There was a lot of music that shaped my life over the years. Because I spent so much time of my early childhood as an only child, I was exposed to music that was more connected to young adults thanks to my older cousins. However, my earliest non-children’s music album (as far as I can remember) was the debut LP of a Brazilian group called Secos & Molhados, whose name translates as the dry and the wet (their name actually derives from grocery stores that sold both dry and perishable goods).
I’m not sure who introduced me that record, but I must say I was hooked – that must have concerned my parents at the time, since lead singer Ney Matogrosso was incredibly flamboyant and visibly effeminate with his performance – which I tended to imitate. The band’s classic formation only lasted two albums, and they broke up a month after their second album came out, apparently over money.
Secos & Molhados were evidently ahead of their time – and their brief existence (founder and songwriter Joao Ricardo soldiered on with different lineups, but was unable to capture the same spirit of the first two discs). They kind of introduced using face make up in Brazil (even ahead of Kiss in the United States), and wrote songs based on the poetry of writers like Vinicius de Morais, Cassiano Ricardo and Manuel Bandeira.
The band helped launch Ney Matogrosso’s career – he went on to become one of the most respected singers in the country. His voice is naturally high – he is not doing falsetto here – and he has since collaborated with countless songwriters in Brazil
Another artist that I have always respected is Rita Lee, the former vocalist of Os Mutantes. After she left the band (or was kicked out, depending on whose story you believe), she went on to have an incredible career, and was once called Brazil’s Queen of Rock and Roll – a title that arguably she still holds to this day.
My first Rita Lee album was 1976’s Entradas & Bandeiras, which I believe was her third solo album post-Mutantes (she did a few of them while she was still in the band). The record was never considered one of her best, as she apparently recorded in a hurry due to contractual obligations (which is apparently why it vanished for years until her entire back catalogue was released on CD in the late 90s). However, there were some hit singles, including my personal favorite, Coisas da Vida, which she re-recorded on her MTV Unplugged record in 2000 (I think).
Lee continues to record and perform regularly. I interviewed her once for the Miami New Times (which turned out to be my first-ever feature for them), and she was funny and gracious. I did get to meet her when she played in New York a few years back, but she didn’t seem to be in much of a mood. Never mind, still love her music nevertheless…
More next week.. .