Friday, December 4, 2009

454. Getz/Gilberto- Blame it on the Bossa Nova.

Album: Getz/Gilberto

Artist: Stan Getz Jaoa Gilberto.

Year: 1964

Genre: Bossa Nova.


  1. The Girl from Ipanema
  2. Doralice
  3. Para Machucar Meu Coração
  4. Desafinado
  5. Corcovado
  6. Só Danço Samba
  7. O Grande Amor
  8. Vivo Sonhando

In theory I’m supposed to review these albums as if I’m hearing everything for the first time. Sometimes that’s easy because I am, but at times it’s near impossible when the music is so famous and iconic that I can’t actually conceive of a time when I hadn’t heard it. One such track is the first cut on this album: The Girl From Ipanema, arguably one of the world's most played songs thanks largely due to elevators, shopping malls and even those new hi-tech public toilets (which are designed to discourage drug use but play the sort of music that makes me want to get smacked off my nut on heroin). Ever since it’s inclusion as elevator music at the end of The Blues Brothers (and possibly before) The Girl From Ipanema has been held up as the archetypal muzac tune- a light ditty rendered soullessly inoffensive by a hammond organ and then pumped into a million locations throughout the world. While it’s just not possible for me to hear TGFI without thinking “not this bloody song again” when people bought this album back in 1964 most of them were hearing it for the first time. It had never been a tedious soundtrack to a vertical journey, it was the opening track on the album that introduced them to Bossa Nova.

Before it was just a preset rhythm sequence on a cheap electronic keyboards, The Bossa Nova was a musical craze that lasted for a few years in the mid sixties amongst people who were too old for the Beatles but too young for old Vera Lynn records. It’s slow, slinky, sexy music which was inspired by Brazilian rhythms and today is basically impossible to separate from attempts at seduction. I guarantee if you put this CD on in the background when you’re with one other person they will immediate expect you to make a pass at them. It doesn’t matter whether they person is of the same gender, a close relative or even deaf, the power of the seductive forces will make them assume you’re about to dim the lights and produce a bottle of champagne, two glasses and a novelty contraceptive. There is just something about that beat along with that sax sound that gets people out of their clothing. It must have been a bugger when played live in clubs, entire groups of punters would have found themselves nude at the end of the set with no recollection of ever undoing a zip. One minute they were the a collection of fully clothed jazz fans and a quick sax solo later they were starkers and loving it. It’s that sort of music.

It doesn’t help that the vocals are mainly sung in Portuguese which I’ve discovered is as sexy as Spanish and French combined. I’ve never heard any other music sung in Portuguese before which I assume is because the entire country is too busy pleasuring each other to record music. They probably start trying to record an album but get halfway through the vocal track and just start pairing off. It’s darn sexy stuff.

Complimenting the vocals of Gilberto is Stan Getz’s saxophone which is always played with that slow languid muted tone. No atonal squeaking here just melodic runs that positively purr, laid over the top of a guitar and steady beat. Throw in the occasional piano and female vocals and the combined result is just the sort of thing I can imagine going down really well in the hip and groovy sixties.

Of course the problem is the first track. I’ve tried to be open minded and objective and I still can’t consider it anything but annoying. Its major problem is probably the lack of variation. The song starts with a male Portuguese rendition of the famous “Tall and thin and young and lovely/ the girl from Ipanema goes walking…” lines. It’s repeated two more times before the chorus bit kicks in. Then it’s sung all over again in English before the sax arrives and basically plays the same lines just in case you missed it. Finally a piano does it all over again and then it’s sung in English once more. I’m sick of the song from hearing it as muzac for years but it’s a wonder people didn’t tire of it after the first listen. It’s repetitive stuff.

Thankfully there is more variation in the rest of the album which snakes and grooves along like jazz in a tight skirt.Give it a listen but only if you're prepared to jump on top of anyone else in the room.

Highlight: That sax tone.

Lowlight: You know who from you know where.

Influenced by: Sambas and Rhumbas and other such things.

Influenced: A lot of people out of their clothing.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: “It makes me cry ,crazy and lazy!”

-Okay so it doesn’t have an unbridled erotic power for everyone. Apparently some people become sobbing, deranged and lethargic. Like a weeping homicidal maniac who can’t be bothered killing anyone.

So do you wish this album would just bugger off to Ipanema or do you...hey, stop that! Get that tongue out of my ear! Put those clothes back on! Let me know below.

1 comment:

  1. I had never really thought that "The Girl from Ipenema" had once not been around. I can't believe it was written as late as 1964.