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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One for the Purists, June 17, 2003
By 
Thomas L. Bennett (Indented Head, Victoria Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crystal Illusions (Audio CD)
The Brasil '66 repertoire is riddled with contradictions.
Each of the legendry group's albums has its triumphs, its hidden treasures and its disappointments.
Crystal Illusions is no exception.
Track one is an uninspired cover of the Otis Redding classic "Dock of the Bay".
I rate it the only disappointment on this disc and believe that it should have been left to the man whose ownership of it is so complete that alternative versions have been rendered irrelevant.
From track two onwards Mendes and company return to what they do best - smooth, classy and stylish treatments of Latin American ballads and dance music.
Such songs as "Viola" and "Salt Sea" are among the hidden treasures of this album - compositions of subtle nuance that take shape and meaning over the course of repeated listening.
The album's triumphs include the Bergman classic "Pretty World" (OK maybe it's not a classic but it should be!).
The star cut on this generally impressive set is the title track - the Edu Lobo composed "Crystal Illusions"
It's sustained rhythmic re-interpretations of the main theme reaches a hypnotic crescendo that is delivered with power and grace.
This album does not suffer the uninitiated or the ignorant gladly.
It is only for those already in touch with the Swinger from Rio and au fait with the trademark way that Mendes and the group deliver their Bossa Nova message.
Like all previous and later offerings from Brasil'66 Crystal Illusions is riddled with its contradictions.
But it's also sprinkled with tonnes of magic. Of course, FIVE STARS.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite all time albums, April 5, 2007
By 
Bill (Norfolk VA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crystal Illusions (Audio CD)
I have always enjoyed this recording. The orchestrations by Dave Grusin are fantastic and shows why he was in demand for movie and television scores. The song selection is very eclectic from easy tempo to fast tempo, from soft to dramatic. The selections "Dock Of The Bay" and "Pretty World" got the most airplay as singles but one could sometimes hear "Crystal Illusions" in it's entirety on AM radio. "Viola" is a beautiful tune with a romantic flair. It contains a lot of basic percussion and guitar and Grusin's arrangement fits it beautifully. "Dois Dias" harkens back to "Roda" from "Look Around" with it's fast tempo. "You Stepped Out Of A Dream" might have been a good choice for a single with it's uptempo beat but it languished as an album cut. "Song Of No Regrets" and the title cut both have a very dramatic flair to them and, along with "Salt Sea" and "Empty Faces," have lyrics by Lani Hall. Lani was writing lyrics starting with the album "Look Around." Lani continued writing lyrics for some of the Brazillian writers but more appeared on this album that any of the other Brasil'66 recordings.Even though "Dock Of The Bay" and "Pretty World" got a tremendous amount of airplay in 1969, both failed to chart into the Top 40. The latter is my favorite selection from the album. It combines the key elements of all the member's instrumentation and Grusin's backing arrangements. I still have the LP record of this and now that it is on CD, my Brasil '66 collection,with the exception of "Stillness" is complete. This is a good solid purchase.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CRYSTAL ILLUSIONS - A MASTERPIECE OF SOUND, June 17, 2003
By 
William L. Phipps (Tuckahoe, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crystal Illusions (Audio CD)
This is a wonderful cd, and I am thrilled that it has been reissued in Japan with glorious sound. Lani Hall really comes through on this cd with a lovely solo on Song Of No Regrets. Mendes has never really given her the credit she deserved. Other standout tracks include a new take on You Stepped Out Of A Dream, and a lovely version of Nascimento's Empty Faces. The title track is a wonderful showcase for all the members. As usual, Dave Grusin's orchestrations shine. In conclusion this cd makes a wonderful addition to anyone's collection.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy follow up to "Fool on the Hill", December 30, 2005
By 
JMK (Pacific Northwest) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crystal Illusions (Audio CD)
Sergio's follow-up album to his monster "Fool on the Hill" album finds the band in equally fine form, continuing to spin its magic touch on unexpected material like "Dock of the Bay" and "You Stepped Out of a Dream." The album's flower power is in full bloom in the delicious "Pretty World," a huge adult contemporary hit which almost (but not quite) made the Top 40 in the summer of '69. Lani Hall really steps into the limelight more forcefully than ever on this album, not only in her stellar vocal turns on "Dock of the Bay" and "Song of No Regrets," but also as co-writer of several of the songs. The album's closer, "Crystal Illusions," finds Sergio working in a quasi-psychedelic environment that features a Stravinsky-inspired orchestration by Dave Grusin. This is classic Sergio from the height of his creative powers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And the beat goes on and on and on ......., January 16, 2007
This review is from: Crystal Illusions (Audio CD)
With Crystal Illusions, Sergio Mendes and his supergroup Brasil '66 continued their string of excellent albums, blending the best of Brazilian jazz with contemporary American pop. Unlike "Look Around" and "Fool On The Hill", this album did not produce any top 10 pop singles, although "Dock of The Bay" and "Pretty World" did very well on the Adult Contemporary charts. The overall feel of this album is a bit more relaxed than "Look Around", but every bit as enjoyable. The voices of Lani Hall and Karen Philipp blend beautifully, especially on "Viola", "Dois Dias", and "You Stepped Out of a Dream", which is my favorite cut. Lani's voice soars on "Song of No Regret" and Karen gets the opportunity to shine on "Salt Sea". "Empty Faces" and the title song really highlight the musical abilities of each of the group members.

I first heard this album when I was in college in 1969. While it didn't sell as well as its immediate predecessor, time has shown it to have a lasting relevance. This is just a great recording that should not be missed by anyone who enjoys light pop or smooth jazz.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This album is the best work by Sergio Mendez, April 3, 2012
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This review is from: Crystal Illusions (Audio CD)
For those of you who grew up in the 60's, you'll remember this music. This album has some of the best Sergio Mendez ever did. It's a bit less commercialized than his later stuff - more unapologetically Brazilian in flavor. Later albums had him doing more covers of already popular American Music.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great memories, September 3, 2011
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This review is from: Crystal Illusions (Audio CD)
Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 were the best of their genre of music. No other group of talented musicians have come close since. Sergio had a gift himself as well as a gift for putting together great talents. Crystal Illusions doesn't disappoint! The muscians were fantastic and innovative. The pure tones and talent of the singers can stir the very soul. My Dad had this album in the days of vinyl. I'm sure I drove him crazy always "borrowing" his copy. I finally broke down and get a copy of this on disc for myself. I wore Dad's out years ago! I better hide this when he comes to visit!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT, February 6, 2007
By 
COMPUTERJAZZMAN "computerjazzman" (Cliffside Park, New Jersey United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Crystal Illusions (Audio CD)
Excellent album by Sergio Mendes and Brazil '66, this one features Lani Hall singing lead vocals on just about every track. Very relaxing, mellow, and melodic. Great Pop music from the late 60s..........
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5.0 out of 5 stars The world can't love Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 too much, March 18, 2013
By 
Daniel J. McGarigle (EL SEGUNDO, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crystal Illusions (Audio CD)
All the love in the world is not too much for Sergio Mendes (piano), LANI HALL (vocal), KAREN PHILLIP (vocal), Dom Um Romao (drums), Sebastiao Neto(bass) and Rubens Bassini (congas), Dave Grusin's orchestral arrangements and all the people at A&M Records who birthed this album as a great piece of art. This group of magnificent singers and players created the perfect lilt that lifts our hearts and minds through all the songs.
Of note are the Marilyn and Alan Bergman lyrics of "Pretty World" which is the most bravely romantically loving song ever written. Those lyrics are a clarion call to humanity for what we could have for a world by saying - "WHY DON'T WE TAKE A LITTLE PIECE OF SUMMER SKY AND HANG IT ON A TREE, FOR THAT'S THE WAY TO START TO MAKE A PRETTY WORLD FOR YOU AND FOR ME." Can't we all just express that fond wish to each other rather than doing anything else to each other ? Or is life but a trampled dream ? HOW DARE WE ? Let's NEVER FORGET what Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 have given us, and play it all the time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect music of Sergio Mendes and Bossa Nova., August 5, 2014
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This review is from: Crystal Illusions (Audio CD)
This CD was purchased as a replacement for an older CD from the 80s that I had lost in moving. If you like the Brazilian music movement of the 60s and 70s, you will find this to be perfect music of those times: haunting melodies, exquisite vocals and the oh-so lovely bossa nova beat.
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Crystal Illusions
Crystal Illusions by Sergio Mendes (Audio CD - 2006)
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