Zé Ramalho :Avôhai
Arguably the best Brazilian album of 1978, Zé Ramalho's solo debut starts off with "Avôhai", a song inspired by an experience Ramalho had after taking psilocybin mushroom. He says he looked at the sky and saw the "shadow of a gigantic spaceship", and a voice whispered "Avôhai" in his ear. Keyboardist Patrick Moraz of Yes supplies the otherworldly the cosmic keys. If your Portuguese is lacking, you will still get off on the upbeat, lightly psychedelic, uplifting feel of the album. That is, if you can find it!
Maria Bethânia (with Gal Costa) : Sonho Meu ( My Dream)
The only album from 1978 to make Rolling Stone's list the 100 Greatest Brazilian Music Records, Maria Bethânia's seductive Alibi is the first million seller from that country. Though the arrangements may seem dated today, this collection of songs, written by the likes of her brother Caetano Veloso, Djavan and Chico Buarque, are beautiful and sung with feeling by Bethânia. "Sonho Meu" appeared on the David Byrne compiled Brazilian compilation Beleza Tropical.
Chico Buarque : Calice ( feat. Milton Nascimento)
Released as Brazil's censorship was finally softening, Chico Buarque takes a direct shot at the military dictatorship with "Calice", a word that can be translated to mean "Shut up". Another song that was featured on the Beleza Tropical compilation.
Tom Zé : Menina Jesus
The good people at Seattle's Light in the Attic Records have re-released this overlooked masterpiece by the sometimes zany, often emotional singer/songwriter. No wonder David Byrne dedicated an entire Brazil compilation to this wonderful artist.
Milton Nascimento : Maria Maria
A reader told me I missed a great one and I have to agree. The Nascimento and friends sequel Clube da Esquina 2 comes six years after the original. It's going to take me a while to get into this remastered at Abbey Road but every review I've read says it's worth it.
Jorge Ben : Cadê O Penalty
Jorge Ben begins to explore his brassy and funky side after joining the Som Livre label. While most of the song's deal with romance, Ben fans will be glad to know there's a futbol tune in there too: "Cadê O Penalty" (Where's The Penalty). Something fans of Croatian futbol might be asking this week.
Elis Regina : O Trem Azul (The Blue Train)
Many fans consider Elis Regina to be Brazil's most talented female singer and her 1978 album Vento de Maio her peak. Difficult to find ( the link above is to her final live performance of one of the most famous songs from Vento de Maio).
She would die of a drug overdose in 1982.