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Os Inocentes ("The Inocent Ones", named after a song by John Cooper Clark) formed in the northern working class suburbs of São Paulo around 1981, after the demise of pioneering bands Restos de Nada, Nos Acorrentados no Inferno and Condutores de Cadaveres (three of the first punk bands in Brazil, starting as early as 1978). Together with Cólera and Olho Seco, they helped to build the punk scene in the city (and later on, in the rest of the country) almost from scratch.
During 1981, local punks (including members of the band) started organizing the legendary "Grito Suburbano" ("Suburban Screams") shows that took place all around the city and encouraged many kids to get into punk and start their own bands. Late in that same year, they recorded the compilation of the same name with Cólera and Olho Seco (another band, called Anarcolatras, was also supposed to be on the compilation, but ended up not taking part), but the result was so bad that all the bands had to record it all over again and the record (the first punk LP in Brazil) only came out in early '82. It shows Inocentes in their early and most powerful hardcore phase, with Mauricio's harsh vocals delivering classic anthems like "Panico em SP", and "Garoto do Suburbio".
Soon after that, Mauricio left the band and Clemente, the bass player, had his first stint on vocals (a task he would occupy for a long time after that), until Ariel, formerly of Restos De Nada (Clemente's ex-band, and the first Brazilian punk band) joined the band as the singer.
So, in 1983, with Ariel, they recorded what was supposed to be their first album (and the first full-length LP by a punk band in the country), but back then, Brazil was still a military dictatorship, and so many songs were censored by the government that they had to reduce it to a 7", the ultra-rare Miseria e Fome (re-released in 1988 as an LP, in its complete form). Although the sound is very raw and the mix is a little weird, it's still a very aggressive and urgent piece of vinyl. And the lyrics are really good, dealing mainly with political issues in a much above average manner. Clemente is one of the true poets that came from Brazilian punk.
After a "boom" in '82, the punk scene in São Paulo went through a major shortage of shows, mainly due to vandalism and violence between rival punk gangs. During 1983, the problem went out of hand and the band broke up, disillusioned with the scene they helped.
But in the following year, Clemente decided to reform the band, with a different lineup, consisting of him singing and playing guitar, and three new members, Ronaldo, Tonhão and André (guitar, drums and bass), all from an old Oi! band called Neuroticos. They also had a different concept and decided to change their music, opting for a slower, more melodic, less distorted sound, more or less like The Clash and Stiff Little Fingers (I said "more or less").
After they worked on new material and remade some of the old songs, they recorded some demos, which almost came out as their first LP on the independent Ataque Frontal label (the biggest Brazilian punk label in the mid to late 80's). But that never happened, because Warner gave them a major label deal and they recorded the Panico em SP mini-LP in early 1986. Although it's nothing like their early hardcore efforts, it's still a very good punk rock record (with an emphasis on "rock" - it actually has some of the elements of ska, rockabilly and post punk that would mark their later material), and maintained the awesome lyrical content that became their trademark. The record appealed to a mainstream audience and they kind of (I said "kind of") became a famous rock band.
In 1987 their first full length LP Adeus Carne came out. With better production, it's the last good thing they ever put out, and also has that "Clash-y" sound. Actually it brings bands like Stiff Little Fingers and Chelsea (their later material) to mind, but it also has bits of Gang of Four-style funk, rockabilly, post-punk and even Afro-Brazilian rhythms, making it the band's own London Calling.
After that, they made a self titled so-so rock album in '89, were dropped by Warner, and although they're still around making records, the 90's brought along major suckage and there was no turning back after that, so I’ll stop this little biography here. In the mid 90's, they started to sound more punk again, but didn't really do anything you'd want to hear.
MISÉRIA E FOME 7" EP (self-released, 1983)
PANICO EM S.P. 12" (WEA, 1986)
ADEUS CARNE LP (WEA, 1987)
INOCENTES LP (WEA, 1989)
MISÉRIA E FOME LP (Devil Discos, 1988)
GAROTOS DO SUBURBIO CD (RDS/Sky Blue Music)
GRITO SUBURBANO LP (Punk Rock Discos, 1982)
O COMEÇO DO FIM DO MUNDO LP (1983)
LIFE IS A JOKE LP (Weird System Records, 1984)
TROPICAL VIRUSES #1 tape (BCT, 1984)
TROPICAL VIRUSES #2 tape (BCT, 1984)
KILLED BY HARDCORE 2 LP (bootleg, 2001)