Friday, September 28, 2007

Mister Trend's Random 10

There isn't enough I can say about "Tropicalia: ou, Panis et Circenses", the album featuring this week's seventh song. Released in 1968, it was a musical companion to the broader tropicalia movement, which sought to incorporate American and European elements into a Brazilian musical elements to create a new, modern, Brazilian artistic vision in the plastic arts, painting, music, and film. Combining the efforts of Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Tom Ze, Os Mutantes, Gal Costa, and Nara Leao, the album is, simply, one of the best ever made, in any genre, ever. It is politically biting (by 1968, the Brazilian military dictatorship had been in power for 4 years; by the end of the year, it would enter its most repressive phase, and Gil and Veloso would soon be exiled to England). It is equally critical and joyous of the changes in Brazilian society, be it industrialism ("Parque Industrial"), the isolated apathy of elites towards the dictatorship ("Panis et Circenses"), or American influences on Brazil (for better or worse, depending on how you interpret the lyrics of "Baby"). "Tres Caravelas" uses the arrival of Columbus to the Americas as a means of re-interpreting the European-American cultural exchange (in the sense of the Americas as a whole) . It's not my favorite on the album, but it is in no way filler or a bad song - it's just as great as the rest (subjectively speaking, I just don't dig the tune and lyrics quite as much). If you have never heard "Tropicalia", I can't stress strongly enough how much everybody should try to get their hands on a copy, official or bootlegged. To me, it is the most important and best album of the 1960s, bar none, and everybody should hear it, regardless of whether they understand the lyrics or not. It's just a musical accomplishment of the highest quality.

1. "Somebody In My Home" - Howlin' Wolf
2. "The Jinx Blues - Part 2" - Son House
3. "Dunwich Beach, Autumn, 1960" - Brian Eno
4. "Every Grain of Sand" - Emmylou Harris
5. "My Old Flame" - Billie Holiday
6. "All Tomorrow's Parties" - The Velvet Underground
7. "Tres Caravelas (Las Tres Carabelas)" - Caetano Veloso & Gal Costa
8. "Bees" - Animal Collective
9. "Human Highway" - Neil Young
10. "Out in the Street" - Bruce Springsteen