"Baby" Alice Smith & Aloe Blacc
Song of the Day Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Alice Smith & Aloe Blacc, “Baby”
“Baby,” which was definitively recorded by Gal Costa and composer Caetano Veloso in 1969, is a manifesto for Brazil’s Tropicalia movement. That scene was full of brazenly talented youth in love with samba, bossa nova and The Beatles. They knew all the rules, and broke nearly all of them. This makes it fitting that American free-spirits Alice Smith and Aloe Blacc, whose knowledge of music matches their willingness to experiment, reinterpret this classic. The once-cosmopolitan Tropicalia style works well in their American hands; Smith pulls back on her vocals and rides the lush washes of sound, which get updated with stacks of burbling electronics. The playfully subversive lyrics are translated into English, though the heroine of “Baby” now states emphatically that she and her paramour need to learn Portuguese. The entire Red, Hot + Rio 2 set is more than just a tribute to the blissful beaches of Tropicalia or a very worthy charitable endeavor in the fight against the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. It’s also on the shortlist of the year’s best albums, and you should leave “Baby” with a smile on your face. -- Nick Dedina
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