Discussion in 'Look Around: Sergio Mendes/Brazilian Music Forum' started by lj, Dec 22, 2017.

  1. lj

    lj Active Member Thread Starter

    People may associate pop music 50 years ago in 1967 as being about the Beatles and the Sgt. Peppers album, the Summer of Love, the Monterrey Music Festival, the Doors and "Light My Fire" and the likes, but for me as a college freshman, 1967 was all about Brazilian music, which A&M Records played a leading part.

    With the passing of the late, great Janis Hansen this year I couldn't help but feel what the Portuguese and Brazilians call saudade, that is, a bittersweet nostalgia and sentimentality about the past. And 1967 represents a high point for the sounds of Brazil in the USA. Here is a sampler of my Brazilian musical memories of 1967:

    On A&M, Brasil 66 recorded two masterful albums--Equinox and Look Around, with two classic musical pillars, Lani Hall singing "Like a Lover" and Janis Hansen singing "The Look of Love."

    On A&M, the TJB released a recording of Chico Buarque's "A Banda." Herb Alpert was always recognizing the best of Brazilian music, after all he was the producer of the first three Brasil 66 albums. And remember the TJB's recording of Jorge Ben's "Zazueira" in 1969?

    On A&M, Antonio Carlos Jobim released the album "Wave." And in 1967 he recorded an album with Frank Sinatra and appeared on a Sinatra TV special.

    Marcos Valle and Quarteto em Cy appeared on the Andy Williams Show.

    Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme recorded an album "Steve & Eydie, Bonfa and Brazil," with all Bonfa compositions. Bonfa the noted composer of "Samba de Orfeu" and "Manha de Carnaval" from the movie Black Orpheus, also accompanied Steve and Eydie on the guitar with the ultra talented Eumir Deodato as arranger.

    Vikki Carr released an album "Intimate Excitement" with six Brazilian songs including a great recording of "No Balanco Do Jequibau" (Pretty Butterfly.) She had a smash hit in '67 of "It Must Be Him" written by Gilbert Becaud. The Frenchman Becaud indirectly had an A&M connection as his song "Et Maintenant" was entitled "What Now My Love" in English and became an enormous hit for the TJB in 1966.

    Herb Alpert with the TJB hosted a fantastic episode of the Hollywood Palace in 1967 with Brasil 66 and other A&M recording artists as guests. Also appearing were Burt Bacharach, the Baja Marimba Band, Wes Montgomery and Liza Minnelli. You will never see such a talented lineup on TV like that again.

    You could hear the above songs and many others with the Brazilian sound on all Easy Listening AM radio stations and sometimes even on Top 40 stations. Those were the days.

    Today 50 years later I'll let you decide if popular music is better than it was in 1967. In 1967, Brazilian music represented the best of melody, harmony and rhythm. Today all you're apt to hear on radio or portable devices is the beat, with the words to songs apt to be spoken and not sung. Today anyone who can put their face before a microphone is called a recording artist. What a joke that is. Many of these so-called "artists" need to have their voices "electronically enhanced" before their music can be released. Today you can have computerized technology and electronic keyboards to replicate and replace acoustic instruments in the recording studio. I can pick out all the fake and unnatural sounds of electronic strings and drum machines etc. in a second. Today recordings are made with the cold digital sound in place of the warm sounds of analog as in 1967. Today it's impossible to hear Brazilian music anywhere on the radio for a mass audience. So you have to search the internet to find web sites that stream Brazilian music. By the way go to and click on Bossa Nova for some incredible music.
  2. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I think pop music is worse today than in '67. That's me though...a kid of today is likely to tell you the opposite. When that kid has kids, he will think their music is horrible (and they will think Justin Beiber, Adele and Taylor Swift are horrible).
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  3. JMK

    JMK Well-Known Member Contributor

    One of my favorite lesser known Bossa tunes, and one which I perform regularly at gigs. Andy Williams and Percy Faith both have incredible versions of this.
  4. lj

    lj Active Member Thread Starter

    Yes indeed JMK those are great recordings. Another wonderful version of "No Balanco Do Jequibau" I alluded to was Vikki Carr's and I have it from YouTube below. The arranger was the famous Marty Paich.

    This wonderful song has a lot of meaning to me as I first heard it in 1967 by Vikki on the radio. And in 1989 I visited Rio de Janeiro and had dinner at the Rio Palace Hotel (today the Sofitel). The hotel's restaurant had a terrace from which you could look out and see Sugar Loaf in the distance behind Leme Beach. Truly awesome. There was a husband and wife team that provided music. I requested this song and she sang it marvelously. Upon leaving I obtained their autographs. One of the names was Paulo Braga. Only later back in the USA did it register that he was Jobim's drummer from 1984-1994 on recordings and in live performances!

  5. Wonderful post, lj. I was far too young in 1967 to hear the contemporary releases, but have found Brazilian and samba music within the past couple of years. Besides the songs of the era you alluded to, I have been able to encompass a lot of the 60's era Bossa Nova offerings en mass. From Jobim, Gilberto (Astrud & Joao), Wanderley, Valle, Getz, Byrd, Almeida, TJB, BMB, Sergio, (really too many to name in a single post).... it is such a rich and textured music, something that really embraces you. It is just so good, but sadly nothing today in the popular realm is worthy of this.
  6. Brasilian music has a timeless classic appeal. But, in the commercial American Pop Culture mainstream (at least among industry insiders like radio programmers), it could be interpreted as having been a bit of a fad in the 1960s, and that fad was fading by 1969, right? (I wasn't around then.) That might be one of the reasons that Ye Me Le by Brasil '66 didn't sell much when it was released. But then again, when the Brasil '66 Greatest Hits compilation was released in 1970, that actually became the biggest-selling L.P. for Sergio (correct?). It was based on the strength and popularity of the classic first four Brasil '66 albums, I think.
  7. I read some comment somewhere on YouTube ( Definitive authoritative source, I know : )
    someone mentioned that the most popular music of the 1960s was "Easy Listening" (and not "Rock").
    When I think about it, maybe that's true. The record industry really grew in scale in the (late '60s and) 1970s, largely fuelled by the Boomer (mostly Rock-music) audience.
    (Of course, western civilization revolved around Baby Boomers, right? : )

    And, most of this Brasilian-influenced music in the U.S. is associated with "Easy Listening" -- cigar and martini, or something like that. (Of course, Elis Regina's recordings don't fit that image and mood, but most Americans didn't listen to her records, right? Elis and her band were not laid-back lounge Jazz. Elis and her band were red-hot and spicy and full of energy. "Casa Forte" is just riveting. More Americans should have (then, as well as now) heard that.)

    But, at least based on radio airplay -- adult-contemporary, easy-listening (M.O.R.) was very prevalent on radio stations back then (Is that correct? I wasn't around then to know for sure).
    Michael Hagerty has written about this on this forum. I saw his post about how the M.O.R. or Adult Contemporary charts give a misleading impression about how commercially-impactful some records were. Actually, Michael explained further down on that thread: "
    Adult Contemporary/Easy Listening charts. Trouble was, those charts were pretty close to meaningless"

    And, in 1967, I'd say that the most popular style of music (for younger people -- boomers) was Soul Music.
    R&B/Soul was the other side of the coin to more white-dominated "Rock" and it's hard to distinguish between the two, sometimes. A lot of music (and artists) from the '60s that is nowadays labelled "Rock" is more properly and accurately identified as "Soul" music.
  8. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    Well, rock was derived from soul, so your fine print does make sense.

    Lines were more clearly defined back then than they are today.... In the '70s you could look at a group of long haired white guys and pretty much assume they were going to play straight-ahead rock and roll. You can't be sure of that these days. Today every white blond haired girl singer is "dropping beats" and rapping or using "street" language in order to sound more like Beyonce, and you also have guys like Eminem and Vanilla Ice doing the same thing. But on the other side of the coin there are bands like Living Colour who tread more to the straight rock'n'roll side, or guys like Darius Rucker who is black but sings country music! (I know, Charley Pride and Ray Charles did the same thing in the '60s but they were unusual for their time.) It's just a blending of the cultures that hadn't really gotten started as much back then.
  9. All Blues, R&B, Jazz (in all of its forms / sub-styles), Soul, Funk (and Hip Hop, I suppose) (and Rock) is all connected :
    (African-)American Popular music. And, there are plenty of other cross-breedings and blends of styles in all music, generally-speaking.

    "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones is really a Soul song. When Keith Richards heard Otis Redding sing it, he loved it and referred to the Stones' recording as a "demo for Otis" or something like that. (The fuzz guitar riff is a Soul horn line. In fact, the fuzz box (which adds a square wave to the gain/over-driven guitar signal) was originally marketed for local bands in a way that their guitarist could fill in for the missing sax player! But Jeff Beck used it on "Heart Full of Soul" -- "Soul" hmm. But aside from that word being in the song's title, the guitar phrase/theme was intended by producer Georgio Golmesky be played by a Sitar -- and that would have preceded the Beatles using Sitar by maybe a few months in 1965. The point that I'm making here is that is an early use of the fuzz-tone that was not Soul music, in-style. It was more modal, Psychedelic - Indian-influenced.)

    Janis Joplin was really a Blues/Soul singer.
    Chicago (Transit Authority, as they were known in 1968-1969) was more Soul (with some Jazz influences and elements) than anything, musically. Their 3-piece horn section is considered by some to be unusual for Rock, but they really were a Soul band.
    "Somebody to Love" by the Jefferson Airplane is a Soul song with a Soul beat.
    "Fire" by Hendrix is a Soul song.
    Sly and the Family Stone was a Soul band (come Funk), not a Rock band, in my view.

    So, to get back to Brasilian-influenced music that was popular in the U.S. :
    Sergio started introducing Soul -- and later -- Funk elements into his music.
    Besides the Otis Redding cover on Crystal Illusions,
    ("Moanin'" is R&B (but with some Brasilian rhythms) on Ye Me Le)
    "For What It's Worth" (with Karen Phillip on vocals) is done in a Funky (Soul / R&B) style.

    Of course, there are bluesy elements in most Jazz -- which, in turn, influenced Brasilian Jazz, overall.
    "Mas Que Nada" has Blues pentatonic elements. If the Brasilian percussion was muted and the rhythms changed, that could be done as a Soul song, in a way.
  10. I realize that a lot of songs from the 1960s that are (nowadays) labelled as "Rock" have Brasilian-influenced rhythms.

    "Good Lovin'" was the Rascals' big break-through smash hit. (Maybe not necessarily Brasilian, but some kind of Latin-influenced beat. It's not just a straight back-beat.)

    "She's Not There" (verses, not chorus) , and "Tell Her No" (mostly the instrumental theme/riff) by the Zombies.
    Even "Time of the Season" (their third big hit) has a bit of a syncopated Brasilian-esque rhythm to it, when you think about it -- maybe more on the chorus/refrain than the verses/intro.

    In a post from this past summer, I mentioned songs like :
    "Martha" by the Jefferson Airplane (from After Bathing at Baxter's, which was recorded in 1967!) ;
    "Don't Bother Me" by the Beatles (George Harrison) ;

    A lot of the songs David Crosby wrote in the 1960s have some Latin/Brasilian-influenced rhythm:
    "It Happens Each Day", "Why?" , "I See You" -- and even songs like "Renaissance Fair" and "Lady Friend" aren't served well by a straight Rock back-beat on the snare drum. Same with "Eight Miles High", and "So, You Wanna Be a Rock 'n Roll Star" -- which were written by other members of the Byrds.
    "Everybody's Been Burned" (Imagine Lani singing that!) -- Younger than Yesterday came out in early 1967, I think. It should have been much more popular than it was.

    "Wooden Ships" (C.S.N. version) has some Latin/Samba rhythm. In live versions, Stephen Stills gave it more of a Funk rhythm than the studio version on the CSN debut album had.
    When I think about it, the last two movements of "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" has a Samba-like syncopated beat to it, doesn't it? ("Chestnut brown canary" , etc. ; and, certainly, the famous lyric-less vocal hook "doo doo doo".)

    The first song that Frank Zappa recorded for a major label (MGM/Verve) was "Anyway the Wind Blows." That ended up being on the Mothers' first album: Freak Out! (1966).

    There were a number of original songs written by a British Freak-beat (Mod) group called The Action:
    "In My Dreams" ; as well as other songs like "Love is All" ; "Things You Cannot See" and "Icarus" (whose middle bridge sounds like the intro instrumental theme in The Zombies' "Tell Her No").
  11. There are more (examples) ! --
    In 1967 the Byrds were recording what became The Notorious Byrd Brothers album, and David Crosby was involved in about half of that album. Two of his songs on that album have strong Latin/Brasilian rhythmic elements (as well as Jazz chords/harmony) --

    • "Dolphin's Smile" (verses -- though Michael Clarke struggled or didn't make an effort to play the drum beat well ; listen to out-takes with in-studio arguing. Or, was that Jim Gordon who played on the take that appeared on the album?) ,
    • "Tribal Gathering" (more-so on the Psychedelic Acid-Rock instrumental breaks -- not the verses, which have a swing rhythm, in quintuple (5) metre).

    On Frank Zappa's second album with The Mothers (Absolutely Free - which was recorded in late 1966),
    there are two tracks with Latin/Brazilian -influenced rhythms:

    • "Duke of Prunes" -- both at the slow tempo, as well as faster tempo. Even harmonically, the chords are similar to the refrain/hook/chorus of Milton Nascimento's "Cravo E Canela" -- 'F' Major 9th or 11th, 'e' minor 9th or 11th.
    • "Son of Suzy Creamcheese" references the famous R&B bar band hit "Louie Louie" (Kingsmen), but the other section of the song (with unusual metrical groupings / time signatures) has hemiola -like syncopated Latin/Brazilian-esque rhythms, in a way. Even the verse that quotes "Louie Louie" could have a syncopated snare drum part, rather than a Rock Back-beat.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  12. When lj started this thread,
    He mentioned the Doors big break-through hit: "Light My Fire"
    He mentioned that as an example, listed that among more Rock-oriented music that was popular that year.

    Well, the verse of "Light My Fire" has a Brazilian-influenced beat/rhythm to it, doesn't it?

    In fact, the beginning of the Doors' debut album starts with John Densmore doing a clear Brasilian beat on the drums -- "Break on Through (to the Other Side)."
  13. TulitaPepsi

    TulitaPepsi Active Member

    One of 1965's most recognizable tunes (especially during December) is an out-and-out samba.
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  14. TulitaPepsi

    TulitaPepsi Active Member

    Vince Guaraldi was deeply into Brazilian music as early as 1963. I'm sure he and Sergio crossed paths in San Francisco.
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  15. Bobberman

    Bobberman Well-Known Member

    I own several Vince Guaraldi albums on CD and these are just examples of his Best I have his "Latin Side of Vince Guaraldi" CD and that is one of my favorites by him. You have Good taste.
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  16. TulitaPepsi

    TulitaPepsi Active Member

    Thank you! Very nice of you to say that.
    I actually prefer much of Guaraldi's Brazilian recordings on Fantasy to Sergio's Atlantic recordings with their horrific shrill arrangements (IMHO).
  17. Bobberman

    Bobberman Well-Known Member

    I like both depending on my mood but as far as Guaraldi on Fantasy they are EXCELLENT and don't forget he also Played with Fellow Fantasy artist Cal Tjader another Great Exponent of Latin sounds I find him Equally Excellent too
  18. Ray Manzarek frequently mentioned how Densmore put down a latin beat for LMF. Also in the band's early Whisky A-Go-Go days when they were the house band and sometimes had to fill time they would play an instrumental entitled "Latin BS" which was bossa nova riffing in a rock placement. Ray was a jazzer and I'm sure was influenced by the Brazilian rythyms.
  19. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    Intuitive Samba:

    GREATEST HITS wasn't a hit for Sergio. It Peaked at #101 on the album charts (meaning, on its best week, there were 100 other albums that sold better).

    The four biggest albums for Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 (all RIAA Gold):

    FOOL ON THE HILL (peaked at #3)
    LOOK AROUND (peaked at #5)
    EQUINOX (peaked at #24)

    Beyond that, it was straight downhill:

    CRYSTAL ILLUSIONS (peaked at #33)
    YE-ME-LE (peaked at #71)
    GREATEST HITS (peaked at #101)
    STILLNESS (peaked at #130)
    PAIS TROPICAL (peaked at #166)
    PRIMAL ROOTS (peaked at #164)
    Intuitive Samba likes this.
  20. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    Intuitive Samba: Which was most popular depends on your yardstick:

    Adults tended not to buy 45s, so the hit singles of the day were generally driven by teenagers.

    Album sales, on the other hand, especially pre-Beatles, tended to be adult-driven. Original cast recordings of Broadway shows and movie soundtracks were routinely among the most popular albums. But again, remember that chart positions were not based on cumulative sales, but a snapshot of a given week. So, for "The Sound of Music" soundtrack to be #1, all it had to do was sell more copies that week than anyone else. And that number would pale by comparison when the Beatles started selling albums.

    By 1967, the album action was heavily rock.

    As for Easy Listening/MOR airplay, playing a record wasn't and isn't the same as selling a record. The only radio formats that based what they played on sales back then were Top 40, R&B/Soul and Country. Easy Listening/MOR stations were trying to achieve a sound, not reflect popularity...and the biggest MOR stations in the largest markets (KMPC in Los Angeles, WNEW in New York, KSFO in San Francisco) were really based on the personalities of the air talent. The music was incidental---as few as six songs an hour compared to 15 or 16 on a Top 40 station.

    Back issues of Billboard ( has an astonishing collection) show that MOR artists were in sales trouble as early as '64, with program directors wondering if their formats could survive playing less-popular records or if they needed to branch out to the "new sound" to maintain popularity.

    Frankly, Herb Alpert and Sergio Mendes built a bridge from one era to another...their popularity drew more people into the "Easy Listening" album section of record stores than would have otherwise happened, thanks to some Top 40 success with their singles. I think there would have been a much more abrupt transition from the "Pop Vocal-Standards" era to the Rock era had it not been for Herb and Sergio.
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  21. Bobberman

    Bobberman Well-Known Member

    I agree with that Michael and as I mentioned elsewhere Herb.Sergio as well as BMB and other A&M artists were my gateway into other MOR/Easy Listening types and artists ( Primarily Instrumental covers and originals along with various types of Jazz thrown in for extra variety) and being a Veteran DJ on a free form station for 22 years and counting I am in some small way Trying to keep that and other Great music alive which almost All Radio today had long abandoned and Forgot about " But I never did and Never will".

  22. Thinking about it now, I can't recall what gave me the impression that the 1970 Greatest Hits compilation album was a big-seller. (It was, incidentally, one of the first CDs my mother bought -- and that gave me my first introduction to the song "Fool on the Hill" - before I heard the Beatles version!)
    That same year, 1970, saw the same format -type Greatest Hits compilation release of T.J.B., too. I remember someone (Michael?) mention that -- before the Carpenters took off in 1971 -- 1969 and 1970 were rough years for A&M records sales.

    As Michael had mentioned, chart position represents -- in relative terms -- sales for a given week.
    There are slow, steady sellers -- as well.
    Where can I get the R.I.A.A. figures for a record's cumulative sales?
    There is no doubt that Brasil '66 was in commercial decline after Fool on the Hill.
    It also seems (correct me if I am wrong), that reflected and was a (part of a) microcosm of a broader trend in the mainstream American music industry -- the decline of the Brasilian music "fad" of the 1960s in the U.S.

    Michael Hagerty was a journalist (as well as having had first-hand experience working in radio back in the 1970s).
    Has he written a book on any of these subjects about music-radio, American popular music, and A&M records? He is very knowledgable.
  23. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    This may be the case on Sergio's GREATEST HITS.

    That album package was available originally back in the 1970's in several different color schemes and has continually been available for lo these many years - on LP, cassette, 8-track, and CD. It is perennially listed to this day on Amazon as one of Sergio's best sellers. Even though there have been many updates in many countries over the years, that old green GREATEST HITS is still out there. Surely it has sold a large number of units in all of those years.

    And it really needs updating: it uses CSG processing, straight from the LP days!
  24. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    Given the 48 years of slow, steady sales, I'm betting GREATEST HITS is in Sergio's Top 5...probably at Number 5, behind FOOL ON THE HILL, LOOK AROUND, HERB ALPERT PRESENTS and EQUINOX. But it's probably a long drop in actual copies from #4 to #5.
  25. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    Actually, 1969 was the tough year. 1970 brought the Carpenters mid-year, as well as Joe Cocker, Free and others.

    As far as I know, the RIAA doesn't make cumulative sales figures public for albums that didn't go gold or platinum. They do have a database of gold and platinum albums ranked by sales: ...but it's limited to the 100 biggest LPs.

    And, thank you for the kind words, Intuitive Samba. Nope, no book. Still a journalist and back in radio after a 30-year detour in TV news, as the News Director and afternoon co-anchor at KFBK AM-FM in Sacramento.
    Intuitive Samba likes this.

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