We like to look back into our catalog from time to time and bring you something that you haven’t heard in a while.
>> Watch: David Byrne talks about the making of Brazil Classics 1: Beleza Tropical—and his love for Brazilian music—in this Channel 4 documentary. <<
For Bandcamp Friday, tomorrow, we’d like to bring you Brazil Classics 1: Beleza Tropical on double colored vinyl (Brazilian blue and orange, as in Tibor Kalman’s cover). It’s the first time all of the songs actually appear on vinyl together.
David Byrne—he’s the guy behind this compilation, for those of you who don’t know—penned some fresh liner notes, too:
Wow when did this first come out? 1989? Over 30 years ago! I listened to some of the songs yesterday and, well, they hold up, they’re truly timeless songs.
I listened to some of the songs yesterday and, well, they hold up, they’re truly timeless songs.
In my notes at the time I wrote about the way this music joined musical sophistication with memorable pop melodies and often social and political commentary. Like Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On this music mixed sensuality with pointed social engagement. I learned that though we often feel like screaming we can also couch our awareness and frustrations in beauty and rhythm—which often makes a more seductive and effective argument than a scream—though a scream can be pretty damn cathartic for sure. But as beautiful as the songs sound their message was pointed enough that some of these artists were jailed and forced into exile.
Beauty can be pointed.
Beauty can be pointed.
Around the time when David was putting this together, he asked the British animator Susan Young to make a short film to accompany Beleza Tropical’s initial release, which she set to Jorge Ben’s “Ponta de Lanca Africano (Umbabarauma).”
We recently got in touch with her and asked what she remembers from those days:
I wanted to visually evoke the breadth and depth of these lyrics, so I designed a jewel-like, animated montage of Brazil—from football to carnival, from favelas to rainforests—that almost seduces the viewer through dreamlike imagery that echoes the poetry of the album’s lyrics, and hints at the underlying social and political issues.
David was a joy to work with. He gave me a huge amount of creative freedom, which translates into the creativity on the screen. The video remains one of my favourites.
Susan made the film together with 15 other animators and with the help of 14 visual artists.
You can learn more about the compilation and their work in creating the animation in this lovely documentary that aired on Channel 4 later that year, and which sees David and Susan in conversation with the late British radio host Charlie Gillett.
There are 750 of these limited edition colored Beleza Tropicals left — we made them for Record Store Day last fall, and held some back to give directly to you. And we’ll be releasing them tomorrow, on Bandcamp Friday.