Lovely Luciane writes a guestpost on one of the greatest singers ever, Elis Regina:
Absolutely delightful! There's no other way to put it. I found these little gems on a compilation of rare Elis Regina tracks called 20 Anos de Saudade. But I could have never imagined I'd hear Elis singing in French. The classic "Samba da benção" became "Samba Saravah" in this perfect version written by Pierre Barouh. Like any classic, I wouldn't expect a version in another language to be as good, but Barouh nailed it. "Être heureux, c'est plus ou moins ce qu'on cherche..." Elis sings those words with a sweet and husky voice. Her playful and relaxed tone just invites you to surrender to the groovy, jazzy beat of this samba à la française.
The song was recorded live in 1968 during one of her concerts at the Olympia, in Paris -- and released only as a 7" single. And in spite of her legendary nervousness before getting on stage, you can tell the audience fell in love. Elis was the only brazilian singer to perform there twice the same year. And those who were there? Very lucky people, indeed... Because, as far as I know, there's no full record of either of those concerts -- and in the case it remains a treasure, I'm more than happy to enjoy this taste. She's so comfortable, you can hear her plaisir and the sound of her smiles as she sings every word. Her band, which she introduces right in the beginning of the song, is also impeccable. If I wasn't Brazilian, I'd say "Samba da benção" (by Vinicius de Moraes and Baden Powell) is even better in French. I'm tempted... Because little pepper, Barouh and the band make quite the convo. And her malemolência (something like a mixture of joyful swing and malice) is simply sultry.
That same year, Elis and Barouh made it to the studio together and recorded a duo. "La nuit de masques" is Barouh's adaptation -- en Français, bien sûre -- to "Noite dos mascarados", a tasty marchinha in the best Chico Buarque style. "Qui êtes-vous? Si tu m'aimes, tu dois deviner," they playfully ask each other as if wearing masks on a carnival day in Rio. It's a song to make you smile and take someone by the hand into this ball of sunshine and gracious naiveté. "Mais c'ést Carnaval et qu'importe aujourd'hui qui tu es?" This is pure joie de vivre!
Finally, "La nuit de mon amour" is Barouh's version to "A noite do meu bem," the biggest hit by radio singer Dolores Duran -- another prodigy who also sang in several languages and died young... Elis is alone with her feelings when she sings this disillusioned ballad about a woman who has finally found love, but is not sure if she can give back all the purity she sees. Can it ever be too late? "La nuit de mon amour" might not give you the answer, but if you have to cry, then bottoms up and let Elis put you to bed.
For the curious and collectors, both "La nuit de mon amour" and "La nuit des masques" were originally released in 1968 in the EP album called "Elis em Paris," while "Samba Saravah" came out that same year as 7" single 365.234 PB. But you can find all three songs (and 25 more) in the compilation "20 Anos de Saudade." Happy listening. Viva Elis.
Elis Regina - La nuit des masques
Elis Regina - La nuit de mon amour
Elis Regina - Samba Saravah