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Classic AOTW Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - FOOL ON THE HILL SP-4160

Discussion in 'Look Around: Sergio Mendes/Brazilian Music Forum' started by Harry, Jun 13, 2011.

What is your favorite track?

  1. Fool On The Hill

    4 vote(s)
  2. Festa

    3 vote(s)
  3. Casa Forte

    2 vote(s)
  4. Canto Triste

    2 vote(s)
  5. Upa, Neguinho

    2 vote(s)
  6. Lapinha

    3 vote(s)
  7. Scarborough Fair

    1 vote(s)
  8. When Summer Turns To Snow

    1 vote(s)
  9. Laia Ladaia (Reza)

    5 vote(s)
  1. Harry

    Harry Charter Member Moderator Thread Starter

    Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66
    Fool On The Hill
    A&M SPX-4160

    Available on LP, cassette, 8-track. Mono versions exist. Available on several issues of CD, including A&M CD 3108, A&M Rebound 314 520 296-2, A&M Japan 24-bit UICY-3704, and Verve 24-bit B0002691-02

    Side One
    1. FOOL ON THE HILL (Lennon-McCartney) 3:13
    2. FESTA (Caymmi-Motta-Hall) 4:18
    3. CASA FORTE (Edu Lobo) 4:04
    4. CANTO TRISTE (E. Lobo-L.Hall) 4:17
    5. UPA, NEGUINHO (E. Lobo-R. Guarnieri) 2:53

    Side Two
    1. LAPINHA (B. Powell-P. Pinheiro) 3:06
    2. SCARBOROUGH FAIR (A. Garfunkel-P. Simon) 3:18
    3. WHEN SUMMER TURNS TO SNOW (D. Grusin-M. Bergman-A. Bergman) 5:08
    4. LAIA LADAIA (REZA) (E. Lobo-R. Guarnieri) 3:10

    Produced by: SERGIO MENDES
    Arranged by: SERGIO MENDES
    Studios: Wally Heider Recording Studios and A&M Recording Studios
    Orchestra Arranged and Conducted by Dave Grusin
    Guitar: JOHN PISANO
    Lapinha: OSCAR CASTRO NEVES on Guitar
    Art Director: TOM WILKES
    Photography: GUY WEBSTER / Figure Study by BOB GORDON

    This album is also available on stereo tapes.
    Write for a free full-color A&M Record Catalogue.
    © 1968 A&M RECORDS INC, P.O. Box 118, Hollywood, California 90028

    This recording employs the Haeco-CSG System
    and may be played either stereo or monaurally.

    Bobberman likes this.
  2. Harry

    Harry Charter Member Moderator Thread Starter

    I've decided to continue on with some selected entries from 4151 through at least 4200 in our Classic AOTW series, since some of these classic albums have no AOTW representation in our current database. This will give everyone an opportunity to weigh in on some seminal A&M albums from the period. Up first is 4160, FOOL ON THE HILL by Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66.

  3. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    I'm so split on this album... :sigh: I like their take on the "authentic" Brazilian songs, such as those by Edu Lobo, and "Festa" and usually queue those up first. "Scarborough Fair" is also sublime; Sergio's solo on the Rhodes takes this over the top.

    And yet for me, Grusin bludgeons some of the music with his heavy-handed arrangements; the strings and horns can't stay out of the way of the band they were hired to augment. By the time the opening strains of "Reza" come on, I'm ready to chuck this album out the window. I'd love to hear these tracks "stripped." This was a great Brasil '66 lineup, but they're often buried too far in the mix. :shake:

    I will say that as much as I like the Brazilian songs here, the originals are also worth seeking out. "Reza" was originally done on Edu's debut album A Musica de Edu Lobo por Edu Lobo with the Tamba Trio backing him up; that album amazes me in how advanced his composition skills were at that young age (from what I've found, he was around 20 or 21 when it was first released). "Canto Triste" has a nice treatment on the Brasil '66 album, but Edu's version from his self-titled Edu Lobo album brings something different--it is a bit more relaxed or casual in how its lyrics are sung. "Casa Forte" is available in two different versions by Edu--his version on Sergio Mendes Presents is similar to how Lani performed it on her A Brasileira album (hope I spelled that right...?), and another (from Cantiga de Longe) is more like the Brasil '66 version here, where it is upbeat much of the way through. "Upa, Neguinho" hails from his album Edu e Bethania.

    I'll have to track down the original versions of "Lapinha" and "Festa." The former, BTW, is my pick as the favorite on the album. Other than knowing Gracinha sung lead on this one, I wonder who was in this version of the band on this track. (As we know, who appears on the cover often does not reflect who appears in the grooves. :D )

    What really spoils the album though is the HAECO-CSG processing, as it gives the whole thing an odd, "phasey" sound. It's a shame they can't go back to the multitracks and do a new mix. (Once the stereo master has been encoded, there is supposedly no way to undo it.)
    Acapulco 1922 likes this.
  4. Harry

    Harry Charter Member Moderator Thread Starter

    I'm quite sure you intended that Gracinha sang lead on "Lapinha" and not on "Festa", which we know was Lani.

    I have great disdain for that processing too and have checked every release of any of these tracks to see if someone's managed to "undo" the CSG. So far, still no luck on that.

    As for the album, I believe it ranks highest for me among the sixties albums from Sergio & company. It's always the first I grab, and I always make sure to listen to "Festa", so I think that has to be my favorite among these tracks. The album just seemed so ultra-hip and cool to me when it first came out - from the unsmiling faces of the band while Sergio sat perched on his throne looking rather pleased, to the back-cover fold-out revelation as to just what "hill" might be in question, to the mysterious-looking black & white beach photos inside the gatefold, and finally the unannounced change of personnel in the band - who in the world was the unsmiling blonde, we wondered. It was all very different from the sunny photos from LOOK AROUND.

    I've probably bought this album more times than others, as I have the well-worn gatefold SPX-4160 that I upgraded with newer vinyl when 3108 came out. As an early adopter of CD, I picked up the A&M issue of CD 3108 and played that one quite often. After joining A&M Corner and I heard about the Rebound issue and it sounding poor, I picked one of those up cheaply one day, and came to the conclusion that it was pretty much the same as the A&M 3108.

    When Japan got into the Sergio reissue game in 2002 with its 24-bit "Rubidium Atomic Clock Mastering", I just had to have one of those too. Admittedly it was an improvement, but not a drastic one. The CSG still drags the album into the muck.

    Then Verve did its remaster in the mid-2000's and came up with what I consider the best of these releases. It's the first CD release that I know of that actually reprinted all of the inside gatefold photos, and used the original back-cover artwork. It even finally fixed the Gracinha misspelling that had carried through every reissue up intil then.

    The Dave Grusin arrangements? Love 'em. I thought they added a great deal of drama to the stripped-down combo sound of the prior albums, and gave Sergio somewhat of a signature sound. Many times I'll hear a song with high strings, and I'll still think of Brasil '66.

    I suppose it's the strength of the material here, with four songs by Edu Lobo introducing me to some of these wonderful songs for the first time, plus the hit material of the very radio-friendly "Fool On The Hill" and "Scarborough Fair" covers that pushes this one over the top for me.

    Good stuff.

    Bobberman likes this.
  5. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    Harry - Neil's facts are correct here. When he says "the former," he means the first one in the list which would be "Lapinha." "Festa" would be the latter one of the list. (I remember it this way: "latter" is a similar word to "later" -- so the "latter" item is the "later" one of the pair.)

    Anyway -- this is probably my second favorite Brasil '66 album, with Stillness being my favorite. There's not a bad track on here, in my book, except for "When Summer Turns to Snow" which continues the tradition of Sergio singing one song on each album that drags it down to a crawl. I have that song on perma-skip! Other than that, I love all of it. My favorite tracks -- well, it's hard to pick, but my top three are "Laia Ladaia," "Festa," and "Casa Forte." I'm not a huge fan of the Grusin arrangements (sometimes I like them, other times not) but on "Laia" he really nails it I think.

    Can't ignore the two hit singles, either: "Scarborough Fair" to me is a preview of "Crystal Illusions" from their next album, and "Fool on the Hill" is the epitome of Brasil '66 cool. I love the way they draw out the word "world" longer with each verse.

    Overall, it's a dynamite album and one I pull out frequently. I have the original CD, the Verve CD, the Japanese CD (that came in a jewel box), another Japanese "mini LP" type package, and one LP copy.

    I first heard the album on 8-track, which was a major annoyance to listen to because three of the songs were on the tape twice, but were listed as "part 1" and "part 2" even though they were the full versions each time.
  6. Harry

    Harry Charter Member Moderator Thread Starter

    Yeah, I was just clarifying a bit in case anyone else missed it. The construction somehow had a confusing air about it. When I read it, I had to go back and look twice. Maybe it's just cobwebs on my old brain...

    So you went for the Japanese min-LP. How does that one compare with the Verve digipak?

  7. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I haven't really done a proper A/B comparison but just from casual listening, I think the mini-LP has maybe a touch more bass....like alot of Japanese pressings do. But, if there are differences it's pretty minor.

    I'm getting a new stereo in my pickup in two days, so maybe I'll take those two CDs along and A/B it on the way home!
  8. Harry

    Harry Charter Member Moderator Thread Starter

    I actually find "Summer" somewhat passable as a Sergio vocal - mostly in comparison to his others. This morning while walking, the mp3 player served up "Where Are You Coming From" and I was longing for "When Summer Turns To Snow"!

    Maybe we need a poll on Sergio's vocals...

  9. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    My favorite Sergio vocals of the Brasil '66/'77 era are the ones on Stillness. But I have a hard time not reaching for the FF button when "When Summer Turns To Snow," "I Know You," "Where Are You Coming From" or "Pradizer Adeus" come on.

    I really didn't think he found his proper vocal range until the Horizonte Aberto album. He has some nice vocals on that one.

    That poll would be interesting!
  10. Captain Bacardi

    Captain Bacardi Well-Known Member Moderator

    I was a late comer to this album, but it has grown on me the past few years. My favorite track is probably most others' least favorite, and that's "Canto Triste". There's just something about Lani's vocals that just grabbed me. I love the melody of the song, and for some reason I've always felt it belonged in a James Bond movie. Other faves include "Festa" and "Laia Ladaia". I also enjoy the layout of the gatefold cover! :righton:
  11. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I like "Canto Triste" as well. Kind of surprising that it's got the Portuguese title but English lyrics. I remember being initially put-off by the song lineup on this album, because there were so few English titles. (This was before I had an appreciation for the Portuguese lyrics.) If they had given this song (and "Festa") an English title like they did with a few other songs that had Lani's English lyrics, who knows? Might've sold a few more copies.
  12. lj

    lj Active Member

    For me this album is all about the songs on side 2 of the original vinyl record. All are wonderful, but When Summer Turns To Snow is my favorite. For me the song does not drag. The exquisite and wistful lyrics by the Bergman's can NOT be rushed. You must savor them. The words perfectly describe the Portuguese term SAUDADE, that is, a nostalgia or longing for the past. The following lyrics are sheer poetry--

    When a summer turns to snow and you're alone once more, the memories pass your eyes like tree tops from a train, you watch them slip away and helplessly you try to catch one in your hands, a souvenir of love, to prove that you were there, were there at all, once you memorized a night, the shape of every cloud, the pattern of the stars, the color of the moon, you memorized it all, but now it's gone, as if it never was, no souvenirs to show when summer turns to snow.

    Wow! In addition, you have a beautiful melody by Dave Grusin and a great vocal by Lani Hall. Finally, as icing on the cake, we have the magnificent orchestration by Grusin. I love the instrumental interlude with strings, harpsicord and oboe. All in all, this is ballad music at its very best.

    Does anyone know the recording date for this song?
    Bobberman likes this.
  13. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I thought it was "tree tops from a cloud." But, I haven't listened to this song in years. I'll have to get out the CD and give it a spin again.
  14. Harry

    Harry Charter Member Moderator Thread Starter

    An interesting discovery (to me, anyway). I've been trying to find as many old Brasil '66 singles in an effort to acquire whatever mono mixes may be out there. I've always had the main Brasil '66 albums in stereo, so the monos, on occasion, have been revelations. I'd gotten an ochre-label copy of "Fool On The Hill" (961), but it was in terrible shape - lots of worn-groove noise - so I set out to find a better copy. Someone on GEMM had a mint copy listed, so I bit. It arrived today and had something VERY interesting about it.

    It's a white-label promo - and my first thought was, "Oh crap, it's got STEREO in big letters on it." So, at least, I reasoned, it's another semi-early example of a stereo promo single from A&M before they issued them to the public. Then came the real surprise - IT'S NOT CSG'ed! I looked at the label and the dead wax markings, and nothing indicates CSG at all.

    In all of the albums, compilations, CDs, etc., of this song, every version of it has had that dreaded CSG phasey sound, and if memory serves, it was theorized that the processing was applied to the master, so it couldn't be undone (Rudy's unCSGing examples notwithstanding). Well, if it didn't go up in smoke, somewhere in the bowels of Universal/A&M, there's a single reel with a non-CSG'ed copy of "Fool On The Hill" on it. I suppose it's possible that this promo 45 was mastered prior to them slathering on the processing for the album.

    I've digitized the single and used the OOPS effect to confirm that Lani's vocals largely disappear in the mix, just the way it should on a normal stereo recording. If you attempt that with the standard CSG'ed "Fool On The Hill", you'll get pretty loud vocals.

    In fact, I have to say that this sounds very close to Rudy's attempt. When OOPS'ed, in fact, Rudy's version has the lowest vocal sounds indicating a near-complete cancellation. Then this single is a little louder in the vocal when OOPS'ed - possible due to a slight balance discrepancy.

    The b-side, "So Many Stars" is also in stereo and seems a bit longer at the fade, going to about 4:28 instead of 4:21.

  15. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    I heard only recently from a former A&M engineer that there were indeed tapes of the mixdowns in stereo that would have been made prior to the CSG processing being added for vinyl mastering. Or to put it another way, he hinted that A&M "...saved every burp, squeak and fart..." that was put on tape.

    We can assume, though, that the most recent Universal fire probably destroyed those along with the original CSG vinyl masters as well.

    That OOPS trick depends on the channel balance being exactly right. If your cartridge or phono stage are only a bit off, the vocals would not cancel. (Adjusting the balance towards either channel slightly would cure that.) Keep in mind, too, that digital audio has "absolute" separation of the channels (-90dB+), whereas vinyl has a much lower separation spec (like -20db to -30dB?).

    Scientists are also now working hard on creating a plugin to remove overbearing strings from favorite recordings...you heard it here first... :shh:
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014
    Bobberman likes this.
  16. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    Edu Lobo does his own take of this song and it is similarly captivating--the one I've heard is from a more recent recording (linked below). Even the B66 version is good, and agreed, it is a favorite here as well, save for those strings. Lani really gets to use her vocal range on that one.

    Edu's version has strings, but are a lot more respectful of the singer:

    Captain Bacardi likes this.
  17. JMK

    JMK Well-Known Member Contributor

    There is a *fantastic* newer Edu album out that I just discovered today, with the Metropole Orkestra (as they spell it). Several tracks are available for free on Amazon Prime. Absolutely incredible new big band arrangements of a lot of his classics (including Canto Triste), with unbelievably crisp keyboards by the always phenomenal Gilson Peranzzetta.
  18. Dave

    Dave Well-Known Member

    Hmmmmm..., will this change the way we hear WES MONTGOMERY'S three albums on A&M...?! :whoa:

    -- Dave
    Bobberman likes this.
  19. Rudy - I'm responding to a three year old post but if you still haven't found the original (as in composer's) version of "Festa", it's by Dori Caymmi on his 1980 self-titled album released in Brazil. (Not to be confused with the 1972 self-titled album released in Brazil, the 1982 self-titled album released in Brazil, or the 1986 self-titled Elektra album produced by Sergio. Geez, I thought Sergio was bad with the self-titled albums!:)) I found a compilation called "Dois Em Um" that has the '80 and '82 albums on one CD. No idea if the song was recorded by someone else in Brazil in the 60s.....but Dori's version is obviously done the way he originally wrote it.
    Rudy likes this.
  20. Harry

    Harry Charter Member Moderator Thread Starter

    Just saw this video and thought it should be noted here somewhere:

    Bobberman likes this.
  21. JMK

    JMK Well-Known Member Contributor

    Noticed that, too, when Sergio posted it on FB--once again Karen seems to have not one clue about what the lyric is LOL (she does the same thing on one of the Pretty World clips where she's lip synching). Luckily most guys probably weren't concentrating on her lips. :wink:
  22. Moritat

    Moritat Member

    I wanted to vote for "Casa Forte" or Upa Neguinho" as these are two of my favorite Brasill 66 tunes of all time. But I've often said the best song they ever did was "Fool On The Hill", so I have to go with that one. Fool is a brilliant arrangement. It's so well done, I think of it as the original and the Beatles version as the cover (sorry, Paul). Fool was just a perfect single for Brasil 66. Regarding the lp, I think side one is one of the strongest sides of any of their albums. The lp is among their finest. It would be second only to "Equinox" which will always be my favorite.
    Charles H. likes this.
  23. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I was re-reading this thread last night and since I've been listening to this album lately, I decided to give "When Summer" a full listen. I haven't listened to it all the way thru in many years because I just don't like it and feel like it drags an otherwise-peppy album down to a crawl. I figured I've gotten a little more sophisticated in the intervening years since I first became a Sergio Mendes fan.

    Well -- while I agree the lyrics are excellent (and I used to think Sergio sang "treetops from a cloud" but it really is "from a train," which makes a lot more sense!) I still find the song to be a big crashing bore. But, upon really listening, I think what really wrecks it for me is that HUGE orchestral arrangement. While I generally really like the orchestrations on this album, on this song, I think they'd have been much better off to keep it simpler. The orchestra sounds too old fashioned compared to the rest of the record, and just drowns everything else out.

    Of the rest of the songs, there's not one I don't like. They're all uniformly excellent. You'd never know it was the first effort from this lineup. Great stuff.
  24. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    That's it, in a nutshell. To me, all of the orchestrations buried that great band beneath them. On this song, do you notice that it starts to lighten up once Lani starts singing, and the strings are not quite bludgeoning the rest of the band at that point? Those opening bars...yeesh. It could have worked with simply a guitar, and maybe a flute (or even a piano) rather than an oboe with that opening phrase. It's a lost opportunity--it would have been nice to hear this song without the orchestration.

    I always thought "Canto Triste" was similarly draggy (it suffers a similar fate in the opening bars), but once you hear one of Edu Lobo's many versions, the song makes a lot more sense. One of his most recent recordings of it is stellar, and it is a popular live track for him as well. (I included a clip from his 70th birthday gala in 2013 below.)

    I'm all for sweetening, but I always felt the strings on these later B66 albums were often way too heavy-handed. What a great band, and what a shame to hear them drowned out from hack orchestrations. Yet I can understand it was a product of the times, as many others were still doing orchestrations with music up until the early 70s, when it really became a dated relic of the past. It also could have been a way to try to make the more "raw" sound of Brazil palateable to the typical American record buyer.

    Bobberman likes this.
  25. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I always wondered if maybe they hurt sales a little bit on this album be being "too" Brasilian. There are only 3 English-titled songs out of the 9 on the album, so that might have put off first-time fans who had liked the singles, but might have been turned off by all those Brasilian titles. Of course now we know some of those are the best things on that record!
    Bobberman likes this.

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