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14 BIS

14 Bis

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Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars From the ashes of two important, seminal brazilian bands of the early 70's (O Terço and Bendegó) 14 Bis came to be by the end of that decade. And what a debut album this was! Their mix of prog rock and brazilian folk was a logical step from what those aforementioned bands were trying to do a few years before, but hadn't really came with a definitve blend of both. 14 Bis did with this album. It was a stunning start for a new band, but if you consider how seasoned (and good) musicians they already were, it was not a real big surprise. The real treat was the fact it was released in 1979 and the fact that it was hit. No one could imagine such style being successful at that time.

14 Bis was an outstanding album, with no fillers, excellent production for that period and strong songwriting. It was interesting for its beatles influence on some songs (notably on the opener, Perdido Em Abbey Road, with those orchestrations bearing an uncanny similarity to the ones of George Martin's), but the band had a lot more to show than just that. They found the right balance between the eletric and the acoustic sounds. Where on Terço the acoustic songs were basicly too folky and the electric ones too rock'n roll, 14 Bis could master both of them into a new, very fine, style. Besides, they were able to pedal into some interesting grounds like movie scores (Cinema De Faroeste) and the brazilian seresta (Sonho de Valsa).

Avoiding too much noodling and explicit virtuosity, they were able to concentrade solely for the sake of the music. The result was a series of gems like their hit Natural (great vocal harmonies, their trademark), Pedra Menina, the instrumental Blue and the beautiful Três Ranchos. Even though their sound was not symphonic prog, their arrangements were quite influenced by it (especially the keyboards parts).

14 Bis, the CD, remains their best to date. A classic release in a time very few artists would even try to record something so 'unfashinable'. It was a bold move for those guys and quite a leap of faith by their recording company. And it paid off quite well. One fo the best debut releases by a new band in the late 70's. Five stars.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#199240)
Posted Thursday, January 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars 14 Bis was quite a big name in Brazil, beginning with this, their very first release. Its maturity may relate to the already veteran status of some of the members, who had played for seminal progressive bands prior to forming 14 Bis. While this is essentially a pop album, it is extraordinarily well crafted, with attention to detail not normally found on the charts, and a willingness to take small p progressive detours, especially in the last half minute or so of many cuts, like sneaking a cookie just before the kitchen closes.

Just so there could be no doubt of one of their prime influences, the album opens with "Perdido En Abbey Road", which is like a Portuguese "Back in the USSR". After this inauspicious start, they get down to business, and "Canto de America" establishes their mastery of sweet balladry that might partially explain their success across the demographic spectrum. Most of the material here is as good or better, and apart from high pitched vocal harmonies, includes versatile organ work, much fine acoustic guitar, and even harmonica here and there. "Cinema de Faroeste" is particularly compelling with its furiously strummed Latin guitar work, succinct organ and clever time changes. Likewise "Natural" ably proclaims a passion for country and western music while not forsaking the trademark vocal blends. The two closing numbers are equally impressive, the first an organ rich ballad and the second an accordion led lullabye.

Like the group namesake, this album references a rating address somewhere between 2 whole numbers. Although I really enjoy most of it, I feel that an understanding of the lyrics might help elevate it to premium status, but without forthcoming Portuguese lessons, I have to settle for 3 stars.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#298085)
Posted Wednesday, September 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
CCVP
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars What if Supertramp and Peter Gabriel had a band?

With the end of the 1970's, progressive rock music has reached a stalemate at the world stage and in the biggest country of South America it wasn't much different. Flávio Venturini, aware of that, started to focus on projects other than O Terço's symphonic prowess. That eventually led to his departure from O Terço, together with bassis Sérgio Magrão, in order to found 14 Bis with his brother and past members of a band called Bendegó.

The result of such meeting was tremendous: every side of the band (in a manner speaking) and every musician had different backgrounds, ranging from rock'n'roll / blues and hard rock to folk music and MPB, what made 14 Bis a really interesting amalgamation of genres and styles. However, the band was mostly interested in making quality music that wasn't too complicated. As Flávio have put it, they were aiming at the Beatles as a point of refference to what the band was supposed to sound: light hearted, simple without being simple-minded (not overly elaborated), clean and original. The Beatles influence, however, can be heard through most of the album in one way or another.

After listening to te band's debut album, I can mostly say that such description given by Flávio Venturini is absolutelly truthful. The music is definitely progressive rock, due to the originality it is presented, the variety of genres of music merged together and the presence of the rock element, but it lacks the so-called snobbish atitude of progressive rock, presenting us a down to earth musical approach and musical development. Due to that, it wouldn't be wrong to call 14 Bis a progressive pop band, at least in their firsts albums, which seems to be something of an evolution or a natural continuation of Flávio's work at O Terço, going a step farther from the fancy symphonic rock his last band did. The best foreign equivalent which I could make a comparisson between them would be Supertramp and Peter Gabriel, with the last one having some specially peculiar similarities on the regard of stylistic change after leaving a symphonic rock band.

The band manage to retain some of the best qualities from each band every band member was from. It has a noticeable folk music (Brazillian folk music, that is) side to it, what is reflected at the instrumental work, vocal work (partially inherited from O Terço) or lirically throughout the album. The rock element is also very much present, be it either through the electric guitars (considered by some respectable musicians in Brazil, up untill the mid 1970's, to be an abomination!) or the organs and synthesizer.

Grade and Final Thoughts

14 Bis' debut is a very good album all around. The production is great, concerning the technical limitations we had in the country had at that time, the vocals and the instruments are played and sung great and most songs feel like the band gave just the right amount of time for them to develop and grow.

If you like prog pop and would like to listen to some with a Brazillian flavour to it, this album is a great place be.

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Send comments to CCVP (BETA) | Report this review (#506559)
Posted Saturday, August 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 10/10

One of the most sublime musical experiences I've ever had in my life.

But what a shame. I actually feel embarrassed for not giving a chance to the 14 Bis before. It certainly was not for lack of knowledge: in addition to being one of the most renowned rock bands in Brazil has always been a favorite of my dad, so it's not as if I had never heard of them. Still, what was my surprise when I saw them here on the site.

First of all let me tell you a little bit of rock coming from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. In my humble opinion this is the state that produces the best crop of rock my country, countless classic bands that have their mark on the music scene here for years and years. Specifically the 70s and 80s were extremely productive for the Brazilian rock, serving as the pinnacle of the genre in the country. Other states that have renowned bands are The Federal District (Brasilia), Rio Grande do Sul and São Paulo. However Minas seems the most "progressive", since there has always been enough use of regional elements (Brazilian Popular Music) fused with rock rural and foreign influences.

And even though I never really connected with the rock to come from my hometown (since prog was never really explored here), I am surprised at how much I fell in love with 14 Bis. Sure, it's not just progressive rock that is running here: there is a range of influences that give this album a legitimate Brazilian flavor, combined with the best of the greats of rock Sixties / Seventies. The most obvious influence here are the Beatles, not only because of the wonderful opening track Perdido em Abbey Road, but also because the songs are not very long (all around 2-4 minutes), but have a very diverse structure with use of symphonic, progressive and regional elements, in no time sounding preachy or "tight".

The aforementioned Perdido em Abbey Road opens the album, a great welcome note and a personal favorite of mine with lyrics doing homage to the boys of Liverpool, an intense use of electric guitar (an instrument abhorred by Brazilian musicians at the time, as pointed out by the my colleague CCVP) coupled with symphonic feeling provided by the trumpets. Here is the most beautiful song of the disc: Canção da América. Originally composed by reputed artist Milton Nascimento (whose project "Clube da Esquina" could very well be included here on the site - just a suggestion, ok?), The song deals with the friendship of a poetic and beautiful, being entirely acoustic and accompanied by the organ while members make delicious vocal harmonies. Incidentally, this is one of the great strengths of the album, and I really tear praise for the band to make use of these as beautiful harmonies in the songs!

For the review does not extend too far I will not heed the other songs individually. Although there really are other highlights, such as Canção de Faroeste (influences westerns in vogue combined with the organ that overlaps throughout the album and more vocal harmonies, with the right to the music saloon!), O Vento, a Chuva, o teu Olhar and instrumental Blue. But all are great! This is a prog masterpiece, which I recommend to everyone. Even if you know nothing of Portuguese listen to this album and watch the wonderful melodies that Flavio Venturini and his companions do. I'm really in love with this band, and I'm glad to know that it is not too late to enjoy the rock of my own country, progressive or not.

5 well-deserved stars!

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Send comments to voliveira (BETA) | Report this review (#1025149)
Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2013 | Review Permalink

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