A cofounder of the tropicalista movement with Veloso, Gil, Bethania, et al., Zé has faded into obscurity as his music becomes more and more experimental and eccentric. This is by far the best Brazilian recording I've ever heard (caveat emptor!), partly because of the gentleness of Zé's weirdness and partly because he sounds so Brazilian even as the other tropicalistas come to associate "avant-garde" with increasingly Pan American pop-soup.
“Happily, Byrne followed up with this equally revelatory collection of contemporary samba, this time featuring singers even more obscure to North American ears. The highly percussive samba is Brasil's national music, at times furiously rhythmic yet still capable of sustaining a rich songwriting tradition. As befits a "peoples" music (which reaches a yearly apotheosis in the wildly competitive samba schools of Carnaval), the melodies are tougher, the lyrics earthier than the romantic pop music that people usually associate with this most musical of nations. Once more we must thank David Byrne for introducing us to great singers like Clara Nunes, reigning samba queen till her untimely death in 1983, as well as the equally celebrated Beth Carvalho and Martinho Da Vila.”
“Ten years after Beleza Tropical Volume 1 turned the world on to the popular music of Brazil (MPB), along comes volume 2 to bring us up to date. The first volume did a great job covering the 1960s and '70s; volume 2 does an equally impressive job in focusing on the late '80s and the '90s. The MPB scene is as vibrant as ever. Elder voices of the movement like Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, and Sergio Mendes have recently put out some of the best work of their careers, and you'll find wonderful examples of that here. The new generation of MPB stars are also amply represented – Marisa Monte, Daniela Mercury, the late Chico Science, Moleque de Rua, Os Paralamas Do Successo, and others all contribute excellent work. The songs incorporate the technological changes of the past decade and meld elements of rock, jazz, funk, reggae, and African music with the rich traditions of Brazil. The result is music that is coherent, edgy, and creatively compelling. This compilation is very well sequenced, so that it doesn't sound like a hodgepodge of styles, but instead flows flawlessly from tune to tune.Jeff Grubb (Editorial Review, Amazon.com)
“Compiled by former Talking Head David Byrne and released in 1989, with liner notes and translations by Arto Lindsay, Beleza Tropical documents a New York hipster's first infatuation with the rich, deep, and varied spectrum of Brazilian popular music from the rebellious '70s. There are better Brazilian anthologies, but none so clearly assembled in order to counter the received opinion of Brazilian music as lightweight bachelor-pad fluff (although Milton Nascimento, with his beautiful high tenor, sometimes comes close). Caetano Veloso (whose magnificent “Terra” is itself worth the price of admission) and Gilberto Gil are remarkable lyricists whose music is influenced as much by the Afro-Brazilian rhythms of northern Brazil as by the Beatles. Jorge Ben contributes a pair of highfalutin yet funky soccer songs, Chico Buarque is at his most uncompromisingly poetic, and Nazare Pereira taps deep into Brazilian folklore”.Richard Gehr (Editorial Review, Amazon.com)