The Freelance Mentalists.
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
 
Some Albums Have Been Mislabeled

Carlinhos Brown, Omelete Man (Metro Blue), 1998

I would like to extend a warm slap of regret to all the reviewers who have said that this is not the greatest album in the world. It probably is. Or maybe it was, and now it's been surpassed, but I can't think of by who who by right now. Or maybe I won't feel this way. (Other candidates: Al Green's Still in Love With You, Bersuit Vergabarat's Hijos Del Culo, the original motion picture soundtrack to West Side Story, Funkadelic's Hardcore Jollies, Pizzicato Five's Happy End of the World. Tell me who I am.)

Carlinhos ("car-LEEN-yohsh") is what they call him; Brown is for James Brown; he headed up Timbalada for a long time; it may be that his first solo album, Alfagamabetizado, is better (I haven't heard it); he is part of a supergroup in Brasil called Tribalistas with new wave avant-gardist Arnaldo Antunes and pop superwoman Marisa Monte, who produced this album. None of which matters next to music this strong and beautiful and pure. I think they call Carlinhos "the Prince of Brasil" or something.

"Omelete Man": Juju-groove funk with sexy soul backvox and lots of smooth carnival horns. He says he mixes up music all together like an omelette. "Vitamina Ser": heavy reggae, heavy Afro-Brazilian percussion, invocation of Oshun, Bernie Worrell on keyboards. "Hawaii e You": string-sweetened ballad about falling in love in Hawaii, key changes and falsetto leaps. "Irara": repeating the word "faraway" to industrial 6/8 metropolis percussion, freaky noises keening, Arto Lindsay is involved somehow. "Soul by Soul": You know how ELO was trying to sound like the Beatles? Brown doesn't even have to try. Plus his drums are funkier and he is his own Billy Preston. "Water My Girl": Light reggae, lots of horns and happiness, song about how he and Water hate war and love moon, chorus catchy but indecipherable. "Tribal United Dance": just exactly what you'd think it sounds like, but really good, a groove with a big ass and Nile Rodgers doing guest "participao especial guitarra" and a dope rap. "Cacharro Louco": surf punk samba with football chant, over in 1:15, thrilling. "Farao": takes forro music into a weird circus tent and comes out with soul polka, never heard so many backing vocals on a track before. "Amantes Cinzas": samba straight up except with an Antunes-written chorus of "Tchublac, Tchublic, Tchubla," which means nothing. "Busy Man": commuter pop, more crazy cut-up lyrics like "Maybe your heart / Maybe I hold on / I get to travel / Yellow summer / My super rain," sublime like Tears for Fears. "Cold Heart": The slowest piece of music with the most piercing violin line and the most Sgt. Peppery horns, puns on "son" and "sun" and "som," psychedelic "heavy flower" line is crucial. "Mae Que Eu Nasci": fado with no apologies. "Musico": Super-sappy orchestral thing, God is involved somehow but not listed in the album credits. "Hino de Santo Antonio": Martial march, drums going off like rifles, Bolivar and clarinets.

Album over. Forty-six minutes. Wipe brow. Repeat like a bastard.
 
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