Sergio Mendes / Look Around – Speakers Corner Reviewed

More Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66

A textbook case of Live and Learn.

Sonic Grade: C

We were fairly impressed with the Speakers Corner pressing of this album when it came out on Heavy Vinyl in 2001.

Since then we have learned a thing or two. Their version is decent, not bad, but by no stretch of the imagination can it compete with any Hot Stamper pressing found on our site.

As you may have noticed, we here at Better Records are HUGE Sergio Mendes fans. Nowhere else in the world of music can you find the wonderfully diverse thrills that this group offers. We go CRAZY for the breathy multi-tracked female vocals and their layers of harmonies, the brilliant percussion, and, let us never forget, the critically important piano work and arrangements of Sergio himself.

Brasil ’66, Equinox and Stillness are ALL Desert Island Discs for us, but we enjoy the hell out of their other albums as well. This stuff never sounds dated to us. We love the albums of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao and Astrud Gilberto from the period, albums which no doubt served as templates for the style Sergio wanted to create with his new ensemble, but Brazil 66 is clearly a step up in every way: songwriting, arranging, production, and quality of musicianship.

Just play the group’s amazing versions of Watch What Happens, Night and Day, or Jobim’s own Wave to hear the kind of Mendes Magic that makes us swoon. For audiophiles it just doesn’t get any better. Almost. Stillness is still the Ultimate, on the level of a Dark Side of the Moon or Tea for the Tillerman, but the first album and Equinox and specific tracks on their other albums are not far behind.

This recording ranks high on our Difficulty of Reproduction Scale. Do not attempt to play it using any but the best equipment.

The vocals will tear your head off when they start to get loud unless you are using a very good cartridge and arm. In a way, this is the perfect record to show how much progress you are making in audio. I remember playing these albums only a few years ago and hearing LOTS of harmonic distortion and other unpleasant qualities in the sound. With those very same pressings today, the sound is DRAMATICALLY better.


Side One

With a Little Help from My Friends
Like a Lover
The Frog
Tristeza (Goodbye Sadness)

Side Two

The Look of Love
Pardizer Adeus (To Say Goodbye)
Batucada (The Beat)
So Many Stars
Look Around