The Best of Caetano Veloso (Nonesuch 79808 2, 2003)
I’m usually very skeptical of “Best of…” recordings, but this collection by Caetano Veloso, one of Brazil’s greatest songwriters, is full of gems. The Best of Caetano Veloso contains material from Veloso’s recent career,
dating back to 1989. One of the precious findings on this splendid CD is “Manhatã,” from the 1999 album Livro.
Along with the sensuous vocals, there is a great set of Brazilian percussion,
along with brass, strings and an excellent West African jembe solo.
Another favorite is “Haiti,” from the 1994 album Tropicália 2
. In this case,
we find Caetano Veloso rapping and whistling, accompanied by a bluesy-funky band, and the
sounds of a Brazilian drum corps. Percussion plays an important role in Veloso’s
arrangements. A good example is “Un Tom,” which features percussive vocals and an entire orchestra of
acoustic percussion that includes chimes, xylophone, berimbaus, kalimba,
clapping and drums.
In addition to singing in his native Portuguese, Veloso also sings poetically
in other Latin languages, such as Spanish and Italian. There are three songs in
Spanish and one in Italian on The Best of Caetano Veloso. “Michelangelo Antonioni,” sung in Italian, is
a beautiful song with vocals accompanied by vibraphone and strings.
Veloso pays tribute to fellow South American songwriters, such as Argentine
Fito Páez, by singing “Un vestido y un amor,” sung in Spanish, from the 1994
album Fina Estampa. The list of superb songs is long and varied, with styles
ranging from bossa nova to MPB (popular Brazilian music).
The CD booklet includes the original lyrics in Portuguese, Spanish and
Italian and its English translations. This opens a door to Veloso’s world.
There are love stories and melancholy, but there is also social commitment.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.