First in a series of awesome tunes that you WILL not know (hence the fact i’m going to gush over it) This is Crystal Illusions by Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – I first heard this on the RA podcast by Quiet Village – and had no idea that Sergio could get as psychedelic as he does here. By 1969 the ’66 were one of the biggest crossover acts in American music, selling millions of records off the back of the success of Mas Que Nada. As housewives and suburban couples swooned to the bossa lounge stylings of the subsequent albums (Equinox, Look Around, Fool On The Hill) Sergio was seeking out new and  unknown Brazillian acts for more songs, having exhausted the work of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto and Jorge Ben. One of these new songwriters was Edu Lobo – an album of his songs (including Crystal Illusions) had already been published, but Sergio was about to take it into overdrive.

With Orchestrations by Dave Grusin (himself a noted soundtrack composer) Crystal Illusions comes to life. It’s a bit of a saccharine album until the last track. The title track. It’s a slowburner, the little plucks of strings and flutes build and build hitting the chorus, where Grusins’ strings blow the roof off. Horns, harps and rhodes pianos all come into play and it sounds like it was recorded in an aircraft hanger – it’s HUGE.  The atmospheric tone helps Lani Halls vocals really come to life, and the rhodes breakdown in the third part of the song is a monster. It’s the sound of safe settled musicians taking chances with a conservative audience and totally nailing it. It was one of my discoveries of last year. Have a listen…

Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – Crystall Illusions (1969)

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