By anybody's standard, 700,000 records sold is a huge success. By Brazilian standards, that's just incalculably enormous. 32 years ago, the Sao Paolo band Secos e Molhados ("Dry & Wet Goods") sold 700,000 copies of their eponymous debut record (shown, left), and still nobody outside Brazil knows who they were - not even WFMU. Let's start knowing.
Secos e Molhados "Sangue Latino" and "O Vira" (wmv movie, 18M)
The most important thing you can do for yourself today is watch this video, which ends on the frame you see to your right Go do that, then come back and I'll tell you more about them.
When I first heard the debut Secos & Molhados album, I endured several months of confusion trying to figure out who's the woman singing, and why isn't she on the album cover? Well sir, "she" is Ney Matogrosso, and he is indeed on the cover. No, he doesn't sound like a feminine guy, and he's not singing falsetto - he sings like a girl!! And it's totally beautiful, and these songs are mostly achingly sweet. The confusion lingered as I got hung up on the disconnect between the sound of the songs and the look of the total freaks who, it seems, are performing them. And then along came Wolmar. He's my fave dealer of Brazilian esoterica at the annual WFMU Record Fair, and he actually had some video footage - lots of it. And now the pieces are coming together. Go listen to some songs:
Jump the flip if you're interested in a little bit of history on the band (which is remarkably scarce in English).
Secos e Molhados was formed by this dude, João Ricardo (link is to his official site -- in Portuguese, natch). He's from Portugal, actually, and his father was a famous journalist, who even contributed some lyrics to the debut album.
João had the idea to form a band, and he definitely had a concept to go along with it - and that concept definitely seems to have involved a great deal of camp. But again, all the info's in Portuguese, so I'm guessing. João is the guy who continues to revive the name Secos E Molhados, although he's the only original member.
Around 1972, João met the utterly compelling Ney Matogrosso.
Clearly, a look was coming together. Bear in mind, this was before (and completely remote from) the Rocky Horror Show, and Kiss hadn't happened yet. (Reportedly, Ney continues to maintain that Kiss stole their look wholesale from a full page Secos & Molhados ad in Billboard). These guys seemed to be developing out of an indigenous form of Brazilian camp that was totally removed even from British glam rock.
Ney Matogrosso (link to his official site), it must be told, is a massive star in Brazil. He struck out solo in 1975 and developed one of the more lasting stage shows in MPB. He did shed the makeup eventually, and I get the weird sense that he's currently on a level with Julio Iglesias - but I'm probably way off the mark here! He's still at it.