righteous Brothers' "Just Once In My Life" at #9 and Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual" at #17. So even Billboard's stated methodology didn't really stand up.

    By fall of 1970 and the latter-day Brasil '66 singles we're discussing, the Easy Listening chart's stated methodology had changed:

    "These are the best-selling middle-of-the-road singles compiled from national retail sales and radio station airplay and listed in rank order."

    But if a single can crack the top 10 on that chart without making it to the Hot 100, you're giving airplay way too much weight. Which is why, during my decade (the 70s) of programming Adult Contemporary stations, the Billboard Easy Listening/Adult Contemporary chart was never really a factor.

    The Hot 100 had its issues, too...a lot of which might surprise you. I wrote about it in a thread in the Carpenters' forum a while back:

    Goofus re-evaluated »
  15. Harry

    Harry Charter Member Moderator Thread Starter

    Mike had mentioned the name change, and I remembered that I had this old picture.

  16. Read your Goofus article. It's pretty scarry how people can be dooped and lied to for the sake of the almighty buck! This reminds me of David McGowan's book Weird Scenes Inside The Canyon book and how what people were hearing on albumns of their favs in the 60's really weren't them at all but Phil Spectors Wrecking Crew. Most of them when they started out couldn't even play their instruments properly. When people went to listen to them at places like the Whiskey A Go Go and Pandora's Box the quality of their music was much less than what was coming out on their albumn's. I guess people hear what they want to hear.
  17. Harry

    Harry Charter Member Moderator Thread Starter

    I recall virtually all of the Sergio Mendes singles discussed here airing in decent rotations on the MOR station I listened to back then. Judging from the amount of airplay received, back then I considered songs like "Pretty World", "Wichita Lineman", "Gone Forever", "Viramundo", etc. as pretty big hits - they got as much airplay as "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" and "Cracklin' Rosie".

    In fact, based on airplay, I considered "The Maltese Melody" by the TjB to be approximately the first big hit of the '70s, as it was in constant rotation in January of 1970. Little did I know that it wasn't even on the Hot 100. Still, the point is that these records got a lot of airplay. You just had to be listening to the stations that played them.
  18. What? Did the they let the public decide?
  19. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    No - they changed the name to Brasil '77. I remember an article where Sergio recounted that he'd proposed changing the band name every year to match the year "and become like wine -- a vintage sound." Herb (or Jerry Moss, maybe?) said "That would be cute, but it would be confusing. So they went with '77, I suppose in order to cover a lot of ground and maybe also to keep the two-same-digits aesthetic. My guess is, when they made that decision in 1971, Sergio figured there was no WAY the band would last past THAT far distant year! Of course, "Brasil '88" and "Brasil '99" were still to come ...
  20. Trevor

    Trevor Member

    yeah. Brasil'88 was in 78.
    then Brasil'99 during the Arara time in '89.
    I'm glad it's just Sergio Mendes. Of course, you look on iTunes and there is Brasil'66, Brasil'77, the New Brasil'77 and Sergio Mendes. I wish that they were all in one place.
    You know? (but this is a different conversation than the singles)
  21. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Active Member

    Well, I'm not sure Billboard was duping or lying to anyone. They just didn't correct the mistaken impression AT40 made. As for studio musicians, all the above applies to the TJB until Herb needed a touring band. The good news is that Herb hired good musicians.
  22. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Active Member

    And Harry, I was one of those kids who listened to the MOR stations (in my case, KMPC and KFI in Los Angeles and KGIL, San Fernando) as well as the Top 40 stations.

    But what you have to remember about MOR stations is that their audience was largely adults between 35 and 50. Not a heavy record-buying demographic at the time, and those who did overwhelmingly bought albums, not singles. So heavy airplay on an MOR station would rarely (novelty records excepted) move the needle on the 45, but it could sell LPs. If you look at Brasil '66's album chart performance after "Herb Alpert Presents", which peaked at #7, though...it's clear only the albums with singles that did well on Top 40 radio as well as MOR sold strongly: LOOK AROUND #5, FOOL ON THE HILL #3, then CRYSTAL ILLUSIONS #33, YE-ME-LE #71 and STILLNESS #130.

    The thing about MOR and early Adult Contemporary as a radio format was, that since it was appealing to an audience that was not huge record buyers, it settled for songs that fit the overall sound of the station without worrying too much about commercial success...and a significant number of the listeners would like hearing a song for free on the radio just fine....but would never go into a store and drop $4.98 on the album.

    That changed as Boomers aged into Adult Contemporary and kept up their record-buying habits as the 70s went on. At that point, AC and Top 40 were both playing the hits...and a lot of AC stations (including the ones I programmed) were playing the exact same hits as the Top 40 in town, minus the five hardest songs.
  23. I guess on this one "you say tomato and I say tomahto", what other than letting a wrong impression stand is lying, and as far as Mr. Alpert I'm asssuming at least he played his own trumpet where as a lot of the early 60's iconic rock LP's didn't even have any of the group members on it. I just found out that the coveted Pet Sounds by the Beach boys was a Wrecking Crew product.
  24. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Active Member

    Bonnie: Yes, Herb played his own trumpet. But up through WHIPPED CREAM AND OTHER DELIGHTS at least, everything else you hear on a TJB record is the Wrecking Crew, or some assemblage of hired studio musicians. Given that the hook for the TJB was Herb's trumpet and for the Beach Boys, it was their harmonies, I'd say it's even. Herb played on his records, the Beach Boys sang on theirs, and the best musicians in Hollywood backed them all up. Herb never showed a band on his album covers until he really had one, and the the Beach Boys never used a picture showing them with instruments until BEACH BOYS CONCERT (a live album that showed how limited these guys were instrumentally at the time)...so nobody was getting conned.

    Frankly, it never was an issue until The Monkees, at which point it became a matter of credibility that a group play its own instruments. Never mind that The Byrds' "Mister Tambourine Man" was a Wrecking Crew project, as was everything by the Mamas & Papas as well as Simon and Garfunkel.

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