Legiao Urbana were one of the key bands in Brazil's first wave of commercially successful "BRock" alt-rock bands of the 1980s. Originally they were a punk group -- formed from the ashes of the short-lived Aborto Eletrico, which also included future members of the BRock band Capital Inicial. Led by songwriter and lead singer Renato Russo, Legiao Urbana shifted into hard rock and indie-pop; later on, Russo became increasingly interested in softer ballads and more introspective themes... Russo died in 1996 from AIDS-related disease, prompting the dissolution of the band. Here's a quick look at their work...
Legiao Urbana "Legiao Urbana" (EMI-Odeon, 1985)
Legiao Urbana "Dois" (EMI-Odeon, 1986)
Although widely revered by fans of the so-called BRock scene, on their second album this supposedly once-punk rock band sounds pretty mild by non-Brazilian standards. By some stretch of the imagination, I suppose these acoustic-ish, New Wave-y pop tunes could almost be seen as wispy, twee indiepop, but I think the real kinship is more along the lines of Wham or Culture Club. Lead singer Renato Russo's vocals are really hammy, and the arrangements are kind of rinky-dink; nevertheless, this is one of Legiao Urbano's most popular albums, and is considered a landmark in Brazilian pop. I wouldn't recommend this album as the first disc to try if you've never heard this band, although I'm sure many Legiao fans will write to tell me how completely wrong I am...
Legiao Urbana "Que Pais E Este: 1978-1987" (EMI, 1987)
Their third album dips back into the band's punk rock past, featuring a bunch of hard rock tunes with a '77-ish edge. Renato Russo yowls expressively, but the guitars are dull and overly clean -- too Steve Vai-like to be very engaging. There's also a touch of ska on here, but nothing to get overly excited about. Half best-of, half odds-and-ends collection, this collects old hits, alternate takes and various one-offs, as well as some older songs re-recorded for this disc. It sums up this famed BRock band's first decade pretty well, with the transition from Billy Idol-ish sorta-punks to more nuanced, U2-ish emotive power ballad crooners. Some of singer Renato Russo's earlier politically and socially conscious lyrics were too controversial to record (or at least release) when the band first formed, as the Brazilian military dictatorship was still in its actively repressive years. But it's fun to listen back to now, even if some of the music is a bit silly-sounding to folks who are familiar with the best classic punk. Still, the song "Quimica," with its Buzzcocks-y, '77-ish "oooohh-oooohh-oh!" chorus, is pretty convincing (this is an alternate version) and other tunes have an emotional punch as well. Great liner notes as well, for anyone who wants to learn more about the band.
Legiao Urbana "As Quatro Estacoes" (EMI-Odeon, 1989)
Legiao Urbana "As Quatro Estacoes Ao Vivo" (EMI-Odeon, 1990)
2-CD live set
Legiao Urbana "V" (EMI-Odeon, 1991)
Legiao Urbana "Musica Para Acampamento" (EMI-Odeon, 1992)
Legiao Urbana "O Descobrimento Do Brasil" (EMI-Odeon, 1993)
Legiao Urbana "A Tempestade" (EMI-Odeon, 1996)
Legiao Urbana "Uma Otro Estacao" (EMI, 1997)
Released after the death of vocalist Renato Russo, this was their final studio album and reveals a much more mature, accomplished band -- slick, confident, more reverby and grandiose on the more orchestrated numbers. Several songs are pretty catchy, in a folk-rock-y kind of way, and midway through the album becomes more acoustically oriented. There's a mournful, haunting edge that creeps into the album, presumably because of Russo's ongoing, and soon to be terminal, struggle with HIV disease. As far as I can determine, some of these songs were already in the can when Russo died, while others were recorded by the remaining bandmembers afterwards (including some material he wrote, but never had the chance to record). Tim Buckley fans might get into this album... heck, I'd even recommend it.
Legiao Urbana "Acustico MTV Legiao Urbana" (EMI, 1999)
Legiao Urbana "Como E Que Se Diz Eu Te Amo" (EMI, 2001)
Legiao Urbana "Mais Do Mesmo" (EMI, 1998)
A best-of covering all their biggest hits... If you want to check these rockers out, this might be a good place to start. On the whole, though this is fairly dull rock-pop material, at its rawest, a bit like Billy Idol.
Legiao Urbana "Por Enquanto" (Box Set) (EMI, 2002)
A 6-CD box set...
Jerry Adriani "Forza Sempre" (Universal-Indie, 1999)
A set of Italian-language covers sung by 1960s jovem guarda star Jerry Adriani...
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