Ratos do Beco Demo 1978 EP

Purported to be Brazil’s very first punk band, RATOS DO BECO never played a formal show in their brief existence from September to December 1978. Legend has it that their open-garage-door rehearsals would draw a crowd of curious onlookers, with motorists pulling over to get a closer look and listen. Founding member Miguel Barella (who would go on to form the excellent new wave outfit AGENTSS) captured one of these practice-cum-gigs on reel-to-reel tape, which all these years later, comprises the four-ish songs on this EP. “Saved from obscurity” releases like this are often propped up by their backstories, and in this case the story is providing a fair amount of propping. Calling it a demo is a bit of a stretch as it truly does sound like a hastily recorded practice, replete with aging tape interference and a snippet of a cover of “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.” So, does the music warrant a 2024 vinyl pressing complete with a sixteen-page booklet of photos and liner notes? Your mileage may be different from mine, but I’d answer that with a resounding “probably!” They sound like a rudimentary version of France’s finest first-wave punks, the DOGS. RATOS DO BECO play some dirty rock’n’roll that has enough snarl and feral energy to be called punk. Unlike so many of their contemporaries, they weren’t aping the SEX PISTOLS or (partial cover aside) the RAMONES. The band members appear to have gone on to have impactful careers in music. This EP portrays a partially developed snapshot of unbridled youth and rebellion in its most gestational form. A charming slice of South American punk history.