Friday, 28 August 2009

Name That Tune #3: Gal Costa - "Baby"

Today I've been thinking about that old " right NOW it's the greatest record ever made!" feeling - that sense that you're listening to the single most inspiring passage of sound ever passed from recording technology to human ear. It's familiar to most people with any kind of emotional investment in music, especially (it seems) the blogging non-community and a big part of the thrill is that you know it can't possibly be true even as it feels undeniable.

Mmmmm. Anyway.

The record which will most reliably give me that feeling is "Baby" by Gal Costa. Someone usually asks me about it if I play it at the Lounge and this Sunday was no exception, apart from the fact that two people asked me about it. Look, here it is:

Part of my continuing love and amazement about this record is, I suppose, that I don't know much about Brazilian pop, so it seems like it has beamed in from another (better) world. That also means I'm not going to burden you with lots of facts and/or trivia, but I do have four things to point out:

1. the way those strings swell around the thirty seconds mark! From that moment on you know you're in the presence of something special.
2. the way the reverb which surrounds Gal's voice all the way through completely drops off for a line or two around 1:30 is mysterious and oddly beautiful: for just a moment, she's right there next to you before spiriting off back into the world of reverb. (Apropos of nothing, I am reminded that I was once with the band The Clientele in Spain, which is the best possible way to find out that the Spanish pronounce "reverb" as "reberv". And apropos of that, and this, go and see Amor De Dias play with Damon and Naomi in early September in London and Manchester, do.)
3. "Diana" - what?
4. Gal's been going for forty years or more now and she has returned to this song several times, and cut some radically different versions, including one English language version which stomps rather hard on the mysterious poetry I imagine the Portuguese version brings. So on the off-chance that you were rushing out to buy yourself a copy of this, this one (from season '68/'69 I think) is The One. Right now, The Greatest Record Ever Made.


  1. You're on the money, Mr H.

  2. Re: point 3, as I imagine you know, it's a reference to the Paul Anka song 'Diana'. I listened to this song for ages before I even realised that voice was there, lurking underneath the Portuguese - what a brilliant touch!