Brazilian band HARRY (Sao Paulo) is a unique act. Started in ’85, and having released 1 EP, 2 LPs and 2 Compilations, put their name among the cult figures in modern alternative music but let’s point out a few details first: they started as a threesome noise rock group that quickly changed into a 5 piece experimental electronic rock, keenly bending on kraut rock following the underground drift that many musicians started practising in the late 70’s since…today.
‘Fairy Tales‘ LP in ’88 was the successor to their first ‘Caos‘ EP, and here we listen to the band’s shape on their unique style: lots of synths, lots of beats, lots of angry punkwise rock guitars, wonderful “epic” melodies, with joyfully sad and intense vocals, and the lyrics so critical in the 80’s social tension in Brazil. All songs’ titles and the front cover is their manifest for the global race. Released on cassette and vinyl, both sides are quite different from each other, A side, mostly orientated in that period’s raging electro sire, obviously influenced by iconic names like Kraftwerk (but not minimal in the arrangements), while B side reveals the most angry and punk-rock character of the band.
First track, ‘Sky Will be Grey‘ launching automatically the stigma, bagpipe over a protesting noisy crowd, explosions (police?), epic melody for the vocals over those glorious synthesizers, is actually the 2.30 mins intro to the LP. And the “show” begins with ‘Genebra‘, almost monolithic electro music, including lots of effects (glasses breaking, riot sounds) overdubbed by these time pads, offering intense beat, catchy vocals, for an uprising dance. Next, electro kraut improvisation, acute and colourful music for ‘Joseph In The Mirror‘. ‘You Have Gone Wrong‘, similar electro style, but here is a tricky, pop melody created by synthetic bells, that make the whole track sound like mocking and joking, poise to its title, genius and effective! ‘Lycanthropia‘ is the team’s proffer to the electronic new wave of the decade, sweet, sad and synthetic related to their character. These songs could’ve easily been mounted to hit singles, if the composer was a more western-like dude, but we are in the 80’s era Brazil, and anything but salsa or ballad, is condemned to the underground.
Flip to B side: unripe kraut punk, always on HARRY’s solid melodies. Guitars for ‘The Beast Inside‘ on a pounding electro beat, suited for pogo dance. ‘Soldiers‘ like in the pub. A mid-tempo song, many acquainted bands would be jealous, fat-punk guitars, with a drunk and happy company (04.00 A.M.) singing like choir from start to finish, yeah! ‘The Last Birthday‘, electro rock experiment like few did practice (The Clash ?), hiding a fantastic “refrain” without vocals, only the synth melody and a punk guitar. Almost the same motive for ‘Silent Telephone‘, punks with electronic pads! And last comes ‘Death‘, the 140 seconds outro of the LP, an obviously influenced electro pop tune (New Order ?), a yet uncertain, but still groovy one.
‘Fairy Tales‘ LP is a gem from a band that had never received the recognition they deserved, experienced musicians, unlucky to emerge from the non “valuable” Brazilian alternative scene of the 80’s. It was the time of alternative creation in the whole, large pop culture in the West, when old arrangements were ‘put in the closet’, while new technologies were being employed by that kind of musicians, not hesitating to include the electronic circuits in the front of their musings.
And damn…this whole article goes to the memory of the founding member of HARRY’s, Johnny Hansen (guitars, vocals) who passed away only a few days ago aged 56, that engaging, chubby and so talented icon, RIP man…