Rescued From The Fire: Zaid Mudhaffer

An ongoing series in which we ask artists the record they’d risk life and limb to save from a burning inferno

Tim Maia - Racional Vol. 1 (Seroma, 1974)

If the world was truly a rational place, men would ride sidesaddle. ~Rita Mae Brown

Musicians going off the rails was par for the course in the ’70s, but Brazilian soul icon Tim Maia (1942 – 1998) wasn’t content playing by regular wild rock star rules. Interrupting a steady stream of albums for Polydor which fused American R&B and traditional Brazilian pop - all self-titled and all reliably brilliant - the beguiling Racional (1975) was the wonderful anomaly in a long and eventful career. Dissatisfied with his regular intake of various mind-bending substances, Maia stumbled upon a book about a way-out sect called Racional Culture which asserted humans weren’t from Earth and should ultimately return to their home planet by spaceship.

Reasoning that these preachings were in fact correct, he promptly and resolutely dedicated himself and his music to the alien-crazed faction. Wholly repulsed, Polydor said nao obrigado, leaving him to release the record (the music of which had nonetheless already been recorded in top-of-the-range facilities) on his microscopic Seroma imprint. It came fortuitously into possession via a trade with a record dealer in exchange for some then-coveted Japanese issue hip-hop 12s.

Tim Maia - Trecho Por Toda Minha Vida

Of all the ultra-proficient singer/songwriter’s puzzling declarations, this was his most outrageous and outlandish. Ironically there’s little awkward or uncomfortable about the record, as most of the monster raving loony lyrics are in Portuguese, and the music is superior enough to afford you to overlook them. It’s notable for its sublime production, but its unique circumstance - capturing a genius briefly trading eccentricity for lunacy at his creative and commercial peak – lends it an extra zany mystique. Making the whole episode all the more curious, Maia abruptly regained his senses not long after releasing Racional Vol 2, shrugged off his descent into delirium as a blip, and proceeded to turn out glorious, assuredly secular work like ‘Brother, Father, Sister and Mother’.

By Zaid Mudhaffer on April 14, 2011

On a different note