Os Paralamas Do Sucesso are one of the best Brazilian rock bands of the 1980s "BRock" scene, and one of the longest lived of these bands. They started out with a playful, New Wave-y sound, and gradually settled into more of a ska-tinged alt-rock mode. Here's a quick look at their work...
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "Cinema Mudo" (EMI, 1983)
The first album by one of the best bands of the 1980s BRock movement. This is brisk, cheerfully dorky, ska-flavored New Wave/New Romantic pop, not unlike Southern California's Oingo Boingo or other early '80s MTV bands. The bespectacled Herbert Vianna was the band's principal songwriter -- here he also co-writes a tune or two, including one with Renato Russo of the equally well-known Legiao Urbana, and covers one of Russo's bounciest pop-punk anthems, "Quimica." Os Paralamas sounded pretty up to date with what was happening in the UK and US, and their stylistic range is impressive, even if they occasionally try a trick or two that may have been ill-advised (mostly cheesy guitar solos or flowery key changes...) I never really liked this kind of music that much when I heard it in English, but it is interesting to know that there were bands that also sounded like this in Brazil, and that some of these bands did it so well. This album is a little rough compared to the ones that followed, but it's still a landmark in Brazilian rock.
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "O Passo Do Lui" (EMI, 1984)
Their second album makes an impressive leap into subtler performances and richer, more nuanced production. The ska and dub elements are still at play, with perhaps a touch of The Police and The Specials becoming apparent. Herbert Vianna is still the principal songwriter, and the vocals are much richer and more cleanly mixed than on their debut. Fusion saxophonist Leo Gandleman guests, as does rocker Lulu Santos (who sings harmony on one of his own songs); Vinicius Cantuaria is also thanked in the liner notes, although I don't think he plays on the album. Again, this style of music wasn't my cup of tea back in the '80s when it was new, but it's kinda cool to hear it being played by someone in Brazil, and this album is definitely more interesting than the first one was. Worth checking out!
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "Selvagem?" (EMI, 1986)
(Produced by Liminha)
Wow... talk about leaps and bounds! This disc opens with a rousing West African-styled world beat dance gem, "Alagados," a sound that was briefly hinted at on their previous album, followed by several pop-reggae numbers, all of which sound pretty convincing. This time around, they are produced by the ubiquitous ex-Mutante, Liminha, whose work with Gilberto Gil around the same time was utterly disasterous. Here, though, he simply smooths things out, providing a helpful pop feel... Mainly, though, the band is the driving force -- they're growing more confident and more relaxed with each album, yet it's still fresh to them, and it feels like they're having fun finding their artistic voice. A very dubby, reggaed-out album, and very nice. Recommended.
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "Bora Bora" (EMI, 1988)
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "Big Bang" (EMI, 1989)
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "Os Graos" (EMI, 1991)
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "Severino" (EMI, 1994)
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "Vamobatelata: Paralamas Ao Vivo" (EMI, 1995)
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "9 Lunas" (EMI, 1996)
Competently produced modern rock, with a strong ska background. They go through a wide variety of styles -- the straight-ahead ska is fun, the more thudding guitar rock, less so. Somewhere also in the mix is a richly layered alt-y sound, and a bit of reggae and rap. This is a little too mainstream for my tastes, but if you're looking for a nice example of the best Brazilian rock, this is a pretty good choice. I think that this was their tenth album...
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "D" (EMI, 1997)
A solid, slick modern ska-rock set, recorded live at the 1987 Montreaux Jazz Festival. Didn't completely float my boat, but they were definitely a sharper, more capable and more credible modern rock band than many of their Brazilian contemporaries, and this performances certainly captured them at their best. Worth checking out.
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "Hey Na Na" (EMI, 1998)
(Produced by Chico Neves)
Another nice album from this capable modern rock band. They go through a wide variety of styles, with catchy melodic hooks thoughout. Some songs are fairly facile, while others have very sophisticated production and creative sound design, courtesy of Chico Neves. The distorted violin on "Scream Poetry," in particular, is kind of interesting. Again, not entirely my cup of tea, but if you want to check out the BRock sound, this is a fine, inoffensive album.
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "Acustico MTV" (EMI, 1999)
One of Brazil's best-known modern rock bands does the "MTV acoustic" bit, with all the usual stylistic fudging and corner-cutting that entails. A cheerful mix of ska and bar-band blues, with bouncy horn arrangements throughout. It didn't bowl me over, but I also didn't find irritating. (If I was more familiar with the original studio versions of these songs, I'm sure I might find it more fascinating... as it was it was definitely worth checking out. I'm sure longtime fans will be pleased.)
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "Longe Caminho" (EMI, 2003)
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "Hoje" (EMI, 2004)
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "Uns Dias Ao Vivo" (EMI, 2004)
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "Brasil Afora" (EMI, 2009)
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "Brasil Afora" (EMI, 2009)
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "Arquivo" (EMI, 1999)
Os Paralamas Do Sucesso "Arquivo, v.2" (EMI, 1999)
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