Paralamas do Sucesso

  • Paralamas do Sucesso
  • Dos Margaritas (Braz. EMI) 1994 
  • Severino (Braz. EMI) 1994 

On its 1994 album — available in Portuguese (Severino) and Spanish/English (Dos Margaritas) versions that have drastically different sequences and packaging — the veteran Brazilian trio Paralamas do Sucesso (“Mudflaps of Success”) employs the decades-spanning international stylistic experience of its producer, ex-Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera, to explore its interest in a wide range of musical movements.

Singer-guitarist Herbert Vianna, bassist Bi Ribeiro and drummer Joao Barone weave their lighthearted musical quilt from things that have influenced them: ska, the Police, Sex Pistols, Duran Duran, Queen, Billy Joel, Pink Floyd, funk, Beatles, reggae, highlife, Ravi Shankar, Squeeze, Adam Ant, mutant disco, calypso, rap, salsa. Although the trio’s unselfconscious, often incongruous combinations of stylistic elements may sound like yam-and-bacon ice cream to those familiar with their ingredients, an easy charm and the careful avoidance of clich├ęs (not to mention the lingual exoticism, which does the most good in Portuguese) renders Paralamas incapable of irritating. What’s more, the ingratiating album — which stays closer to a pop-rock mainstream than the band does in concert) has a warmly temperate tone that allows guests like guitarist Brian May, vocalists Tom Z and Linton Kwesi Johnson, and the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra to come and go without interrupting the flow.

[Ira Robbins]