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Luis Vagner portrait Luis Vagner


Os Brasas "Os Brasas" (Warner, 1968)
Luis Vagner played guitar in this band -- originally called The Jetsons -- and he wrote a fair chunk of their repertoire... It's mostly fun Beatles-y/Herman's Hermits-ish rock-pop that fits comfortably into the jovem guarda sound, but with hints of grungy garage roots. Other than a weird cover version of the "Davy Crockett" theme, this is pretty cool, at least by contemporary Brazilian standards. There are lapses into some pretty syrupy ballads, and little of the fieriness of their handful of singles, but this is certainly a disc worth tracking down... The band broke up soon after this was recorded, and Vagner worked prolifically as a session player on several notable rock and MPB albums, and had several of his own songs recorded by other musicians.

Luis Vagner "Simples" (1974)

Luis Vagner "Cousas E Lousas" (1975)

Luis Vagner "Luis Vagner" (Copacabana, 1976)
Well look, I know on an intellectual level that this is pretty bad music... As the album opens, guitarist Luis Vagner, known for his studio work with various artists, zonks his way through a sometimes-slick, sometimes-spaced out set of goopy, loosey-goosey soft rock, adding some of the most generic, unmoving electric guitar licks you'll ever hear... There's also a slight sheen of the disco production sound of the day, making this album sound something like the lost lovechild of Barry Manilow and Stevie Vai. It's very dorky, but somehow very heartfelt and sincere. Vagner seems so earnest about what he's doing, it's hard not to find yourself rooting for him on some level. Then, a little deeper into the album, something clicks into place and the disc gains some substance. On "Corcoveia," the fourth track, some Brazilian-ness asserts itself, and the album loosens up and gets kinda funky. The good vibes aren't sustained long, but this disc does have its moments. I guess I'd have to classify this as (ulp!) a sort of a guilty pleasure.

Luis Vagner "Fusao De Racas" (Philips, 1979) (LP)
An eclectic and challenging album, inventive but also a little irritating after a while. There are dynamic forays into funk, soul, acoustic MPB ala Gilberto Gil and Jorge Ben, some cutting-edge rock (with lots of electric guitar!) and a few hints of the reggae sound Vagner would become famous for... But the mix is often shrill and intrusive, the hooks are a little too clipped and aggressive, with a female chorus backing him up that may eventually get on your nerves. Still, this is worth checking out if you want to really explore innovative, rock-friendly Brazilian pop of this era. Includes a wacked-out cover of "Garota De Ipanema," and a caipira-country-rock number, "Entendida," that's kind of nice. Definitely worth a spin.

Luis Vagner "Pelo Amor Do Povo Novo" (Copacabana, 1982) (LP)

Luis Vagner "O Som Da Negadinha - Ao Vivo" (Copacabana, 1986)
This says it's a live album, but you don't hear much of the audience... Pretty bland pop-reggae, with maybe a few echoes of Bob Marley... though really it's closer in spirit and tone to Ziggy. I suppose this is innocuous enough, but it didn't do much for me. Notably, the songs are all pretty long, averaging six minutes or more. But the pop production is just too tinny and light for me. He also dabbles in a little soca, but it's also nothing to write home about.

Luis Vagner "Conscientizaco" (Copacabana, 1988)
More pop-reggae. Given the Brazilian context, I suppose this is pretty roots-conscious and substantive, including dips into dub and a fairly down-to-earth, old-school rocker sound. But it's also pretty monotonous, if the truth be told. Still, to be fair, this really ain't that bad and if you want to check out some solid Brazilian reggae, this would be a good place to start. Definitely better than his live album from '86.

Luis Vagner "Cilada" (1990)

Luis Vagner "Vai Dizer Que Nao Me Viu" (1995)

Luis Vagner "Swingante" (Paradoxx, 2004)

Luis Vagner "Brasil AfroSulRealista" (Obi Music, 2006)


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