Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Tropicália: A Brazilian Revolution in Sound [Soul Jazz, 2006]
Ideologically Brazilian though it was, the style Gil, Veloso & Associates devised in the late '60s was not a groove music. Brought forth by classical and avant-garde trainees who loved "Strawberry Fields Forever" and had a full-on right-wing dictatorship to subvert, tropicália anthologizes awkwardly, especially for non-Lusophones. So at first this lavishly annotated, ecstatically reviewed disc seems to jump around too much, in the arch art-pop manner of Os Mutantes, who get six of its 20 tracks. But relisten some and it takes on the inevitability of a song cycle--Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, for instance. The beats roll and rock even as the groove stops and starts; the melodies leap over the language barrier even though trots would be nice. Occasionally, the singers break into English, or in the case of Tom Zé's "Jimmy Renda-Se," toward English--did he say "Billie Holly hollyflex"? The verve is as audibly miraculous as that of any certified Anglo-American acid prophet, more here than on Hip-O's 1999 Tropicália Essentials (which does, however, provide trots). A-