Timeless is Sergio Mendes first release in eight years, and sees the Brazilian legend teaming up with Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.I.Am and some of the industries current big names with his bossa nova based and salsa-tinged classics being given a modern R’n'B makeover.
The opening number, the ageless Mas Que Nada (in this instance with the Black Eyed Peas), is a Mendes classic having first been released by his band Brasil ’66 longer ago than your parents would probably care to remember. The rest of us will remember it either from the Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery soundtrack, or even more recently in the Nike TV ads. You know it’s a good track to stand out even after this length of time. You may not be familiar with the other tracks on the album, but you’re going to be hearing a lot of them over the coming months as there is definitely more than one chart topper in this selection.
Having gathered together the likes of Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, India Arie and Justin Timberlake the selection process is flawless. Each featured artist brings something new and unique to the album. This is a far cry from the Sergio Mendes that his long-term fans will be expecting, but each track has been given an edge that only they could bring to it without in any way detracting from the original. The Mendes style also brings something new to the artists, you needn’t necessarily expect their standard fare on this album. Needless to say that anything introducing Mendes to a new generation has got to be worthy of a round of applause.
Several of the tracks really stand out: Please Baby Don’t featuring John Legend – a new song rather than a reworking – is a real classic and Legend’s crooning vocals make it a real audio treat. Title track Timeless with India.Arie is another that truly will be and Let Me from Jill Scott and Will.I.Am is another great tune. Honourable mentions should also go to E Menina and also to the strangely addictive Fo’-Hop featuring Guinga and Marcello D2.
However, it’s worth noting that these are the tracks which stay closest to Mendes’ original style, retaining a timeless feeling whilst still having a modern edge. Some tracks, such as Loose Ends, with its social message by Justin Timberlake (who apparently wrote the track), Will.I.Am and Pharoahe Monch, are so intrinsically rooted in the here-and-now that, although they are great, some of that feeling gets lost.
That said, this is a quality piece of craftsmanship and there isn’t a weak point on the album. Not everyone will like every track, and some of them will not stand the passage of time, but for the Summer of 2006 this is perfect.