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Marku Ribas portrait '70s songwriter Marku Ribas (1946-2013) bore a resemblance -- particularly in the vocals -- to Black Rio soul crooner Tim Maia however, Marku had much weirder, more eclectic musical interests, with all sorts of freaky instrumental twists that make his music far more intriguing and consistently listenable. Here's a quick look at his work...

Discography - Best-Ofs

Marku (Ribas) "Selecao De Ouro: 18 Sucessos" (Copacabana)
Inventive Brazilian funk'n'samba with some weird, unexpected touches. I'm not sure exactly when these tracks were recorded; I'd guess late '70s, early '80s. At any rate, as the Brazilian soul scene goes, this is a pretty interesting record. Worth tracking down.

Marku (Ribas) "72/75" (Copacabana)
This disc draws on two albums, Underground, from 1972 and 1975's Marku.

Marku Ribas "Zamba Ben" (Dubas, 2007)
Yet another best-of featuring material from his first two albums; a modest collection packed with killer material. (Note to Brazilian record industry: why isn't any of his Philips/Polygram stuff out yet?)

Discography - Albums

Deo & Marco "Deo & Marco" (Continental, 1967)
(Produced by Alfredo Borba & Rogerio Gauss)

A very good jovem guarda teen-pop rock album by a vocal duo that featured a still-teenaged Marku Ribas, recording under the name Marco. All of the songs were written or co-written by Marku and Deo -- all but two tracks are credited to both singers, with one song each credited exclusively to Deo and to Marco. It's all good, solid stuff, on a par or better than the other Brazilian teenpop of the time, and refreshingly free of sluggish romantic ballads, sticking instead to uptempo material. Orchestral bandleader Portinho provides surprisingly effective accompaniment, with brisk horn arrangements, playful keyboards and drumming that's a little bit stiff, but still pretty rockin'. It's a testament to the creative vigor of these two kids that they were able to get an album this good from a studio session with a non-rock band... The only real question was, who the heck was Deo, and what else did he do besides this album? Anybody out there have more info?

Marku Ribas "Marku" (Copacabana/Underground, 1972)
(Produced by Leo Peracchi; arrangements by Erlon Chaves)

Marku Ribas "Marku" (Copacabana/Underground, 1976)
(Produced by Marku Ribas, Paulo Rocco & Talmo Scaranari)

A multilayered blend of Tim Maia-style Brazilian soul, horn-heavy Tower Of Power funk-rock, and some cool hints of Nuyoriquan salsa. The improvisational, expressive vocals are a little too Maia-esque for me -- and a bit too Barry White at times -- but folks who are into the Black Rio soul scene will definitely want to check this out. It's one of the more unique and deeply funky albums of the style... Also noteworthy is the all-star backing band, which includes a bunch of legendary Brazilian jazz players, such as Wilson das Neves and Pascoal Meirelles on drums, Tenorio Jr. on keyboards, and Joao Donato playing piano and a number of other instruments, as well as providing orchestral arrangements, while MPB diva Miucha sings harmony on about half the album, heard most clearly on "In Via Brasil." Marku wrote all the songs, and he sings, plays percussion and guitar, and generally seems to have been having a fun time. The six-minute closing track, "Kazumbanda," is a highlight, with a slinky, trancelike acid-laced, psychedelic vibe... Pretty cool!

Marku Ribas "Barrankeiro" (Philips, 1978)
(Produced by Armando Pittigliani & Roberto Santana)

The change of labels also seems to have brought a big change in musical direction... Ribas is still inventive and idiosyncratic, but a strong streak of swank '70s brega MPB-pop dominates, and gives his music an even more cluttered feel. There are still some funky tunes, like the title track,"Barrankeiro" and "Kalenda," as well as a few more stripped-down, folkloric tracks, such as Raul Torres' acoustic "Colcha De Retalhos" and the West African-flavored "Kele," which was co-written with Joao Donato and Djalma Correia. But the slower pop-soul ballads are pretty dreadful, at least to my ears. If you like the schmaltzier end of Brazilian soul, artists such as Benito di Paula and Ed Motta, you might want to check this out -- Ribas gives a more challenging, "out there" version of that sound. Not my cup of tea, though.

Marku Ribas "Cavalo Das Alegrias" (Philips, 1979) (LP)
A very fun record. In production terms -- the overall "sound" of the album -- Ribas is working solidly in the mainstream '70s disco-soul tradition, but he goes all over the map stylistically, playing light funk, regional forro-flavored pop, samba-pop and even some Cuban-style Latin dance music, as on "Caribe, Ei," and classic jazz-ish MPB. It all sounds good - Ribas is cheerful and expansive, and skillfully avoids the cheesier side of Brazilian pop, even while dancing around its margins. Nice stuff, mostly, although the slick production does give a sort of sterile feel to the music. But definitely worth checking out if you're into '70s MPB. Also, Antonio Adolfo apparently did some of the arrangements...

Marku Ribas "Mente E Coracao" (Polygram, 1980) (LP)

Marku Ribas "20 Anos" (Piraporarte, 1983) (LP)

Marku Ribas "Autoctone" (Piraporarte, 1991)

Marku Ribas "Cor Da Pele" (Piraporarte, 1997)

Marku Ribas "Toca Brasil" (Itau Cultural, 2008) (DVD)

Marku Ribas "4 Loas" (Tratore, 2010)
A typical old-soul guy comeback album -- he's trying to be all funky but he hasn't quite got the same energy level he had when he was young. If you're a diehard fan, you might want to check this out, but I thought it was monotonous and lacked spark. The rhythm section, in particular, seems pretty uninspired -- almost all the songs sound the same.


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