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O Samba Poconé

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Album Review

Enormously popular in Brazil, Skank plays reggae-tinged rock (or is that rock-tinged reggae?) not unlike that on the earliest records of Elvis Costello & the Attractions or Graham Parker & the Rumour. Not to imply that Skank is on the same songwriting level, but O Samba Pocone did cement the group's mainstream popularity in Brazil with "É Uma Partida de Futebol." That celebration of the national infatuation with soccer was driven by an upbeat skank rhythm, horns on the chorus, and a little strategically placed surdo drum thunder. The buoyant "Eu Disse a Ela" rocks along with conviction and has horns in the chorus, while the bassline carries "Zé Trinidade" through a savvy switch to ragga that ups the energy ante. "Garota Nacional" works in '50s doo wop/R&B flavors, including some baritone sax blats; if the finale, "Chica Nacional," sounds similar, it should, since it's exactly the same track but sung in Spanish.

But after "Garota," O Samba Pocone begins to slide toward the merely professional. "Sem Terra" goes back to punchy ragga and "Os Exilados" starts strong, but both wind up not leaving much of an impression. "Um Dia Qualquer" fares better with snappy horns and another unexpected rockabilly guitar touch like the one that popped up in "Ze Trinidade." Manu Chao is on three tracks and O Samba Pocone is a good but not outstanding disc. Even at its best, you never really feel like you're dealing with heavyweights with Skank, but the music is well-crafted and you never doubt that it matters to them.


Formed: 1991

Genre: Brazilian

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Skank was formed in Belo Horizonte MG in 1991; they became one of the most popular bands in Brazil in the '90s. Mixing influences of pop music, reggae, ska, and rock & roll, the band reached the market with their first album, the independent Skank, which had the hit "Tanto" (a reggae version for Bob Dylan's "I Want You"). Their second release, Calango, had several hits, like "É Proibido Fumar" (Roberto Carlos/Erasmo Carlos), in the heart of the Jovem Guarda revival. Their fifth album, Maquinarama,...
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O Samba Poconé, Skank
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