Cult Compilation: Mad About “Disco É Cultura”

Here’s the finest compilation of 2020: I know this is out on the market since about six months, but I had difficulties obtaining the vinyl version. After several postponements and after selling out a couple of times, my black vinyl version finally arrived (there’s also a white vinyl edition for the avid collector). Thanks to Joaquim Paulo of the wonderful Portuguese Mad About Records, this fantastic compilation consists of Brazilian soul and funk tunes from the 70s and 80s, some of which have been extremely rare, totally obscure, or simply cynically expensive.

"Disco É Cultura"

The 12-track album is worth the price alone for two very special songs: supposedly one of the rarest and most obscure 7″ singles from the Brazilian music industry, “Pode Acreditar” by Grupo Natureza from 1981 remains to be a single that nobody knows how it was created, let alone if copies still exist. Also not really sure is the background of this group. It seems to be the duo of Robson Jorge and Lincoln Olivetti (don’t miss their recently re-released 1982 self-titled Som Livre LP on vinyl). But anyway, this exceptionally anthemic piece sounds like a cross between the Manhattan Transfer (amazing harmony vocals) and “That’s The Way Of The World”-era Earth, Wind & Fire, with hints of Gilberto Gil’s “Palco”. This is heaven.

The second track, although not as obscure, but still extremely rare with copies circling around over 100€ for the 7″, is by singer Adriana Rosa dos Santos, who records simply as Adriana. “Contigo” is not available on one of her pretty rare LPs, but rather only as the B-side to her 1976 single “Quando Você Partir”. It starts out tender and soft, with heavenly background vocals, then turning into a veritable and lush soul piece reminiscent of what Isaac Hayes did in the late 70s, with Dionne Warwick or Patti Austin for example. A masterpiece!

But of course there is a lot more to explore here: soul/funk group Brylho from Rio de Janeiro released only one LP in 1983; its “Se Você For A Salvador” opens this incredible collection. For lovers of late 70s/early 80s soul and funk with a dose of jazz, this is your ultimate reference. For some reason, the Brazilian stuff which came out in that period, even with bigger labels like Som Livre, never really got promoted on this side of the pond. More Earth, Wind & Fire-styled horns open up the handclap-heavy “Sol De Verão” by pianist and organist Lafayette, culled from his 1982 LP “Edição Especial”. No copies seem to be around of “Vida Agitada” by singer Paulo Jerõnimo, B-side of his 1983 single “Sonhando Acordado”. A thrillingly catchy and bright tune. And try to find the disco-boogie “Deixa”, a 1979 dance-heavy single by singer Cornelius, complete with disco drums, Pleasure-style bass, and marvelous strings.

“Ei, Você, Psiu!” by samba/rock singer Franco Scornavacca from his debut 1974 LP, sounds as if included on one of the Blaxploitation soundtracks of the era. The Brazil Very Happy Band was the backing group for Gilberto Gil for a 1977 festival in Lagos. The group released just one single, written by Gil, a 70s soul hymn with a hard-to-resist hook. Insanely high prizes are demanded for the 7″ single of the sax- and synth-driven funk joint “Tema, R” by Aloisio Silva. A “Another One Bites The Dust” bass line opens “Pássaro Selvagem” by Os Carbonos, a pretty solid Latin funk instrumental from 1981. More summery, brassy soul sounds appear on San Rodrigues’ “Fofa” from 1984 and “Disco Pode Ser Cultura” (1976) by Gay Vaquer exuberantly mixes MPB with disco, opulent strings, warm Rhodes, and sentimental vocals. “Disco É Cultura” makes this never-ending lockdown a lot more bearable.


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