Friday, August 3, 2018

Review: Vinyl Reissue of Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66’s 'Greatest Hits'

In the year of such earthquakes as Revolver, Pet Sounds, Aftermath, Blonde on Blonde, and the dawn of Hendrix, Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66— with their airy bossa nova rhythms, Bacharach/David covers, and tropical cocktail party atmosphere— must have seemed terribly unhip to the Now Crowd. Removed from any contemporary matters of what is or ain’t with it, Mendes’s jazzy pop remains eternally refreshing like a sweet island breeze. However, there is a certain power too as the group’s most famous song, “Mas Que Nada”, surges like an ice cream tidal wave, and the group’s cover of “Spanish Flea” picks up momentum that would have swept Herb Alpert out to sea.

Sadly, the latter is one of the tracks missing from Mendes and Brasil ’66’s 1970 Greatest Hits collection, though “Mas Que Nada” naturally leads the way, and essentials such as “Going Out of My Head”, a hip-swiveling cover of “Day Tripper (one of three Beatlesongs), a panoramic one of “Scarborough Fair”, my pick for the ultimate version of “The Look of Love” (sorry, Dusty), and Mendes’s own wonder “Look Around” are on board. Ideally, a couple of the more Muzak-leaning songs (I’m thinking of the non-hits “So Many Stars” and “Pretty World”) would have been trimmed to make way for grander stuff such as “Bim Bom”, “Watch What Happens”, and of course, “One Note Samba/Spanish Flea”, but no use crying over the line up of a nearly 50-year old comp. It’s still groovy.

(Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66’s Greatest Hits is now getting back in print on vinyl via Craft Recordings.)

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