“Que País É Este” (1987) by Legião Urbana

300 years ago when I was a college student, I had an apartment-mate who had a stellar collection of South American music.  I heard a lot of great tunes that year, but the standout record was an album called “Que País É Este” (translation: What Country is This) by a Brazilian band named Legião Urbana (translation: Urban Legion).  Many of the songs would be classified as punk, but there were also elements of folk, classic rock, pop, reggae, and country.  If I were to say who they sounded like, I would say the Clash, R.E.M., Social Distortion, the Cure, the Replacements, the Smiths, Bob Dylan, etc.  However, comparing them to anyone would diminish the fact that Legião Urbana sounds like Legião Urbana.  They sound like everyone and no one else.

I meant to tape a copy of that album before the end of that school year, but didn’t get around to it because I always assumed I could take care of it quickly.  But … I didn’t.

I searched for this album for years and couldn’t find it.  Part of the problem was that I thought Legião Urbana was an Uruguyan band.  Spanish is the primary language in Uruguay, but Portuguese is the primary language of Brazil.  It also didn’t help that I couldn’t remember the name of the band, only a wrong English translation (“Urban League”).  To make a long story short, I finally found the album today on Spotify … and it’s better than I remember.  Much better.

The only album I can compare it to is the Clash’s “London Calling,” in that it combines a diverse mix of influences to create brilliant, punchy, unforgettable songs.   Much of it (especially the first side) sounds punk, but there are melodies, hooks, and acoustic instruments.

Side two is where it really gets diverse, the centerpiece of which is “Faroeste Caboclo,” a nine-minute epic about a poor man who moves from the country to the big city, gets involved with crime, suffers tremendously for it, temporarily finds redemption, but then gets sucked back in.  You can read a synopsis of the song here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faroeste_Caboclo

I don’t understand a word of Portuguese, but it’s a beautiful song that starts off as a folk ballad and then rises in intensity with electric guitars slashing away.  It’s an epic track that is the equal of other rock epics like The Who’s “A Quick One,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Jungleland” and Green Day’s “Jesus of Suburbia.”  Actually, lead singer Renato Russo intended this to be his “Hurricane” (Bob Dylan’s classic song about boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter).

“Que País É Este” is an amazing, classic album from start to finish.  It’s already legendary in Brazil.  It should be legendary worldwide.  Dave says “Check it out!”

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“Nobody Home” (1979) Pink Floyd

“Pink Floyd The Wall” is one of the most celebrated rock operas of all-time. Many of its songs (“Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2,” “Comfortably Numb,” “Hey You,” “Mother,” “Run Like Hell”) are staples on classic rock radio, but in my mind the best song on the album is “Nobody Home.” At the point where this song appears, the protagonist has alienated everyone who ever endeavored to care about him and he’s sitting alone in a trashed hotel room with absolutely nothing keeping him grounded to sanity. While some of this is due to a crappy childhood, most of his current state is due to his own poor choices, much of it drug-induced. He’s completely alone, realizes he’s blown it ,and has nothing left. The song conveys the last clear rational thoughts the protagonist has before he gives way to complete madness and nihilism. Oddly, this was the last song composed for “The Wall” when guitarist David Gilmour and producer Bob Ezrin challenged Roger Waters to write one more song for the album. It’s a good thing he did. The humanity of “Nobody Home” makes what happens later that much sadder and horrifying.
 

Jon Ronson’s “The Butterfly Effect” (2017 Audible podcast)

I just finished this remarkable and thoughtful 7-part Audible podcast by Welsh journalist Jon Ronson about the multiple and seismic cultural effects of free internet porn sites like Pornhub during the past 10 years. Neither a fire-and brimstone anti-porn jeremiad nor a mindless “happy-happy” “sex-positive” screed, Robson displays a humanity towards this subject that is unique.

Probably the most shocking revelation is the podcast’s conclusion about declining teen pregnancy and sexuality rates in recent years. Progressives think it’s due to better sex education in schools. Conservatives argue that it’s due to young people of possessing finer “morality.” Both of which could be partially true. But if you buy either argument, you need to also consider that erectile dysfunction has skyrocketed 1000% amongst young men during the past 10 years, in addition to the “growth” industry of “real sex dolls” during the same period … which is, yes, the exact time frame of readily-available free streaming internet porn. Fewer teen pregnancies is, of course, a good thing. But if the reason for this is porn addiction amongst young people, this is not good to say the least. When healthy young men on a porn set need to look at Pornhub on their phones to provide the “motivation” to have sex with very attractive real women, you know there’s a problem. 

Dave says “Check it out!”

https://mobile.audible.com/butterfly/apc.htm