Caetano Veloso (Remixed Original Album)
Caetano Veloso’s 1968 self-titled debut wasn’t actually his first album: A year earlier, the Brazilian singer-songwriter had released the bossa nova-laced Domingo with vocalist Gal Costa (which included the deliriously beautiful “Coração Vagabundo”). What a difference a year makes. Veloso’s solo debut is another beast entirely—a swaggering primal yawp that floats, bare-chested, through Brazilian beaches and the sertão, past a brutal colonial history and a gum-cracking pop-culture present, pulling psychedelic rock, samba, and much more into its orbit. And Veloso fully flaunted his artistic license while managing to stay—for the moment—under the radar of the military dictatorship, which had taken over in a U.S.-backed coup in 1964. It’s a magnificent trick: Veloso’s oblique lyrics often poke military censors in the eye, whether with the effervescent bohemian ramble of “Alegria, Alegria” (“I go… why not?”) or the infectious fluff of “Soy Loco Por Ti America,” which in fact champions a leftist vision for the South American continent. The opening track, “Tropicália,” manages to out-weird The Beatles, with its squealing cacophony of jungle sounds and hip-swivelling bravado. (That track, incidentally, furnished the tropicalismo musical movement with its name.) The youth ate it all up, and it didn’t take long for the dictatorship to sense a threat: Veloso and his co-conspirator, Gilberto Gil, were both thrown in prison without charges by year’s end, and then forced into exile for the next four years. The song wasn’t silenced, but it was displaced. But Veloso—who reportedly has always found this album uneven—can’t repress its magnetic pull: It remains as thrilling and revolutionary now as it ever was.