Picks and Pans Review: Beleza Tropical

updated 02/27/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/27/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

Brazil Classics 1

Initially, David Byrne might not seem a great choice to be your guide to another country's music. Despite his success with the Talking Heads, Byrne has always appeared to have rather outré tastes. Anyone out there listened to The Catherine Wheel sound track lately, for instance? Yet, in this sampler of Brazilian pop music by a variety of artists, Byrne has assembled an accessible and eclectic, if subtle, collection. "Sonho Meu," sung by Maria Bethania and Gal Costa, has delicate harmonies and lightly strummed guitars that are offset by a rich bass and percussion undercarriage. That counterpointing of soft and hard elements, which is also a key facet of Gilberto Gil's "Quilombo, o el Dorado Negro," is one of the features of Brazilian music that make it so beguiling. Caetano Veloso expands on that base with sophisticated choral arrangements on "Urn Canto de Afoxé Para O Bloco do Ilé (IlêAyê)." By no means do all the artists on Beleza Tropical employ complex layered approaches. Chico Buarque's "Cacada" is simplicity itself, made up of a voice, a guitar and gentle whistling. This record won't appeal to everyone, but it is a good introduction to the warmth, luster and earthiness that often mark Brazilian music. Oh, and Dave? You can be the deejay at our Carnaval party anytime. (Sire)

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