Lula Côrtes e Zé Ramalho - Paêbirú. 1975 Brazil


Lula Côrtes e Zé Ramalho - Paêbirú. 1975 Solar

CD reissue: 2003 Shadoks (Germany); 2007 Mr. Bongo (England)

LP reissue: 2003 Shadoks (Germany); 2008 Mr. Bongo (England)

Originally published in Gnosis (February 10, 2001). Recently edited for UMR. Shadoks used parts of my review from Gnosis to promote the album, which is fine with me (though perhaps it would have been nice had they asked permission, which I would have granted. Or at least give me credit for it).

There was a time when Lula Côrtes e Zé Ramalho was a completely unknown name. Original copies supposedly disappeared in a great fire, producing an album that has to be considered one of the rarest of them all. While there are many bands who released albums in very small quantities and are now much sought after, many were only intended to be demos or for fans of the group. I bring this up because the Cortes album was very clearly made for a larger audience and serves as a metaphoric victim. This is not just another low budget obscurity, but a highly produced and brilliant effort. It wasn't until the Shadoks CD and LP reissues (in 2003) that most folks had a chance to hear this great rarity.

I had always imagined that Brazil in the early 1970s would produce a kind of uninhibited tribal psychedelic rock band that would rival the experimental wonders in Germany like Guru Guru or Amon Duul II. So after hearing plenty of rock and psych music from Brazil, I had given up on my dream until a cassette tape of the double LP Lula Côrtes e Zé Ramalho literally showed up on my doorstep. Now I wonder how many others existed in Brazil but without a proper recording perhaps?

As for the music, imagine a direct cross of Swedish cosmic psychedelic pioneers Algarnas Tradgard and the progressive folk of Los Jaivas from Chile. Take the traditional instruments of the Mayans, Incans, and early Spanish settlers, and combine with unearthly chanting and singing, then mesh with jazzy elements like flute and sax. Now add a dash of classical with piano and zither. Shake three times and add a huge scoop of completely freaked out, free-from-boundaries electric fuzz guitar, organ, and psychedelic jamming. The result is the musical realization of a mescaline dance party. One has absolutely no idea what the music will do next, but rest assured it will be well-played, intense, imaginative, and emotional. How exciting it must've been to do music like this; each composition could be improvised in a number of ways every night. The combinations are endless. Music of this nature, like the original album itself, is completely extinct.

One of the rarest albums on the planet as an original. My first copy was a cassette from a friend, which inspired the review below. Shadoks put the album back into circulation in 2005, and I promptly bought both the double LP and the CD. The reissues themselves are straight up, with no additional information or bonus tracks. The packaging of the LP, of course, is lavish as is typical of Shadoks. I don't know anything about the Mr. Bongo reissues, other than they are legit (and probably much cheaper to obtain).

Last update: October 4, 2015

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