Each February, Rio de Janeiro is overtaken by its own party, as the dancers and merrymakers of Carnival spill into its streets and the sound of celebration and music fills the air. But the party within the party has to be the Samba School Parade, which occurs at the height of Carnival. The schools, teeming with followers and floats, chant and sing their oaths along with a percussion band. Sambas de Enredo 2003 is certainly spirited. However, the recording becomes a bit tedious after a while, as the exclusively male vocalists all sound pretty much the same, and the rhythm remains largely unchanged throughout. "Grande Rio" is an exception, with its passionate gang vocals, as is "Porto da Pedra," which begins as a gently strummed ballad, only to burst into a rousing call-and-response number. Sambas de Enredo 2003 is certainly no comparison to actually witnessing the spectacle of Carnival. But for die-hard samba fans, it might be an effective keepsake.
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus