Tim Maia ‘Disco Club’ LP/CD (Mr Bongo) 4/5

An authentic slice of Brazilian disco from the vaults and a timely reminder of what a soulful singer Tim Maia is. This album dates from 1978 and that means whirling disco strings, female background choruses, but above all this the voice of Tim Maia stands out. A funk-tinged ditty in , ‘Acenda o farol’, emerges as a contender for the album’s choicest cut, with another catchy chorus. The English language, ‘All I want’, hints at what Maia could have achieved had he descended the Atlantic Ocean down to North America, and this could have been re-titled, ‘To be happy’, because it is chanted by the female singers so many times. Irrespective, it is a soulful groove with moody Fender Rhodes into the bargain. For this project, Maia needed a change of direction, since he was financially destitute and had joined a religious cult. Not the obvious backdrop to recording a disco album, perhaps, but he created a new band with quality session musicians (such as drummer Paulinho Braga) who were the equivalent of say the Funk Brothers in Detroit and the jazzy arrangement and keyboards of Lincoln Olivetti. Gospel influences come to the fore on the otherwise brass and hand clapping accompaniment to, ‘Sossego’. Side two on the vinyl is where the music diversifies and a lovely song composed by Cassiano, ‘Murmu ú rio’, showcases the gentler side to Maia’s work that is further exemplified on the guitar-driven number, ‘Juras’. Earth, Wind and Fire harmonies are a feature of the downtempo, ‘Se me lembro faz doer’, and the mid-tempo, ‘Jhony’ (sic) that ends the album on a more uplifting note.

Luaka Bop did a fine job of compiling Tim Maia’s work for an international audience, and hopefully this fine example of his craft will lead to further re-issues of his original albums. Part of an ongoing series of Mr. Bongo classic re-issues, with West Africa. Mexico and Brazil all likely to feature in this review section in the forthcoming weeks and months.

Tim Stenhouse