Banda do Casaco (Portugal, 1974 -1984) was a Portuguese progressive rock and folk band.
After the commercial failure of the Filarmónica Fraude project, António Avelar de Pinho (vocalist) and Luís Linhares (keyboards) joined former Música Novarum Nuno Rodrigues (vocalist, guitar) and former Plexus Celso de Carvalho (cello, double bass) to form the group Banda do Casaco.
In 1973, Pinho and Rodrigues met, who immediately began writing their first album, Dos Vantagens dum Vendido no Reino dos Bonifácios, only published in 1975. The name of the album already denoted the surrealist tone that would accompany the whole the group’s work, surrealism accentuated by Carlos Zíngaro’s drawings on the LP’s cover.
The previous year, a single had come out with the themes Ladainha das Comadres and Lavados Lavados Sim. On the record, Judi Brennan and Helena Afonso collaborated on vocals, Carlos Zíngaro, Luís Linhares, José Campos e Sousa and Nelson Portelinha. António Pinho signs all the lyrics and Nuno Rodrigues composed the themes (except Aliciação and Opúsculo).
This group combined ethnographic research with pop music, creating a work of great musical quality and in which social criticism was not neglected, as had already happened with Filarmónica Fraude. During its existence (1974 to 1984) numerous high-level musicians passed through its ranks, and sometimes their passage through Banda do Casaco was the springboard for a solo career.
In 1976, the group’s first truly remarkable album was released: Things from the old woman’s bow. The satirical talent of Pinho’s puns combines with innovative solutions, and the record is marked by Armindo Neves’ guitar and Mena Amaro’s violin, who replaced Carlos Zíngaro.
Cândida Soares participates and reinforces the vocalization, at the same time that she gains an artistic name: Cândida Branca Flor, from the title of the third track on the album, Romance de Branca-Flor. Songs such as Canto de Amor e Trabalho, Morgadinha dos Canibais, or Cantiga d’Embalar Avozinhas, contributed to an unexpected success with the public and critics. This success culminates in obtaining the title of ‘Best Album of the Year’.
If in Suass do Arco da Velha the ethnographic collection, later freely worked on and adapted, is still decisive for the final result, the following album by Banda do Casaco leans towards experimentation and the avant-garde. Today There Are Conquilhas, Tomorrow We Don’t Know (1977), intended to be a satire on the country’s economic instability and social precariousness. In an album where António Pinheiro da Silva’s entry into the group and the collaborations of the “initiates” Gabriela Schaaf on vocals and Rão Kyao on tenor saxophone are significant, the themes ‘Country, Portugal’, ‘Geringonça’ and ‘Acalanto ‘. This album is considered one of the lost gems of Portuguese popular music. Although its master was lost, Hoje Há Conquilhas, Amanhã Não Sabe was reissued on CD in 2006.
The following year, Contos da Barbearia synthesized previous works, incorporating the collaborations of bassist José Eduardo and drummer Vitor Mamede, in addition to the return of Zíngaro. But we had to wait three more years before, in 1981, the band released a new album that would make a strong impression on the public and critics. No Jardim da Celeste brought two novelties: a more “urban” sound, approaching rock, and the participation of two notable figures: Né Ladeiras, on vocals, after having collaborated with Brigada Victor Jara and Trovante; and Jerry Marotta, Peter Gabriel’s internationally renowned drummer, who liked the band so much that he came to Portugal to record with them. From the album, Natação Obrigatória stands out, a regular presence on radio stations at the time.
Nuno Rodrigues alone ensured the direction of the 1982 album Tambeu Eu. Salve Maravilha is notable, in the voice of Né Ladeiras. After the departure of the usual lyricist António Pinho, Nuno Rodrigues joined Celso de Carvalho, José Fortes, Ramón Galarza, José Moz Carrapa and Zé Nabo.
In 1984, the last album, Banda do Casaco with Ti Chitas, was released. Most of the voices are by Concha, and the album also features the voices of Nuno Rodrigues himself and Catarina Chitas, a shepherdess and adufe player from Penha Garcia (a village in the Beira Baixa region). This is the last album of originals by the group (there will also be a compilation, in double, A Arte e a Música da Banda do Casaco published by Universal Music), where the absence of António Pinho, one of the pillars of the project, is felt.
In 1984 the group gave one of its only live shows, which thus ended a decade of prodigious reinvention of the assumptions of Portuguese popular music. In the words of Nuno Rodrigues: “Between António Calvário and Sérgio”.
In 1993, Nuno Rodrigues and Né Ladeiras got together to record the track Matar Saudades produced by António Emiliano and which was included in the reissue of “Banda do Casaco com Ti Chitas”.
They played live a few times. Among them stand out the performances at Aula Magna in Lisbon, at Feira de São Mateus in Viseu, at Clube Desportivo de Arroios (Lisbon), at Cine-Teatro da Encarnação (Lisbon), at the Gala of Semanário Sete at Cinema Europa” in 1984 (Lisbon) and at Casa do Povo in Cacia.
António Pinho declared regarding this concert:
“The Casa do Povo was full of old people. Women with mustaches and everything. How is this! I don’t know why they hired us to play there. I can’t understand. We were playing against a wall. Everyone was looking at us. For those rare birds.”
One of his last public appearances was in the contest 1, 2, 3, in January 1986.
In 1993, Universal Music reissued the group’s first two albums on CD. After the death of Celso de Carvalho due to cancer (1998), the group’s 3rd album, Today there are conquilhas, tomorrow we don’t know, was reissued, also on CD, by the National Music Company, in November 2006.
In 2006, the book As Letras como Poetry came out, edited by Objecto Cardíaco and republished in 2009 by Edições Afrontamento, which begins with an analysis of the Letters by António Avelar de Pinho, written for the album No Jardim da Celeste.
In November 2013 a deluxe edition was released in 2 CD cases with the 7 albums remastered by José Fortes and a DVD with live recordings from 1975, 1977 and 1984.