Milton Nascimento: Courage
Milton Nascimento (vocals, guitar)
Courage (A&M 0814)
Jose Marino (bass), João Palma (drums) and orchestra.
Arrangement by Eumir Deodato.
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December, 1968, February 26-27, 1969
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
"Although Nascimento speaks little English," Ralph Gleason writes in the liner notes to this release, "he sings it with assurance and with articulation." In truth, the heavy production hand of Creed Taylor is felt at every point on this project, and the decision to have Nascimento sing in English on this US debut was just one more sign of how this artist was being groomed for crossover success on the pop charts. Taylor had been a behind-the-scenes player in the bossa nova fad, and no doubt saw Nascimento as Brazil's next great musical export. So we get the slick arrangements with a very 1960s-AM-radio flavor, and a commercial orientation to every aspect of the production. Yet there is something powerful here that seems to subvert the pop sensibility, a deep and almost spiritually charged vocal from Nascimento that cuts through the glittery trappings and grabs the listener's attention. His guitar is not credited on the liner notes, but it can be heard in the background anchoring the track. This artist soon switched directions, but this recording remains essential listening for anyone who wants to understand the evolution of Nascimento's career. And, because of his against-the-grain performance, this track has aged much better than your typical late-60s crossover fare.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia