Customer Reviews: A Tábua De Esmeralda
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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on June 5, 2000
This 1974 album is a total winner from the 1969-78 period when Jorge Ben, one of Brazil's most unique, distinctive and influential stylists ever, released a masterpiece a year without fail. Acoustic guitar-based, soulful, crafty, catchy, thoughtful, groovy, the songs just blow you away one after another. They're similar and different all at once, and the album is a model of a singer-songwriter honing his craft and nailing it repeatedly. To make a totally random comparison, NOT ONE of John Lennon's solo efforts during the same era match this for consistency and invention, and John would have probably been very pleased to come up with this same record. And I love Lennon! Anyway, this is said to be Jorge's personal favorite of the many fantastic albums he's made, and others worth seeking out include "Ben" (72), "Força Bruta" (70), "Jorge Ben" (1969), "Africa Brasil" (76) and "Samba Esquema Novo" (63). Give this CD a chance--you'll eventually need to hear it every day.
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on June 20, 2003
This album simply sounds amazing. It's primarily driven by Jorge Ben's ultra-funky guitar playing; imagine choppy funk guitar, but played in a Spanish guitar, with a samba influence to all of it; it's got a really unique sound that really must be heard to be grasped. The one other group I'm familiar with that has a similar guitar sound is Café Tacuba (especially their first two albums), but it's not quite the same.
The rest of the band is also wonderful; the drum kit and synth really drive songs like "Os Alquimistas Estão Chegando" over the top. The songs are wonderfully composed and arranged. They make a sophisticated virtue of straightforwardness; or in other words, it's amazing how such sophisticated songs can sound so simple. Jorge's singing shows great variety and effortless spontaneity. I was going to list my favorite tracks, but realized that except for "Brother", they're all great...A must-have.
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VINE VOICEon July 30, 2012
"A Tabua de Esmeralda"--Portuguese for the Emerald Tablet--references a key text in alchemy, whose varied goals included turning base metals into gold and discovering elixirs of immortality and eternal youth. Eternal human concerns, to be sure: trying to make common things valuable, and enjoy them for as long as possible. And Jorge Ben Jor's lyrics (according to Google translate, anyway) reference alchemists and their craft, and theories about earth being populated by ancient alien astronauts, but also touch on the more mundane but equally marvelous areas of magic and mystery--the lure of love and obsession, two forces which musicians never tire of describing in all their strange familiarity.

Just as musicians love singing about love, music critics love making lists--year-end bests, decade-end highlights, and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, the longer the timeframe, the more stagnant the opinion; rather than risk being criticized themselves, they fall back on unimaginative but otherwise unimpeachable choices, rotating lineups of the usual suspects--the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and the like. Great artists, all, but the world's best music isn't the exclusive province of the 375 million or so human beings whose first language is English. (I can't completely hate on lists; I discovered this album because it was #6 on Rolling Stone of Brazil's list of that country's 100 best albums. And to be fair, it's probably impossible to assimilate the entire world's output of recorded music and come up with a single unbiased list that truly weighs everything fairly regardless of origin.) If such lists were truly fair, though, this album would rank up there with, say, Revolver or Sticky Fingers.

It's a gorgeous piece of work, full of intricate guitars, stunning strings, and lovely vocals, all assembled in amazing arrangements. (Jorge Ben Jor's been making a living making music for a half century, and earning a worldwide audience in the meantime, and by his own estimation, this is his best work.) One needn't speak Portuguese to fall in love with it, though; the melodies and rhythms are infectious enough that the songs work even if you don't understand them. (On second thought, "work" is too weak a word for what these songs accomplish; if you're like me, they'll cast their spell on heart and mind until the album's an indispensable part of your collection, no matter how large it may be. You'll end up entranced by it, listening to it multiple times some days, and thinking of it fondly when you're not.) It may be impossible to turn lead into gold chemically, or to achieve immortality and youth through the same means, but it is at least possible to discover musical gold, and albums that make you feel young and happy every time you listen to them--albums destined for immortality.
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on May 12, 2016

I had it on mp3 years ago, it was ok, but it was mp3. I need this classic on readily available cd version.

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on June 25, 2005
In my life, I've always been searching for the perfect sound much like a surfer attempts to find the perfect wave. I don't play music, but I listen, I listen with the best of them. My tastes are wide ranging, eclectic and discerning. I'm always open minded, and on the look out for anything I haven't heard but might like.

But even when I've found a sound that I really love, and that sounds like what I've always been looking for(such as Stereolab), a wanderlust always crops up again, and thats how it should be, if we only listened to the same thing we'd become stagnant. That said, even as I go on to other music, I'd always wanted to know that I wouldn't be going on to greater music, that the music I had found was for now the pinnacle of what I'd always wanted to hear.

Jorge Ben is that sound. To me, he is the single greatest musician songwriter in the world that ever was. His sound is utterly unique and majestic, rhythmic, soulfull, spiritual, poetic, perfect. Perfect. Nothing is perfect. Except his music. The only perfect thing in an imperfect universe.

This album is spectacular. I recommend it more highly than any other. Ben is a vocal vertuoso always. A master songwriter. A man who found his inner voice and sound and nailed it down and just couldn't fail to write a mesmerizing rhythmic masterpiece.

Another reviewer here really hit it on the head when he said that Ben went 10 yrs where every year he produced a masterpiece. I have many of those masterpieces. I recommend them all.

Its quite amazing that a musician of this caliber can't even get his albums sold on Amazon. Its really a travesty that I had to go to another rare cd site for Negro E Lindo, Ben, and his collaboration with Gilberto Gil. If you're even reading this and you're American, you've traveled quite a long way off the beaten path and really discovered a musical Shangri-la. Enjoy it. You're in a special place.
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on August 24, 2000
This is a great album--funky, rootsy, catchy pop tunes with that great 1970's production and totally singable melodies. All the songs on this album are good--my favorites being "Magnolia" and "Os Alquimistas...". This is a great starting point for someone wanting to discover Jorge Ben (later to be called Jorge Ben Jor). This period is much better than his his 80's and 90's bland electric funk era. Also check out "Samba Esquema Novo" to hear his early samba hits.
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on July 5, 2009
Outside of Os Mutantes, I don't know a great deal about Brazilian music. Forgive me if you, having more expertise in the genre, find anything outright absurd in my commentary. However, I do know what I like, and after acquiring "A Tabua de Esmeralda" based on a friend's recommendation, I must say, this is charming, fun stuff, even if well outside my musical comfort zone. Ben's funky guitar and airy vocals, backed with some stellar string arrangements, are melodic without being sugary, and free-flowing without being "easy listening." Much like the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds," this is a summery album with depth. "A Tabua de Esmeralda" is layered and textured in a way that few pop music albums are--there's more going on than just a guy with a guitar and some tasteful backing. The record as whole has the vibe of a samba pop/soul album with borderline classical appointments, almost like a Brazilian Serge Gainsbourg. It's not samba, folk, pop, soul, or rock; it's an unique combination of all those genres and more. I can't comment on the lyrical content, but I can say that this music is delightful and definitely worth a spin in the warmer months. Cheers.
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on February 14, 2015
i found these reviews as i was looking for some kind of forum online to discuss my belief that Jorge Ben is one of the most talented musicians of the 20th century. I dont speak Portuguese yet this album is one of the most intense listening experiences ive had in my 39 years on Earth. How is Jorge Ben not a global superstar? I don't know. I just keep going from revelation to revelation as I make my way through his discography. Please buy this album. Buy a copy for your best friend. Buy a copy for your mother. It is timeless and flawless and I agree with the other reviewer that listening to it becomes a daily need.
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on September 14, 2002
this album is phenomenal -- all the previous reviewers are correct in their repective analysis. the music boars beneath your skin and becomes entwined with your soul. good music, really good music, at certain times gives you this strange shiver throughout your body as your heart opens to the infinite possibilities of the universe and for a brief, shimmering moment everything is perfect, as though you're being touched by the hand of god (if you believe in that sort of thing). this album has given me that feeling countless times. every song is so full of love that they're bursting at the seams. "zumbi," i think, might be the greatest song ever written. other favorites include "os alquimistas," "errare humanum est," "eu vou torcer," "minha teimosa," and the last three songs as well. i don't speak a lick of portugeuse, but it doesn't even matter -- i can almost tell what the songs are about without knowing the words. music is universal, afterall. a few comparisons, if you're not already sold -- a tropical, mellower james brown; or stevie wonder jamming with bob marley channeling the spirit of john coltrane. take your pick. just buy this album -- it'll change your life.
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on May 7, 1999
A great disc from a great artist. Even for those who don't speak Portuguese this disc is very enjoyable. Every song is good. An amazing disc that is worth every penny.
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