UHF is a Portuguese rock band formed in Costa de Caparica , in Almada , in 1978. They are the main responsible for the emergence of the rock boom in Portugal, in 1980, and the founders of the musical renewal movement called “Portuguese rock”. They are one of the most prestigious national bands and the oldest in activity.
The initial line-up was composed by António Manuel Ribeiro ( vocals and guitar ), Renato Gomes ( guitar ), Carlos Peres ( bass ) andAmerico Manuel ( drums ). Currently they are formed by António Manuel Ribeiro (vocals and guitar), António Côrte-Real (guitar), Luís Simões ‘Cebola’ (bass) and Ivan Cristiano (drums).
Resulting from post punk , in the late seventies, the band’s sound incorporates direct and spontaneous rock with urban characteristics, also producing a more acoustic and hard rock sound with some influence from the Doors . Commercially successful in the early 1980s, they sold more than 100,000 records, awarding the single “Cavalos de Corrida” (1980) – the genesis song of Portuguese rock – and the album À Flor da Pele (1981), which occupied the first position. from the sales table.
After a troubled period in the formation they managed to overcome the crisis of rock Portuguese in the mid-1980s, introducing alternative rock influences on the album Noites Negras de Azul (1988). On the album Comédia Humana (1991) they slightly circumvented the initial sound and then went back to establishing conventional rock with Santa Loucura (1993) and 69 Stereo (1996), records that achieved good sales. Attentive to the political and social reality of the country, the UHF are the face of intervention rock in Portugal.
Influenced by José Afonso, take an active position in relation to sensitive issues in people’s lives, as is the case of the songs “Sarajevo”, “Porquê (Portuguese)” or “Vernaculo (for a common man)”, which became an anti-political manifesto. The successful tours “Why in Portugal” and “UHF 35 years – A Minha Geração” in 2010 and 2013, respectively, were marked with slogans against the country’s governmental disorder. The intrepid independent attitude, assumed since the beginning of their career and disturbing certain musical journalism, favored for a few years a lesser media exposure in the band.
The formation of the UHF has changed over the years, having stabilized since 2001. António Manuel Ribeiro, the majority composer of the songs, is the only resident founding member. In addition to being a singer and musician, he is also a writer and irregular author of several chronicles for radio and newspapers. He founded the poetry- rock movement in Portugal becoming one of the best creatives. He released three solo albums, and two of a smaller format, which included the participation of former and current UHF musicians, among other guests.
In July 2017, they reached 1,700 concerts in Portugal and around the world, sold more than 1.5 million records – including albums, extended plays , singles and cassettes – and released fifteen studio albums. They are represented in over 100 compilations with other artists including in the United States and Brazil. They received eleven silver, seven gold, three platinum records and several awards and decorations. Until 2015, there were 240 participations in social benefit concerts and in support of philanthropic causes , including, for example, the Associação Abraço e Assistência Médica Internacional.
Success and the boom of Portuguese rock (1980–1982)
In the early 1980s, Xutos & Pontapés, GNR , Heróis do Mar , IODO , Street Kids , António Variações , among others, were launched at the opening of the UHF concerts. [ 18 ] With the disappearance of Aqui d’el-Rock, Minas & Armadilhas and Faíscas (later the Diplomatic Corps ), it was the UHF that began to drive the engine of national rock . Known as ‘Locomotiva de Almada’, they boosted the birth of new bands.
After a first failed attempt with EMI – Valentim de Carvalho , in January 1980, the band returned a few months later to present the same mockup of the theme “Cavalos de Corrida”, also entering the dispute the publishing house Vadeca ; “With me this single will sell at least 50 thousand”, were the right words (as it was later confirmed) by director Ilídio Viana. Suspicious, the UHF decided to opt for EMI and signed a five-year contract in early spring. They recorded the song “Cavalos de Corrida” in June, but to the group’s astonishment it was archived for three months.
Américo Manuel retired, giving up the drummer’s place to Zé Carvalho. They participated in the live radio program Febre de Sábado de Manhã , one of the main precursors of the dissemination of rock sung in Portuguese, in which they presented in playback , for the first and only time live, the model “Cavalos de Corrida”. The new musicians who were emerging with national rock were also found on the program Rock Em Stock , on Rádio Comercial ., the springboard for the recognition of their work. The song “Cavalos de Corrida” was the show’s first major ratings success. On June 7, 1980, Uriah Heep performed in Cascais, and on June 10, the weekly Rock Week published a photo on the cover with the challenging title: UHF – O Canal Maldito . In the interview, conducted by journalist António Rolo Duarte , António M. Ribeiro revealed the band’s ideological line:
Basically, we consider ourselves the most politicized Portuguese rock group , assuming to the last consequences the polemical and rebellious nature of rock music , in the sense of the words, in the scenic expression, in the subversion of the rhythm. We are in the spirit of the new European left and our concerns for the defense of this small world are based on ecology, the science of the future.
In the first media exposure interview, the maturity of the band and its leader was evident, opposing the vulgar speeches of most musicians of the time. The nickname ‘Canal Maldito’ stayed and became a constant in the band’s path. In 2004, a music debate blog was created and in 2013 Nuno Calado produced and directed the UHF documentary Canal Maldito – 35 anos for the RTP channel.
Discomfort at the label and the very first live album (1982–1985)
At the beginning of 1982, the UHF had an involving business system that encompassed office, public relations, logistics and management of light and sound systems, which allowed the band a unique autonomy in the panorama of the show in Portugal. Whoever played the first part of the group’s concerts was entitled for the first time to a professional sound, as the vocalist recalled: “For example, in the booklet of the album 78/82 by Xutos & Pontapés, there are thanks to the UHF”, referring to the technical aspects that at the time only the band had in the country and which they lent.
Dissatisfied with the little attention that Valentim de Carvalho paid to the band’s media, they decided to break the five-year contract and moved to Rádio Triunfo , in a transfer that covered newspaper headlines at the time, the first in Portugal to involve a great publisher. The hasty decision, which despite being put to a vote was not taken unanimously, caused discomfort in the band. In October they released Persona Non Grata (1982), their third studio album and most fiercely rock, written throughout that hot and busy summer.
The theme “Um Mau Rapaz” reflects, from the title, the psychological climate that surrounded the group, not only because of the change of publisher but also because of the photograph of the cover of the album in which António M. Ribeiro appears isolated, fueling speculation of a photo promotional for a future solo career; I suspect it was never confirmed. They went on tour through France and Germany, in the year in which they totaled 86 concerts. In late 1982, most bands resulting from the boomthey got lost along the way, either through naivety, lack of solidity in projects, voluntary choice or disenchantment. The explosion of the crazy 80s resulted in the inevitable implosion. Despite the clear musical and social difficulties of the time, António Manuel Ribeiro, composer and mentor of the band, managed to continue the solid project of the UHF.
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