Donnerstag, 2. Mai 2024

José Afonso - Baladas E Canções

Jose Afonso is generally regarded as one of Portugal's most influential folk musicians of the 20th century. His songs of protest and political critiques helped fuel revolutionary movements launched by the people of Portugal in the early '70s, and his music remained sharply critical and politically charged as he actively recorded and performed until just before his death in 1987. In a relatively short amount of time, Afonso was quite productive, leaving behind documents of revolution and righteous struggle such as his 1975 album "República" and many others.

Afonso was born Jose Manuel Cerqueira Afonso dos Santos on February 23, 1929, in Aveiro, Portugal. As a judge, his father was appointed to various posts throughout the Portuguese colonies in the first half of the 20th century. Jose spent his early years in countries such as Angola and Mozambique as well as Portugal, living with his parents off and on and spending many years in the city of Coimbra pursuing his education. He began singing in his teen years, and in 1953, released his first recordings in the form of two 78 singles. During this time, Afonso began studying philosophy at the Associação Académica de Coimbra, graduating in 1955. His passion for philosophy and politics would shape the course of his recording career, and he stayed active making music while working as a public school teacher through the late '50s and into the '60s. Smaller-scale releases like his 1956 EP "Fados de Coimbra" grew into more fully realized works with the release of his first studio LP, "Baladas e Canções", in 1964. His old friend Rui Pato wrote the following for the reissue of this album:

"Zeca was the first "different" companion I had. And it would be dificult to imagine the importance someone "different" has in our adolescense. On a sixties Coimbra, very closed, "Salazarous", of nights of king, poker, troupes, serenades begging for always hard and frustrating loves, on a Coimbra with houses of "pure" girls and Repúblicas filled of politic and sexual conspiracies, a man like Zeca was an hero.

His unbalanced look, his crazy things, the permanent character of the situations to which he gave a falsetto voice, his clown mimics were a success! Of what I already took as usual, like the dustbreathing and boring schools (the male and the female!), the University, where were masters, mostly conservative, full of patternalism and provincian behaviour, all that Zeca joked about with such a poison and funny we cried laughing. His destructive opinions, with a corrosive humour, full of joy, along with his constant distractions, were the usual plate at the Brasileira and Mário's cafe afternoons.

We heard records by Mouloudji, Brassens, Brel, etc. In our meetings there was no more fado. We listened to Rocha, Raínho or Abílio singing jazz of French music. Then came his ballads. His rupture with fado. At that time (I'm talking about the beginning of the sixties) Coimbra fado had rigid structure, in poetry and in musical terms. Zeca, that had turned himself a great name of that kind of fado in the previous decade, started to say bad things about it! "Because it was too saddy, because lyrics had nothing to do with our reality, because the guitar accompaniement was too limitative, because the creativity died, etc...".

He only accepted fado when it was an adaptation of the popular musical and poetic roots (Edmundo de Bettencourt was, thus, his refference) ... To him, the rest was to joke in those long talks that happened around him and on the bohemian and intelectual people that stoped at Ferreira Borges street (the "chanel" as it was then known)... And they had fun, provoking shamelessly the "impaled aligators" of the "right side" of the cafe Brasileira, that looked him with bad eyes. He was the first "subversive" in the good and real sense of the word that I met: a cultural agitator! A viola was searched and he showed his new songs that he insisted to listen and criticize. And then we would go to a República or, at that same place, to the first floor of Brasileira, when game tables closed. To us, fado addicted, those songs, with those melodies, were a delicious madness!

Luck and, maybe my playing skills, wanted that he chose me to play with him. And it was that way "Menino de Oiro", the "Vampiros", "Senhor Poeta", "Lago de Breu", "Pombas", "Vila de Olhão", and the songs that are on this record were born. We were there when truly collective creations happened on the first floor of Brasileira cafe. From that moment on it were so many songs, trips and shows to audiences that not always understood what he sang. And the dispair of some crowds, mostly the more unadvised, that waited for a very well cried and shout fado, with guitars and black capes, and to who we "throw" the "vampires", "Ronda dos Paisanos", "Altos Castelos" (High Castles), only with the viola, dressed with dirty trousers and unstraight shirts of bad night sleep, at houeses of a "comrade" that gaves the show for a good dinner and, some few times, a thousand escudos to each. But those shows were the minority, for almost every shows, back in those sixties, were to recreative societies, cultural groups, cinema clubs, well, intelectual organizations that covered all the "change" of that time." (from:


1 Canção Longe
2 Os Bravos
3 Balada Do Aleixo
4 Balada Do Outono
5 Trovas Antigas
6 Na Fonte Está Lianor
7 Minha Mãe
8 Altos Castelos
9 O Pastor De Bensafrim
10 Canto Da Primavera
11 Elegia
12 Ronda Dos Paisanos

José Afonso - Baladas E Canções
(320 kbps, cover art included)

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