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Reissued And Relevant, Marcos Valle's '70s Bossa Nova Returns

Marcos Valle in Los Angeles in 1968. (Courtesy of the artist)

Marcos Valle wasn't identified with Brazil's influential Tropicalia movement during the 1960s and 1970s. But, like his peers Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, he made ambitious and subversive pop music during those years, mixing American soul and rock with samba, bossa nova and other Brazilian styles. His best work ranks with the most kinetically tuneful music Brazil has ever produced, and has been sampled by artists like Jay-Z and Kanye West.

This week, four of Valle's best records -- Marcos Valle, Garra, Vento Sul and Previsao Do Tempo -- are being reissued. They were made in the early 1970s, when Brazil was under military rule and government censors were always on the lookout. As the liner notes explain, Valle was forced to alter a line that celebrated race-mixing in the song "Black Is Beautiful." But in the title track from Garra, he got away with critiquing what he saw as a blindly capitalist culture. One line translates roughly as, "I run after money, ha ha, until my whole body collapses."

Valle wrapped his coded political commentary in seductive music that echoed The Beatles and Stevie Wonder. But his percussive vocal style feels very modern, as artists like Frank Ocean and Drake split the difference between rapping and soul-singing. The chill soul-jazz vibe of these records also sounds timely alongside recent records by Jose James and Robert Glasper. Valle is in his late 60s and still making forward-looking music, but these recordings show that he was making timeless jams pretty much from the get-go.

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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Finally, this hour, music from Brazil that has gotten a lot of love in the U.S. Songs by Marcos Valle have been widely covered, especially his bossa nova hit from 1966 called "Summer Samba." His recordings have been sampled by Jay-Z and Kanye West. And this month, four of Valle's albums from the 1970s are being reissued. Our critic Will Hermes says these classics don't sound dated.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MENTIRA")

WILL HERMES, BYLINE: Marcos Valle wasn't identified with Brazil's influential Tropicalia movement in the '60s and '70s. But, like his peers Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, made ambitious and subversive pop music during those years, mixing soul and rock with samba, bossa nova and other Brazilian styles.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MENTIRA")

HERMES: And his best stuff ranks with the most kinetically tuneful music Brazil has ever produced.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OS OSSOS DO BARAO")

HERMES: The four Marcos Valle records that have just been reissued are four of his best records: "Marcos Valle," "Garra," "Vento Sul" and "Previsao Do Tempo." They were made in the early '70s when Brazil was under military rule and government censors were always on the lookout. As the liner notes explain, he was forced to alter a line that celebrated racial mixing on the song "Black is Beautiful." But on the title track from "Garra," Valle got away with critiquing what he saw as the country's blindly capitalist culture.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GARRA")

HERMES: One line translates roughly as: I run after money, ha-ha, until my whole body collapses.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GARRA")

HERMES: Marcos Valle wrapped his coded political commentary in seductive music that echoed The Beatles and Stevie Wonder, but his percussive vocal style feels very modern, as artists like Frank Ocean and Drake split the difference between rapping and singing. And the chill soul-jazz vibe of these records also sounds timely alongside recent records by Jose James and Robert Glasper.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NEM PALETO, NEM GRAVATA")

HERMES: Valle is in his late 60s and still making forward-looking music, but these recordings show he was making timeless jams pretty much from the get-go.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NEM PALETO, NEM GRAVATA")

SIEGEL: All four of the reissued albums by Marcos Valle will be available later this month. Our critic Will Hermes is author of the book "Love Goes to Buildings on Fire."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NEM PALETO, NEM GRAVATA")

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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