Brasil '66 singles

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

  1. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    You're right. It was a single-only release in the UK in 1969, not on an LP until '72. However---quite a few FM rock stations in America made a practice of playing import LPs and singles back in the day (drove myself crazy trying to find Manfred Mann Chapter III's "Happy Being Me" after KGB-FM in San Diego played it one night---only to find out it was never released here in the U.S.)---so it's possible "Living in the Past" did get some FM airplay here in 1969.
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  2. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    Santana's "She's Not There" peaked at #27. While some call that a hit, I don't (remember, it means that on its best week, there were 26 other singles that sold better).

    But Santana covering the Zombies is very different from Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 covering singer-songwriters or rock bands. First, Santana was hipper at that point than the Zombies, who'd been gone 10 years---so he arguably elevated the material (the guitar solo is one of his best).

    Second, yeah---the times had changed again. Even the Carpenters benefited from that somewhat---by not really arriving on the scene until 1970 (thus having avoided being a 60s MOR staple) and largely staying away from covers until there was a nostalgia movement they could ride with side two of NOW AND THEN, "Please Mr. Postman" and "A Kind of Hush". Still, their image was of a throwback and by 1976, it was costing them.

    What we're talking about is how a vocal group, with its image fully formed as a middle-of-the-road act in the mid-60s, could move forward in 1969, when the wheels came off for that type of pop music act.

    To put it in perspective, here's a video that pretty much crystallizes the problem. Suppress your fandom of Brasil '66 for a moment and try to look at this as someone in their late teens or early 20s who reveres the Beatles and the "authenticity" of the late 60s rock era, as it begins to transition into the singer-songwriter movement:

    That's death, right there. I personally love Andy Williams and Sergio (and I had a massive crush on Lani)---but even if the group could have somehow made themselves as 1970-hip-now as the "Stillness" album cover suggested, nobody was gonna buy it coming from them.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
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  3. lj

    lj Active Member

    Michael--as usual, your excellent knowledge of the music industry and its history hits the nail on the head. Rock by the 70s completely took over the musical airwaves. It just would have been nice if MOR music, e.g., Brasil 66/77, could have co-existed with Rock for a little bit longer. But change in musical tastes is unstoppable. I just feel blessed that I was able to live through MOR's last hurrah in the 60s with the likes of the TJB and Brasil 66. As the decade of the 60s ended, MOR music went out with a bang and at its summit. Once the great MOR artists were no longer heard on radio, for the next 20 years they resided in live shows at places like Vegas, Tahoe and Atlantic City. That is some consolation.
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  4. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    That's very kind, lj.

    The miracle is that MOR lasted as long as it did. The truth is that it was the last, dying gasp of the Great American Songbook/Swing era, which after World War II, became a shadow of itself as pop vocals and instrumentals. With a few exceptions, the stuff from the 50s wasn't as good as what had come before, and, also with a few exceptions, the 60s were weaker still.

    Herb Alpert deserves enormous credit for keeping the music as popular as it was for as long as it was. The TJB's success and A&M's early artist roster pulled buyers into the "Easy Listening" sections of record stores. I wrote a post here 13 years ago in a thread about what would have happened had there been no Herb Alpert. Here's what I said then:

    (begin quoted material from 2006)

    Okay, I'll play:

    [*]Without the huge sales of Whipped Cream, Going Places and What Now My Love (3 of the Top 5 albums of 1966), rock would have displaced "adult" music from the upper reaches of the sales charts (apart from movie and Broadway soundtracks) in 1966.

    [*]Without Herb's albums drawing buyers into the "adult" music sections of the record stores, sales of other "adult" artists of the time (Frank Sinatra, The Vogues, Petula Clark, Ray Charles, Dionne Warwick) would have declined much more rapidly.

    [*]In the face of those declining sales, Middle-Of-The-Road music stations would have changed format to Top 40, Country or News.

    [*]Sergio Mendes would still have formed Brasil '66, with Lani Hall as lead vocalist, but would have had a difficult time getting airplay and sales because of the shift in musical tastes and available radio formats. To his label, Sergio would be just another marginal act and given no special attention.

    [*]Burt Bacharach, having begun his string of hits with Dionne Warwick a few years earlier on Scepter Records, would continue, but would find many of the same obstacles to airplay and sales Sergio encountered. The reduced cash flow would put Scepter out of business by the end of the decade. Additionally, without play for Dionne and with no greater success in his solo career on Kapp than he'd had previously, Bacharach would not become America's most popular songwriter in the late 1960s. The soundtrack for the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" would be written by someone else...Neil Diamond? Bob Dylan?

    With no A&M Records to sell to, the CBS Television Network, at the end of production of Perry Mason in 1966, would sell the old Chaplin Studios at 1416 N. La Brea to real estate investors. By the 1970s, it would be decided that the land was more valuable than the buildings, and before historic preservationists could intervene, the buildings would be razed and the lot redeveloped into a mini-mall (hey, they did it to Tiny Naylor's up the block!).

    [*]The Baja Marimba Band would not have been formed.

    [*]Chris Montez would have continued to record for small local labels in L.A. with little or no success.

    [*]The Grads would have continued playing clubs in Lake Tahoe. Herb Alpert wouldn't have been there to hear them, change their name to The Sandpipers and give them a recording contract.

    [*]Claudine Longet would record for her husband Andy Williams' Barnaby label. But record sales would elude her, as would fame, since the rapid shift in musical tastes would result in the early cancellation of Williams' TV series and specials.

    [*]Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart would have recorded for Colgems, and had limited success as the label focused on priority one...The Monkees.

    [*]Jimmie Rodgers would have continued his recording career, but on another label and would have been caught in the rock and roll riptide a couple of years earlier.

    [*]Phil Ochs would have recorded for Vanguard and sold minimally.

    [*]Al Hirt would injure himself attempting to play a joke Dixieland version of "Carmen" (OK, I'm kidding about that one).

    [*]Liza Minelli would have difficulty getting a recording contract. Hidebound Columbia would finally sign her, but she'd be blown out two years later by Clive Davis.

    [*]Pete Jolly, Wes Montgomery, Antonio Carlos Jobim, George Benson, Paul Desmond and Quincy Jones would have wound up on jazz labels like Impulse, Verve or Blue Thumb and never heard by a mass audience apart from jazz radio airplay.

    [*]Lee Michaels would have been just fine. But Procol Harum, Cat Stevens , Joe Cocker, Free, Humble Pie, Supertramp , Stealer's Wheel and Peter Frampton would have been on small labels specializing in British imports (think Deram) and would have been somewhat less successful.

    [*]Paul Williams would never have had a recording contract.

    [*]Neither would The Captain and Tenille.

    [*]The Carpenters would have been a novelty act from Downey (the girl's the drummer!), known only to the locals. After college, they would have gotten "real", non-showbiz jobs.

    And most tragically....

    We would have never seen Dolores Erickson covered in whipped (okay, shaving) cream.

    ---Michael Hagerty
  5. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator Thread Starter

    All true!

    And more importantly, there would be no A&M Corner.
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  6. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    And I wouldn't have so much grey hair...
  7. Bobberman

    Bobberman Well-Known Member

    And none of us would have met here ( as mentioned elsewhere) but as I always say "Let us All be thankful for Everything we have and our collective Friendships here". I can say I've been blessed here by All of you Far more than I ever Deserve .

    DAN BOLTON Well-Known Member

    I think I'd probably have a lot more...
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  9. After writing my previous post, I realised one important distinction: those covers (Santana's "She's Not There") and the Carpenters '60s covers -- were done years after the originals became hits. So, they weren't _current_ hit singles being covered by current "name" acts/artists.

    In a way, Sha Na Na could be looked upon as the beginning of a "retro" (oldies, revivalist) approach to American pop music, right? (They emerged about 50 years ago with Doo-Wop renditions at Woodstock. (Frank Zappa was doing doo-wop earlier in the '60s, but he wasn't a big hit-maker or trend-setter, at least as far as the mainstream was concerned.))
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
  10. Also, that was several years after Santana's commercial peak, at least in the U.S. -- specifically in terms of airplay, chart position, and sales. Santana's 2nd album was in 1970, and that had and has the most-played and biggest-selling music, of all of Santana's output(, right?)
    Those are the Santana songs that I _still_ hear on "Classic Rock" -format radio, for the most part.

    I would say maybe, Santana's version * of "She's Not There" song is probably best-characterized as a small, minor hit.
    It didn't have anywhere the impact as "Oye Como Va" , "Evil Ways" , "Black Magic Woman." (Michael keeps using chart positions as his measure.)

    * I.M.O. the vocalist is okay but nothing stand-out and lacks character that a great lead singer should have.
  11. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    Sha Na Na, the stage production of Grease (1971) and the film American Graffiti (1973) are probably the three biggest catalysts of 50s nostalgia in the 70s---each one bigger than the one before it.
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  12. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    If there's a better yardstick, I'd be happy to consider it.
  13. lj

    lj Active Member

    Michael--right you are when you wrote what later became known as MOR music in the 50s and 60s was a mere shadow compared to the Great American Songbook/Swing era. Musicologists have called the period from 1935-45 as popular music's golden age. During this period we had composing giants such as Gershwin, Kern, Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Arlen, Mercer, Carmichael, and Berlin. Jazz had become America's popular music with with bandleaders at their peak of popularity and creativity with the likes of Ellington, Basie, Lunceford, Hampton, Webb, Goodman, James, Dorsey, Herman, Kenton, and Thornhill. And out of these swing bands came legendary vocalists such as Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Billie Holliday, and Anita O' Day. Out of these bands came amazing composers and arrangers such as Gil Evans, Johnny Mandel, Ralph Burns, Sy Oliver and Billy May. And during WW2 Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk created the revolutionary Bebop sound in jazz. And later Gillespie began to experiment with Afro-Cuban jazz. I doubt that we will ever see the likes of this era in music again.

    Henry Mancini has said that as the age of Gershwin and Kern ended, into that void came Bossa Nova. For me artistically, those sounds from Brazil changed my life.
  14. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    lj: Totally with you (and Mancini) on that count.

    And the tragedy is that fusion killed jazz in terms of mass appeal about the same time that the gas ran out of the MOR tank. It's as though all the adult music went away at the same time.
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  15. lj

    lj Active Member

    Michael--You are right about fusion jazz. While Miles Davis in his fusion days of the 70s playing his trumpet with his back to the audience may have appealed to some jazz aficionados, this was not the way to reach a wider audience. As always there are exceptions--I did like the early Eumir Deodato. His Prelude album on CTI thanks to production savvy of Creed Taylor made fusion briefly popular for the mainstream audience in 1973 thanks to Deodato's arrangement of Richard Strauss "Also Sprach Zarathustra" AKA 2001 movie theme. Deodato's compositions such as "Carly and Carole" and "The Spirit of Summer" on the album had those beautiful lyrical melodic lines a la Jobim.
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  16. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    Yes, but those were the exceptions. Once Herbie Hancock's HEADHUNTERS became a hit (the biggest-selling jazz LP in history for three years, until George Benson's BREEZIN' beat it), jazz-rock fusion tilted away from melody.
  17. lj

    lj Active Member

    Henry Mancini also said that his favorite of all songs was Jobim's "Wave." He said the melody was deceptively simple and then it took you on a magic ride with sophisticated harmonies--the hallmark of all great Brazilian songs.
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  18. Michael programmed for radio stations, so chart position was the main factor in decisions by program directors, like him (right?).
    Other hypothetical (theoretical) measures (quantifiers) could be things cumulative sales, even concert ticket sales, as well as the number of mentions of the artist (in general,) or song (in particular), in media. Just a few ideas, off of the top of my head.
    (But I've never worked in the radio biz, myself. : )
  19. Sorry -- I was getting confused with a live version from the later 1970s that I saw on Y.T. that features a Scottish (white guy) singer (Alex Ligertwood) -- rather than the vocalist who recorded the studio version (originally- Greg Walker). (Never mind what I said.)
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
  20. Also, Santana did an adaptation (rendition) of "Stormy" by the Classics IV. That was part of the _Inner Secrets_ album (1978) that followed his previous LP - MoonFlower (1977).
  21. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    Chart positions were a factor---not sure I'd agree the main factor---in programming. Local market tastes and the sound of the station were bigger than pure chart numbers when I programmed in the 70s.

    But for assessing the success or failure of a record, or an artist's recording career trajectory, chart numbers, as flawed as they are (I wrote a whole thing about that on a Carpenters thread six years ago---you can read it here), are the best we've got.

    Cumulative sales figures aren't available (and as I note in the post about chart numbers, before SoundScan, figures were wholesale, not retail and did not include returns of product unsold at retail).

    Concert attendance doesn't mean much for what we're talking about. There are one-hit wonders and acts that haven't had a hit in 40 years that pack them in. That's about retained fan base and occasionally nostalgia. It's also a relatively small number of people.

    Mentions of a song or artist in media is like airplay---if nobody's buying, it doesn't matter. There was a ton of press for Disney's movie "A Wrinkle In Time" last year. It bombed. Media mentions are worse than airplay in terms of judging popularity.

    What we have are chart numbers, that, put in perspective of understanding what they actually meant, can at least give us a sense where an artist's career was at any given time. If you click that link and read the piece, you'll understand why I say the bar for "hit" is top 15 if we're being generous and more realistically top 10 to maybe 12.
  22. + "She's Not There" --
    The reason I mention those particular songs (which happened to be covered by Santana in the late '70s) is that they have Latin/Samba Jazzy elements -- and that means, these songs relate to (the original topic -- ) what this thread was originally about (or could have, potentially, if different song choices were made by Sergio).

    There's also "Green-Eyed Lady" by Sugarloaf -- another example of such a song. Imagine a 1960s Samba/M.P.B. -style drum part (beat) on that song. In fact, I think those rhythms are already pretty-well implied, at least -- even if the drummer on those original recordings often strikes the drum on the '2' and '4' ("back-beat"). (Simply shift/off-set the snare hits by an 8th note -- either earlier or later -- and the beat/rhythm is then syncopated -- like hemiolas.)

    Same thing applies to "Undun" by Randy Bachman (of the Guess Who). The Samba/MPB-style Brasilian-type rhythms are definitely implied in that song, even if the Canadian Rock drummer (mostly) plays the backbeat on his snare.
  23. In the particular case of "Scarborough Fair" -- that song wasn't as catchy nor energetic (dance-able) as "Mas Que Nada" was -- which was a dynamite record(ing).
    In "Scarborough," there is little harmonic movement (its harmonic structure is modal
    , in nature) -- compared with Sergio's other hit songs.
    Would you agree that it lacks a catchy hook -- at least in its B'66 rendition? In other words, would listeners walk away whistling or humming some melodic fragment from it? (Maybe, maybe the ending melodic phrase that repeats as it fades out?)
    Obviously, the style and timbres (particularly the vocals) are different between B66 and S&G.

    I wasn't around in the 1960s -- so, when I think of "Scarborough Faire" -- I think of _Celtic Woman_, and the middle ages from which that song originated.
  24. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator Thread Starter

    "Scarborough Fair" was played pretty frequently on the MOR station that I listened to. It seemed to me like a solid followup to "Fool On The Hill", but it wasn't all that popular on the bog Top 40 stations, as I recall.
  25. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    But again, if the conversation is about songs that Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 might have had hits with, all of that is negated by the change in music and pop tastes at that time.

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