“Mateo solo bien se lame,” is a record that requires many superlatives in order to do it justice: from it’s first moments, the music is lilting, poetic, intimate, in turns life-affirming and melancholic, with pulsating percussion backed by unheard-of guitar chords and tunings (perhaps the reason for the frequent Caetano Veloso and Nick Drake comparisons); it is an album that sounds—simply put—honest. The record was released at the end of 1972 in both Argentina and Uruguay, and was received from that first moment as a classic in those countries, a position it still occupies today.
When El Kinto co-founder and iconoclastic maniac Eduardo Mateo traveled to Buenos Aires in October of 1971 to record what came to be “Mateo solo bien se lame,” his situation was unusual. With the explosion of candombe-beat music on the popular scene, Mateo had become a living legend of Uruguayan music. Yet apart from the “Musicasión 4 1/2” compilation, which had been released in July of that year, there were no published recordings of Mateo available, whether as a soloist or with his already dissolved group El Kinto. By this time, the public had a clear notion of the dreamy character of Mateo that by the end of his brief life had made him a part-time panhandler and apparent acid casualty. But they still wanted a record by him. It was singer Diane Denoir who gave the final push. She was in Argentina finishing a record for the De la Planta label that included eight songs written by Mateo. Denoir insisted that Mateo participate as arranger for three of these grooves. With Mateo in Buenos Aires, the owners of De la Planta decided to take the necessary steps to record him. This was not easy, as Mateo tried to erase everything he recorded as soon as it was put onto tape, and that only on the rare occasions when he showed up ready to play. In the end, engineers Carlos Píriz and Eduardo Rozas selected material for the album from hours of free improvisations, and formed the album as it appears today.
Our first Lion Productions volume of Mateo’s solo recordings includes the entire “Mateo Solo Bien Se Lame” album, plus a variety of tracks from Mateo’s early solo years. The eight bonus tracks include songs originally issued in Uruguay on the legendary “Musicasión 4 1/2” LP, two tracks live from a bowling alley (!), as well as four very special early recordings backing female singers: two sung by the lovely Diane Denoir, and two by the mysterious Verónica Indart.
Special slip-case edition comes with an oversize 48-page full-blown booklet packed with photos, text, and lyrics, which tries to unravel some of the myth surrounding this great surrealist poet and drug casualty, whose decline and ultimate madness and early death have done nothing to diminish his stature as one of the greatest artists in South American music.