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“The Carioca”: OK, this is one of the successes of the album. On most of the tracks, I had the feeling the musicians were in a different country from the singer during the recording process; here at least it feels like they’re all working together. The rhythm is interesting; the listener can imagine a big smile on Caetano’s face as he reworks a classic bit of SouthAmericasploitation. And how many other versions of this can most listeners remember? Maybe just Fred Astaire's, and if you can’t out-sing Fred Astaire, you’re in trouble.
“So in Love”: It starts with great potential—a nice bit of strings—and goes downhill from there. Whacha doing down there, Caetano? The word that comes to mind is “cliché.”
“Always”: Never. He sounds like he needs to clear his throat.
“Come as You Are”: Compared to the rest of the album, a work of genius, but I bet someone hearing this with no explanation would think it was someone’s dad jamming with his mates. Anyone who’s heard Dani Sciliano’s version will not be impressed by this.
“Feelings”: I heard about 15 better interpretations on Opportunity Knocks. And I mean that most sincerely.
“Love for Sale”: Who will buy? Not me, bro.
“The Man I Love”: Points for not changing the words, and a nice bit of cello (Jaques Morelenbaum certainly did his bit to keep this album out of the “utter and total crap” category), but the emotional impact of the song is zero. Compare to the miraculous Ella Fitzgerald version on her Gershwin Songbook and weep.
“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”: Bad karaoke. Unlistenable.
“Cry Me a River”: One of the rare occasions where the phrasing is just wack. Another song with no emotional impact. Julie London was hardly a voice for the ages, but her legacy as the foremost interpreter of this song is definitely not threatened by Caetano.
“Jamaica Farewell”: See ya.
“Nature Boy”: I’m a huge fan of this song—Abbey Lincoln’s version on A Turtle’s Dream has stopped me in my tracks many times—but this is absolutely awful. You can’t hear the words over the feedback—and perhaps that’s a good thing.
“(Nothing but) Flowers”: The first track in a while that doesn’t offend my sensibilities. I’m not familiar with the David Byrne original, which no doubt helps (I seem to enjoy tracks the least when I already have beloved versions of the songs in mind). Although he strangulates the lyrics a little, at least it’s in the most interesting part of Caetano’s range.
“Manhattan”: Two decent tracks in a row. We’re on a roll.
“Diana”: To call this crap is an insult to excrement.
“Summertime”: Not horrible, unless you’ve never heard Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s version. Fortunately for them, most people have.
“It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”: I’m no Dylan-ologist—it’s possible I’ve never even heard this song before—so I have no point of comparison, which, as we’ve established before, tends to be a good thing. His delivery here reminds me of the awesome bit of patter/rap in the version of “Lingua” on Live in Bahia—but if you listen to the two tracks side by side, you’re reminded that speaking English isn’t the same as feeling in English.
“Love Me Tender”: Sounds like this was surreptitiously recorded when Caetano was singing along with a music box.
“Body and Soul”: Your heart is sad and lonely? For Billie I sigh.
“If It’s Magic”: Sorry, Stevie.
“Detached”: This isn’t karaoke music; this is what I was hoping the album would sound like—not necessarily so dissonant, but interesting at least. He does sound like he’s doing a bad impression of John Lydon, though.
“Something Good”: But not this.
“Blue Skies”: I don’t like it much, but at least it shows a bit of creativity.