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Percussionist Carlinhos Brown helped revolutionize modern Brazilian pop -- mixing afro-Brazilian percussion with USA-style funk, Brown helped carve out a wider niche for African-based drumming within the MPB continuum. Along with the Olodum collective, Brown's first band, Timbalada was one of the foremost bands in the booming bloco-afro scene. Like Olodum, Timbalada and Brown have moved far beyond the mainly-percussive roots of the style, deeper and deeper into mainstream pop style which many fans may find questionable. Brown left the band in the mid-1990s, and they have continued on for several years afterwards, in an increasingly pop-oriented vein...


Timbalada "Timbalada" (Philips, 1993)
Okay, so what's up with the big tits on the cover? Frankly I'm shocked that even the Brazilians would stoop to using SEX to sell records! Seriously, though -- this is a great, straightforward set of percussion-based bloco-afro pop songs, with strong performances all around. This album suffers, though, from flat production -- a more brightly mastered reissue would be a blessing. Still, if you want to see what all the fuss was about, this is the album to check out.

Timbalada "Cada Cabeca E Um Mundo" (PolyGram/Verve, 1995)
(Produced by Carlinhos Brown & Wesley Rangel)

Recommended! A strong album, with a better sound mix than on the Timbalada album... Sure, their iffy pop crossover tendencies can be heard on a few songs, but it's held pretty firmly in check, as is the goofy rock guitar work. Mostly this album outlines their brilliant mix of styles, a little heavier on the African percussion, but also brilliantly Brazilian in its eclecticism. This album really shows what they were up to, and its flaws are minor.

Timbalada "Andei Road" (Mercury Brasil, 1995)
A wide mix of styles, ranging from silly light pop to upbeat pagode and mild-mannered hip-hop. Produced by Carlinhos Brown, this one is definitely a bit on the lighter side, not great but occasionally okay.

Timbalada "Mineral" (Mercury, 1996)

Timbalada "Dance - Original Remixed Versions" (Mercury, 1996)
Fairly dull remixes of poppy Afro-Brazilian axe songs. Negligible.

Timbalada "Mae De Samba" (Mercury, 1997)

Timbalada "Vamos Dar A Volta No Guetho: Ao Vivo" (Mercury, 1998)
A manic live performance with suffers mildly around the edges as far as sound quality, but mainly falls flat in the nuance department. The enthusiasm of their show is definitely captured, but perhaps not the full power. Guests include Carlinhos Brown, Marisa Monte and the estimable Caetano Veloso sings on a couple of lovely tracks. Worth checking out, but maybe not totally earth-shaking... Still, if you've been turned off by Timbalada's glossier pop albums, then this might come as a welcome antidote...

Timbalada "...Pense Minha Bor..." (Mercury/Universal, 1999)
Carlinhos is also connected to this album, mainly as a songwriter and arranger... the rest of the band carry on in a particularly bloodless fashion, applying the most by-the-numbers commercial pop mentality to songs and performances which are potentially quite vibrant. That's the problem with putting thunder in a box: it doesn't get a chance to echo. So, I suppose the thing to do is go see them live... On its own, this album doesn't to much to stir and excite.

Timbalada "Timbalismo" (Som Livre, 2001)

Timbalada "Servico De Animacao Popular" (Candyall, 2003)
Well, sure, this may just be generic pop in Brazil, but this time around, the Timbalada crew make "generic" sound pretty darn good. It's not particularly catchy or magical, but it sure is easy on the ears, with a fine balance of toned-down percussion and pure pop savvy. Once again, Carlinhos Brown is the principal songwriter and his years of experience pay off handsomely. This is prefab, but in a good way. Worth checking out.

Timbalada "Mae De Samba: Axe Bahia" (Universal, 2006)

Timbalada "Alegria Original" (Candyall, 2007)


Timbalada "Tribal Bahia: The Best Of Timbalada" (Universal, 2004)


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