Gal Costa - Gal Costa (Não Identificado, 1969)
I'm on a tropicalia kick again, but where most of my American contemporaries find themselves prone to worshiping at the altar of Os Mutantes when it comes to the ephemeral but kaleidoscopic musical movement — or more accurately, the small collective of psychedelia-loveswept musicians that spear-headed it — I typically find myself coming back to Gal Costa's first self-titled album (of two) from 1969, which I acquired on Brazilian import a few years back. Plenty has been written about the circumstances surrounding the album's recording, but in a nutshell: oppressive right-wing Brazilian military junta + inept students who thought the tropicalia movement too radical + socialists that found Caetano Veloso/Gilberto Gil/et al. and their love of psychedelic pop too imperialist + riots at national music contests + overall societal upheaval = "If you are the same in politics as you are in aesthetics, we're done for!" [The aforementioned quote being Veloso's during a performance of the Situationist-inspired "É Proibido Proibir" with Os Mutantes at one of the national music contests in question, the Festival International de Canção.]
As for the music, we have an utterly delectable brew of psychedelia, jazz, samba/bossa nova/MPB (Música Popular Brasileira), occasional atonality, lush arrangements, and THAT luscious voice teetering from soft and playful to startlingly commanding and excitable. I would love to really get into depth about this record, but I'd rather you listen and discover this album's delights for yourself. However, personal highlights for me include Costa's rapid-fire delivery on "Sebastiana", the swinging "Se Você Pensa", the heart-meltingly lovely "Baby" and political pop at its finest — replete with the greatest exclamation(s) of "WOW!" this writer has ever heard — on the Veloso-penned "Divino Maravilhoso". The Dusty Groove label issued Costa's other, wilder — and possibly even more mind-blowing for it — self-titled album (often referred to as Cinema Olympia on account of its opening track) in the States last year; hopefully they'll do the same with this one soon.
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