Another great re-issue from the guys at Mad About Records in Portugal. Singer Renata Lu remains a mystery to this day. She released three LPs in the 70s: her self-titled debut in 1971, now out on Mad About, “Sandália De Prata” in 1976, and “Tô Voltando” in 1979. Renata continued to sing backup vocals for Brazilian artists like the great Tim Maia or Nonato Buzar. Soul, funk, boogaloo, and MPB all mix together on this, her wondrous debut album which originally came out on the Copacabana label. For some reason, she never really became successful, even though this is a highly original set, starting off with the single “Faz Tanto Tempo”, a funky boogaloo track with hilarious backing vocals.
Arranged by pianist, director, and composer Chiquinho de Moraes, pianist Dom Salvador, and producer and composer Ivan Paulo, the album not only works well with the uptempo funk and boogaloo tunes, but also on the midtempo soul front. “Folhas De Outono”, written by guitarist Helio Matheus and Márcio Alexandre, is just one example of her more subtle, soulful side. Whereas “Sou Frevo” actually sounds like a sort of Schlager from early 70s Germany, albeit a sophisticated one. Most tracks were written by various Brazilian composers of the time, mostly lesser-known writers or composers, at least on this side of the pond, but all tracks are really way above average. Renata’s beautiful, angelic voice graces MPB fare like the string and percussion-tinged “Meu Canto Minha Volta”, written by Carlos Imperial, himself a TV presenter, producer, and filmmaker, and Jorge Roberto.
José Messias, a Brazilian composer, singer, songwriter, musician, broadcaster, presenter and producer of television and radio programs, wrote the happy-go-lucky “Eu Quero Ficar Só”, and “Conta-Me (Cuentame)”, with a mean organ and shiny brass, including some weird backing vocals, was written by Spanish composer José Luis Armenteros and Ronaldo Soares. It veers more towards the pop side of MPB. Side two opens with another boogaloo groover: “Sambaloo” works especially well because of Renata’s forging vocals and the hip brass backing. Mesmerizing strings open up the swaying “Manias”, a graciously flowing “habit”; the perfect soundtrack to the upcoming summer months, complete with a Stan Getz-like sax solo. Beautiful stuff indeed.
Original copies of the album currently circle around for 350-500$, so it is more than welcome that this 1971 gem is out again on vinyl. The easy-listening stance of the album continues on “Fim De Papo”, and there is another pretty soulful Imperial/Roberto tune, “Meu Amor É Teu Amigo”, once again juxtaposing rasping horns with more mellow strings and percussion. Folk is the name of the game on the child-like “Sucesso Tranquilo” (love those backing vocals) and Renata concludes with the wide-ranging, freewheeling, blue skies welcoming “Sorriso”, literally putting a sorriso to our face. What a fantastic discovery.