Look Around – Critique and Discussion

Which selection best characterizes the group's music at this point (late '67)

  • With A Little Help from My Friends

    Votes: 1 7.7%
  • Roda

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Like A Lover

    Votes: 4 30.8%
  • The Frog

    Votes: 2 15.4%
  • Tristeza

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • The Look Of Love

    Votes: 1 7.7%
  • Pradizer Adeus

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Batucada

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • So Many Stars

    Votes: 2 15.4%
  • Look Around

    Votes: 3 23.1%

  • Total voters
    13
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JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Look Around – Critique and Discussion

Am not sure when Sergio Mendes met Dave Grusin, but the latter’s effect on the bandleader would be monumental. (Indeed that surname moniker graces Sergio’s then-recent solo LP, Sergio’s Favourite Things, presumably recorded and released between Equinox and Look Around, during that auspicious year in pop…1967.)

Look Around, recorded in late ’67, was the third effort for the group. In many ways, the LP spearheads the group’s direction for the next few releases: stronger rhythmic focus on the combo arrangements, covers of more timely American pop tunes, and the introduction of very “American” orchestrations. Bob’s and Jose’s support vocals are less present as the focus is squarely on Lani and Sergio – the leader fully stepping up to the mike on three selections. Lani is featured on two excellent solo vehicles that showcase her rapidly maturing vocal talents. For the first time, a “group” member (Sergio) is credited with a co-writer’s credit. Half of the LP is orchestrated -- two arrangements from the pen of Dick Hazard; three from Grusin.

Although no one knew it at the time, Sergio settled on a formula of sorts with Look Around that would be repeated over the course of the next few LPs:
  • Emphasize contemporary US songs that were recent pop hits
    Debut new US songs – courtesy of the Bergman-Bergman team
    Embrace the use of full orchestrations
    Incorporate the spirit of Tropicala
    Feature new songs from Edu Lobo
This can serve as a kinda check-sheet for the next series of LPs… As for how this all played out on Look Around…most listeners were probably pleased (such is usually the case with a favourable prototype).

With A Little Help from my Friends. Opening with a kick drum THUMP on beat 4 – which would characteristically mark the beginning of many Brasil’66 songs henceforth – this new programme is off to a heck of a start wiht the Brazilianification of the instantly-famous Beatles “turntable hit”. Sergio’s reading is a gem employing a complete re-write of the A-section changes (using a descending series of 1/2-step intervals) and a notable high female (“jazz harmony”) voice during the final “I just want someone to love” fragment. The use of non-leslie driven organ (a personal preference) drives the song – particularly during the modal instrumental breaks. It’s just a shame that totally cool organ didn’t burst out into a cool-ass solo…I guess we’d have to wait another 6 months until we’d get something similar. Unique interpretations like this leave us begging for a second helping. Excellent. A+

Roda. One of the most rewarding things about non-US pop music is the absence of that damn back beat. I mean, it has been a staple in black US pop since the dawn of race record recordings in the early 1920s…and all the white dudes picked up on it and have been whacking us on every 2 and 4 ever since. Roda, with its clapping on 1 and 3 reminds US ethnocentrics that there’s a hell of a lot more to keeping a beat than the same ol’ James Brown strut. Like the finest Brazilian songs, Gilberto Gil’s piece employs a B-section that is strong enough to be an A-section outright. The combo is in solid form – with Bob Matthews and Sergio trading leading chores. Dig Sergio’s sweet jazz voicings, as well as another series of 1/2-step downward cascading voicings (listen for the organ). The festive atmosphere and unique false ending make this piece instantly memorable and likable. Expertly programmed into the #2 slot. A+

Like A Lover. Lani probably took many listeners by surprise with this offering. This is the first airing of strings on a Brasil ’66 LP and on first listen, the piece does come off as a bit of a novelty; however, this slice of Southern California sea-side sunshine pop is filled with all kinds of unique musical twist and turns that one expects from Bergman-Bergman. Dick Hazard’s unobtrusive arrangement, propelled by Joao’s 8/8, provided an excellent platform for Lani Hall. Who would have known that she would have found an instant fit into such a musical style? In fact, she did such a splendid job, that she would reprise the style on side 2. Listen to how Jose and Bob sing the unison line – you can hear Jose’s Portuguese accent against Bob’s American English. Really cool. Listen too for the interweaving of the Jose and Bob with/around Lani, as well as the different phrasing of “I might be the velvet moon to you”. All these little elements sum to another stellar performance. In fact, with this, the Bergman-Bergman team gives us the first of their three gems. (The form is essentially AABA ABA [A= 12+2 | B = 13] – with noted extensions.) A+

The Frog. I’m getting the feeling that Sergio likes these “musical mantras” – the same thing that Brian Wilson used to do with his Beach Boys (notably throughout his infamous Smile sessions). I’d like to hear a translation just to see what all the hubbub is all about. Grusin’s orchestration, though dated in its feel, is a perfect fit for this unique song. With each time around the block he alters the sonic landscape. Nice job.

Tristeza. Along with Mexican “banda” style, Brazilian “tropicalia” music seems to have the power to afflict even the most dour of bah-humbugs with unabashedly, terminally glee. The well-known 1966 tune, A Banda – which tells the tale of how a passing band transcends the day’s ills (even causing a flower to open up its pedals in happiness…) – may have been the pacesetting “modern” song that introduced the feel to US ears. The wonderful performance is only marred by the use of an intoxicated trombone line repeated ad infinitum. Then again, it’s a party! If it feels good, do it twenty-seven times. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, Jackson!

The Look of Love. This established Janis as a lead vocalist with as much popular impact as Lani. Personally, I like how the piece starts out; however, as the song unfolds, we get a strong dose of the Grusin treatment…there’s so much going on in his arrangement that the arrangement itself competes with the song for dominance. This will be a recurring criticism of much of Grusin’s work with Brasil ’66. The heavy baton works well on The Frog – owing to the fact that that song is quite spartan. The Look of Love, on the other hand, is archetypal Bacharach in that it is already saturated with music – adding more complex voicings, countermelodies, cross-polyrhythms, etc., is excessive. As much as I like Janis’ sultry voice, I’ll take Dusty Springfield’s soundtrack version for its overt coolness. I mean, given the content, the “look of love” should be between two people – Grusin has arranged it as though the “look of love” is exchanged between two halves of a football stadium crowd.

Pradizer Adeus. Sergio’s vocal is a disappointment. His voice is dull and unaffecting, only yielding a bit of timbre in the upper register. To his defense, it’s a pretty grim song, so I suppose he shouldn’t be expected to give us some Anthony Newly. Nevertheless, some EQ-ing wouldn’t have hurt to reduce the muddiness. (One of the few Edu Lobo songs that I just can't get into...)

Batucada. Programming the previous doleful offering in between orchestral overdrive and “The Beat” was probably not the most listener-friendly decision. In any event, Batucada, with its seemingless-endless introduction, is an exciting listen. The arrangement is very much akin to the debute LP – where it would neatly sequence.

So Many Stars. Beautiful. Deceptively simple, this song is a real workout for Lani – just listen to her breathing and phrasing... This gorgeous offering is about as good as music gets; and for me, Lani would never top this performance as a Brasil ’66 singer. Grusin, too, offers far and away his finest arrangement. Listen to how he frames his beautiful songstress: tugging here and there with eloquence and reverence for both singer and melody. The expert arrangement is a study in tension and release: Grusin builds, Lani releases; or vice versa – and at one point they both build and release together…(pretty darn sexual if you ask me). The key change is flawlessly timed. The match of song, arrangement, and singer is ideal. The Bergman-Bergman piece is notable for its repetition of one principal melodic/rhythmic fragment throughout – a vehicle with which they would soon exploit to the Nth degree in their instant classic, The Windmills of Your Mind. Based on this rhythmic fragment, the continuous form is uniquely diagrammed something like this: AA’AA’A’’A’’’ AA’AA’A’’A’’’ [A= 6 | A’ = 8 | A’’= 8 | A’’’ = 8]. A++

Look Around
. It’s cool how this piece begins with a little Look of Love tease. Like So Many Stars, this piece is another fine Bergman-Bergman work. Sergio’s presence as a writer is obvious: as this IS the definitive song, arrangement and performance of Brazilian/US mid/late ‘60s pop – colliding on a sunny Ventura beach. The chords and melody are US, the rhythm and feel Brazilian, the overall arrangement and performance – an amalgam of each. Even hearing Jose sing that one note off-key every damn time doesn’t diminish this one. Personally, I like how each A-section features a 1-bar extension – leaving the listener on a Bb9 – but not resolving as one would expect (the melody either returns to the initial Gmaj or drops a 1/2-step to an Amaj for the B-section). The Brian Wilson-style coda gives still me shivers 20+ years on as the arrangement rides out on a non-resolving Bbsus9. The song is diagrammed: AAB AAB A [A = 9 | B = 10] – the extensions keeping it away from typical 8-bar forms. Cool way to end an LP. A+

With Look Around, Brazil pop meets US pop on a Southern California beach…or at least on a sunny Topanga Canyon estate. Following two critical successes, Look Around was the LP that finally yielded pop market triumph – courtesy of the top-10 hit, The Look Of Love. In many ways it is the finest Brasil ’66 LP – a listenable balance of Sergio’s implementation of orchestral arrangements, and his inimitable combo. If there is one complaint it can only be that Bob Matthew’s bass and Joao Palma’s drum kit continue to suffer a reduction in their above-board presence, while Lani is pushed into the spotlight – making it more of a Lani-dominated LP than a “group” LP. For those who favour the female vocal sounds, this is good news; while, for those who were driven by the combo’s unique drums/bass/piano interplay, this is a setback.

Of course, this setback was merely a few rotten potatoes in the sack compared to the famine that was about to occur. To that end, sometime in early 1968, the group’s name was probably more accurately described as “SERGIO MENDES with Lani Hall and Dave Grusin”.
 

Dave

Well-Known Member
What says "Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66" better than "Like A Lover"...? There is so far, to my knowledge nobody else who has covered this song, and if so, the Sergio Mendes Version he/she/they cannot touch!!!

An advance in material, arrangements and delivery, this third outing is my favorite with Fool On The Hill coming at a very close second... A few well-done covers of songs, most notably The Beatles "With A Little Help From My Friends" and of course, my 2nd favorite track, the Bacharach/David-penned "The Look Of Love", another version that other peoples' can't come close to doing one-better...! And traditional Brasilian numbers done in their cheerful and kitschy vein, for extra 'measure of pleasure'...



Dave
 

JMK

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Just for clarification's sake, the Bergmans are lyricists. "So Many Stars"' music is by Sergio, of course, and "Windmills" is by Michel Legrand. My favorite Legrand/Bergman collaboration is "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?", which lost the Oscar to A&M's Burt Bacharach's "Raindrops." When I'm gigging and a singer is performing a Bergman lyric, it's the only time I absolutely insist on the lyric being sung exactly as written--the Bergmans are masters of imagery and through-lines. Nothing makes me prouder than getting ASCAP material signed by Marilyn.
 

JMK

Well-Known Member
Contributor
BTW, for you sheet music aficiandos, you can still find old pieces where the lyric is by Marilyn and Alan before they got married and Marilyn is still Marilyn Keith. Two of their more popular Norman Luboff collaborations, "Still, Still, Still" and "Yellow Bird," sometimes still have Marilyn listed under her maiden name.
 

nightcat

Member
I believe The Frog characterizes the group's music the best. I still recall hearing this for the first time on AM radio and thinking it was really unique. The Frog has no bridge to give it variety, and the repetitive tune and lyrics give it a catatonic hypnotic feel. I like the power and drive, and the Portuguese lyrics give it an authentic Brasilian feel. After the build up, there's almost a relief when the tune dies down and finally ends.

Honorable mention goes to Like A Lover.
 

seashorepiano

Active Member
"So Many Stars" far and away is the winner on this album for me. I like all the other songs, except for "The Look of Love." Just never liked it, along with most Bacharach in general.
 

JMK

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Forgot to mention--The Frog (actually co-written by Caetano Veloso and Joao Donato) reproduces "frog-like" noises in its lyric. The onomatopoeia has no literal translation.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
"Like A Lover" is perfect, more perfect, and the most perfect.

I first heard the song on the A&M sampler album FAMILY PORTRAIT (where, by the way, the song has a slightly different mix). It's the recording that turned me into a Brasil '66 fan, and to this day I still melt when I hear it.

Harry
 

JMK

Well-Known Member
Contributor
"Like a Lover" was really the first B66 song I spent a lot of time with, only because my eldest sister brought Look Around home from college that summer and was trying to transcribe the lyric for her then-boyfriend! She made me listen to it repeatedly because she couldn't quite get "light arrives on tiptoe." One of the beautiful things about that is rhythmically ambivalent guitar opening. But yet again another perfect Bergman lyric. By the way, the originally Caymmi lyric is about lost love!
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Thanks, JMK, for the Bergman-Bergman crash course. There seems to be running musicals themes to their music -- at least what I've heard during the '66-'69 period; therefore, I surmised music and lyrics were principally written by either/or...who would've a known that their contribution were limited to only words? Fascinating.

Thanks, too, for the info on The Frog -- makes it all the more interesting, now.

For me (...a helluva song, by the way...), it's a toss-up among the three Bergman-Bergman compositions; but I take the LP closer for it's seeming-perfect collision of Brazil/US/So-Cal Sunshine pop -- it's probably more of a childhood thing because of the feel; in addition, such a song puts the group much closer to a Mamas/Papas rock/pop group style [good] and away from 5th-Dimension MOR stuff [bad]. Ha!

Seashore, I know what you mean about Burt. Although he's one of my all-time faves, he has such an identifiable style that, if he gets on your wrong side from the beginning, he'll probably always annoy you. Still, one can't deny his obvious love of melody and unique use of counterpoint. The cool thing about a Bacharach tune is that they come "pre-arranged" -- just add a competent singer and a decent band. For example, last year at a club, I recall a garage band giving us a fairly spirited reading of Do You Know The Way to San Jose?...it was the only thing they did that captured most of the patrons' attention (probably because it was so damn musical...). Safe to say that they probably played more chords in that one song than they did for the balance of their set (even though they clearly got a few wayy wrong -- don't trust any pop musician under 30!).
 

seashorepiano

Active Member
I agree, Bacharach's style is unmistakable. He has talent, no doubt. I just haven't been able to get into his songs. I really enjoyed "Bond Street" from his Reach Out album, particularly for its Hammond organ part.
 

Dave

Well-Known Member
sp4137.jpg


Yes, "Look Around" has that whimsical, innocent, carefree and outreaching feel, especially closing the album, and very much relates to the colorful cover shot (under all those umbrellas as we look at THEM, as they "LOOK AROUND"...!!!!!!)

"So Many Stars" also functions under that vein, too; just complemented by a touching arrangement make it a beautiful catharsis for this album... Quite a breakaway from the 'Mamas & Papas Groups' of its day...

Stating my "2nd" and "3rd" favorites on this Sergio Mendes/Brasil '66 LP...



Dave
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
seashorepiano said:
I agree, Bacharach's style is unmistakable. He has talent, no doubt. I just haven't been able to get into his songs. I really enjoyed "Bond Street" from his Reach Out album, particularly for its Hammond organ part.
You should give his first three soundtracks ['65-'67] a spin...What's New Pussycat?, After The Fox , and Casino Royale -- the latter includes Bond Street. One thing for sure, Bacharach liberally dives into the trad-Jewish folk "songbook" for many of his melody snippets in his soundtracks -- Bond Street included. Fun stuff. (All three were crazy-ass comedies)

[quote="Look Around" Dave]Yes, "Look Around" has that whimsical, innocent and outreaching feel, especially closing the album, and very much relates to the colorful cover shot (under all those umbrellas as wew look at THEM, as they "LOOK AROUND"...!!!!!!) [/quote]
Agreed! Growing up in that area, there's a look and an energy to both both closing selection and cover shot...(One reason why I guessed Topanga Canyon as the locale...it just feels right, you know?)
 

JMK

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Burt's own version of "Look of Love," with that fantastic guiro opening, has always been a fave of mine.
 

rickster

New Member
JO --- How about crediting the composer of the gorgeous MELODY of "Like a Lover" , as well as Bergman-Bergman, namely the great Dori Caymi ????
For me, it's definitely the tune, the melody, that sticks in my head, and in my opinion, it's one of the best tunes that Sergio ever recorded. Absolutely stunning, and the best song on "Look Around" , by far.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
rickster said:
JO --- How about crediting the composer of the gorgeous MELODY of "Like a Lover" , as well as Bergman-Bergman, namely the great Dori Caymi ????...

Hey, Rickster -- JMK straightened me out on this. I had previously assumed "Bergman-Bergman" were the principal writers in their multi-writer compositions however, it turns out they are co-lyricists; therefore, any "third wheel" on a Bergman-Bergman piece will be the music writer. My error.

Another oversight my failing to mention Lani Hall as a co-writer on Pradizer Adeus -- although her credit may be limited to translating Edu Lobo's lyric. (She's not credited on the Paul Desmond A&M version which features a vocal; however, she IS credited on Edu's A&M version -- along with a third co-writer...)
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
James - Lani did not translate Lobo's lyric, but instead wrote new English lyrics. She did that on quite a few songs over the years. She doesn't speak Portuguese, having learned the Portuguese lyrics phonetically.
 

Captaindave

Well-Known Member
The Look Of Love is my favorite song from this album, and probably my favorite Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66 song of all. Followed on this album by Look Around and So Many Stars.

As far as I am concerned, The Look Of Love is the definitive Brasil 66 song for the time period - late 1967. Right along about the same time as the movie Valley Of The Dolls - another time period classic. And, Casino Royale came along right about that same time - 1967. I remember the times well, and think that song fits in perfectly with the times.

It was really fun to be coming of age back then... :)
 

JMK

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Mike Blakesley said:
James - Lani did not translate Lobo's lyric, but instead wrote new English lyrics. She did that on quite a few songs over the years. She doesn't speak Portuguese, having learned the Portuguese lyrics phonetically.

Actually, some of Lani's English lyrics are very close approximations to their Portuguese originals, notably To Say Goodbye.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
JO said:
For example, last year at a club, I recall a garage band giving us a fairly spirited reading of Do You Know The Way to San Jose?...it was the only thing they did that captured most of the patrons' attention (probably because it was so damn musical...). Safe to say that they probably played more chords in that one song than they did for the balance of their set (even though they clearly got a few wayy wrong -- don't trust any pop musician under 30!).

I take it you haven't heard the version by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, eh? :D (It's actually pretty good.)

I know I've said it before, but I'll take Hazard's inobtrusive orchestrations over being bludgeoned by Grusin's, which usually overtakes the Brasil '66 sound to distraction. And I'll leave it at that. :wink:

"Look of Love" here is one of my least favorite versions. No offense, but this was supposed to be a seductive come-on song. Dusty Springfield nails it in her definitive version--that's what it was intended to sound like, not a pop song. It's almost like it was a running joke at A&M to see how many could record this song, and who would get the biggest hit out of it. :wink:

I digress, though. "Like A Lover" is my favorite on the album, but as for the one definitive song on the album? I might go against the grain and choose the title track. Still has the Brazilian influence, and yet incorporates a bit of the American sound in it as well, which in a nutshell, sums up their sound at the time. Fool would be a big departure--new line-up, and a new approach that leaned more toward percussion than a drum kit. More "tropical" or Brazilian, if you will.
 

Murray

Well-Known Member
Up until two weeks ago, I had never owned a single Brasil '66 album! (The only Sergio album I had was "Timeless") I was having a look around :wink: my favorite used record store, and I found the entire Brasil '66 catalog on CD (all 7 studio albums, Greatest Hits, Foursider, and A&M Classics)! I figured that since so many at A&M Corner love this music, there's a good chance that I'd like it too, so I bought the lot.

I decided to listen to them in chronological order, and I've gotten as far as "Look Around", and can't seem to stop listening to it. My favorite on the album is definitely "Like A Lover" (I think I'm falling in love with Lani's voice! :love: ), followed closely by "So Many Stars". However, I voted for the title track as being the definitive one, it's just a perfect blend of Brazilian and California pop. My least favorite track is "The Look Of Love". Not that there's anything wrong with it, I just think that ANY version pales in comparison to Dusty Springfield's.

Whoever parted with those CDs must have been nuts... or in serious need of money! :rolleyes:
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
some of Lani's English lyrics are very close approximations to their Portuguese originals, notably To Say Goodbye
Probably true; but my point was that she does not know Portuguese and didn't translate the lyrics. It's possible that when she went to write her lyrics, the original author(s) of the songs translated theirs for her and she chose whether to create completely new lyrics, or "adapted" the originals to English (rhyme, meter and so on).
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Murray said:
I decided to listen to them in chronological order, and I've gotten as far as "Look Around", and can't seem to stop listening to it. My favorite on the album is definitely "Like A Lover" (I think I'm falling in love with Lani's voice! :love: ), followed closely by "So Many Stars".

Heh! Slowly but surely we're turning Murray into "one of us."

Keep going Murray. One of these days you'll be looking for the Roger Nichols stuff or the rare George McCurn album!

Harry
 

Mike

Active Member
Murray said:
Whoever parted with those CDs must have been nuts... or in serious need of money! :rolleyes:

Could have been an estate sale.

Parting can be such sweet sorrow... or so someone once said.

Mike
 
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