“Há Que Violentar o Sistema” 7" (Rave Up Records)
Allow me to begin with a quotation from that vibrant, if underappreciated, poetic form known as euro-kbd liner notes (unedited): “Unbelievable ,but true:Portugal had a punk- / band in the 70's with the unusual name Aqui D'el Rock.Back in '78 they released two 7"'s with badproduced, / crude,little bit hardrockinfluenced punkrock.Sorry for surface noises,but excellent copies seem to be non / excistend.” Ezra Pound, eatoutyourheart. Those notes accompany “Killed by Death #41,” one of the two “strictly no English or American junk” volumes released in response to the “no foreign junk” volumes 8.5, 9, 10, and 12. Fast forward to the future (now), and Rave Up Records has produced a 7" reissue of those two 45s by Aqui d’el Rock, here called Aqui d’el-Rock—not that the name makes any more sense punctuated that way. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that my knowledge of Portuguese history after its empire began its decline in the 17th century is non excistend. The country was alongside Italy, Spain, and Greece in the slow-to-modernize-Southern-European-countries category. Some research reveals that the Catholic church, as in Italy and Spain, held great cultural sway in Portugal. A military dictatorship was in place for five decades and characterized by violent political repression and economic oligarchy collapsed in 1974 (a year before Franco’s death in Spain). This unassuming 7" record, however, makes me think it’s time for a second (or first) look at Portugal’s history.
Aqui d’el-Rock is a killer band, comparable in many ways to La Banda Trapera Del Rio, the first punk band from Barcelona, who played a punk/hard-rock hybrid particularly appropriate to their fanbase: late ‘70s drug-abusing criminals who lived totally outside the mainstream, oppressive just-after-Franco culture of Spain. Aqui d’el-Rock’s sound combines some hard rock elements with punk rock, though certainly weighted toward the latter. With long hair, flares, and high-heeled boots, they embodied the Red Brigades / Southern European-outlaw look of the era. Perhaps singer Oscar looks a bit like Joey Ramone in the one live photo on the back of this reissue’s sleeve, but their sound is not as minimalist as that of the brudders from Queens. The notably high-speed (for ’78, for Portugal!) “Eu Não Sei” brings to mind The Damned, whereas “Há Que Violentar o Sistema,” with its cutting guitar and throbbing bass, has a raw Detroit feeling. The highlight of their sound is the guitar, which is distinct on each single and best on the second one, where it is fuzzy, fulminant, and aggressive. About this reissue: Rome’s Rave Up Records has done a fine job here. The mastering is hot. Having never heard the original vinyl, I’m not sure if the in-the-red sound is an intentional replication of the original, especially on the first 45, but it certainly should not detract from the listening experience. The short liner notes are sufficient; the sleeve is decent, though a bit pixellated; and the red-vinyl record has an old-fashioned pop-out 45 center, which is a nice touch. Not all of Rave Up’s releases are essential, but this one certainly is. Aqui d’el-Rock belong at the top of any list of late ‘70s European punk, and even those who prefer American punk over “foreign junk” would likely find this band appealing, as its tough sound is definitely unlike that of most of the happy-go-lucky Northern European pogo punk bands. Now, who’s got some demos or live tapes?
Aqui d’el-Rock "Há Que Violentar o Sistema"
Aqui d’el-Rock slideshow