Super review by Cal Gibson, of The Secret Soul Society and Scruffy Soul Recordings.
Portugal’s Mad About Records have been super-busy over the last year or so, digging up a series of ultra-rare total boogie bombs from across the globe for your listening enjoyment. A few personal highlights would include Free Love‘s self-titled 1979 collection (check the end cut ‘Big City‘ for five minutes of blissed-out deep soul ramalama), Joyce Hurley‘s sumptuous Ozzie souljazz stylings from 1978 (feautirng a killer version of Maiden Voyage) and Malachi Thompson‘s jazz dance classic The Seventh Son (wigged-out wobbler ‘The Quest‘ gets a fair few spins chez nous), but rest assured the quality of everything they release is absolutely top-notch.
Their latest find is a wonderfully esoteric offering from Manaus, in Brazil, Pedrinho Sampaio‘s eco-groover Um Gritto De Guera (‘battle cry’ in Portugese) – a wail of despair at the money men and their pillaging of The Amazonian rainforests. With the original going for hundreds of pounds online, suffice to say that most of us will be more than happy with the reissue, and what a quirkily inventive record it is.
The front cover gives it away really, Pedro sat surrounded by keyboards, tracksuited arms extended, the lone creator summoning up the music, a portrait of the artist as a young visionary: man and machine harnessed together in holy communion. First released in 1979 the forty plus years slip away as Nocoes de Piano-Harp glides over the speakers: MPB meets KPM downtown: samba shuffles in the library, orchestral swells morphing into Santana-esque guitar licks – heady stuff.
Named after Pedrinho’s hometown, Manaus is a swinging stroll through the city streets, key-lines wafting, winding, through the chick-a-chick guitar parts, “Alan Hawkshaw feels” transplanted into the rainforest. Slinky as hell, nonchalantly funky: young hearts running free and easy.
A Fonte gives Pedrinho the chance to add vocals to the mix – a yearning undertow very evident as he reaches for the high notes: a lament for Brazil’s awesome flora and fauna, sadly being butchered by the men – always men – with dollar signs in their eyes. Humans and destruction: it seems like we can’t quite get by without slashing and burning all that is beautiful in this world.
Correnteza features more singing, and again there’s a sadness apparent in the melancholic structures. My Portugese isn’t up to much but I’m guessing it’s another lament for a lost world: the magical idea of Brazil massacred by greed and short-sighted lust for riches. Nothing is more precious than mother nature: all the money in the world won’t rescue us when we’ve finally flushed the planet down the drain. It’s a wonderful, illuminating catch from a distant past that unfortunately still rings true today. For all the wars that we inflict on each other this is the one that we have to win: the fight to save the planet. Pedrinho knew back in 1979. We all knew back in 1979. 2023 and shit just keeps getting worse. Take a bow humans, we really know how to fuck things up.
Pedrinho Sampaio`s Um Gritto De Guerra is out now, on Mad About Records.
Super reviewer, Secret Soul Society head-honcho, former Neon Height, Cal Gibson has a new radio show. Please check the Loose.FM website for more details.