Os Nordestinos!

In The 1970’s, while the military dictatorship was crumbling and before the economic crisis of the 1980’s kicked in, Brasil had a happy interlude; post-tropicalism, a vivid, unique & independent rock culture emerged, and artists from the Nordeste took over the charts.

Richard Klein presents his 8 essential artists of this moment.

Alceu Valenca

With a stage presence close to David Lee Roth’s, Alceu was very successful in mixing the sounds of his native Pernambuco with what was happening in the seventies in terms of rock. He was the most successful of all the artists from the nordeste in the seventies and nowadays he is something close to carnival royalty in Recife.


Sounding like a nomadic shepherd of the Arabian desert, his intimate and very poetic style made him the voice of his native Ceara in the seventies. Although less influenced by rock than Alceu, he used the electric guitar in his arrangements, as well as orchestras, and had a unique body of work.

Ze Ramalho

Probably the craziest and most original of all the northeastern artists in the seventies, his songs and lyrics were very trippy and his artistic persona almost biblical. This spiritual aura of his work mirrored the medieval religiousness that was still very alive in the northeast in the seventies.


This accordionist almost does not belong to this group. Unlike the three above he came from a humble background and was simply the best of his generation at playing this instrument, which is central to northeastern music. He recorded a lot with Gilberto Gil and other great artists of the time and produced a respectable amount of his own work too.


This artist from Alagoas. although belonging to the same generation and coming from the same region. was more eclectic in his style than the rest of those in this list. Being the only black artist among them, he wrote many samba-like songs as well as many Motown-like R&B tunes, and unashamedly flirted with the tropicalia style. Anyway, above all, his work and his great talent has an unmistakable taste of the Nordeste.

Geraldo Azevedo

A friend of Alceu Valenca and Ze Ramalho with whom he formed a band in the early seventies, of all the names of this list he is the one with the most musical knowledge. Trained as an orchestra conductor, his work is very minimal and beautiful. He sounds best with just a guitar and his voice and although he was not as prolific as his friends, his songs strike deep with everyone who stops to listen.


He was something like the Bob Dylan, the great lyricist of the nordestinos. Although he never recorded anything in northeastern rhythms, only rock and pop, his lyrics described the hard life of immigrants from the nordeste, and his avoidance of using their traditional folkloric styles was a way of saying that the nordestinos were just like anyone else.


Although he can almost be considered a one hit wonder. His song Pavao Misterioso hypnotized the country when it was the opening theme of the novela Saramandaia.

More about Os Nordestinos and the Post-Tropicalistas at Lost Samba

By Richard Klein

Lost Samba's author. British and Brazilian by birth, economist by study, visual effects artist by profession, author by stubbornness