Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Tropicália Essentials [Hip-O, 1999]
Relics of a cultural revolution--14 1967-1969 songs, all except the Tom Zé written by Caetano Veloso or/and Gilberto Gil and most performed by them. Although these songs outraged their world merely because they weren't Brazilian enough, what's striking at this distance is the Brit specifics of their internationalism, idealizing not the hippie '60s of spaced-out pastoral but the mod '60s of trippy pop. For all the deep rhythms and avant-garde sounds, the guitars are drunk on Revolver and Out of Our Heads, the orchestrations full of Blow-Up and Modesty Blaise. Decades later, we can hear how Brazilian their cheese and lyricism remained. But these particular Brazilians were the premier melodists of their generation, and they considered it trippy to juxtapose bright, rebellious music against grim antijunta fables. Translations provided--read them. A-