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on 27 February 2004
I became an addicted listener to Caetano Veloso when I was around 15. Twenty years have passed but my great genius of the Brazilian music still keeps visiting my home day after day and heartbeats assault me nervously whenever a new cd springs up or a show calls for me. To tell the truth, I still can't help feeling excited with Caetano Veloso, really.
The 'Transa' record goes back to 1972 and it's among those Top10 records of our lives which I would take to that desert island all of us have already been invited to visit. 'Transa' was recorded during the London phase of Caetano, when he and Gilberto Gil were forced to exile for political and dictatorial reasons. It is a superb record, full of a wide musical richness, where silence achieves a never-heard dimension. Marked by solitude and also by the fact that he was living in a foreign country, 'Transa' shows a Caetano with traces of musical psychedelism, geniously seasoned with musical flavours from Northeast of Bahia, his homeland. The father of Tropicalism gave birth to an album with a strong identity, strongly winking at the European sound (many of his songs are sung in English), with several references to rock (one of the flagships of Tropicalism), to the Beatles ('woke up this morning / singing an old, old Beatles song' , in 'It's a Long Way') , but still deeply Brazilian. It's a record made by an unknown singer in the London of that time, a record by someone that lived in a country that he didn't know and that wouldn't dare to expect his music being fully understood by those to whom he would open the door of his talent. Solitude and depression that he was facing at that time blurred some musical freshness, categorically evidenced in some of his Brazilian albums. There is no room for doubt when Caetano sings: 'You don't know me / bet you'll never get to know me / you don't know me at all.', in the opening track.
'Transa ' is a conceptual album about homesickness, about absence, about his anguish imprisoned in European walls, about nostalgia and its own marks engraved on music, on his Popular Brazilian music, on rock'n roll which Tropicalism merged with to expand and that definitely changed everything about the sound produced in Brazil. As Caetano sings in 'Nostalgia', the last track of the record: 'That's what rock'n roll is all about / I mean, that's what rock'n roll was all about.'
The best justice that we can do to 'Transa' is, obviously, listening to it from the bottom of our hearts.
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