Caetano Veloso The Definitive Collection Review

BBC Review

'It's always interesting to see a 'Best Of' collection chosen by the artist himself...

John Armstrong 2003

It's always interesting to see a 'Best Of' collection chosen by the artist himself.In the case of Bahian superstar CaetanoVeloso it's a real pleasure and an occasional surprise, not least for what isn't there as for what is.

Singalong favourites like "'Odara" and "O Leaozinho" are understandably present,as are more recent successes such as the title track from Caetano's homagealbum to Mexican song, "Fina Estampa", and the edgy, Arto Lindsay-produced "O Estrangeiro". But some of the singer's other choices tend to show that he perceives himself as firmly in the post-Beatles Brazilian Rock mould.

Hitting the fast-forward button for the first few seconds of each track, you''ll be struck by the strong kit-drum introduction present on almost every track, clearly a favoured production technique. "'London, London" is there partly because he knew that this was a UK-only release, but also because it's a known personal favourite. Veloso often reminisces warmly about his extended sojourn in London with Gilberto Gil during the late 60s and early 70s.

"Superbacana" from 1968 takes us right back to the beginning of Bahia's Tropicalismo movement. Peers are duly acknowledged: the set opens with Catano's longstanding Tropicalista partner Gilberto Gil's Spanish song "Soy Loco Por Ti America" - a song whose lyrics today have certain ironic overtones for Brazil's more disaffected youth - and closes with the great Jorge Ben's "'Zumbi".

The golden age of carioca bossa nova is represented by the beautiful "'Coisa Mais Linda", composed by Carlos Lyra and the poet of Rio songcraft Vinicius de Moraes.

Of other, more recent compositions "Banda- Com Outro Banda de Terra", a song partly about his band, is a great favourite with Brazilian audiences for singalong purposes."'Zera A Reza" on the other hand epitomises Caetano's more recent preference for ballad and samba-cancao forms. "'Tropicalia", 1968's 'disco manifesto' for the Movement, reignites hitherto neglected northeastern rhythms, whilst "Nao Enche", with its Bahian 'bloco' percussion backing from Salvador's famous Grupo Olodum, reunites the author with home roots.

All this, as well as an excellent recent cover shot of the man himself, rather than some tired 70s publicity photo, amounts to a tasteful and thorough introduction to a back catalogue that exceeds 60 albums. Caetano Veloso could become an expensive habit...

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