Gal Costa, what a threat! Immensely talented, tall, beautiful, and sexy; her vision was always to push the boundaries of what Brazilians could find acceptable. Take a look at India’s cover, its barely NSFW, don’t even look at back of the cover which goes even further. However, there’s a method for her forthrightness. Before her India album was released in 1973, she had already had a long line series of diverse albums ranging from Tropicalismo like Gal’s 1969 self-titled, through Janis Joplin rave-ups like 1971’s A Todo Vapor live album, these were albums full of tracks penned by some of the greats like Caetano, Gilberto Gil, and Jorge Ben. She had some of the most wild music and vocals you could ever hear at the time on any record, a lot of them with heavy debt to American music. However, something was missing and that was her own Brazilian identity. 

A magnificent performer herself, prior to recording India, she hinted at what was going to occur here by fronting a TV program wherein she would improvise songs from her own discography on the fly, and would use mannerisms usually accustomed seen by male performers. She had now started to don Brazil-Indio outfits, a lot of them leaving just little to the imagination, and had started to work with more Brazilian regional musicians. Where Acabou Chorare was a starting point for a new Brazilian sound, India was a new starting point for its mass culture. Its acceptance of the indigenous sound and fashion, as heard in the title track was truly rebellious, since it was rejecting the dictatorship’s imposed technocratic wishes.

Its so understatedly subversive, tracks like “Milho Verde” written by Jose Afonso, are played under the cover of this new highly rhythmic Brazil-Indio sound, a sound that gets you dancing but the intent of the original Afonso song was protest, against the autocratic rule of  Portugal at that time. Just another way artists like Gal were using their popularity to get aroun censorship. The rest of the album has just such variety, tracks like “Presente Cotidiano” with its tango in flight sound, “Relance” sporting the indigenous accordion dance groove of Dominguinhos, or the straight dream funk of “Pontos de Luz” still sound so timeless. 

Anyway, the greatness of the album itself has more to do with imagery and presentation. Gal released an album that finally gave her this unique identity as the promoter of indigenous looks and sound which could be entirely compatible with a “modern” Brazil. This was something that helped coalesce what was coming up next, all these legions of groups and artists who started to look at distinctly Brazilian identities to push artistic boundaries. More of that tomorrow…

Further Listening:

1967: Domingo (with Caetano Veloso)

1969: Gal Costa

1969: Gal

1971:  Fa-Tal – Gal A Todo Vapor

1973: Índia

1974: Cantar

World Cup Prediction of the Day:

Nigeria v. Argentina: Argentina (Winner)

Bosnia v. Iran: Iran (Winner)

Honduras v. Switzerland: Tie (Winner)

Ecuador v. France: France (Winner)

Might as well post a video of her show. Simply awesome: //