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Jovem Guarda TV show - 1968

Brazilian rock'n'roll first hit in the late '50s, at roughly the same time as the beginning of the bossa nova boom... For the most part, the early roqueiros were looked down on, and rock was seen as an inferior North American import that only "kids" could like. Naturally, the music persisted, and found a home in the long-lived television show, Jovem Guarda, which was hosted by the charismatic vocalist, Roberto Carlos. Numerous bands flocked under its banner, and thousands of viewers tuned into the show with the same intense loyalty as shows such as American Bandstand and Ready, Steady Go enjoyed in the USA and England.

Jovem Guarda pop (also known as ie-ie-ie, once the Beatles hit...) was justifiably seen as a cutesy, prefab creation of the international record industry, which was eager to capitalize on the potentially lucrative South American youth culture, as it had in the U.S. and Western Europe. Most of the bands weren't that good, and their best material came from cover versions of foreign pop songs. Still, it was out of this early, commercialized teen scene that the hippie-ish tropicalia movement arose, blending psychedelic rock with the previously-separate bossa nova and samba traditions, along with a subversive new brand of often-surrealistic cultural politics. Despite the greater celebrity (and cultural relevance) of the tropicalia innovators, many of the ie-ie-ie groups persisted well into the 1970s, although most gradually devolved into soft pop outfits, rather than take up the more radical rock stylings of the early-70s counterculture. Here's a quick look at some of the high points (and low) of the Jovem Guarda scene...

Jovem Guarda: A-C | D-J | K-S | T-Z | Compilations | Tropicalia | BRock, Indie & Punk

Hugo Leao Filho "Paraibo" (Shadoks, 1978/2009)
(Produced by Padua Carvalho & Hugo Leao)

A groovy, chaotic semi-psychedelic rural rock outing from a guy who was in Ze Ramalho's circle of friends, and previously played lead guitar in the early-'70s Brazilian rock band The Gentlemen... Leao was asked by poet Antonio de Padua Carvalho to help put some of his poems to music, and the result is pretty cool. This is similar to work by Lula Cortes and Ze Ramalho from around the same era, though more cohesive and listenable that Corte's albums, less interested in annoying listeners just for the sake of annoying them. A nice mix of electric and acoustic, regional and rock'nroll, with impassioned vocals that manage not to sound corny or melodramatic. Definitely worth a spin! (Originally recorded in 1978, this was reissued in 2009 by Shadoks Music.)

Leno / Leno & Lilian - see artist profile

Ed Lincoln - see artist profile

Roberto Livi "Apaixonado/Robert Livi" (Sony-Columbia, 2000)
A 2-CD reissue of two old jovem guarda albums, Apaixonado and Roberto Livi

Os Lobos "Miragem" (Top Tape, 1971)
A cool mix of styles - jangly pop-psyche, denser, jazzier proggish art-rock and bouncy, piano-led music-hall shuffles, reminiscent of The Kinks. The alternating male-female vocals invite comparison to Os Mutantes... Personally, I like these guys better: their artistic output is more consistent and they seem a little less full of themselves. A great hippie-era relic!

Martinha "Serie Bis: Jovem Guarda" (EMI, 2007)

Martinha "Como Antigamente" (Warner, 1974)

Os Megatons "Os Megatons " (Philips, 1964)
Twangy, jangly surfin' rock instrumentals, also with a Shadows-esque tone. To be honest, the lead guitarist(s?) weren't really all that good, but even if they lacked finesse, the band still sounded cute. Like many Brazilian rock bands of the era, I wish they had sung in Portuguese... But I felt the same way about the Shadows as well...

Fernando Mendes "Fernando Mendes" (EMI, 1974)
Soporific, ephemeral soft-pop with occasional glimmers of life... Mendes seems to have been ready to take up the Roberto Carlos's long-discarded mantle as a Brazilian teen heartthrob, but boy, is this snoozy. There's one song, "Nao Vou Me Entregar," that has some mildly wild electric guitars on it, but for the most part the arrangements are rather static and slow. You're not missing anything here, trust me.

Fernando Mendes "Fernando Mendes" (EMI, 1975)
There's a lot more stylistic variety from his previous album -- maybe a touch of Santana-esque guitars to spice things up -- but it's still pretty dull material. Leif Garrett and Shawn Cassidy seem like pimpin' mackdaddies compared to this wuss!

Fernando Mendes "Selecao De Ouro" (EMI, 1998)
A best-of set...

Sergio Murilo "Sergio Murilo/Novamente" (Sony-Columbia, 2000)
A 2-CD reissue of two old jovem guarda albums, Sergio Murilo and Novamente

Sergio Murilo & Snakes "Baby/So Twist" (Sony-Columbia, 2000)
A 2-CD reissue of two old jovem guarda albums, Baby and So Twist

Sergio Murilo "Sergio Murilo" (Warner, 1960)

Sergio Murilo "Sergio Murilo" (Warner, 1969)

Pedro Paulo "Apresenta Os Sucessos" (Columbia/OKeh, 1969)
Pedro Paulo "Apresenta Os Sucessos, v.2" (Columbia/OKeh, 1970)

Soft rocker Pedro Paulo kind of picked up where Roberto Carlos left off -- as Carlos drifted towards his iconic status as a Spanish-language crooner, Paulo kept singing old-fashioned teenybopper pop tunes. Considering when these albums actually came out, they were hopelessly out of fashion, but if you just take them for what they are and compare them to Carlos's rather similar releases from 1962-66, Paulo's work holds up pretty well. He was more consistently uptempo and "rocking" than Carlos, and recorded fewer American pop covers. On the second album, he gets a little more modern, opening the disc with "Maria Helena," a funky original by Brazilian soul singer, Hyldon Souza. Yeah, sure, it's mainly pretty wimpy stuff, but for the JG scene, this ain't bad. (Reissued in 1999 as a 2-CD set.)

Rossini Pinto "Rossini Pinto" (CBS, 1964)
Pop composer Rossini Pinto was one of the major players in the teen-oriented 1960s jovem guarda pop-rock boom; as a songwriter, producer and lyric translator, his imprint was all over the work of all the other artists in the scene, with versions recorded by Jerry Adriani, Roberto Carlos, The Fevers and The Golden Boys, to name a few. I don't think he really got a fair shake as a performer, though, as this was his only solo album in a decades-long career. Having come to this album after hearing dozens of drab and perfunctory JG rock runthroughs, I have to say I was really impressed. Backing Rossini up here were Renato E Seus Blue-Caps, one of the best-known JG bands, and they give one of their liveliest, jangliest performances -- what I really like, though, are Rossini's vocals. He has an imperfect voice and an offhand delivery that I find quite appealing; there's an imperceptible roughness that's almost like American hillbilly music, a lack of polish that makes him sound refreshingly human. Plus, what a swell set of tunes! Although the JG scene was awash with saccharine, slurpy pop ballads, Pinto tilted towards bouncy, upbeat material. There are a couple of cover tunes on here -- most notably "His Latest Flame," which kicks the album off -- but most of the songs are Rossini originals, and most of them are pretty fun. For my money, this album is way cooler than many of the better-known jovem guarda discs -- it's got more grit and more pep to it than most. Definitely worth checking out!

Quinteto Ternura "Quinteto Ternura" (RCA, 1974)
The vitality these ex-Jovem Guarda teens showed earlier in their career (as Trio Ternura) is sadly absent on this, their final album. Despite the Jackson Five-style outfits worn on the cover, this is calculatedly light, perky, breezy pop, following in the path of bands such as The Association or Terry Jacks, rather than the soul or psychedelic music they dabbled in earlier. The most striking track is the Joni Mitchell-styled "Consegui Concluir"; they also cover Caetano Veloso's "Baby," but in as bland a fashion as possible. Disappointing.

Reynaldo Rayol "Serie Bis: Jovem Guarda" (EMI, 2000)

Renato E Seus Blue Caps - see artist discography

Sergio Reis - see artist discography

Jose Roberto "...E Seus Sucessos" (Epic, 1968)
Fairly lightweight, late vintage jovem guarda teenpop. Taking his cues from scene leader Roberto Carlos, Jose Roberto sings soft, emotive, midtempo love songs, though unlike many of his JG contemporaries he seldom varies the tempo or his own vocal approach, and -- more remarkably -- none of the songs in his repertoire were covers of American or British pop tunes. The backing is generally lackluster, with lazy, Carlos-ian electric organ balanced by rhythm and guitars that only occasionally hint at a brighter, more psychedelic '60s pop sound. That being said, Roberto's music isn't offensive or offputting... it's perfectly fine for what it is, it just isn't very exciting.

Jose Roberto "...E Seus Sucessos, v.2" (Epic, 1969)

Marcos Roberto "Idolos Da Jovem Guarda" (Warner/Chantacler, 1966)

Rosemary "Rose, Rose, Rosemary" (Warner)

Rosemary "Rosemary" (Warner, 1974)

Raul Seixas - see artist discography

Paulo Sergio "Serie Bis - Jovem Guarda" (EMI, 2000)
A well-chosen 2-CD set of material from this latter-day jovem guarda singer. Sergio was an unabashed imitator of JG superstar Roberto Carlos, but whereas TV host Carlos dipped liberally into romantic schmaltz, Sergio seemed to prefer more upbeat material, with the organ-guitar combo that made some of Carlos's rock-oriented work sound so fun. This collection spans 1972-83, material from the Copacabana label that is surprisingly consistent and listenable. I mean, it's not the greatest Brazilian rock music ever, but it sure ain't the worst. Even the later tracks, which are predictably softer and slicker, are still pretty decent... There's very little on here that'd actually make you cringe, and plenty of songs that are fun enough, in a kitschy, retro way. It also includes his biggest hit, "Ultimo Cancao," from 1969.

Silvinha - see artist discography

Wilson Simonal - see artist discography

The Supersonics "Serie Bis" (EMI, 1999)
A fun, dumb 2-CD set devoted to The Supersonics, a jovem guarda instrumental/covers band, which apparently was The Fevers playing incognito... Plenty of standards, both from the American/British rock scene, and the Brazilian ie ie ie canon... They sing sometimes, too, and theat's where some of the biggest missed moments come -- for example, a cover of "Dizzy" sung in English (and not in Portuguese! d'oh!) Still, if you've been bitten by the JG bug, you'll want to check this out.

The Supersonics "Serie Bis - Jovem Guarda" (EMI/Copacabana, 2000)
Although they start out with great promise - energetically covering Beatles tunes galore, along with "Wooly Bully" and the inevitable JG version of "Road Hog", the Supersonics overstayed their welcome in the late '60s, with endless elevator music instrumentals. The second CD in this double disc set is just plain muzak, and pretty forgettable.

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