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Nelson Goncalves portrait

Nelson Goncalves (1919-1998) was a remarkably prolific romantic crooner who stands as one of Brazil's great romantic singers, an artist on par with Argentina's Carlos Gardel and others who proudly waved the banner of schmaltzy, lachrimose excess. Goncalves kept alive the grandiose pop-vocal style of the "radio singers" such as Francisco Alves and Orlando Silva, bringing it into the modern era. In the 1950s and '60s, like many Brazilian artists, he incorporated the weepy romantic style of the bolero -- which dominated the Spanish-speaking world during the 1940s and '50s -- while largely sailing past the sleeker, quieter bossa nova, which brought Brazilians back home to their own musical roots. Goncalves also fell prey to drug addiction in the late 'Fifties, and his career faltered badly for nearly a decade... His eventual comeback is the stuff of legends... Here's a quick look at some of his work...

Discography - Best-Ofs

Nelson Goncalves "A Volta Do Boemio" (RCA Victor, 1967)
This fine, fine collection focuses on the work of composer Adelino Moreira... Richly romantic, redolent material that draw deeply on the bittersweet melodic traditions of the Portuguese fado as well as the elegance of the Argentine tango. I very listenable collection... Well worth checking out!

Nelson Goncalves "O Mito" (BMG, 1995)
An excellent, far-ranging collection of his work. The highlight of this authoritative three-CD box set is the first disc, which gathers some of his earliest material, old 78rpm recording 1940s recordings such as the hit "Maria Betania," and a slew of perky samba cancao tunes that are completely unlike the schmaltzy, romantic material he later specialized in. The first disc also shows him experimenting with the tango, South America's other great song form, before he ultimately settled on the bolero as his style of choice. The other two CDs are pretty slushy, but if you want to check Goncalves out, this is the best place to start.

Nelson Goncalves "50 Anos Da Boemia" (BMG, 1997)

Nelson Goncalves "50 Anos Da Boemia, v.2" (BMG, 1997)

Nelson Goncalves "50 Anos Da Boemia, v.3" (BMG, 1997)

Nelson Goncalves "Serie Focus" (BMG, 1999)

Nelson Goncalves "Arquivo Esencial" (BMG, 2004)

Nelson Goncalves "Canta Noel Rosa E Herivelto Martins" (Revivendo, 2004)

Discography - Albums

Nelson Goncalves "Noel Rosa - Na Voz Romantica De Nelson Goncalves" (RCA Victor, 1956)
A tribute to samba-cancao composer Noel Rosa. Also released as Nelson Goncalves Interpreta Noel Rosa.

Nelson Goncalves "O Tango Na Voz Nelson Goncalves" (RCA Victor, 1956)

Nelson Goncalves "Pensando Na Ti" (RCA Victor, 1957)

Nelson Goncalves "Caminhemos" (RCA Victor, 1957)

Nelson Goncalves "Buque De Melodias" (RCA Victor, 1958)

Nelson Goncalves "Escultura" (RCA Victor, 1958)

Nelson Goncalves "Extase" (RCA Victor, 1959)

Nelson Goncalves "Nelson Goncalves Em Hi-Fi" (RCA Victor, 1959)
An upbeat album, packed with punchy brass arrangements and sharp rhythmic attacks... Goncalves sings forcefully, but coolly, in a romantic mode. It's pretty schmaltzy, but fun, in a corny kinda way.

Nelson Goncalves "Queixas" (RCA Victor, 1960)

Nelson Goncalves "Meu Perfil" (RCA Victor, 1960)

Nelson Goncalves "Noite De Saudade" (RCA Victor, 1961)
Roughly half the songs written or co-written by Adelino Moreira.

Nelson Goncalves "Sambas E Boleros Na Voz Da Nelson Goncalves" (RCA Victor, 1961)

Nelson Goncalves "Eu E A Minha Tristeza" (RCA Victor, 1962)

Nelson Goncalves "Nos E A Seresta" (RCA Victor, 1962)

Nelson Goncalves "Romantico" (RCA Victor, 1963)

Nelson Goncalves "Na Voz Da Nelson Goncalves" (RCA Victor, 1964)

Nelson Goncalves "Tudo De Mim" (RCA Victor, 1964)

Nelson Goncalves "Nelson Sempre Nelson" (RCA Victor, 1964)
Despite the album title, only two of these songs were actually written by Goncalves himself...

Nelson Goncalves "A Voz Do Seresteiro" (RCA Victor, 1965)

Nelson Goncalves "Saudade" (RCA Victor, 1965)
A nice album, with richer, more complex arrangements than some of his earlier work... Although it delves deeply into the over-the-top romanticism of the bolero influence, it also reflects some of the modernization going on in Brazil at the time. A couple of songs are Goncalves originals, with others by Wilson Baptista, Jorge De Castro, and others.

Nelson Goncalves "Coisas Minhas" (RCA Victor, 1966)

Nelson Goncalves "Nelson Goncalves E O Tango" (RCA Victor, 1967)

Nelson Goncalves "Missao Cumprida: A Volta De Nelson Goncalves" (RCA Victor, 1968)
B00006LVS6 "Do Boemio"?

Nelson Goncalves "Nelson Goncalves - Apelo" (RCA Victor, 1969)

Nelson Goncalves "So Nos Dois" (RCA Victor, 1970)

Nelson Goncalves "Pra Voce" (RCA Victor, 1971)

Nelson Goncalves "Sempre Boemio" (RCA Victor, 1972)

Nelson Goncalves "Quando A Lapa Era Lapa" (RCA Victor, 1973)

Nelson Goncalves "Passado E Presente" (RCA Victor, 1974)

Nelson Goncalves "35 Anos Depois" (RCA Victor, 1974)

Nelson Goncalves "Nelson De Todos Os Tempos" (RCA Victor, 1975)

Nelson Goncalves "Nelson Cada Vez Melhor" (RCA Victor, 1975)

Nelson Goncalves "Nelson Ate 2001" (RCA Victor, 1976)

Nelson Goncalves "Nelson De Tres Geracoes" (RCA Victor, 1977)

Nelson Goncalves "Reserva De Dominio" (RCA Victor, 1977)

Nelson Goncalves "Eu Te Amo" (RCA Victor, 1978)

Nelson Goncalves "Nelson De Hoje" (RCA Victor, 1979)

Nelson Goncalves "Os 40 Anos De Nelson Goncalves" (RCA Victor, 1980)

Nelson Goncalves "Nelson Especial -- Na Intimitade" (RCA Victor, 1980)

Nelson Goncalves "Producao 96" (RCA Victor, 1981)

Nelson Goncalves "Conclusao" (RCA Victor, 1982)

Nelson Goncalves "Joias Musicais" (RCA Victor, 1983)

Nelson Goncalves "Hoje Como Antigamente" (RCA Victor, 1984)

Nelson Goncalves "Ele E Elas" (BMG Ariola, 1984)

Nelson Goncalves "Eu E Elas" (BMG Ariola, 1985)

Nelson Goncalves "Ele E Elas, v.2" (BMG Ariola, 1986)

Nelson Goncalves "Nos" (BMG Ariola, 1987)

Nelson Goncalves "E Por Falar Em Paixao" (BMG Ariola, 1988)

Nelson Goncalves "Auto Retrato" (BMG Ariola, 1989)

Nelson Goncalves "Nelson Goncalves Ao Vivo: 50 Anos De Boemia" (BMG Ariola, 1990)

Nelson Goncalves "Serenata" (BMG Ariola, 1991)

Nelson Goncalves & Arthur Moreira Lima "O Boemio E O Pianista" (BMG Ariola, 1992)

Nelson Goncalves "Isto E Brasil" (BMG Ariola, 1993)

Nelson Goncalves "Cante Conmigo" (BMG Ariola, 1994)

Nelson Goncalves "Ainda E Cedo" (BMG Brasil, 1997)

Nelson Goncalves & Raphael Rabello "Ao Vivo: A Voz E O Violao" (BMG-RCA, 2002)
Posthumously released, this is a lovely concert album, taken from a series of shows in late 1989. As ever, guitarist Raphael Rabello proved himself an able and evocative accompanist, while Nelson Goncalves, 70 years old at the time, was still a singer of tremendous clarity and power. It's corny, it's slushily romantic, but it's also very classy, and Rabello's trilling guitar work nudges the music towards the sublime. Recommended!

Nelson Goncalves "O Mito" (BMG, 2003)
The soundtrack to a docu-drama film about Goncalves's turbulent life and career...


Afonso Maia "Tributo A Nelson Goncalves" (CID, 2004)

Pery Ribeiro "Homanagem A Nelson Goncalves" (CID, 2003)

Other Media

"Nelson Goncalves" (BMG, 2001)
A docudrama film, exploring Goncalves's life and career, mixing archival performance footage with reenactments of dramatic scenes from his troubled career. There is also a separate soundtrack album which accompanies this DVD (see above).


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