Marcos Valle ‘Sempre’ LP/CD (Far Out Recordings) 4/5

With a catalogue of over 30 albums, Marcos Valle has had a very productive and versatile career. Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1943, Marcos has ridden the sometimes stormy seas of contemporary Brazilian music like no other. From Bossa to boogie, MPB to jazz, the singer, songwriter and musician has continually immersed himself within various creative musical forms, but all with a discerning Brazilian flavour.

Recorded in Brazil and featuring an assortment of highly respectable musicians including Azymuth bass player Alex Malheiros, Armando Marçal (aka Marçalzinho) on percussion and one time Tim Maia guitarist, Paulinho Guitarra, playing on 5 tracks. Production is handled by Daniel Maunick who also produced Ivan Conti’s ‘Poison Fruit’ album from earlier in 2019, and it’s co-produced by Marcos himself who also plays the majority of the keys.

Although recognised as the ‘Rio beach boy’, Marcos moved from a turbulent Brazil in the mid-1970s to LA and obviously soaked up that West Coast sound and those warm soulful grooves of the time in the US. This experience resulted in ‘Vontade De Rever Você’ (1981) and his self-titled album from 1983 when he returned home to record, now identified as some of his most revered and sought after work. Both are now seen as Brazilian soul classics, with half of ‘Vontade De Rever Você’ co-written by Marvin Gaye collaborator and celebrated vocalist in his own right, Leon Ware. The album spawned the classic ‘A Paraíba Não É Chicago’ (which Ware also covered on ‘Rockin’ You Eternally’, titled ‘Baby Don’t Stop Me’ also in 1981) – which is where ‘Sempre’ comes in.

This album is very much inspired by Valle’s more US-influenced ‘80s soulful work rather than his early bossa nova period, and thus, the record possesses a certain boogie quality. For example, ‘Distância’ is a drum machine and synth bass-heavy piece that could have been produced by Dâm-Funk. Other compositions such as ‘Vou Amanhã Saber’ stray into soulful disco territory with its catchy horn centred chorus, while the funky breakbeat soul of ‘Odisséia’ is pure beach music bliss – but here in a good way. ‘É Você’ utilises a piano melody as its main focus as the vocals (which are all entirely sung in Portuguese) maintain a certain pop quality, while ‘Alma’ features lush Fender Rhodes chords and rich guitar parts over a track that could have appeared on one of Marcos’ 1980s recordings. Additionally, an instrumental version is also featured, but this and another 3 tracks have been omitted from vinyl pressing.

I think the decision by Far Out to only release the album on single vinyl, and thus, requiring the removal of these four tracks from vinyl copies due to running length issues to be a poor one. Releasing the album on a double vinyl would have allowed all 11 compositions to be included. For such as vinyl entrenched record label to revert to tactics that were commonplace in the 1990s and early 2000s does seem quite bizarre, especially as customers would be more than willing to pay a bit more to have the entire album on a double in the current climate.

Nevertheless, ‘Sempre’ (translated as ‘ever’) deserves its place among Marcos Valle’s deep and expansive discography and will be seen as a worthy inclusion to many music collectors of Brazilian based music.

Damian Wilkes