Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Tom Zé: Brazil Classics 4: The Best of Tom Zé [Luaka Bop/Warner Bros., 1990]
These '73-75 songs catch a poor Brazilian (albeit a Brazilian who says his dad won the lottery) on his way from pop tropicália to leftist jingles and instruments constructed from household appliances, only unlike his buddy Caetano Veloso, he puts the rebellion and satire out there in the music for benighted English speakers to hear. Zé delivers his portion of lulling lyricism, but it's his jarring rhythm-guitar hooks that you've never heard before--and will notice so fast you'll make sure you get to notice them again. The overtly pop-avant moves would have garnered desperate if imprecise Beefheart comparisons in their time, and the Arto Lindsay translations have the makings of international legend. Paul Simon should be so smart. Not to mention postmodern. A+