Best Reissues of 2016| 20 December, 2016
Considering the amount of Brazilian reissues that came out this year we felt compelled to bring a few of the finest to your attention, as well as a compilation from a stone-cold Colombian legend and some really nice classic cumbia that has been getting re-released digitally via Peru, all of which is well worth your attention. It would have been great to share some reissues from some other Latin American countries too, but it seems that the taste for single artist reissues for countries other than Brazil is not what is should be. Hopefully the record labels of the world will soon put that right.
Pedro Santos – Krishnanda (1968)
Quantic has called this his “favourite album of all time” and what is certain, is that this album is a beauty that has been getting more and more love with each year that passes. In its original vinyl release copies have been exchanging hands for thousands of dollars so it seems only right that Mr Bongo decided to reissue it. Krishnanda goes against the grain in terms of what you’d expect from Brazilian music in the late 60s. This is no bossa nova, samba or tropicalia album, though it does touch on some of those themes. Instead we get a heavy spiritual album with lyrics about our existence and a dense approach to percussion which turns each track into its own sonic universe. Pedro Santos was ahead of the game when this came out, which is perhaps why it was forgotten about for many years until the new generations finally rediscovered it. It’s great for it to be getting some love again.
Andrés Landero – Yo Amanecí
Landero is a god to us, the leading representative of cumbia campesina (or cumbia sabanera) from Colombia’s Caribbean coast. While accordion-playing in Colombia went off to be associated with the saccharine excesses or narco tales of vallenato, its roots lie with Landero’s spirited playing and tales of everyday Colombian life. This compilation collects together 20 of Landero’s finest songs, including classics like “La Pava Congona”, “La Cigarrona” and the title track. For understanding the roots of Colombian music, and discovering the masters of cumbia, you can do no worse than checking out this compilation.
Tim Maia – Tim Maia (1977)
I was so happy to see this one get a reissue as it’s one of my favourite Maia albums. After his classic soulful early albums and his stint into religion (alongside a good slab of funk) on the Racional series, Maia put out this album on Som Libre in 1977 filled with disco and boogie cuts, and even some fine Earth, Wind and Fire-esque ballads. Personal favourites are the funk-disco masterpiece “É Necessario” (I dare you to ignore the opening horn/bass riff) and short instrumental “Flores Belas” which sees his band stretch out into some formidable patterns. This is essential Tim Maia.
José Mauro – Obnoxious (1970)
There is a huge veil of mystery around this album owing to the fact that little is know about José Mauro at all. Seemingly he disappeared off the earth sometime after recording this album, but no-one is sure quite where, with theories ranging from him being abducted by the military to dying in a car accident. What is certain is that there are few albums in the Brazilian music catalogue that sound quite like this. Possibly you could make a link between José Mauro and the udigrudi psychedelic artists from Pernambuco during this era, but Mauro’s music is quite apart from that too. These are quasi-folk songs that often head into baroque and melancholic ballad territory. Lyrically, there are potentially political statements nestled within an over-arching spirituality. Killer tracks include the haunting title track and almost medieval psych brilliance of “Apocalipse”.
Arthur Verocai – Arthur Verocai (1972)
This is an album of extraordinary elegance. Verocai was an arranger for a huge amount of Brazilian artists in the 60s and 70s, working with Marcos Valle, Tim Maia, Jorge Ben and Gal Costa amongst others. This was his debut solo album and would not have a successor until over 30 years later due to the fact that the critics panned it upon its release. You really have to wonder what they were thinking as this is an extraordinary release, filled with string-laden soundtrack-esque jazz pieces that bring to mind such visionary producers as Lalo Schifrin and David Axelrod, but with a soulful approach personified by beautiful vocal melodies. This album was first reissued by Luv N’ Haight in 2003 when it finally found an audience and ensured that Verocai’s masterpiece would not be forgotten. Since then Verocai has played the album live in many countries, recorded a follow-up and found brand new collaborators that ensure his music continues to make an impact.
Juaneco y Su Combo – Leyenda Amazónica
For the past few years the Peruvian label Infopesa have been doing an amazing job of re-releasing their back catalogue (both digitally and on CD, though just in Peru for the latter), which is stack full of classics from the 60s and 70s, tracks that were hugely important in creating the Peruvian cumbia movement and also plenty of top pop, rock and psych tracks too. Juaneco y Su Combo have already been blessed with a number of other international reissues, but you can never have too much of a good thing. This compilation collects together all of their finest songs, Amazonian cumbia classics like “Linda Nena”, “Mujer Hilandera” and “Vacilando Con Ayahuasca”. If you like your cumbia with a heavy dose of fuzz guitar then these are your guys.
Infopesa also released Grupo Génesis’ El Grupo Completo and Los Pasteles Verdes’ 8-album Historia: Discografía Completa, which are both highly-recommended.
Antonio Carlos E Jocafi – Mudei de Idéia (1971)
This is my personal favourite reissue of the year, a tropicalia-esque samba-funk beauty from 1971. There is so much far-reaching material on the album from the hyper Gilberto Gil with Os Mutantes psych groove of “Se Quiser Valer” to the serene funk of “Conceição Da Praia”, with a Jorge Ben-worthy rhythm, to the transcendent folk bliss of “Bonita”. My favourites though are the funky-as-hell “Kabaluerê” (which has been a regular on Brazilian mixtapes for many years) and “Quem Vem Lá” which starts with a Eddie Hazel guitar solo before heading into a dirty horn, bass and drum groove, vocal squeals and gruff lyrics driving the song along between ebullient bouts of horns. It’s the best blaxploitation theme song you’ve never heard.
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