Arnaud Rodrigues, as Paulinho Cabeça de Poeta, and Chico Anysio, as Baiano. Photo: Reproduction / CID

“I make my singing the existential neura / The content of everyday life, the day to day of life / Electronics is replacing the heart / Inspiration has come to depend on the transistor / The poet of steel, of programmed poetry, is too much for my feelings, you know?”.

The above-mentioned head chat – to define it with a slang that is very much the 1970s – is uttered by the character Baiano, during the recording of Nêga, second track of the LP blood on cactus (title not printed on the cover, but on the booklet). Released by the label CID, the album was a great success and established the happy partnership between the humorists Chico Anysio and Arnaud Rodrigues. Were they included in an LP by Caetano Veloso or Chico Buarque, the verses would become maxims replicated by the intellectualized and politicized youth who fought the military regime in Brazil in the 1970s.

Launched in 1974, after the huge success of the frame created by Chico for the weekly program chico city, blood on cactus reached other recipients and reached a diverse spectrum. Hence its enormous value, because, no matter how encrypted the messages contained in the album were, small messages, such as the one that opens this text, instigated the listener to suspect that things were not going well with his beloved Patropi.

With the visibility of our greatest comedian, urgent issues of everyday life in the country fell into the ears and mouths of the people and left some with the bitter perception that it was better to laugh rather than cry. If the dark climate of repression was in the air, in an attempt to mitigate the terror of those days, the generals sold the delights of the Economic Miracle – an economic spectacle financed with endless loans, which left the country with decades of indebtedness to the IMF and other international creditors.

With AI-5, General Medici and the upsurge in state violence, the first five years of the 1970s were marked by the near extinction of resistance groups to the military regime. The remnants didn't have much left.s choices, besides going to the guerrilla or fleeing the country and living clandestinely in some safe corner and far away from here. And the chronicle of that moment is implied, very cunningly, even to evade the censors, in blood on cactus, as well as in all future choices by Baiano and Paulinho, a pseudonym adopted by Arnaud.

The duo Baiano and Paulinho Cabeça de Poeta was formed in early 1973, when Chico created his character and Arnaud also decided to pay tribute to the emerging Novos Baianos by suggesting the composite name. Sarcastic and at the same time reverent, the pair provoked the idiosyncrasies of Caetano and Gil, who, a year earlier, had returned from exile in London. in a memorial text, where he recalls the days of his partnership with Arnaud, Chico clarifies: “The Bahian character was born at the time of Caetano's exile, a period when he could hardly speak, so the Baiano type was monosyllabic”.

Despite the apparent tone of mockery with the maximum icons of MPB, one listen is enough to conclude that the joke was beyond serious. Grandpa Bate Pa You, main success of blood on cactus, is exemplary for the defense of this theory. Written by four hands by Arnaud and the King of Sambalanço, Orlandivo, the song deals with one of the heaviest themes: the denunciation under torture and the climate of silence imposed by censorship. “This is the case: they say they talk, I don't know what / It's about to be painted or it's about to happen / It's talk of high transactions / Tenderness, from a crazy guy who danced with everything / Velvet finger delivery / With whom he doesn't I have great connections,” the lyrics read.

Em Villages, the target is the Economic Miracle: “In each face an expression / In each stomach digestion / A new car / New cover / While the old man asks me for bread / Our daily bread they give us today / Credit our debts / Just as our creditors do not forgive us.” in the hilarious baião Vulture is Angry at the Ox (the scavenger bird is indignant with the bovine that does not die and, thus, makes it impossible to satisfy its hunger), the only song that is not written by Chico and Arnaud (it was composed by Geraldo Nunes and Venâncio) the tragicomic vein of the LP reaches its apex in Baiano’s speech, which, first, rambles on in an apocalyptic tone “fear, anguish, suffocation, neurosis, pollution, interest, the end… / nothing new / we only have seven again” industrial sins”, to, at the end of the third stanza, with fine irony, continue “then we meet a goat on the street and ask: 'How are you?' / and he says to us, 'It's okay!' / Isn't it a high, Paulinho? / it's a high!”. Mercilessly, at the end of the song, Baiano returns to conclude: “Nothing to say… beating…the beating sweat”. As suggested by the “riponga” appearance of Baiano and Paulinho, the album also deals with the desbunde and the statutes of the flower Power generation. In dendalei (corruption of “inside the law”) the stanza that follows the first chorus celebrates the detachment and hedonism of the hippies: “I'm a fan of the wind / I'm a fan of free thought / I'm a fan of the light of birth / I'm a fan here of best moment!".

Lyrics aside, the musical quality of de blood on cactus it is unquestionable. The album promotes the fusion of Brazilian and foreign rhythms with different results, and inscribes Chico and Arnaud as defenders of the “universal sound” so pursued by the Tropicalists. Multifaceted, the LP brings together generous doses of rock, samba, baião, xaxado, maracatu, bossa, choro, ciranda and soul. Unfortunately, the technical file was not credited by the CID label, but the artistic direction of this small masterpiece was in charge of an ace of our music, the composer and instrumentalist Durval Ferreira. Egress from the first generation of Bossa Nova, “Gato”, as Durval was called by his friends because of his blue eyes, led, alongside Eumir Deodato, the legendary samba jazz combo Os Gatos, which released two albums, today, rare and disputed by collectors, The cats (1964) and That Sound of Cats (1965)

The partnership between Chico and Arnaud would yield three more albums by Baiano, Paulinho and the Novos Caetanos (Baiano and Os Novos Caetanos, from 1975, the turn, by 1982, and South America, from 1985). In addition to them, alongside Arnaud Chico, in 1975, he produced another pearl: the album Azambuja & Cia, which counts with the luxurious assistance of the trio Azymuth. In the gap between the 1975 album and the 1982 album, Chico also released, with the Bahian singer, Baiano and Amaralina, a tribute to Elba Ramalho. Rare and mandatory title is Murituri, from 1974, Arnaud's most exquisite solo album, with the participation of tropicalist guitar-hero Lanny Gordin. In 1976, reaping the rewards of the enormous projection of his character, Arnaud also released another jewel, the album Paulinho's Sound.

Regarding the LP hits, in the same text in which Chico explains the genesis of the Baiano phenomenon and Os Novos Caetanos, the comedian gives good clues about how great the duo formed by him and Arnaud was: “With the sales success of the LP, Harry Rozemblit, owner of the CD company CID, bought three penthouses on Avenida Delfim Moreira (located in Leblon, one of the most expensive addresses in the south of Rio de Janeiro). The Eddie Barclay (French label owner Barclay), at the time, invited us to go to Europe to participate in Miden, in Cannes, and I did not go. I told him I had to do a show in Curitiba. How crazy of me! He didn't understand. How could two artists snub one of the biggest international music gatherings on the planet?!” To leave no doubt about the album's international projection, I'm going to hit you even won a delicious retelling by Swedish singer Sylvia Vretmar.

As we well know, unfortunately Chico and Arnaud have already left: the King of Humor in March 2012, as a result of complications from a serious lung infection that led to multiple organ failure; and the late Paulinho at the 2010 carnival, in a tragic boat accident in Tocantins. But the legacy of joy and reflection left by this heavyweight duo, to close with yet another seventies slang, is timeless and will span decades.

Happy listening and until the next Quintessence!

Originally published on the magazine's website Brazilian in 23.1.2014


Relatively rare in Brazil, the duo's first LP and the album Azambuja & Cia will be re-released by the British label Far Out Recordings. Recently, with the announcement of the reissues, drummer Mamão revealed on Facebook that the record had the Azymuth's participation.


1 comment

  1. My father had one of those LPs, I think it was Baiano and Os Novos Caetanos, one that had Vou Batê Pá Tu and O Urubu Tá Com Raiva do Boi. I loved this record!

    I haven't listened to his music since the record, for some reason, went away. And certainly, at the time when I was very young, I didn't get all the political nuances of the duo. But from the memory I keep, the musical quality was so remarkable that I still carry it in my mind.

    Very cool to read this article.

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