Jorge Ben - Jorge Ben
The Good Thing - November 2018
When Naomi and I went to Brazil on tour we came back with lots and lots of music. At the time, many of the classics of Tropicália - the uniquely Brazilian style of popular music that emerged in the late 1960s - were out of print, so our host led us to a shop in a São Paulo teen culture mall where the proprietor removed a ceiling tile and pulled out a stack of pirate CDRs. This one – Jorge Ben’s 1969 self-titled album with the supremely psychedelic cover – we played so often that it eventually wore out. Thank goodness there is a legit reissue now. Sonically, the album is an incredible combination of groove-driven samba anchored by Jorge Ben’s rhythmic nylon-string guitar and the percussion group Trio Mocotó, with the fanciful orchestral arrangements of Tropicália’s George Martin, Rogerio Duprat (check out the avant-garde backing of “Descobri que eu sou un anjo”), and José Briamonte. The lyrics, we’ve since learned, are mostly infectious nonsense with small touches on more serious issues, like the closing tribute to a favela gangster, “Charles, anjo 45”. This very Jorge Ben mixture starts right on the cover, where he is pictured with hands in broken manacles clutching a guitar...emblazoned with the logo of his favorite soccer club, Rio’s Flamengo.
- Damon Krukowski, Guest Curator