Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Tom Zé: Cancoes Eroticas Para Ninar [Irara, 2016]
Sadly, I can no longer locate the YouTube promo clips of the lithe, black-haired, 80-year-old Zé, naked except for black socks or red shoes, demurely concealing his privates behind an acoustic guitar as he sings the opening "Sexo." But the music makes amply clear that this isn't sex as his fellow rhythm masters usually conceive it--the album's 12 compact "erotic lullabies" abjure the lilting sensuality so many Brazilians bend toward. They're punchy, pop the way the advertising jingles Zé used to write are pop, and although a Brazilian review Google translated for me suggests that the breaths that punctuate "Sexo" "carry the dynamics of the sexual act," I wouldn't have known that just from hearing it. So even more than most Zé and granting that the Brazilian CD I've acquired has a lyric sheet, I must note that most Americans would enjoy this album more if it came with clear verbal guidelines--an inserted or online trot, em ingles por favor. I want to know the words! Especially since his chief collaborator is the wife who long ago told him that if writing more music meant losing their house, they should sell the house. That woman clearly has a mind on her--a sexy one, I bet. A-