Mr Bongo Brazilian Beats DVD Review

Mr. Bongo are a specialist record label set up in 1989 to promote South American music. Over the years they’ve issued numerous albums and, inevitably, as series of “best of” compilations under the Brazilian Beats umbrella. To celebrate their 15th anniversary the company have now opted for a slight change in tact and so, whilst the CD series has reached volume five, we are now presented with the first Brazilian Beats DVD compilation.

In some respect the approach isn’t all that different. This disc houses seven promos of disparate styles, but then we also get a trio of documentaries which allow for a greater understanding of the music and the culture which breeds it. And of course, this is a welcome move on Mr. Bongo’s behalf, primarily because it allows the newcomer to get in on the game. You may approach Brazilian Beats with very little foreknowledge, but you’re bound to come away with something.

First up is a 22-minute piece devoted to Marcelo D2’s Looking for the Perfect Beat album. A combination of hip hop and samba, the documentary by extension therefore discusses the significance of both in modern day Brazil. It is perhaps a little roughshod in its production values, yet it nonetheless talks to all the right people and contains some fascinating archive footage. Plus, for the fans, we also get a track-by-track breakdown of the LP, though never to a degree which will alienate the outsider.

Along similar lines is the Clube do Balanco piece. Over its nineteen minutes it documents the swing and samba rock movements, ones which, so we are told, can encompass everything from Ray Charles to jazz. Again, the low budget is apparent, yet the various talking heads provide enough information to override such concerns.

Rounding off the package of documentaries, we have a 26-minute entry, entitled Street Angels, on Mirium Ulrych’s charity work for street kids. Of course, this has nothing to do with the music per se, but it does allow for another angle beyond it. Indeed, as an insight into the culture it’s a valuable addition, though do note that the sound is very poor.

Given the weight of these pieces you can’t help but feel that the additional promos are just that; mere extras to bulk out the disc rather than its main attraction. Certainly, the range is diverse enough that you’ll struggle to appreciate all seven. We get both MOR balladry in sleek R&B-style tones and the grittier likes of Juan Pablo Torres’ and Harry and his Orchestra’s contributions. In fact, you could judge them by their music videos: the higher the production values, the less interesting the end results.

That said, this is a disc to cover all tastes which makes the interactive discography a welcome addition. We can skim through the Mr. Bongo back catalogue, listen to track samples, and, if we’re watching the DVD on ours Macs or PCs, make a purchase with a single click of the mouse. After all, this disc is a promotional tool more than anything else.

The Disc

On the whole the disc’s presentation is reasonable. The music videos look and sound fine, but the documentaries are blighted by some horrible ghosting (making even the simplest of pans look ungainly). However, this could be the result of the films themselves, each having been shot on cheap video, either digital or on tape. (This would also explain the poor sound on Street Angels.) Note also that the Brazilian dialogue, with is more common than not, comes with optional English subtitles.

Disc Contents

Marcelo D2
Clube do Balanco
Street Angels

Paula Lima : Quern Ver Voce no Baile
Tejo, Black Alien & Speed : Follow Me Follow Me (Fatboy Slim Remix)
Banda Black Rio : Carrossel
Stereo Maracana : Freestyle Love
Ive Mendes : Natural High
Juan Pablo Torres : Rompe Cocorico
Hanny and His Orchestera : Sexo Dinero y Fantasia

Interactive Mr. Bongo Discography

6 out of 10
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Last updated: 19/04/2018 07:12:44

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