Independent Music

Tim Maia, the great Brazilian soul singer, was an huge personality. Impulsive, indulgent, independent, his bio is filled with all manner of amusing insanity. As a teenager drawn to American R&B, he conned a local priest into buying him an airline ticket to the States and lied his way past immigration officials in order to form a vocal group in New York… only to be arrested & deported for stealing a car in Florida. Later, when he was wealthy & famous and getting injured fighting a hawk (in his underwear, in his apartment) and test-firing a machine gun (in his underwear, in his apartment) he got deeper into drugs and tried to “‘open the minds’ of the uptight employees at his record label, Philips, with a sheet of acid brought back from a trip to London.” He “approached each and every Philips employee, beginning with the accounting department, which needed more immediate ‘salvation’…”

Several years later, on a bonkers mescaline trip, Tim came across a book on a friend’s coffee table, Universe in Disenchantment, became entranced, and fell deep into the cult of Rational Energy. He now saw his musical career as a vehicle to proselytize on behalf of “Rational Immunization”. During this “rational” phase, Tim produced a series of albums, including the slammin’ double-album, Racional Vol. 1 and Racional Vol. 2, which is where I first heard his music. (The music for these albums was actually recorded before his conversion—he simply erased all the vocal tracks and wrote new lyrics.) Before band practice, Tim demanded that his band members read at least 30 pages of Universe in Disenchantment. He was so convinced of the book’s universal power that he sent a version (in Portuguese) to James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, and John Lennon. John Lennon responded with a photograph of himself completely naked + a note: “Dear freak, I don’t understand Portuguese. What about LISTEN to this photo? John Lennon”.

One of mine fav tracks on Racional Vol. 1 is called “Guiné Bissau, Moçambique E Angola”. I presume it’s about the solidarity & brotherhood between the former Portuguese colonies, but I’m not sure. (I mean, if I spoke Portuguese I wouldn’t be blogging right now… or on the internet ever again.) A few days ago I happily came across another geography jam, “Rodésia”, released in 1976, several years before their independence. (Though a British possession, Rhodesia was influenced by the independence movement in nearby Mozambique and much of the Rhodesian opposition eventually was based in Mozambique.) Now I’m just waiting to find a cut about Timor Leste! Anyhow, thought I’d upload both the post-colonial jams.

Guiné Bissau, Moçambique E Angola” (1975)

Rodésia” (1976)


The above quotes are from Allen Thayer’s article, “Soul Searching”, in Wax Poetics No. 36



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