Search This Blog

Friday 21 August 2020

The Long Goodbye: Part 22

Part 22 of the Grand Tour brings us to Portugal, and for the second time in the series we have recruited a local guide to show us the sights (and sounds). 

Way back in Denmark our guide was Asthmatic Harp, who incidentally has a excellent new single called "Limbo" that you should be buying a.s.a.p. On this occasion it is a mysterious gentleman known only as Jorge. As far as I am aware no Jorge recordings are currently available for purchase.

Over to Jorge...

Ernie suggested I write a piece for his epic “The Long Goodbye” series for the Portugal edition. Which was very nice of him. This is written with absolutely no knowledge of his own article about Portugal. [Spoiler alert: There will be no article from me on Portugal. How on earth could I top this? There will be a short feature on a particular Portuguese act, but that's all. Ernie]

The very first Portuguese album I bought was from a small cafe in Baixo Alentejo, it had a small display of CDs behind the counter, I had drunk a few beers, I had money to burn, so I pointed to the one I wanted. It’s an example of pimba music, which is I think Portuguese home-grown pop. It’s an acquired taste.

"Carro Electrico" - Miguel Agostinho

The first serious Portuguese album was a compilation of many bands and singers, an indie/blues/rockabilly CD, with some belting songs on it, like this surf track:

"Se Eu Enlonguecer" - Capitão Fantasma 

Thanks to this album I realised that there could be a lot more acts to discover, and thanks to Bandcamp it’s been easy. But before that, who wants to hear some Portuguese pre-revolution prog??


The group A Jigsaw are a Portuguese Americana band; this is from the excellent Like The Wolf album:

"Red Pony" - A Jigsaw

There’s a series of what is termed post-rock albums, this is from the 2016 compilation:

"Maasai" - Surma

Tiago Bettencourt is very famous here, his music is a kind of Bruce Springsteen-lite (but good). His first band was Toranja, and from their genuinely good album Esquissos is this track:

"Cenario" - Toranja

And Birds Are Indie are an indie group, whose first few records were too acoustic and sparse for my liking, but Local Affairs from 2019 is a belter:

"Pitch Black Infinity Sky" - Birds Are Indie

And now some Portuguese psychedelia from ca. 1968

One of the most famous bands in Portugal are Xutos e Pontapés. They’ve been making records since the late 1970s. Such is their fame here that when original band member Zé Pedro died (in 2017), Prime Minister António Costa wrote a tribute; and Metallica played a song in his honour when they played a concert in Lisbon in 2018. This is one of their best known songs:

Even more famous here is Quim Barreiros, who has been releasing “pimba” albums of double entendres/hidden meanings since the time of the Carnation Revolution.

EVERYONE has heard of him: my friend Miguel met him once, and said that he’s a really nice bloke, he came over to Miguel’s table, had a beer and a chat.  Quim’s latest album is “Será porca ou parafuso”, which translates as “Will it be nut or bolt”. I suspect Sr. Barreiros is not really talking about items you can buy at B&Q (unless they have radically amended their range since we left the UK). There’s also an album that translates as “My bread fell out of the pot”, and I really have no idea what that alludes to. And here’s Quim not singing about little goats. This video has the lyrics, so you’ve got hours of fun working out what he’s really saying:

I’m a big fan of his cheery music.

The music of Portugal is not all fado or pimba  (or that young man who won Eurovison a couple of years ago), there really are some excellent bands here.

Muito obrigado, Ernie. [Tem sido um prazer, Jorge]


  1. For some strange reason I am familiar with a couple of the bands mentioned here

    1. that suggests that in your late middle-age you are acquiring good taste in music

    2. He didn't say he liked them, just that he was familiar with them. I don't want to put CC on the spot, but the two aren't necessarily the same thing

  2. Another "Red Pony" :