Now this album, will always bar none, remain at the top of any list of best Brazilian albums ever made. Chico Buarque’s “Construção”, released in 1971, just bleeds and demonstrates Brazil exactly as it is, warts and all. Chico had always been around from the early 60s, from a young age he knew what kind of musician he wanted to be: he wanted to sing like Joao, compose like Tom Jobim, and write lyrics like Vinicius de Moraes. Supremely gifted with dashing looks and actual musical talent he quickly gained a wide following with his catchy sambas and inventive bossanovas. The problem became that when Tropicalia came around he was still exploring these older genres, Caetano and Gilberto Gil went so far as to lambast him for being too conservative and backwards.
Credit to Chico, he knew exactly what he was doing. As Tropicalia was exploding and imploding he was traveling Italy (where he used to live partly as a younger man) and Portugal, soaking up massive amounts of European music. Here was a man listening to Scott Walker, Stockhausen, George Brassens, Jose Afonso, and Carlos Paredes…and figuring out new ways to present the plight of the common man. From here on out, Chico would integrate Portuguese fados, chanson, tarantellas, and modern classical into his own music. Then, at a time when most Tropicalia greats were heading to Europe by forced exile, he did the opposite, he headed back into Brazil, determined to face the bull and find a new way to tackle the beast.
“Construção” was that slayer. Roberto Menescal, who helped produce the second half of Nara Leao’s “Dez Ano Depois”, aided in bringing about Chico’s vision. Throughout the whole album you hear Chico sing with lyrics addressing the day to day life of the average Brazilian, the music itself becomes as descriptive as the lyrics themselves. Everything hits like a brute force, just listen to “Cotidiano” or the title track and you’ll see what I mean, his new sound is so visual. Its hard to catch but he was playing with sound and words as a way to get around Brazilian censors and attack the system head on.
Much like “Blonde on Blonde” he was using the personal as universal rebellion. Its such an amazing album simply because of its provincial feel. You do have its dark majestic tracks like “Olha Maria” (with Tom Jobim assisting) or “Valsinha” that have more in common with Scott Walker’s 4 or Tilt than with anything around its time, its far from what people would expect a Brazilian album to sound like, and then you have tracks like “Minha Historia”. “Minha Historia”, is such a touching song, very much a going back to your roots song just like anything off the Band’s self-titled album, his roots were always going to be different than all other Brazilian artists but the sincerity of the song comes through. With a Portuguese fado, he tried to express everything about himself that he could, and in its own way becomes quite heartening to hear. I believe its that sincerity and distillation of a specific era in Brazil which stills moves a lot of Brazilians to always hold this album quite close to their hearts, its only a matter of time the rest of the world will warm up to discovering this album as well.
World Cup Prediction of the Day:
Italy v. Costa Rica: Costa Rica (Winner)
Switzerland v. France: France (Winner)
Honduras v. Ecuador: Ecuador (Winner)