Tomorrow - “Three Jolly Little Elves”
From Tomorrow (1968)
English psychadelic rock. This band featured Keith West, who had already had a solo hit, and Steve Howe, who would later be the guitarist for Yes. This entire album is outstanding. Many excellent tracks. I love the way in this song that the floor toms simulate the stomping of the giants as soon as they lyrics mention him.
Os Mutantes - “Dois Mil E Um”
From Mutantes (1969)
Like many people, my first real exposure to Tropicalia came from Os Mutantes, who are an extraordinary band in so many ways.
It’s probably even unfair to characterize them as “just” a Tropicalia band since they have so many influences and directions, as displayed on “Dois Mil E Um,” from their second album, Mutantes. There’s the folk music beginning, combined with the rhythmic beat typical of Bossa Nova, before the song takes a marked turn at the chorus: fuzz bass, interplayed vocals, and spacey psych pop at the end. There is a very Os Mutantes type of weirdness in the middle of the track. Later in the song (around the 2:50 mark), there is a wah guitar version of a Country & Western shuffle. And that’s in one song! On later albums, such as Jardim Electrico, they moved more into prog elements, as well.
Jorge Ben - “Xica da Silver”
From Africa Brasil (1976)
This album is fantastic and coming in the mid-70’s adds more funk to the Tropicalia mix.
Os Brazoes - “Espiral”
From Os Brazoes (1969)
This is a classic under-the-rader album. It’s pretty consistently strong. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in Brazilian psych and Tropicalia. I especially like when the horns come into the song after a minute and it gets off kilter.
I’ve loved this album for years so it’s cool to see that this was recently re-released by Light in the Attic records
O Bando - “Alegria - Alegria”
From O Bando (1969)
This is a more traditional Tropicalia sound than others on this list, but it’s a pretty infectious song. This is one my favorite tracks from this album. While some others are not quite as memorable, there are many good tracks and overall it’s still an enjoyable listen.
Liverpool - “Paz e Amor”
From Por Favor Sucesso (1969)
Liverpool were in some ways a combination of Tropicalia and psych rock/garage elements. Their vocal and rhythms are distinctively Brazilian, though. This is one of my favorite tracks from their only album, Por Favor Sucesso. It is emblematic that it’s a pretty mellow listen overall, though there are certainly rollicking numbers on the album as well.
July 18, 2014
I’ve been wanting to get back to posting music vids/songs on the blog for a while.
With the World Cup in Brazil ending last weekend, I thought it was a great chance to jump back in — by featuring some great Tropicalia/psych albums from Brazil.
Foxygen - “In the Darkness” and “No Destruction” (Takeaway Show - live)
Songs originally appear on We Are the 20th Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic (2012)
I went to see Foxygen play a free show in Manhattan last month and I was really impressed by their presence live. I had been enjoying their album We Are the 20th… but it’s relatively chill. However, in a live setting the band really amps up the energy. At times, they are so frenetic that the songs seem to wobble on the brink of disaster. It mostly works, though. They have a fun attitude that borders on goofy, too. I think the latter is captured pretty well in this video.
It’s true that Sam France apes Jagger at times, which is even more apparent live when he’s using some of the same spastic body movements, but he’s got the voice to carry it off. I also think the band is as influenced by other 60s band — Beatles, Velvet Underground, Kinks, Donovan — as much as they are by the Stones.
August 21, 2013
Fever Tree - “Ninety-Nine and a Half”
From Fever Tree (1968)
I always enjoying figuring out the origins of samples in contemporary hip-hop and indie song. In this case, it’s a 10-second snippet at the beginning of “Ninety-Nine and a Half,” a track from the 1968 self-titled album by the Texas psych pop band Fever Tree. The song itself is a cover of a Wilson Pickett song called "Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won’t Do)."
A number of modern listeners, though, will recognize the snippet as the basis for the 2004 song "America’s Most Blunted" from Madvillian. Madvillian was a rap collaboration between rapper MF Doom and DJ/producer Madlib. The outstanding album Madvilliany is full of samples from old tracks. The Fever Tree sample appears in the background of “America’s Most Blunted” at 0:40 and then becomes the main beat at 0:47. It’s pretty interesting that Madlib took a 10-second snippet from a lesser-known song (Fever Tree’s best known song is "San Francisco Girls") from relatively obscure 60s psych pop band and made it the main music to a song.