Clube da Esquina

Milton Nascimento

Lô Borges

album cover

The "Corner Club" That Could

Milton Nascimento probably has to make some conscious "effort" when he sings. Listening to this magical record from 1972, it's impossible to detect any at all. The Brazilian singer and songwriter glides above the streets, aware of (but never encumbered by) human problems. In an edge-free falsetto, he swoops down, drops a phrase, and then poof! He's gone. On to the next bit of loveliness.

Nascimento has had this aptitude, unique among humans, from the very start of his career. Clube da esquina, a double-album collaboration with songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lô Borges (see p. 106), is a series of fragile melodies and cascading chorales that showcases the trembling beauty of Nascimento's voice. Its brief étude-like rock songs aligned Nascimento with the Musica Popular Brasileira (MPB) movement; like other recordings of the era, it was threatened with censorship by the military dictatorship. (The threat inspired the duo: A 1978 sequel is loaded with even more double entendres and political comment.)

Nascimento met Borges in Belo Horizonte, the mystical landlocked city that is the capital of Minas Gerais, a province north of Rio. The two, along with Borges's brother and several others, called themselves a "street-corner gang" (hence the album title, which means the "Club on the Corner"), and developed a collaborative working style that drew on their varied talents, à la the Beatles. These pop curios and heartbroken ballads have an introspective, almost spiritual character common to music from the heavily Catholic Minas Gerais region. Many were later covered with great success by other artists. But the versions here are undeniable: This is one of the most staggeringly beautiful collections of pop songs in any language, from any era.

Genre: World, Brazil
Released: 1972, EMI
Key Tracks: "O trem azul," "Caravo e canela," "San Vicente," "Nada sera como antes"
Catalog Choice: Milton Nascimento: Milton. Lô Borges: Lô Borges
Next Stop: Tribalistas: Tribalistas
After That: Chico Buarque: Construcão
Book Pages: 540–541

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Found on the Web - February 16, 2009 at 5:44 am

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#1 from Jake Kauffman, Beaver Falls, PA - 02/23/2009 12:42

I absolutely love this album.  I’ve played it more than any other since around Christmas.  “Um Girassol da Cor de Seu Cabelo” tears me up inside, and overall it’s a very consistent album.

#2 from Ed Bayliss, London, UK - 06/14/2009 6:05

This record is absolutely astounding! I love 60’s and 70’s Brazilian music in general and a large chunk of my ipod space is taken up with classics from Gal Costa, Elis Regina, Jorge Ben, Gilberto Gil, Os Mutantes and the like. All amazing stuff, but this record has something very special which sets it apart from anything else. I can’t believe Lo Borges isn’t hailed as a total genius all over the world! Milton Nascimento rightly gets high praise from most corners but Borges isn’t quite as recognised. I can’t believe he was only 19 when he wrote these songs! It just makes you sick! Every time I hear these songs I get shivers down my spine and my eyes well up a bit… Just beautiful music, and everyone who cares about music in any way should get a copy… Essential!

#3 from Raider One, Texas, USA - 05/06/2012 8:47

Absolutely great review of a major milestone recording by Milton, Lo Borges, Wagner Tiso, et al. Fantastic rhythms and beautiful singing and playing. Thanks for spreading the word about this essential record.

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