Peep the Summer Glow playlist and you’ll find, nestled amongst some musical gems, Sergio Mendes’ trademark bossanova classic ‘Mas Que Nada’, a song so good it almost defies description. But if you thought that this tune defines Mendes’ career, then think again friend. It is merely the tip of the iceberg. And frozen within that iceberg is some incredible collaborative work with another firm Twelve Bar favorite, none other than Mr Stevie Wonder. His is a musical mine which reveals layer upon layer of sheer magic and which never seems likely to stop producing solid gold gems for us to explore and shine into little nuggets of musical miscellany.
One little avenue worth pursuing is, therefore, the series of late-1970s collaborations between Stevie and the king of jazz and funk fuelled bossa nova, Mr Sergio Mendes. This mutual love-in resulted in many a great Brazilian groove over Wonder classic cuts, but also some specific tunes penned for Mendes to make his own. And greatest of these, to my mind, is the wonderful proto-House funk of 1977's "The Real Thing". Oozing Wonder's sense of lyrical elegance and melodic tone, in Mendes' hands the tune takes on a depth of groove and layers of soulful mystique that even the composer could not have foreseen. Harmonised vocals echo throughout, giving the tune a dreamy brilliance, but it is the drums, set out early on, which drive the tune along in its sultry and sensuous brilliance.