The songwriting duo of Antonio Carlos & Jocafi made some of Brazil's sweetest pop music in the 1970s... Like many 'Seventies stars, they emerged out of the competitive music festivals, coming to the public's attention in performances in 1969 and '70, and recording their first album soon afterwards. They mixed bright, sunshine-pop harmonies with a gentle, sugary version of the acoustic samba of the contemporary pagode movement. At times they might have been a bit too sugary, but the anthemic, singalong choruses and catchy, melodic arrangements will win most listeners over... There's also a touch of Brazilian samba-soul in some of their early work that's kind of cool. Here's a quick look at their work...
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "Mudei De Ideia" (BMG-Ariola, 1971)
Way cool. This songwriting duo (whose real names were Antonio Carlos Marques Pinto and Jose Carlos Figueiredo...) is not to be confused with Antonio Carlos Jobim, particularly not on this lost gem from the tail end of the tropicalia years. Full of driving, legitimately funky grooves and piercing acid-rock guitars, this is an unusually dynamic album which shows a clear debt to psychedelic singers like Gilberto Gil, but is also a notable early link in the history of Brazilian soul music. In fact, compared to the big names in Brazilian soul, softies such as Hyldon and Cassiano, this is pretty kickass material. Features the funk monster, "Kabaluere," which captures the bass-heavy electric style of the Isley Brothers, and makes it into a super-Brazilian sizzler. Very, very nice album... and one you should try to track down.
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "...Cada Segundo" (RCA, 1972)
(Produced by Rildo Hora)
Another diverse set of all-original material, tilting towards the sugary and twee, but also with a bit of funk, on tunes like "Simbarere," "Ossain" and the disco-y "Shazam." I have to confess, about half the songs on here had passages that became too cloying or overly-emotive for me, but the more straightforward acoustic samba-pop tunes -- "Queixas," "Presepada," etc. -- are sweet. A smorgasbord of styles, with several lovely or fascinating songs, and an interesting snapshot of the samba-rock sound of the early '70s.
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "Antonio Carlos & Jocafi" (RCA, 1973)
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "Definativamente" (BMG-Ariola, 1974)
Oh, how quickly the worm turns... While this is still very listenable, the hard, experimental edge of their earlier albums is clearly being abandoned for a softer pop style. While not as saccharine as their later work (which sadly dominates their best-of collections...), this record is a sign of things to come. It's okay, but it's really that cool. One striking moment of folk-influenced silliness is the blend of samba cancao and English madrigal, on "O Poeta E O Cobetor" -- not a great song, but an interesting stylistic footnote. They also start dipping into regional pop with the forro flavored "Chuculatera" and the funky pagode of "Terceiro Ato" and "Toro De Lagrimas." Maria Creuza guests on one tune -- she also covered a lot of their material on her own albums. (NOTE: this album was re-released on CD along with the 1971 album, Mudei De Ideia)
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "Ossos Do Officio" (RCA, 1975)
A delightful, summertime-y, mellow pop album, the epitome of easygoing, folk-tinged MPB. This is a very listenable album, mixing a gentle pop-rock sensibility with some sweet, swaying samba, like a mellower version of Jorge Ben's soul-samba sound. Nice one!
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "Antonio Carlos & Jocafi" (RCA, 1976)
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "Louvado Seja" (RCA, 1977)
A pleasant samba-tinged pop album which picks up a little of the funky beat of their early work. Mostly this is pretty feathery and fluffy material, but not overtly icky in any way... The hit from this album is the anthemic "Opus 2," a song which has been widely covered ever since... Their original is a bit softer than later renditions, but still nice. This isn't earthshaking material, but it's nice to listen to.
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "Ela Por Elas" (RCA, 1978)
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "Trabalho De Base" (RCA, 1980)
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "Trabalho De Base" (Polygram, 1984)
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "Feitico Moleque" (Continental, 1986)
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "Samba, Prazer & Misterio" (RCR, 1994)
A live album...
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "Sing The Music Of Jorge Amado" (BMG/Milan, 1996)
(Produced by Cesar Machado)
A nice tribute to Brazilian novelist and man of letters, Jorge Amado (author of Dona Flor And Her Two Husbands, and other classic works...) By and large the duo's sound remains intact, with a mix of sweet melodic samba and pop-folk, as well as several songs that dip into the jangly regionalism of forro. A children's samba chorus helps bring some youthful lift to a tune or two, and overall the record has a nice, pleasant vibe. Some songs drift into tedium, but really this is much more vigorous and engaging than I had expected. Worth checking out.
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "Lambada Do Brazil" (Sigla)
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "20 Supersucessos" (1999)
Re-recorded versions of old material.
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "Acervo Especial" (BMG, 1994)
Very lite, samba/bossa based pop vocals, with muted cavaquinhos and lots of gooey string arrangements. This best-of rides closely on the edge between yummy and drekky, but sadly falls into the latter -- many of these songs can be recognized from popular versions by other MPB artists, but in this case, it's just slightly too saccharine to hang with. Still, compared to their '70s soft-pop contemporaries such as Antonio Marcos or Nelson Gonsalves, these guys had it going on.
Antonio Carlos & Jocafi "Brazil's Best" (RCA, 1999)
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