Early in her career, Alcione epitomized the best of the post-bossa nova samba-pop known as pagode. Bright, exuberant, full of life and good cheer, she was a giddy, explosive force. Her later work has become more dutiful and by-the-numbers, but she remains one of Brazil's best-known pop stars. Here's a quick look at her career...
Alcione "A Voz Do Samba" (Philips, 1975)
(Produced by Roberto Menescal)
A stunning debut, featuring new samba songs by Candeia and others, as well as sleek samba-flavored pop recorded under the artistic direction of Roberto Menescal. Alcione's voice is gorgeous, and the musical backup is uniformly delightful. A joyous, flawless, wonderful record.
Alcione "Morte De Um Poeta" (Philips, 1976)
Alcione "Pra Que Chorar" (Philips, 1977)
Alcione "Alerta Geral" (Philips, 1978)
(Produced by Roberto Santana)
This opens with "Sufoco," one of Alcione's finest samba anthems (written by Chico da Silva) but slips quickly into softer pop ballads (which don't do as much for me...) It's about a fifty-fifty deal on this one: half the stuff is sublime, half is a little too cheesy. But, oh! the good songs a so good! "A Profecia" is a sweet, slower samba; "Todos Cantam Sua Terra" is a fun forro tune from Joao do Vale, and her version of Sergio Ricadro's "Zelao" is mystical and mysterious. On balance, one of her finer early albums.
Alcione "Gostoso Veneno" (Philips, 1979)
Alcione "E Vamos A Luia" (Philips, 1980)
Alcione "Alcione" (Philips, 1981)
Alcione "Vamos Arrepiar" (RCA-Victor, 1982)
(Produced by Ivan Paulo)
Ouch! What a schmaltzy album. Way too glitzy and Vegas-ed out, with big horn sections and intrusive electric keyboards... It's nice in places, but several songs sound more like Charo than proper old-school pagode... And her husky, lusty voice is better used in rhythmic contexts, as opposed to show-tuney pop. Oh, well. I guess even Alcione has to go overboard and lay an egg now and then. About half of this album is okay, while the other half is kind of dubious.
Alcione "Almas E Coracoes" (RCA-Victor, 1983)
(Produced by Ivan Paulo)
I suppose pagode, like many musical genres, can seem like a creative dead-end at times: all the songs start to sound the same, so artists get the itch to stretch out and try something new. Here, Alcione certainly expands on the classic cavaquinho-and-chorus style of the genre, wandering far, far out into the world of soul- and jazz-tinged pop ballads. Mostly, I think it's awful music, even though you have to give her props for trying something new. A couple of songs are traditional-sounding enough that I can listen to them if I want, but they don't really thrill me. "Rapsodia Da Saudade," a duet with a husky-voiced fellow known as Toco, starts out okay, but gets really schmaltzy when they really start to connect and then ham it up. The only song on here I really like is "A Despedida," a slow acoustic samba that brings the album to a dignified end. Otherwise, skip it.
Alcione "Da Cor Do Brasil" (RCA-Victor, 1984)
Alcione "Fogo Da Vida" (RCA-Victor, 1985)
Alcione "Fruto E Raiz" (RCA-Victor, 1986)
Her biggest commercial success...
Alcione "Nosso Nome: Resistencia" (BMG-Ariola, 1987)
Alcione "Ouro E Cobre" (BMG-Ariola, 1988)
(Produced by Ivan Paulo, Jorge Cardoso & Miguel Plopschi)
This disc alternates pretty evenly between decent-sounding classic samba-pagode and dreadful, brega ballads with vast, swooping vocals. I think she's better when she keeps things simple and more traditional-sounding, and leaves the soprano sax and tinkly keyboards behind. No info on the back-up band, but when the chorus and percussion get going, they definitely rock. An iffy album, but worthwhile if you skip the overproduced numbers.
Alcione "Emocoes Reais" (BMG-Ariola, 1990)
(Produced by Ivan Paulo & Jorge Cardoso)
Starts out with a swell, cavaquinho-heavy acoustic samba track ("Beija-Flor") but swiftly slides into a wash of overproduced pop numbers, packed with unnecessarily glitzy key changes and slick arrangements. Her singing voice sounds great, but the music around it is mostly pretty appalling.
Alcione "Promessa" (BMG-Ariola, 1991)
(Produced by Miguel Plopschi)
About what you'd expect. There are a few semi-traditional sounding tunes that are just "okay," and many more that have a modern production touch that's too ornate and overripe for my tastes. It's not super-horrible or anything, but it's mostly music that I can miss hearing or having, with little regret. Arlindo Cruz plays banjo on a few tunes, and contributes one song, but that's about it for guest stars on this disc...
Alcione "Pulsa Coracao" (BMG-Ariola, 1992)
Alcione "Brasil De Oliveira Da Silva Do Samba" (BMG-Ariola, 1994)
Alcione "Profissao Cantora" (BMG-Ariola, 1995)
Alcione "Tempo De Guarnice" (BMG, 1996)
Her voice is a little huskier, the material is a little smoother and syrupy, but still this is a pretty solid effort. She hasn't abandoned her earlier samba style, though she's added on some reggae-flavored axe stylings and the ballads have gotten sappier and more synth-laden.
Alcione "Valeu" (PolyGram, 1998)
Slushy, synthy arrangements and a markedly thicker voice make this a less-than-electrifying release as far as fans of Alcione's older work are concerned. At least, it doesn't do much for me.
Alcione "Celebracao" (PolyGram, 1998)
Alcione "Claridade - Uma Homanagem A Clara Nunes" (Globo-Universal, 1999)
(Produced by Jorge Cardoso)
A late-vintage tribute to the late Clara Nunes, one of Alcione's 1970s pagode contemporaries, and one of the great samba singers of her time. Alcione's heart in the right place, but her glory days are long in the past, and this disc doesn't hold a candle to either Nunes's best work, or Alcione's. It's a bit too brisk and the axe influenced horn-and-synth riffs don't fit the style, or add much to the proceedings. It's okay, but nothing you need to go out of your way to track down. Her voice seems largely shot by the time this one came 'round -- the soaring passages that Nunes was known for (and Alcione, in her prime) are simply beyond her reach by now. Still, it seems like a heartfelt effort; worth checking out, but don't get your hopes up too high.
Alcione "Brasil De Oliveira Da Silva Do Samba" (BMG, 1999)
Alcione "Nos Bares Da Vida -- Ao Vivo" (Universal, 2000)
A live album.
Alcione "Paixao Sem Memoria" (Universal, 2001)
Alcione "Ao Vivo" (Warner Music, 2002)
Alcione "Ao Vivo 2" (Warner Music, 2003)
Alcione "Uma Nova Paixao" (Warner Music, 2005)
Alcione "Uma Nova Paixao -- Ao Vivo" (Warner Music, 2008)
Alcione "De Tudo Que Eu Gosto" (Warner Music, 2007)
Alcione "A Arte De Alcione" (Philips, 1981)
Outstanding! Her entry into this series of classic late-'70s Phillips best-ofs is a sure-fire all-killer, no-filler collection. The original 2-LP set has a few more tracks than the CD reissue, but the CD (reissued in 2004) is still pure gold. This is probably the best collection of her work that's ever come out... Highly recommended!
Alcione "10 Anos Depois" (Philips, 1985)
Alcione "Nao Deixe O Samba Morrer" (Globo/Polydor)
Has a few too many droopy ballads, with those plinky-plinky Whitney Houston-style keyboards. But the straight samba stuff is -- of course -- awesome, and fortunately it far outweighs the soul-tinged pop. Includes several of her best songs.
Alcione "Garoto Maroto" (Musica Latino, 1999)
Alcione "Serie Sem Limite" (Philips, 2001)
Philips had all the best Alcione stuff, her earliest, grooviest, hottest '70s samba... So this spiffy, budget-priced 2-CD set gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Highly recommended.
Alcione "Serie 100 Anos De Musica" (RCA, 1999)
A fine budget-line 2-CD set, including some of her best work on the RCA label.
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