Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Day After The Sabbath 113: Acid Nightmare [Portugal pt.1]

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The first new volume for the new year, and it's a country that has had no exposure anywhere on the blog yet, Portugal. After a tricky start I found more than enough tdats-friendly cuts for one volume, so this is part 1, a selection of the heaviest offerings. The forthcoming second part will be a more eclectic set. This is all good stuff, passing through the late '60s groovy beat of Quarteto 1111, the proto-metal heavies Beatnicks and Heavy Band, the nasty prog of Tantra, to the heavy metal of Xeque Mate and NZZN. The cover art is an interpretation of Adamastor. It's a mythological character that symbolised the forces of nature that Portuguese sailors had to confront during the country's time of its explorations. It was famed by the poet Luís de Camões in his classical 1572 work, "Os Lusíadas".

In a similar way to Franco's Spain, the fascist 'Estado Novo' political regime (over-thrown in 1974) was a particular hindrance on rock music. Patriotic, traditional folk and pop music was encouraged and the PIDE security agency (wiki) was used to censor and destroy music that was deemed subversive. It is clear there were very few rock releases for a country of Portugal's size, although there seems to have been a healthy-enough beat scene in the '60s to enable the creation of the four "Portuguese Nuggets" volumes (link). Bands such as SheiksThe Chinchillas, Banda 4 and Quinteto Académico are some of the '60s bands that laid the groundwork for Portuguese rock. It would appear that after 1974 progressive rock made a belated start, with names like Tantra, Quarteto 1111, Petrus Castrus and Banda do Casaco starting to catch up with the times, the first two of those appear in this volume. Another good CD to look at if you want to investigate more seventies sounds is "Psychadelic Portugal" (link).

Festival de Vilar de Mouros
Festival de Vilar de Mouros
The first proper rock festival in Portugal was 1971's Festival de Vilar de Mouros on the 7th & 8th of August, which had between 20,000 and 30,000 visitors. The event was enjoyed by the crowds who had never seen such a thing before, but the organisers needed to sell 50,000 tickets to break-even, and it was not put on again until 11 years later.  There's lots to read in Portuguese here: link1link2link3. The two big international names appearing were Manfred Mann and Elton John. Quarteto 1111 and Pop Five Music Incorporated, who are both in this comp, were there. Also appearing were Objectivo and Psico, who will both be in the next one.

TRACKS
01. Beatnicks - Back In Town (1972)
       single
02. Beatnicks - Money (1972)
       single
03. Quarteto 1111 - Bissaide (1969)
       'Nas Terras Do Fim Do Mundo' single
04. Xarhanga - Acid Nightmare (1973)
       from single and retrospective album 'Bota Fora'
05. Xarhanga - Wish Me Luck (1973)
       from single and retrospective album 'Bota Fora'
06. Arte & OfÍcio - Lobster Society (1979)
       from album 'Faces'
07. Xeque Mate - Vampiro Da Uva (1981)
       single
08. Tantra - Maquina da Felicidade (1977)
       from album 'Mistérios e Maravilhas'
09. Heavy Band - Beggarman (1972)
       single
10. Heavy Band - Funky (1972)
       single
11. Go Graal Blues Band - The Fault Is Her Own (1979)
       from album 'Go Graal Blues Band'
12. Go Graal Blues Band - They Send Me Away (1980)
       single
13. Pop Five Music Incorporated - Stand By (1971)
       single
14. Pop Five Music Incorporated - Page One (1970)
       single
15. José Cid - Doce E Fácil Reino Do Blá, Blá, Blá (1972)
       from 'Green Windows' album and 'Cantiga Portuguesa' single
16. NZZN - Vem Daí (1981)
       single

references
Perolas do Rock'n'Roll | Euro Pop Music Rock em Portugal
Portuguese 80s Metal | RateYourMusic | Discogs.com
Whiplash.net

Starting the volume is one of its heaviest tracks, from Lisbon's Beatnicks. They made some of Portugal's best and heaviest rock in the '70s, with the "Cristine Goes to Town / Sing It Along / Little School Boy" and "Money / Back in Town" singles. They introduced progressive/electronic influences on later singles (youtube) which were good but very different, by the time of 1982's Aspectos Humanos album they had been through major line-up changes and seem to have become an inoffensive progressive pop band. Oh well, listen to "Back In Town" and it's clear they had the chops to become Portugal's top hard rock act, it's original and brilliant from start to end! Final members Ramiro Martins (bass, guitar), Antonio Emiliano (keyboards) and Tó Leal (vocals, percussion) all appear to have made more music later but nothing of interest here. There is an interesting article here (portuguese, english), regarding the many changes the Beatnicks went through, including the brief membership of female singer Lena d'Água, and guitarist Manuel Cardoso, who was later in Tantra (coming later on here). Read Rock em Portugal's full Beatnicks bio here.


Quarteto 1111 c. 1969
Lisbon's Quarteto 1111 did not make a lot of music of interest to tdats, but the song I've used, "Bissaide", is a grooving monster, and they were a cornerstone band in Portuguese rock. They began in the 1960s, influenced by the sounds of The Shadows, as many new bands were. According to an article at europopmusic.eu, the first Quarteto 1111 LP was banned by the PIDE for founding member José Cid's subversive lyrics and song titles. They made ground-breaking orchestral and symphonic pop singles in a similar vein to The Moody Blues, of which "A Lenda De El Rei D. Sebastião" (youtube) is particularly remembered. After the fascist regime's demise, they made an album in 1975 called "Cantamos Pessoas Vivas". It was Portugal's first proper progressive rock album. The band broke up and keyboardist/singer José Cid, who had already made some solo albums by this time, continued Quarteto 1111's prog legacy with the LP "10.000 Anos Depois Entre Vénus e Marte" (10,000 Years Later Between Venus and Mars) in 1978. There'll be more on José later. Read Rock em Portugal's full Quarteto 1111 bio here.

Xarhanga Acid Nightmare single 1973
Xarhanga
Acid Nightmare single 1973
(l-r) Júlio Pereira (
guitar)
Rui Venâncio (drums)
Carlos Patrício 
(bass)
Carlos Cavalheiro 
(vocals)
We move on to the next crazy-heavy track, this comp's namesake, from Lisbon's Xarhanga. 'Acid Nightmare' is a screaming slab of Deep Purple worship. Carlos Cavalheiro trys to hit the high notes like Ian Gillan, and sometimes he even manages it! There's really nothing else from Portugal to compare with at the time. Their singles were recorded in the PolySom studio in Lisbon. The band was Júlio Pereira, (keyboards, piano, guitar, ex-Petrus Castrus), Carlos Cavalheiro, (vocals, to Alarm ) and Carlos Patrício (bass). Rui Venâncio drummed on the first single (included here) and Zé da Cadela (ex-Objectivo) drummed on the second single "Great Goat / Smashing Life (In a City)". There is very little additional information on Xarhanga, but Júlio Pereira and Carlos Cavalheiro made an album in 1975 called "Bota Fora" which was a different kind of affair, not hard rock but latin-flavoured progressive rock with prominent piano and keyboards. This album was re-issued in 2008, with all the Xarhanga singles as a bonus, by the 'Portuguese Progressive Pearls' label.

Arte & Ofício
Arte & Ofício
For track 6 we come to the first band that is not from the capital, Lisbon. Arte & Ofício were from the next largest city, Porto. They included veteran Álvaro Azevedo (drums, vocals) who was in Pop Five Music Incorporated and Psico, both of which will appear later. Singer António Garcez was also in Roxigénio in the '80s, who's first album I checked out and wasn't very impressed by. Arte & Ofício don't have anything in common with Pop Five Music Incorporated or Psico. They are humorous, often slickly funky, sometimes progressive, and don't rock that much other than the track I used here and a few others on the debut 'Faces' album, "Young Chicks", "Contradiction" and "All We Have To Do" are pretty good. Side one is where it's at. They do have a certain quirky something though, the playing is all top-notch and they sound like they are enjoying what they do, which goes a long way in making a record enjoyable to listen to. "Lobster Society" is funny and might be the first time I have ever heard what sounds like a genuine fart incorporated into a song, not to mention the burping and helium vocals. The recording session would have been amusing to watch at least.

Xeque-MateIt's time for some heavy metal with Porto's Xeque-Mate. They formed in 1981 and managed to get a single out the same year, making it one of Portugal's first metal releases. Many thanks to the great archive at Portugal 80s Metal (link) for the following info: Originally they were Francisco Soares (vocals), António Soares (guitar), Aurélio Santos (bass) and Joaquim Fernandes (drums). From the 6 demo tracks they recorded in Lisbon at Arnaldo Trindade studios, "Vampiro Da Uva" and "Entornei o Molho" were released as the single on label Metro-Som in 1981. The single got them an appearance on national TV RTP2. They entered the Grande Maratona do Rock Português (Great Marathon of the Portuguese Rock), along with Jarojupe (link), Bico d`Obra (link), NZZN, TNT (link). The 3 day marathon was organized by the "Musicalíssimo" newspaper, between December 18th and 20th 1981 at the Pavilhão do Cevadeiro, Vila Franca De Xira. After an album in 1985, the band split in 1989. They reunited in 2007 and have played a few times since. Read a lot more information here.

Tantra Mistérios e Maravilhas 1977
Tantra - Mistérios e Maravilhas LP - 1977
At the half-way mark now and it's time for some pure progressive rock in the vein of Yes or Genesis, from Lisbon's Tantra. Having more or less completely missed out on hard rock in the early '70s, late in the game compared to other countries, Portugal showed a flair for prog rock in the late '70s. Tantra was one of the first examples. The song used here, "Maquina da felicidade", is the centerpiece of their debut LP, "Mistérios e Maravilhas". It's a cool track, keeping the attention over its 13 minute length and getting quite nasty. The whole album is very impressive, even more so for a debut from apparently inexperienced musicians. The band was started by guitarist Manuel Cardoso and keys player Armando Gama. Cardoso was in the previously-mentioned Beatnicks for a short time. In fact, Tantra's first shows were supporting Beatnicks. The name Tantra came from Cardoso's interest in Yoga.

Final album
"Humanoid Flesh"
Maybe taking a few queues from Peter Gabriel, Cardoso started wearing rubber sci-fi monster masks on stage (you can see him wearing one of a character from "Soylent Green" on the final album). Gama was replaced by Pedro Luís for the second album, 1979's "Holocausto". This album was slicker, with less heaviness and more emphasis on electronics, prog heads may dig it but it's not as interesting as the debut to me. Things took a real nose dive in in 1981 with the final album, "Humanoid Flesh". Song titles like "Girl in my Head" and "What Have Your Eyes Done to Me" will attest that they took some bizarre U-turn into New Wave, making an album that seems to be a failed attempt to emulate the qualities of The Cars. The album totally bombed and they were finished. I guess Cardosa was trying to go with the times, and the general loss of interest in prog, but his next electro-pop project as "Frodo" was just as bad and it now appears to be totally forgotten. Read Rock em Portugal's Tantra bio here.

Heavy Band Beggarman single
Heavy Band
Beggarman single
Details regarding Heavy Band are very sketchy, especially in English. The band was Filipe Mendes (guitar), Zé Nabo (bass), João Heitor (drums) and São Paulo-born Fernando Girão (vocals). Mendes was previously in Chinchillas, and would later be in Psico and Roxigénio. Girão moved to Portugal when he was 17 and initially joined Pentágono, then Heavy Band. According to wikipedia (link) Heavy Band briefly moved to Angola in the early '70s and adopted some African influence, but I can't say I can hear it in Beggar Man. They recorded two singles, the second one was called "Your New Motel" but seems to have been made up of five 'movements' spread over both sides (link), unfortunately I haven't been able to hear it anywhere yet.

Go Graal Blues Band
Go Graal Blues Band
On to track 11, and one of the only bluesrock bands that released anything in Portugal in the '70s. Starting in 1977, by the time of their 1979 debut album Lisbon's Go Graal Blues Band had stabilised as Paulo Gonzo (vocals, harmonica), João Allain (guitar), Raul Barrigas dos Anjos (drums), Augusto Mayer (Harmonica), António Ferro (bass), J. Esteves (guitar) and João Cordeiro (lead vocals). it had mostly old school blues tracks, but there were a couple of up tempo ones like the opener "Baby, I wanna..." and the one I used here, "The Fault Is Her Own". In 1980 and '81 the band produced some singles with a tougher sound, including "They Send Me Away". "Lay Down" even had a gruff, almost punk sound to it like Dr. Feelgood. The next album was in 1982, with only Paulo Gonzo and João Allain remaining, According to the biography at Rock em Portugal (link), 1983's 'Blackmail' EP was the heaviest thing they recorded, and their final album was the "more mature sounding" So Down Train in 1987. Paulo Gonzo continued a solo career. Rock em Portugal points out that none of the Graal Band records have ever been re-issued, which is a great shame for the legacy of Portugal's bluesrock band. Read Rock em Portugal's Go Graal Blues Band bio here.

Pop Five Music Incorporated
Pop Five Music
Incorporated
Next up is Porto's Pop Five Music Incorporated (PFMI). They started in 1967 and originally had singer António Brito (later known as Tozé Brito) before he left the band for Quarteto 1111. He would also play in Green Windows with José Cid, and the pop quartet Gemini, as well as a solo career. PFMI made a wide range of music styles through their career, going from the typical Beatles/Hendrix covers that pop bands would often do, to BS&T horn rock, to heavier stuff like Hush (popularised by Deep Purple) and their own hard rock like the track I used here, "Stand By" (listen here). The group even had a European hit with one single, the incredibly groovy "Page One", which became the theme tune to the Radio Renascença (link) show called "Page One". The double CD "Odyssey - Complete Works 1968-1972" (link) is the thing to aim for, it has every song ever released by the band, including the entire "A Peça" album from 1969. The band split in 1972 and drummer Álvaro Azevedo later appeared in the previously-mentioned Arte & OfÍcio. Many thanks again to Rock em Portugal (link) for most of the details here. Read Rock em Portugal's PFMI bio here.

José Cid c.1978
José Cid c.1978
For the penultimate track, keyboard player/singer José Cid (b. 1942, Chamusca) finally makes his appearance. He was involved in many bands as you have read in this article already including Os Babies, Conjunto Orfeão, Green Windows and Quarteto 1111. He had also been writing and playing solo music and music for others since 1960. Not much of his music is suitable for tdats but I had to include his 1972 single, "Doce E Fácil Reino Do Blá, Blá, Blá", a fun and very rocking track. By 1980 he had become a household-name pop star, even entering the Eurovison Song contest, but in 1978 he made a symphonic concept prog album called "10.000 Anos Depois Entre Vénus E Marte" (10,000 Years after between Venus and Mars) which regularly gets rave reviews over at progarchives.com (link). What's funny on that site is that many of his other solo "pop" albms are listed there too, almost all with zero reviews and 0.00 scores, then bang in the middle is the 10.000 Anos album with 142 ratings and a 4.25/5 score. As mentioned before, he was in the innovative group Quarteto 1111 and the 10.000 Anos LP was harking back to the days towards the end of that band when it branched out into prog rock. I'll go back to José Cid's and Quarteto 1111's prog for the next Potuguese volume.

The comp comes to an end, and it does so with some more heavy metal, this time from Cascais, Lisbon's NZZN. Coincidentally, their only album, from 1982, was produced by a Scotsman Mike Sergeant, who had worked with many of the other names in this comp, like Quarteto 1111, Green Windows, José Cid, and a band that will be in the next volume, Objectivo. Read some more about NZZN here. Thanks for reading!

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15 comments:

  1. Hola me gusta mucho tu web y quería poner un enlace en mi blog (www.rockliquias.com) hacía tu página con tu permiso. Saludos. Hi email es rockliquias@hotmail.com

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  2. Hey Rich, this is Mário, i wrote on the Facebook group about something like this... and here it is! Thanks a lot for this amazing job, it really is something outstanding!

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  3. Dear Rich! If I try to open this, it asks for a second password (for NZZN.jpg.crdownload). Or is it just me?

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    1. I have fixed the problem. Please let me know after trying again, thanks for letting me know! Rich

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  4. Sorry - no, didn't work. Still aks for a second password ...
    Anyway, thanks for all your great compilation! Best, Peter

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    Replies
    1. Hi I think I just worked it out for good and I'm fixing the zip now. Please try again later today.
      There were some corrupt image files that I am guessing Mac machines are unable to read.

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    2. OK try again (make sure you refresh the page first), I have just done a new zip with all the other corrupt images removed. Should be Ok now. Thanks for telling me as it's good to get this fixed!

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  5. Now it worked perfectly - thank you very much! PH

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  6. Music from my country...real gems and very difficult to find them in Portugal too...many of them just in vinyl!
    Thank you Rich!

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  7. Hi Rich. I love your compilations and all the work you put into it. I'm from Portugal and was actually going to propose one compilation or two with all these late 60s / 70s / early 80s bands from Portugal. We had quite a good scene back then (considering the dictatorship before 1974). The selection is awesome. My choices (songs that is) would be different but I guess that's a matter of personal taste :) If you need some input and/or suggestions for the 2nd volume, please let me know. Rock on!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. Sure thing RDS: aftersabbath@live.co.uk

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