A progressive rock combo from Barcelona whose music was in the same vein as Pink Floyd.
|1||NOSOTROS||1979||COLUMBIA CPS 9608|
A marginal case for inclusion here, as their albums rarely contained "rock" but a mostly rich mixture of orchestrated pop, jazz and (mostly) folk music. The mood of Aguaviva's music was good-natured, even silly at times. The arrangements were inventive with restless changes in instrumentation and voices (single or multiple).
|1||CADA VEZ MAS CERCA||1970||ACCION AC-1-LP|
|4||LA CASA DE SAN JAMAS||1972||ACCION 30-012|
|5||POETAS ANDALUCES DE AHORA||1975||AROLA 88.732-1|
|6||NO HAY DERECHO||1977||EMI C064.21.371|
|7||LA INVASION DE LOS BARBAROS||1979||EDIGSA EDX 73312|
A little known group playing a sort of exploitation psych-rock in a similar style to Blue Phantom and Ugly Custard with lead guitars and flute up front. Rarely offered for sale.
Oscar Lasprilla and Fernando Arbex had previously played in the well-known Los Brincos, who had broken up after their excellent World, Devil, Body album (1970).
Alacran was apparently a short-lived project, recording an album for demo purposes and then simply disappearing. The album had a short playing time of 26 minutes. Those already acquainted with Los Brincos will recognise the same melodic sound, strongly influenced by late sixties British groups such as Pretty Things, Traffic, Cream and The Beaties. In addition, Alacran had louder guitars and a latin touch a la Santana on several tracks. This music is quite acceptable, but nothing special, so don't pay megabucks for the very rare original pressing. Ignacio Egaña (aka Inaki Karma) later made an album as Inaki.
Alameda was formed in 1978 by experienced musicians: Manuel Marinelli and "Pepe" Roca had previously played in Tartessos, Luis Moreno in Payos, R. Marinelli in Gong, Los Bravos and Nuevos Tiempos and, finally, Manuel Rosa in Lole Y Manuel and Triana. Alameda played flamenco-rock comparable to Triana and Mezquita, perhaps adding a bit more keyboards (pianos and synthesizer). The dramatic vocals are performed with great vigour and passion. Still their albums stay on the safe side with no bold experiments, focusing instead on harmonic and easily accessible music.
|1||ALAMEDA||1979||EPIC EPC 83571|
|2||MISTERIOSO MANANTIAL||1980||EPIC EPC 84315|
A folk-rock group whose album reputedly is up to the usual Movieplay standards.
Basque emotional folk-rock.
He was previously a member of Los Brincos and Alacran, but this doesn't indicate the direction of this album, recorded with the keyboard-player Brian Gascoigne and three different British symphonic orchestras. This is a ballet suite dominated by synthesizers and some terrible electronic percussion. Not very successful in my humble opinion.
|1||EL CABALLERO DEL ARCO IRIS||1981 CBS 85053|
Artola was the founder of the group Haizea. His solo albums are in a similar vein - Basque progressive folk-rock with electric and acoustic guitars, flute, piano and harmonica incorporated into long tracks.
According to some sources, this heavy-progressive band originated in Uruguay. It is documented that Garcia Banegas had previously played in two legendary bands from the New World, namely Psiglo and Opus Alpha. Asfalto played guitar-based, melodic heavy rock. Their albums contained nothing unusual.
|1||ASFALTO||1978||CHAPA HS 35.001|
|2||AL OTRO LADO||1978||CHAPA HS 35.010|
|3||AHORA||1979||CHAPA HS 35.029|
A great progressive folk-rock band from the Spanish region of Asturias. Their style incorporated Celtic influences and in some areas was comparable to Nuberu. Their album offered some extended tracks.
The Beginning Of The End (1975) starts off with kettledrums imitating a clock before the well-known organ tunes from J. S. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor (BWV 565) take us into the shadows of doom on the very last day of the world. This instrumental concept album consists only of one track broken into 18 sections where the electric guitar and organ are exploring a succession of themes (including even more Bach). Arguably, this album is close to the Italian 'musical drama' tradition of albums such as Formula 3's Dies Irae and Metamorfosi's Inferno. Atila's sound was heavier than these, though - more like a raw-edged cross between Vanilla Fudge and Deep Purple. This album was a private release in an edition of 1,000 copies, of which some were sold and others were destroyed. It's in high demand and among the most expensive Spanish records on the collector's market.
The band was rewarded with a recording contract with BASF. The resulting album Intention (1976) lacked the raw power of its predecessor, aiming for a more dynamic and symphonic sound with a richer array of keyboards (and even choir vocals). Still the focal point was the superb guitar work of Eduardo Niebla. One side of the album contained a compressed version of "The Beginning Of The End". This is an excellent album very close to the Italian ambitious progressive rock style.
Atila's final album Reviure (1977) became the peak of their achievement with four ambitious (and mostly instrumental) tracks. This is serious progressive rock without pomp and painful clichés, maintaining the energy of rock music in inspired solo excursions, mainly by synthesizer and electric guitar .
|1||THE BEGINNING OF THE END||1975||NEW PROMOTION|
|3||REVIURE||1977||ODEON 10C054 21462|
Azabache was formed by Barrai and Ros, who departed from Azahar after their first album. With Henestrosa and Valle they created highly complex progressive rock on Dias De Luna, which sounds almost the Spanish equivalent to Yes at their most ambitious and heavy (1972-73). The eight tracks are all quite challenging for the listener with myriads of keyboards and guitars. No, Gracias (1980) also followed this trail, but has a slightly more commercial sound.
|1||DIAS DE LUNA||1979||MOVIEPLAY 17.145/8|
|2||NO, GRACIAS||1980||MOVIEPLAY 17.2030/3|
Their first album is a classic of Spanish progressive rock with an uncommon sound - completely lacking drums and percussion! Barral's bass provides the only backing to a highly complex tapestry of keyboards and guitars, with some vocals and spacey effects added. The second album is more conventional progressive rock and I don't rate it too highly personally.
Recorded in the early 80's but still well worthy of inclusion here is their rather obscure album Oriente - Occidente, a collection of eclectic ethnic instrumental music sometimes perfectly blending Indian, Arabian, Spanish, African and even Chinese influences. All tracks are instrumental with plenty of tablas and sitar. An excellent record!
|1||ORIENTE - OCCIDENTE||1982||GUIMBARDA 24.016|
A Basque folk singer who might have released further albums.
|.||ONGI EGIN DUK MUTIL||1978||ELKAR|
This band played heavy garage rock that could be quite twisted and strange at times.
|1||LA BANDA TRAPERA DEL RIO||1978||BELTER 47007|
Juan Bona and Carlos Carcamo were members of Granada. Luis Emilio Batallan wrote music to lyrics by Celso Emilio Ferreiro, Curros Enriquez, Ramon Cabanillas and Rosalia de Castro in a language which reminds me of Galician (I'm not a linguist, though!). This is quiet, lush and fragile, adult-oriented music with sympathetic, sparse arrangements by Carcamo. A fine record housed in an equally tasteful fold-out cover.
|1||AHI VEN O MAJO||1975||MOVIEPLAY 17.0682/8|
In the field of heavy-symphonic rock, Bloque must rank as the leading group in Spain, filling the gap between Genesis and Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. Their two first albums are usually considered their best - full of good tunes, but also, some quite clichéd guitar and keyboard licks. It's well worth investigating if you're into Eloy and the like.
|2||HOMBRE, TIERRA Y ALMA||1979||CHAPA|
|3||EL HIJO DEL ALBA||1980||CHAPA|
|4||MUSICA PARA LA LIBERTAD||1981||CHAPA|
Marvellous and exotic folk-rock comparable to La Bullonera. Readers familiar with the French label Hexagone ought to investigate this.
|1||DE PAR EN PAR||1979||GUIMBARDA GS-11023W|
They were exponents of the Spanish instrumental fusion style with flamenco influences, musically related to Cai, Guadalquivir and Iceberg. Borne's special features were some delightful and fluid keyboards enveloping the tunes with a kind of cool late evening atmosphere.
|1||EXPRIME LA NARANJA||1979||CHAPA HS 35.015|
Hidden in one of the dullest front sleeve designs I have ever seen is a really marvellous album, among the best ever released in Spain! The music of Eduardo Bort is very versatile, ranking from the symphonic opening "Thoughts" (7:04) to the storming guitar at the ending of "Walking On The Grass" (9:00). Mournful "Pictures Of Sadness" (6:59) gives way to the two-part "Yann" (12:21), starting with an incredible duel between mellotron and electric guitar full of agony. After a spiritual climax it dies out to birdsong and silence. The last part is a crescendo piece of pompous and romantic folk-rock attempting to postpone the end, much like the final minutes of Mahler's 9th Symphony. The keys to this heartfelt romantic album's success are both the superb arrangements and meticulous production, adding a guitar talent equalling the more famous Max Sunyer (of Tapiman and Iceberg). The mellotron parts are even better than on the coveted album by the British group Spring. This is one of the immortal masterworks documenting what the human creative powers are capable of when the cynical intellectualism has been stripped off! I have also, for your information, listed his much later second album. This is totally different, containing reasonably good mellotron-rock.
|1||EDUARDO BORT||1974||MOVIEPLAY 17.0642/6|
This hard-rock group has been in increasing demand among record collectors lately. Their songs were quite ordinary but included some rather tasty guitar work, reminding one of Zal Cleminson in Alex Harvey Band.
|1||BRAKAMAN||1976||RCA PL 35102|
Los Brincos were the best known Spanish beat group in the second half of the 60's with an international fan following. The group was formed in Madrid in 1964 by relatively experienced musicians: Juan came from Los Vandalos, Fernando from Los Estudiantes and Junior from Los Jumps and Los Relampagos. Their first two albums, however rudimentary, offered an agreeable mixture of beat, plain sixties pop and rhythm and blues, strongly influenced by The Beatles. The second album was more refined, ranging from tasteful orchestrations via inpeccable harmony pop to twangy electric folk-rock inspired by The Byrds.
Contrabando (1968) was the Spanish equivalent of Sgt. Pepper while Mundo Demonio Carne (1970) was an even more accomplished work with regard to the songwriting and arrangements. Mellotron, organ and flute were now added to their instrumentation. This excellent concept album (available in both Spanish and English versions) was musically indebted to The Pretty Things at the time of SF Sorrow and Parachute.
Juan and Junior recorded several pop singles in the late sixties which are now available on a CD. The solo album of Fernando Arbex is an ambitious orchestral work. In the seventies he produced albums by Barrabas in Los Angeles.
|1||LOS BRINCOS||1966||NOVOLA NLX 1004|
|3||CONTRABANDO||1968||NOVOLA NLR 1010|
|4A||WORLD DEVIL BODY||1970||NOVOLA|
|4B||MUNDO DEMONIO CARNE||1970||NOVOLA|
|A1||EL CABALLERO DEL ARCO IRIS||1979 CBS 85053|
|B1||POP DE LOS 60||1998||BMG 74321 602002|
Line-up on 4:
As suggested by the line-up information, this was a folk-rock group.
|2||LA BULLONERA 2||1977||MOVIEPLAY|
|3||LA BULLONERA 3||1979||MOVIEPLAY|
They made one hard-rock album.
Line-up on 2:
This quintet was probably influenced by Iceberg and Triana. They played a delightful symphonic jazz-rock with flamenco influences. This makes all three albums instantly recognisable to foreigners as Spanish, radiating much Mediterranean warmth and passion. Typically for the times (around 1980), a lot of string synthesizers are used, although the guitarists also throw some melody lines in. The majority is instrumental, but the vocals are also very passionate. All three of these are excellent albums!
|1||MAS ALLA DE NUESTRAS||1979||LACOCHU 001|
|3||CANCION DE PRIMA VERA||1981||EPIC|
Camacho is one of the great Spanish folk-rock poets and his songs are quite emotional, balanced between sparse, acoustic guitar and vocals-only songs and larger arrangements with mellotron, moog, mandolin, pianos, electric guitar, sax and a small choir. The album La Estrella Del Alba fits well into the 70's singer-songwriter category (Richard Thompson, Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, James Taylor, etc.), albeit with a Spanish uniqueness. This lives up to Movieplay's good reputation!
|1||DE PASO||1975||MOVIEPLAY 142035|
|2||LA ESTRELLA DEL ALBA||1976||MOVIEPLAY 17.0884/2|
In the sixties, there was a beat group named Canarios (originally from the Canary Islands) but I'm not sure whether the groups are connected. The 70's Canarios led by Teddy Bautista certainly had a totally different line-up. Ciclos (1974) was a very ambitious concept album using Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" as the framework, both musically and symbolically, for the story of a human from birth to death - the cycle of life as represented by Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. The four record sides are wrapped in myriads of keyboard overdubs, mostly all mellotrons and moog synthesizers. This is an album people will either love or hate. Some think it is among the best records made in Spain. In my opinion Los Canarios (with Bautista in charge) didn't improve Vivaldi's original composition, as he obviously hadn't pomp rock or Wagner's total art in mind when he wrote it. Large scale concept albums can be rewarding, but I find this particular effort a bit vulgar and overblown. It would have been wiser to write an original work or find an alternative to this, the best selling classical work of all time.
He played progressive folk-rock with Celtic influences and a trace of medieval music.
|1||FONTE DO ARAÑO||1977||NOVOLA NLX 1.080|
|2||LENDA DA PEDRA DO DESTINO||1979||GUIMBARDA GS 11.007|
|3||NO MANTO DA AGUA||1981||GUIMBARDA GS 11.119|
Carrión didn't play any instruments but wrote the ambitious and serious work Los Andares Del Alquimista. The title track (16:14) was orchestrated for strings and brass with echoes from Ravel's "Bolero" and Richard Strauss's more burlesque works (eg. "Till Eulenspygel"). A sharp contrast occurs when bass and drums join in five minutes into the work. This illustrates how unstable the classical-rock synthesis really is. The four remaining tracks had trembling classically trained voices (solo male or female) full of passion in a somewhat more rock-friendly environment. "Tensa Memoria" is a genuine treasure which more or less defines the Spanish approach to progressive rock in less than four minutes. In the final analysis this is an interesting and partly successful fusion of contrasting styles with a great variety of instruments in use.
|1||LOS ANDARES DEL ALQUIMISTA||1976||MOVIEPLAY 170738|
A rather pointless exploitation album combining pop, jazz and soul on short and tedious tracks. Understandably, no musicians were mentioned on the cover.
|1||COKE||1975||SOUND TRIANGLE ST 7773|
This Catalan bunch of electric dharmas played a gentle and elegant kind of instrumental fusion with the usual main ingredients of electric piano, soprano sax and electric guitar. They are broadly comparable to Guadalquivir (incorp-orating elements of Spanish folk music into a jazz environment), although more relaxed and ambient. These albums should please most people interested in the fusion genre (try Diumenge as a starter).
|1||DIUMENGE||1975||EDIGSA ZELESTE UM 2018|
|2||L'ÒUCOMBALLA||1976||EDIGSA ZELESTE UM 2026|
|3||TRAMUNTANA||1977||EDIGSA ZELESTE UM 2039|
|4||L'ÀNGEL DE LA DANSA||1978||CABRA 2043|
In many ways, Conexion was a Spanish version of Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago, ie. up-beat, song-oriented jazz-rock with brass and guitars. Their first album had a side-long track of greater interest, an ambitious instrumental named "Concierto Uno".
Progressive folk-rock with psychedelic overtones, featuring the former keyboard player from Gotic.
|1||TRINTIC||1979||GUIMBARDA GS 11066|
This trio played quiet, serious folk-rock largely based on piano (or organ) and acoustic guitar to which they often added soft string arrangements. The lyrics included old poems translated to Catalan by Coses. At times this is quite a long way from being "rock", but the poetic and quiet folk style may appeal to those enjoying, say, Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson. Are Es Dema (1977) is a particularly rewarding album and the best place to start.
|1||VIA FORA!||1976||MOVIEPLAY 32825|
|2||ARA ES DEMA||1977||MOVIEPLAY 17.1192/3|
|3||PERQUE NO SAPACUI L'AIRE||1978||MOVIEPLAY 17.1374/1|
Their album was influenced by King Crimson (first album) and Pink Floyd, showcasing a similar style expressed in powerful and dynamic progressive rock compositions. This is most evident on the two-part title track clocking in at 18 minutes. By accident or design, the album has a strange, slightly distorted sound most of the time.
A little known group who deserved more attention. Si Todo Hiciera (1979) was a successful progressive folk-rock offering with the added use of synthesizers and mellotrons. This made for a quite complex and detailed sound, resembling artists as diverse as The Beatles, Gentie Giant, Jethro Tull, Spring and Gryphon, or Ibio and Gotic from their home scene.
|1||SI TODO HICIERA||1979||CHAPA|
They played soft, moody, guitar-based folk-rock with flamenco influences. Rompehielos had six tracks on offer, but honestly they are all quite average in comparison to the consistent high quality of Movieplay's entire output. Check it out if folk-rock appeals to you, though.
Some rehearsal recordings of this group were pressed in a limited edition of 400 copies in 1993. The quality is so bad that it's tiring to listen to the album all the way through. It comprises tedious long tracks with guitar and keyboards (supposedly inspired by Pink Floyd although this is not detectable). Only of interest to hardcore collectors.
ARCHIVE MATERIAL (LP):
|1||LABERINTO INFERIOR (1978)||1993||MELOCOTON 01|
Cucharada's album has been spotted for sale on several record dealers's lists in recent years but reputedly only consists of mediocre hard-rock according to one of my reliable Spanish contacts.
|1||LIMPIABOTAS QUE QUERIA SER TORERO||1979||CHAPA|
One of the many good fusion groups following on the heels of Iceberg.
Doa were experts in the field of mediaeval folk music performed the traditional way including authentic old instruments. These dances and romances from the 13|h Century and onwards are jolly and delightful. Some of the vocal tracks are performed in Galician, a language (most closely related to Portugese) spoken in the Northwest of Spain even today. Don't miss it if you are interested in early Iberian music! ALBUM (UP TO 1980):
|1||O SON DA ESTRELA ESCURA||1979||EDIGAL EDL 70.005|
They played guitar-based hard-rock with punky energy.
|1||ABRE TU MENTE||1978||NEVADA|
Doctor Pop's first album contained some crude attempts to convert Rimsky Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnol" and Grieg's "Peer Gynt" into pop-rock. Herrero and Armenteros wrote the additional material. Doctor Pop used standard rock instrumentation plus bongos and quite a lot of synthesizer (and even mellotron). The music isn't as bad as the name of the group, but hardly relevant for progressive rock collectors unless you fancy a Spanish version of Ekseption.
Their second album marked a departure from this style towards melodious and pleasant but also seriously dated pop-rock (partly with English lyrics).
|1||DOCTOR POP||1974||RCA SPL1-2076|
|2||DOCTOR POP II||1976||RCA SPL 1-2485|
This was a jazz fusion group featuring flute, piano, soprano sax and latin percussion. The group also backed the singer Pedro Ruy Blas.
|1||ASA, NISI, MASA||1978||POLYOOR|
A Basque folk group, related to several others I examine more closely elsewhere (Itoiz, Enbor, Izukaitz, etc.).
|1||EGUBERRI ABESTIAK||1976||ZAFIRO ZL-197|
|2||HERIBAT SORTU ZEN||1978||NOVOLA NLX 1102|
A basque singer performing quiet folk-rock featuring guitars, keyboards and flute. Offered for outrageous amounts recently (400 ECU).
|1||GUREAK EZ DIREN KALE IXILIEEN||1977||KARDANXA|
This Basque group played electric folk-rock with a slight jazz influence. It features solid rock rhythms, ringing electric guitars and tasteful woodwinds (including much clarinet, which of course is uncommon). It alternated between solo and four-part vocals (both male and female). Their unique language always sounds so exotic to me! The songs on Enbor (1978) are tuneful and easy on the ear, but not exceptional. Katebegiak (1980) was an improvement with generally longer tracks, not least the 17-minute title track, which was closer to progressive rock. This group is good, although not top class.
Slow and refined progressive rock with twin electric guitars was the trademark of this Basque group. They were a kind of bridge between Gilmour's Pink Floyd sound and electric folk-rock with harmony vocals. Another good compar-ison would be the melodious guitar flights of Andy Latimer in Camel. Bizi-bizian (1978) captured them live on a good evening. Ametsaren Bidea had only four extended tracks and is remarkably good for 1979!
No more information available.
This was actually a bunch of Germans (from Hamburg) based in Spain at the time. Evolution originated from the rhythm and blues group Vampires, who recorded a few singles in 1966 and 1967. Their music was quite heavy and intense, full of fuzz guitar and organ. They made cover versions of Santana's "Evil Ways", King Crimson's "21th Century Schizoid Man" and Spirit's "Fresh Garbage". This reveals some of their influences, others might include Spooky Tooth and Traffic. Evolution (1970) will be appreciated by those who like a mix of psychedelic and progressive (but also soul and jazz) influences, also indicated by the colourful front sleeve design. "She's So Fine" had a psychedelic intro with the use of an audio oscillator and the instrumental "I'm Walking High" contained some superb guitar work. An enjoyable album that is very rare nowadays.
|A1||THE VAMPIRES 1966-67||1988||DIAL|
Line-up not mentioned on cover but it included:
One of the lesser known flamenco rock bands. Their album should interest fans of Triana.
|1||FRAGUA||1979||HISPANVOX S 60.256|
Fusioon are, quite rightly, celebrated as one of the leading exponents of Spanish progressive rock. Their first album was instrumental and focused on Manel Camp's keyboard abilities, particularly his piano skills. The eight tracks are melodious and easily accessible, sharing some similarities with Ekseption, Focus, Wigwam (Jukka Gustavson), Collegium Musicum and The Nice. At times, their music on this album bordered on muzak and was overshadowed by both subsequent efforts.
Fusioon 2 (1974), also known as their "crocodile cover album" proved to be a major step forward providing very satisfying progressive rock. Compared to British progressive rock you would have guessed it to be recorded around 1970/71 with its combination of classical (related to The Nice 1968/69) and jazz-rock styles recalling Soft Machine's Third, although with added guitars). The arrangements are well-balanced between complexity and directness on the four extended tracks (of which "Tritons" included variations on a theme from Tchaikovsky's sixth symphony as adapted by Keith Emerson). In fact, this is one of the best attempts to merge jazz and classical music in international progressive rock.
Minorisa (1975) was yet more complex, almost approaching Zappa and Gentle Giant, with lots of impatient flickerings between different ideas in three large-scale rock suites. This is refreshing and quite demanding - right at the core of the diffuse entity known as progressive rock. Suffice to say, Fusioon were aptly named and among the most important Spanish groups.
|1||FUSIOON||1972||BELTER BP 75.020|
|2||FUSIOON 2||1974||BELTER BP 22.809|
Their first album displayed some influences from British bands such as King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Yes, but added a passionate sax player and characteristically Spanish acoustic guitar and folk tunes. The four tracks twist and bend in unforeseen directions, ranging from a quiet section played by a solo instrument to complex ensemble parts with honking sax, electric guitar treated with various effects, sweeping organ and even some vocals (English on one track). This is an intriguing and quirky album. However, the follow-up Goma 2, released four years later, had a far more ordinary heavy rock sound.
|1||14 DE ABRIL||1975||MOVIEPLAY|
Gotic's album is one of the most immaculate examples of Spanish instrumental progressive rock. Their refined compositions (7 in total) were complex, yet soft and easy on the ear. The frequent use of keyboards and flute might be comparable to Gentle Giant and Focus, but entirely personal with slight references to Spanish folk music. Vilaprinyo and Nuix never merely show off their instrumental abilities, instead they aim for an aesthetic melodic flow. In the field of instrumental progressive rock, this is simply top class material.
This group was the brainchild of Carlos Carcamo, a highly talented keyboard-player with a fondness for electric piano and synthesizers. All three Granada albums are solid examples of the Spanish instrumental fusion style, revealing its origin by the characteristic acoustic versus electric guitar work and the tunes lifted from Spanish folk music. There are also a lot of symphonic ingredients, and, on Espana Ano 75, even some psychedelic lead guitars. Progressive rock fans must rate these truly remarkable albums highly! Hablo Du Una Tierra (1975) had vocals (in Spanish and English) on a few tracks while Volle De Pas had some tasteful orchestrations behind the highly rhythmical and irresistible tunes.
|1||HABLO DE UNA TIERRA||1975||MOVIEPLAY|
|2||ESPANA ANO 75||1976||MOVIEPLAY 17.0824/4|
|3||VALLE DEL PAS||1978||MOVIEPLAY 17.0908/1|
This was the first 'rock opera' in the Catalan language, based on George Orwell's novel "Animal Farm". It was performed live in Barcelona in 1976, but the double album (with libretto in Catalan and Spanish) stems from a studio recording. All of it was written by Ros and Vives (neither of whom I would expect to have any connections to rock groups). It's as good (or bad, depending on your view) as countless other rock operas from the seventies, employing several singers, choir, strings and brass.
|1||GRANJA ANIMAL (2LP)||1976||MOVIEPLAY 24.0016/5|
Their first album is one of the best Spanish fusion albums of the 70's - merging jazz, flamenco and other folk influences perfectly and always with a strong rhythmic accent in their music. The music is instrumental with alternating solos on electric guitar and sax, augmented by a busy rhythm section, handclapping and acoustic guitar (plus many studio musicians). Most importantly, though - the seven compositions are full of memorable and distinctive tunes. The second album followed a similar path but had less flamenco influences.
|2||CAMINO DEL CONCERTO||1980||HARVEST 10C064-21676|
Gualberto Garcia Perez came into the spotlight as a member of the legendary hard-rock group Smash, who made two albums released in 1970 and 1971. On the second one, Gualberto made few contributions as he was busy recording his first solo album. It remained unissued at the time, but was finally released in 1978 on a double album with various artists. This first attempt combined the powerful rock of Smash (who provided the backing) with weird psychedelia and quiet folk songs on 11 short tracks. Most significant was the occasional addition of sitar and violin, which was to become trade marks of Gualberto on later albums.
The first of these, A La Vida / Al Dolor (1975) was a combination of two different compositional cycles. To Life was a beautiful song cycle (with English lyrics) of electric folk-rock with baroque and psychedelic elements. This is very innovative with the use of Spanish and electric guitars, sitar, violin, bass and drums ending up in a strange instrumental flight on "Seagulls Song". To Pain explored in depth the possibilities of combining Spanish and Indian folk instruments with classical violin (also viola) and featured sudden bursts into heavy progressive (on "Prisioneros"). The album ends quietly with a dialogue for Spanish guitar and violin only.
Vericuetos (1976) was completely instrumental, focused on guitars, violin and sitar, but also adding keyboards (mostly a synthesizer overdub). Gualberto's music became very complex on "Continuando El Dialogo", recalling Univers Zero and Frank Zappa (in the latter's 'serious composer mode').
Gualberto's music was less rigid and more lively and eclectic, though. In 1976, few others had even thought of chamber rock. Both these albums are recom-mended - this is really exciting stuff! With a new version of Smash, Gualberto recorded a split album in 1978, shared with the flamenco artist Agujetas, with whom Gualberto would later collaborate. Otros Dias (1979) was dedicated to classical chamber music and his farthest venture from rock. He collaborated with other artists in the eighties and then made a come-back solo album in 1993.
UNRELEASED 1ST ALBUM INCLUDED ON:
|0||EL NACIMENTO DEL ROCK EN ANDALUCIA (2LP)||1978||EDIGSA|
|1A||LA VIDA - AL DOLOR||1975||MOVIEPLAY S32.826|
|3||OTROS DIAS||1979||MOVIEPLAY 17.1474/6|
Reputed to be progressive folk-rock.
|1||NAFARROA NORA?||1978||NOVOLA NLX 1101|
|2||ASKATASUN MAIZERAI||1979||ZAFIRO ZL 273|
I haven't heard their first album but Hontz Gaua (1976) is simply gorgeous, one of the best progressive folk albums in the whole of Europe. The concluding title track is a remarkable 14-minute venture into adventurous realms more often associated with German "cosmic folk" of the early 70's. It starts with a hymn-like acapella intro, then shifts into watery-sounds followed by a mournful tune, featuring flute, acoustic guitar, cello, bongos and some wordless female chanting. The second part of the composition starts with strange percussive noises and echoed electric guitar building from silence to a sort of repulsive conclusion with Amaia's wounded moans. Finally, it descends into the calm darkness of the night with bowed cello, flute and female vocals. The four remaining tracks have more conventional structures but are still delightful with electric guitars, flute, whistle, cello, vocals and a wide variety of percussion instruments. The album is like a full extension of the first two minutes of King Crimson's "Formentera Lady" (from Islands), with an added dimension of exotic, mystical folklore. This Basque group is little known but deserves wide acclaim for this work of art!
This duo played varied progressive folk-rock. The participants are well-known and respected musicians.
|1||UN GRAN DIA||1972||EDIGSA|
|2||CHICHONERA'S CAT||1975||OLIBA 08|
Their album is extremely rare now. Reputedly it contains good quality 60's garage rock.
Ibio (like most Spanish groups of this era) used elements from Iberian folk music, but in a more general European symphonic rock setting, which recalls the instrumental Genesis and Focus. Here is a wealth of electric guitars, mellotrons, electric pianos and monophonic synthesizers. The mood of Ibio's music is often melodramatic with trembling vocals and passionate climaxes, but seldomly stretching their imagination beyond cliché-ridden melodic developments. Most connoisseurs of symphonic rock will be more than satisfied by this album, though.
|1||CUEVAS DE ALTAMIRA||1978||MOVIEPLAY|
This group was the leading jazz-rock outfit in Spain and recorded a string of excellent albums.
Tutankhamon (1975) was an astonishing debut album, already revealing the talents of Sunyer and Mas in some incredible electric guitar and synthesizer interplay. This was a concept album of interconnected pieces, dealing with ancient Egypt. About half the tracks had vocals, but the use of both Spanish and English lyrics is distracting. The instrumental sections fused Spanish jazz-rock with influences from British symphonic rock (King Crimson, Genesis and Yes 1972-74). The strength of the musical themes makes you forget this derivation and just enjoy the magnificent music. Indeed this is a good starting point for newcomers to Spanish progressive rock.
By the time of Coses Nostres (1976) the influences from British progressive rock had more or less been ironed out, as Iceberg had further developed their immaculate jazz-rock fusion with delicate insertions of Iberian folk music. This and the subsequent albums were totally instrumental (vocalist Angel Riba had left the group). Sunyer now displayed himself as a world class guitarist, equalling the ability of more famous names (such as Carlos Santana and Jan Akkerman). This applies to his technique on both acoustic and electric guitars, as typified by "La Flamenca Elèctrica". Josep Mas proved able to play his synthesizers, electric and acoustic pianos in unison with Sunyer's rapid melody lines, quite an achievement! The rhythm section seemed unaffected by 11/8 metres or abrupt changes, always propelling the tunes forward with ease and invention.
While Coses Nostres was Iceberg's best album, Sentiments (1977) wasn't too far behind. Generally, one could say their fusion had become more serious and technical, but perhaps lacking the spontaneous excitement of the previous album. Their influences at this point might have been Mahavishnu Orchestra (the guitars) and Weather Report (the keyboards). Still there is plenty to enjoy here, such as "A Sevilla'' (5:13) and "Alegries Del Mediterrani" (9:17) with its triumphant melody lines. En Directe (1978) contained live recordings from Madrid (new material) focusing on long duels between electric piano and electric guitar.
Arc-en-ciel (1978) concluded their recording career nicely with no signs of fading inspiration, although it was perhaps more trapped in common jazz-rock conventions.
|1||TUTANKAMON||1975||BOCACCIO BS 32105|
|2||COSES NOSTRES||1976||BOCACCIO BS 32108|
|3||SENTIMENTS||1977||BOCACCIO BS 32110|
|4||EN DIRECTE||1978||BOCACCIO BS 32123|
|5||ARC-EN-CIEL||1978||BOCACCIO BS 32128|
|A1||BABEL||1978||BOCACCIO BS 32127|
They played a kind of soft instrumental fusion with symphonic overtones. This was largely based on electric guitar and synthesizers. Some of their tracks were very long. There's nothing wrong with these two albums, but in my view they are overshadowed by several others.
|1||CALIFATO INDEPENDANTE||1978||CBS 82843|
|2||EL CAMINO DEL AGUILA||1980||CBS 84277|
This is a solo project by the ex-leader of Alacran. I'm told this is a standard run-of-the-mill rock album.
Looking for a Spanish record out of the mainstream? This is it, although for many this will be quite a torturous experience. Viaje (1976) has three selections, just entitled "1", "2" and "3", of electronic avant-garde music more related to krautrock (Conrad Schnitzler, among others) than the other releases on the Movieplay label. Hardly a recognisable tune here and this sounds more or less like an audio portrayal of a serious migraine attack.
This Basque group are best known among collectors for their first album, which is among the rarest from Europe in its original first press with a plastic window front sleeve. It's not common for late 70's rare albums to fetch amounts beyond 1,000 Euro and particularly not those falling into the 'symphonic' genre, which this arguably does. Itoiz is a soft, graceful album with poetical qualities, not least the 10-minute track "Goizeko Deiadar". Itoiz sing in their own tongue, which makes the lyrics incomprehensable for everyone else ! Piano and artificial strings are frequently used, augmented by organ, flute and sudden bursts of lead guitars. The pompous arrangements remind one of Genesis and Camel, although Itoiz also draw from their own folklore, as on the beautiful and emotional "Errotaberri". The tender and passionate (or even pathetic) vocals are similar to certain Italian bands. The status of this album is understandable, although those looking for powerful rock must search elsewhere!
Ezekiel (1980) was a more up-beat affair, moving more towards folk and jazz than symphonic rock. Synthesizers were omitted and sax and violin added. The compostions were not quite up to the standard of the previous album, but are still fairly good.
Alkolea (1982) followed more or less the same path as Ezekiel (some tracks were closer to conventional soft rock but still satisfying). Itoiz continued to make albums in the 80's, although these are quite commercial and consequently of little interest. They made one excellent and two competent albums.
ALBUMS (UP TO 1982):
This is Basque folk-rock similar to The Trees, The Fairports and Sandy Denny - with nice female (and male) vocals, lots of acoustic guitars, flute, bass and drums. Like those mentioned, Itziar's music ranges from acoustic stuff to quite powerful folk-rock with electric guitar solos. There are also some symphonic ingredients (synthesizer-strings) and an underlying jazz-feel on many tracks. This is delightful and relaxing music, although no great intellectual challenge (some people always look for that).
This outfit played folk music with traditional instruments but wrote all their own songs. Both albums are quite delightful with female vocals, flute, fiddle and acoustic guitars to the fore. Unlike many Spanish folk groups, this Basque group make little use of percussion instruments. The result is fluid folk music comparable to some Irish folk music, but reflecting the local music culture. A good example is the tubera - an exotic wind instrument sounding like a cross between a bagpipe and various mediaeval wind instruments.
Jarka was the group of keyboard player Jordi Sabates. Ortodoxia (1971) is a nice album of keyboard-driven instrumental jazz-rock, very typical for this era. In September 1971, Jordi Soler's group Om recorded their only single "Vindrá La Llum" with Sabates, De Lucas and Van Eeckhout (previously of Pan & Regaliz) in the line-up.
The second Jarka album, Morgue O Berenice (1972), was in a similar style to the first, but not as good. Sabates and Soler continued their collaboration with a self-titled album later the same year.
|1||ORTODOXIA||1971||EDIGSA UM 2011|
|2||MORGUE O BERENICE||1972||EDIGSA|
|.||J. SABATES & JORDI SOLER||1972||EDIGSA|
|.||TOT L'ENYOR DE DEMA||1976||EDIGSA|
Along with Lisker they were among the heavier outfits of Basque rock, particularly on their second album.
|2||BI HOZKADAK||1979||XOXOA 11104|
Unknown line-up: electric guitar, bass, drums
A really loud heavy progressive outfit! Their album was produced by Teddy Bautista (of Los Canarios fame). Almost as good as Nu, but electric guitar freaks will enjoy Leño even more.
|1||LEÑO||1979||CHAPA HS 35014|
Lisker played rudimentary heavy progressive rock (reminiscent of Jethro Tull at the time of Stand Up), fronted by powerful guitars and flute. Lisker's album had five long tracks, some of them building up from a quiet, acoustic opening.
A folk singer comparable to Luis Emilio Batallán.
|1||BARCELONA GENER DE 1976||1976||MOVIEPLAY|
Máquina performed live and released their first single in 1969, making them among the first genuine underground groups from Spain. One year later their first album Why? Máquina! was recorded. The title track was a two-part, stupendous 25-minute freak-out with an ongoing battle between J. M. Paris on fuzz guitar and Luis Cabanach on wah-wah guitar. Parts of it were quite exciting but not the obligatory extended drum solo. Apart from that, the album only had two relatively short tracks. Stylistically, it fits into the heavy psychedelic category, somewhere between Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive", Grateful Dead's "Dark Star" and Cream's live version of "Spoonful".
Both lead guitarists left soon after, leaving Batiste and Herrera to reconstruct the group.
En Directo (recorded live in Barcelona 1972) revealed Máquina's sound to have changed drastically, now incorporating jazz, blues and soul influences (with massive brass) into their otherwise heavy style, very similar to the group CWT (who recorded an album for Kuckuck in 1973) but using slower metres.
|2||EN DIRECTO (2LP)||1972||DIABOLO 33 001/2|
The content of his album was typical for the label: emotional folk-rock with mighty orchestration.
|1||ENTRE LA LUMBRE Y EL FRÍO||1977||MOVIEPLAY 17.1205/7|
Max is a celebrated Spanish guitar hero, known from his groups Vertice, Tapiman and, most of all, Iceberg. His solo album is in a similar style to Iceberg's from the same period and is recommended.
|1||BABEL||1978||BOCACCIO BS 32127|
They eventually became one of the most famous Spanish exponents of progressive heavy rock in the eighties. Only their two first albums are listed and they may appeal to dedicated fans of the genre.
|1||MEDINA AZAHARA||1979||CBS 84014|
|2||LA ESQUINA DEL VIENTO||1980||CBS|
Line-up on 2:
This group has been known among hardcore collectors of European progressive rock for quite a few years. Estrechas Calles De Santa Cruz was released on a minor label and, consequently, is very hard to find today. It reputedly contains energetic heavy progressive music with some flamenco leanings.
By the time of Tabarca (1979), their style had softened considerably, resembling a cross between late seventies Santana and
Weather Report with the emphasis on Spanish percussion, electric piano and synthesizers. The title track clocks in at over 10 minutes and was undoubtedly the strongest.
Carratalá, Guijarro and Linares kept the band alive through the eighties but opted for inane disco-jazz-pop. ALBUMS (UP TO 1980):
|1||ESTRECHAS CALLES DE SANTA CRUZ||1978||AFRODITE|
|2||TABARCA||1979||CHAPA HS 35025|
Mezquita's album contains excellent progressive rock with Flamenco-influences, following on the heels of Granada (instrumentally) and Triana (vocally). The six tracks are full of haunting melodic themes, taxing rhythm changes and that archetypical Spanish temperament. Recommended.
|1||RECUERDOS DE Ml TIERRA||1979||CHAPA HS 35024|
Another obscure band who played typical early seventies rock, with lots of guitar and organ and some folk influences.
A folk-rock duo.
|1||MILAN & BIBLONI||1976||NOVOLA|
Electric progressive folk-rock with male and female vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass and drums.
Modulos began life as a progressive pop outfit inspired by Vanilla Fudge, The Beatles and The Nice. Realidad contains a late sixties sound including slow, symphonic renditions of "Yesterday" and "Hello Goodbye". Their music was dominated by organ with some added semi-psychedelic guitar riffs and occasional string arrangements. Much of this material sounds dated now and it should only be of interest to specialist collectors. You may like it if you enjoy the early albums by the Italian group New Trolls.
Variaciones (1971) continued this trend, but also drew closer to the harmony folk-rock of Crosby, Stills and Nash. The album included a version of "The Sound Of Silence" in Spanish.
Plenitud (1973) was their most consistent album, although still quite lightweight in parts. Two 7-minute tracks, "Promesas" and "Al Despertar" are genuine highlights showing the unfulfilled potential of the group.
|2||VARIACIONES||1971||HISPANVOX 130 028|
|4||LO ULTIMO DE MODULUS||1979||OLYMPO|
This virtuoso flamenco guitarist played classical folk pieces assisted by members of Granada and Triana. De la Rosa, Palacios and Carlos Carcamo wrote lightweight arrangements for synthe-sizers, bass and drums, which didn't overshadow the solo guitar parts. In some lengthy segments you can hear Spanish guitar and handclapping only, and marvel at the intricate rhythms of flamenco.
|1||DIEGO DE MORON||1977||MOVIEPLAY 170.914/6|
The sleeve doesn't mention the members! This is early progressive rock similar to some of the albums released by Island, Vertigo and Harvest in 1969. The songs are relatively short and heavy, highlighting the powerful hammond organ in the same way as some Traffic, Spencer Davis Group and Mike Bloomfield tracks. This is an album to check out for those with a special interest in the narrow 1969-1971 'guitar-and-organ' period - it's not bad but contains nothing special (and clocks in at less than 30 minutes).
This hippie folk outfit from Barcelona was a Spanish cross between Incredible String Band and Limbus 4 (or Furekåben, Amon Düül I and Siloah). They played loose songs with mandolin, guitar, harmonica, piano, rambling bongos and chanting. The album is funny, wacky and entertaining with silly voices and out of tune instruments. Jaume Sisa later recorded several solo albums, of which Orgia (1972) has a similar spirit to Musica Dispersa.
|1||MUSICA DISPERSA||1971||DIABOLO D1002|
They recorded a very good instrumental album stylistically similar to several French jazz-rock bands and the Canterbury-scene (Gilgamesh and Hatfield & The North). At times it even hinted at chamber rock. Spanish folk music influences are also detectable in places. The playing is very precise, even if the rhythms skip and jump most of the time.
A very obscure group. Their album in the melodic heavy progressive style is actually very good. It features slow and graceful music, dominated by the well-known combination of electric guitar and organ in melodic interplay (almost everything is instrumental). The guitar player has added unusual amounts of delay and flanging effects to his instrument, resulting in a very spacey sound close to the Berlin sound of Manuel Göttsching and Edgar Froese. Depending on your own point of view, you may also find a link to Pink Floyd or the US West Coast groups of the late sixties.
Neuronium became known among fans of electronic music as one of the first acts outside of Berlin to follow in the path trod by Tangerine Dream, Ashra and Klaus Schulze. This first album is a nice listening experience (it will put old fans of electronic music in a nostalgic mood!), although their software has aged terribly since then. Their brand of 'psychotronic music' (their own term) is based on very long tracks with soft synthesizer voices, some acoustic and electric guitars and even flute on Quasar 2C 361 (1977). This still has a kind of period charm with its stone age sequencers and simple tunes repeated over and over again. The early analogue synthesizers still sound quite good, though.
Vuelo Quimico (1978) had a notable guest appearance by Nico, reading E. A. Poe with her chilling voice. After this, Gimenez quit Neuronium to work with quiet acoustic music (mainly solo Spanish guitar only).
Digital Dream (1980) and The Visitor (1981) repeated their earlier formula and are clearly outdated.
Chromium Echoes (1982) can be accused of the same, nevertheless it sounds more inspired and is their best album along with the first.
The last album discussed here, Invisible Views (1983), saw Neuronium reduced to the one-man project of Michel Huygen, with the prolonged services of Santi Pico - he really knocks off some superb solos here. Jose Maria Ciria was the drummer of Suck Electronic. Huygen is in fact a Belgian, but has lived in Barcelona for years.
ALBUMS (UP TO 1983):
|1||QUASAR 2C 361||1977||HARVEST 10C062-021442|
|2||VUELO QUIMICO||1978||HARVEST 10C064-021523|
|3||DIGITAL DREAM||1980||NEURONIUM L8NE36|
|4||THE VISITOR||1981||NEURONIUM A8NE211|
|5||CHROMIUM ECHOES||1982||NEURONIUM A7378|
|6||INVISIBLE WIEWS||1983||ROADRUNNER 9929|
|A1||ABSENCE OF REALITY||1981||NEURONIUM L7 380|
|B1||REVELATION||1982||NEURONIUM L7 392|
|C1||UN SOMNI PETIT||1981||FILOBUS E-907|
Nu were one of the best Spanish groups of the late seventies, sounding like a violent mixture of Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath and High Tide, with aggressive, Ozzy Osborne-like high-pitched Spanish vocals added on top. Most of the tracks were unusually complex for the genre and characterized by screaming vocal parts alternating with head swirling battles between lead guitars, violin and flute. Cuentos de Ayers y de Hoy (1978) is regarded as their classic, comprising ass-kicking adrenalin-fuelled tracks such as "Preparan" (6:47) and more reflective ones like "Paraiso de Flautas" (9:34). Despites some obvious influences, this is a truly original album, ranking among the most indispensable ones from this part of Europe.
A Golpe de Látigo (1979) was inferior to the debut, although still a very good effort. The group recorded many more albums in the 80's, but never reached the high standards of old.
ALBUMS (UP TO 1980):
|1||CUENTOS DE AYERS Y DE HOY||1978 CHAPA HS-35???|
|2||AGOLPE DE LÁTÍGO||1979||CHAPA HS-35027|
The leader of the group was keyboard-player Mariano Diaz. Their blend of symphonic folk-rock had fragments of Celtic folk but also strong flamenco influences (similar to Asturcon). Their albums are pleasant enough but not from the top drawer.
|1||ASTURIES, AYERY Y GUEI||1978||MOVIEPLAY|
This early group of Jordi Soler made an adventurous album of largely improvised jazz-rock with long electric guitar, bowed bass and trumpet solos. It contains only four long tracks, with "Excusa Núm. 1" (12:51) paraphrasing the main theme of Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive" (which might be a coincidence). This is typical for jazz-rock musicians who want to experiment and comparable to Nucleus, Miles Davis, Min Bul, John McLaughlin, Arbete & Fritid and early Henry Cow. This isn't an album to everybody's taste but in my opinion at least some parts of it display sheer excellence.
|.||SABATES & SOLER||1972||EDIGSA|
This particular 'orchestra' played a tasty kind of instrumental fusion, closely related to the sound of several French bands (including Vortex) and even the Canterbury-territories of Hatfield & The North. A broad range of instruments is used (although not necessary on all tracks), including electric piano, flute, a string quartet, clarinet, mandolin, sax, oboe and bassoon. The rhythm section (including some latin percussion) also does a splendid job. This group is recommended for jazz-rock buffs.
|1||SALSA CATALANA||1974||EDIGSA UM 2017|
|2||D'OCA A OCA I TIRA QUE ET TOCA (2LP)||1975||EDIGSA UM 2019/20|
A Basque folk group with a very versatile style ranging from traditional folk songs and dances (featuring mandolin, accordion, bagpipe and tin whistle) to their own compositions which sound like a cross between The Incredible String Band and early Jade Warrior (I know it sounds unlikely but Oskorri's sound could be really unusual!) with distorted guitars a la Tony Duhig. Everyone interested in exotic folk (-rock) should investigate!
|?||GABRIEL ARESTIREN OROIMENEZ||1976||CBS|
Along with Evolution's album, I Can Fly (1971) has been one of the most sought after Spanish albums among the wealthiest collectors in the 90's. Unlike many others, the Barcelona band Pan & Regaliz undoubtedly deserve their legendary reputation!
They were first known as Agua De Regaliz and recorded one single in 1970. The A-side "Waiting In The Munsters Of Garden" [their spelling], included on the collection Música Progressiverssiva Española, was a true gem that was later re-recorded (and retitled) for the LP. The album is a psychedelic masterpiece, with a very surreal and ghostly atmosphere, comparable to Group 1850 and Pink Floyd (in their 1968 phase) but it also contains some glimpses of heavily mutilated Spanish folk-rock. "Today It's Raining" featured mouth harp (used in a very unusual manner) and mumbling voices in a long free passage. The slightly more coherent "I Can Fly" was a pinnacle of acid blues, a befitting soundtrack to Salvador Dali's most bizarre paintings.
The album ranks among the top five from Spain! I don't know what happened to the group, but their drummer later recorded with Jarka.
|1||I CAN FLY||1971||DIMENSION|
A male folkie who played in a rather soft style comparable to Cat Stevens. All tracks had English lyrics. This album is workman-like rather than inspirational. It was recorded at Trident Studio in London with reknowned sessionmen such as Chris Spedding (guitars), Alan Parker (guitars) and Clem Cattini (drums).
|1||NATURAL||1972||ERIKA EKS 12.003|
A quintet with a lush and light sound similar to a cross between the UK group Kaleidoscope and Californian harmony pop. The album contained 12 original compositions recorded in the aftermath of Sgt. Pepper.
|1||OJO POR OJO||1967||HISPANVOX|
Typical Spanish folk-rock with the usual characteristics.
They started as a beat group in the late sixties, but at the time of Mamy Blue they had settled for horrible easy listening (usually in the same style as the hit "Mamy Blue") and more often than not inspired by gospel. The Spanish Les Humphries Singers... Yuck!
|1||MAMY BLUE||1971||EXPLOSION 85.400-L|
This was a rather disjointed and poor concept album with orchestral arrangements.
They made an album of aggressive, guitar-based hard-rock comparable to Rockcelona and Trapera. Long tracks with punky guitars. A very rare album!
|1||RAMONCIN Y WC||1978||EMI|
Along with Jaume Sisa, Pau Riba was among the most indiosyncratic Spanish electric folk-rock poets, with a wealth of original vision and obvious musical talent. Riba's style was influenced by Bob Dylan and Daevid Allen. In fact, the latter made a guest appearance on Licors (1977). Most people seem to prefer Electroccid Accid Alquimistic Xoc from 1975.
|1B||DIOPTRIA 2||19??||(PROBABLY NEVER RELEASED)|
|2||JO, LA DONYAI EL GRIPAU||1971||EDIGSA 265|
|3||ELECTROCCID ACCID ALQUIMISTIC XOC||1975||MOVIEPLAY 17.0739/6|
This singer was already active in the late sixties, when he made the soundtrack to "Hamelin" with the group Los Impala. The listed solo albums contained elaborate progressive rock. La Huerta Atomica was partly comparable to Armando Tirelli's El Projeta and Estructura's Mas Alla De Nuestras. Al-Andalus (1977) was an exciting mixture of energetic fusion and Arabian music, reminding me of Rahmann and Area's first album (you can read about these in the French and Italian sections, respectively). The excellent sound quality must also be mentioned.
|1||MEMORIAS DE UN SER HUMANO||1974||HISPAVOX HHS 11668|
|2||LA HUERTA ATOMICA||1976||POLYDOR 2385 110|
|3||AL-ANDALUS||1977||POLYDOR 2385 143|
A late seventies heavy progressive group with an ultra-rare album, already selling for $250.
This large ensemble played richly arranged Spanish folk-rock with much use of violin, flute and acoustic guitars. The atmosphere is light and friendly, reflecting happiness and the enjoyment of playing. Some will find their style too close to variety music but they also attempted to experiment with varispeed and original arrangements. Both albums are actually quite nice overall, but don't expect them to rock'n'roll (as a matter of fact, they do on one track, but that's a parody!).
|1||ROMANTICA BANDA LOCAL||1978||EXPLOSION 34131|
This guy's real name was Pedro Ample. In the late sixties he played soul, R&B and acid rock in the Madrid group Los Grimm. Later he temporarily replaced Teddy Bautista in Los Canarios. The listed albums with his backing group Dolores contain 'slightly progressive' rock with strong Latin jazz influences.
|1||LUNA LLENA||1975||POLYDOR 2385 101|
|2||PEDRO R.B. & DOLORES||1976||POLYDOR|
|3||LA PUERTA ABIERTA||1977||POLYDOR 2385 139|
|4||ASA NISINASA||1978||POLYDOR 2385 158|
Sabates was previously a member of Jarka and has played on countless albums from the Barcelona scene. His own album contained jazz-rock.
|1||TOT L'ENJOR DE DEMA||1976||EDIGSA 2028|
A Basque group. Their album is a suite of heavy progressive rock pieces.
|1||BIZITAKO GAUZAK||1978||ELKAR ELK 37|
Barcelona was arguably Spain's most important city for instrumental jazz-rock, represented by leading exponents such as Jarka, Orquestra Mirasol, Companyia Eléctrica Dharma, Musica Urbana and Secta Sonica. The first album by the latter group, Fred Pedralbes (1976), is one of my favourites within the genre, featuring superb interplay between two capable lead guitar players. Their style is far from being strictly jazz, incorporating blues, heavy and even funky styles. Wah-wah and echo effects are used with good taste, never going over the top. Astrofeira is more ambitious, showcasing technical complexities by the soloists, occasionally at the expense of an organic flow in the music. This is still another great album with 10 tracks favouring pre-written themes rather than improvisation, including the delightful "Reggae de les Regates".
Jaume Sisa is a folk-rock artist with a very idiosyncratic style. His first album Orgia (1971) was a prime example of psychedelic folk the Spanish way with Sisa following his whim much like Robin Williamson (of The Incredible String Band) in his heyday. The vocals and harmonica playing is a little indebted to Bob Dylan, but of course this is a lot stranger. Elsewhere there are kazoos, piano, tablas, recorders, snippets of tapes, and even occasional strings and brass. The tracks are linked together (on side one), much like a psychedelic folk version Sgt. Pepper. "Cap A La Roda" was a stand-out track with a very memorable tune! This is probably the best Spanish album within the psychedelic folk field! Later albums are more sober and temperate, falling into the singer and songwriter category (albeit still eccentric in parts). They are all decent instrumentally, dominated by Spanish acoustic guitar, flutes and fiddle, but some tracks had strong rock edges. Qualsevol Nit Pot Sortir El Sol (1975) included help from no less than 20 musicians! My personal favourite of these later albums is the conceptual La Catedral (1977). This comprised a myriad of styles (folklore meets improvisation in long and often slightly weird tracks), at times even re-awakening the ghost of Musica Dispersa.
|2||QUALSEVOL NIT POT SORTIR EL SOL||1975||EDIGSA|
|3||GALETA GALACTICA||1976||EDIGSA UM 2025|
|4||LA CATEDRAL (2LP)||1977||EDIGSA UM 2035/36|
|5||LA MAGIA DE L'ERTUDIANT||1979||EDIGSA|
Smash formed in Sevilla in 1969 and soon caused a revolution in the local rock scene (paving the way for later local groups such as Gong, Galaxia and Triana).
Glorieta De Los Lotos (1970) contains basically a heavy blues sound, influenced by the recent British blues boom (and notably The Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet and the first Led Zeppelin album). This was softened by vocal harmonies learned from The Beatles and some acoustic tracks in a folk-rock vein. Smash sometimes added vibes, harpsichord, violin and odd Spanish lyrics to make the tracks more interesting. "Sitting On The Truth'' and "Rock And Roll" sound more like loose jamming with aggressive guitars and screaming vocals. Indeed this album is quite strange and difficult to put in any particular category.
We Came To Smash This Time (1971) was divided between Gualberto's weird sitar excursions ("Behind The Stars") and the melodious but ordinary folk-rock of Julio Matito ("My Funny Girl"), adding some literally smashing hard-rock ("Well, You Know"). They all came together for the massive hard rock mayhem of "Fail Safe" (10:29), which equalled the agony of "Heiter Skelter". They went their separate directions in 1972, with Gualberto embarking on an exciting solo career. Smash came together again five years later in a slightly changed line-up. 25 minutes of new material was released on a split LP. Here Smash partly went back to their heavy blues-rock roots, but Gualberto's new interest in flamenco was also evident on certain tracks. The rest of the album was recorded by a flamenco singer.
|1||GLORIETA DE LOS LOTOS||1970||PHILIPS|
|2||WE COME TO SMASH THIS TIME||1971||PHILIPS|
|3||VANGUARDIA Y PUREZA DEL FLAMENCO||1978||CHAPA|
|.||I LEFT YOU/ONE HOPELESS WHISPER||1970||PHILIPS|
|.||SCOUTING/ENSAYO NO. 1||1970||DIABOLO|
|.||DECISSON/I LOOK AT THE RAINBOW||1970||PHILIPS|
|.||WELL YOU KNOW/LOVE MILLIONAIRE||1971||PHILIPS|
|.||WE COME TO SMASH/MY FUNNY GIRL||1971||PHILIPS|
|.||EL GARROTIN/TANPOS DE KETAMA||1971||BOCACCIO|
|.||NI RECUERDO NI OLVIDO PARTS 1 & 2||1971||BOCACCIO|
This guy usually played quiet and relaxing songs accompanied by Spanish guitar. Liebeslied (1972) contained songs he wrote between 1967 and 1969, but also a version of Leonard Cohen's "Susanne". In contrast to this, El Gat Blanc (1973) was instrumental and had strong flamenco influences. It also featured a great electric fuzz-guitar track named "Sevilla" like the thunderstorm in an otherwise calm summer afternoon.
|1||LIEBESLIED||1972||EDIGSA CM 267|
|2||EL GAT BLANC||1973||EDIGSA|
Soto made one of the really good Spanish folk LPs - a concept album with slightly symphonic leanings. A rich array of instruments were used (acoustic & electric guitars, clavecin, mellotron, piano and flute).
|1||ALFA Y OMEGA||1975||POLYDOR|
As many of you will know, John St. Field was English and his album was recorded in London. It was only released in Spain on the Movieplay label, though. You might also know that it is one of the most expensive items on the collectors' circuit. At first, this will be difficult to understand, as the first impression of the album is rather unspectacular melancholic folk-rock a la James Taylor and early Neil Young. Gradually though, you discover the depth of the clever lyrics (partly concerning mystic and occult topics) and the magnificent instrumental segments, most notably the organ, flute and electric piano jam on "The Problem" (10:45). The wind effects and backwards voices of "Dune Voice" will eventually make you realise that this rural folk-rock record is quite spooky in places! Not every track is spectacular but this is the work of a great talent who was sadly unable to impress the British record companies. He joined Doll By Doll two years later.
Storm's first album consisted of loud, guitar-based hard-rock, strongly influenced by Deep Purple and Black Sabbath albums circa 1970-71. In my opinion their 1974 album was overshadowed by countless others from the same period, although others rate it more highly. Check it out if you love aggressive electric guitar vs. organ duels always won by the guitar player! Some of the eight tracks were instrumental. El Dia De La Tormenta was a re-union album from the early eighties, but I don't know if the line-up was identical.
|2||EL DIA DE LA TORMENTA||198?||ALBA 6017|
Suburbano played a beautiful kind of folk-rock largely based on acoustic instruments. Some tracks have a more jazzy feel, largely due to the plentiful use of soprano sax.
Michel Huygen of Neuronium once played in this group during their embryonic stage (mid-seventies). Their music mixed new and old elements from new wave, progressive rock and jazz-rock. Jordi Garcia used the synthesizer quite a lot (and did it well!). The album was produced by the Belgian Danile Schell, also known as the leader of the group Cos.
|1||L'HOME REANIMAT||1982||EDIGSA 01LO438 5|
Tableton's album had five long tracks resembling the British group Running Man (featuring guitars, sax and keyboards). It had nice cover artwork resembling paintings by the surrealist Rene Magritte. Largely unknown among collectors as yet!
This group played beautiful, acoustic folk-rock, which specialised in breathtaking multi-voice arrangements. This understandably made one record dealer dub them "the Beach Boys of Spanish folk"! Soft and relaxing albums with quite a bit of charm.
|1||NUEVO CAUCE||1976||ARIOLA 28.258|
|2||ACH GUANAC||1978||CBS 83329|
Their first album was definitely among the greatest heavy progressive records from this region of Europe. Max Sunyer was one of the first guitar heroes from Spain. His style is very versatile, ranging from incredibly fast and loud solos in the style of Jeff Beck (or Hendrix in his last year) via jazzy signatures to more thoughtful strumming beneath the vocalist. The songwriting is on par with their English contemporaries and this is really loud rock at its most intelligent. Sunyer would later play in the superb jazz-rock group Iceberg.
|2||ROCK'N'ROLL MUSIC||197?||JOINT 50003|
Tarantula's two albums were quite different, reflecting the great changes in the crew. They were essentially the group of keyboard player Vicente Guillot, who opted for a versatile and powerful sound usually fronted by mellotron and moog. On Tarantula's first album, he builds complex constructions competing with Gentle Giant and the serious/ambitious Italian progressive sound, with a powerful male vocalist to match it. Indeed this is an excellent album, balanced between these mighty mellotron melodramas and more plain heavy progressive rock with guitars. Elements from baroque music and Spanish folklore were thrown in for good measure.
On the second album the entire backing group had been replaced and Guillot's new formula was a lot heavier and more up-beat. Unfortunately some of their new tracks seemed like cartoon parodies of heavy rock with rampant guitars and Ana Maria's high-pitched, creaky vocals buzzin' in your ear, uttering five words per second. But between these absurdities were some more measured tracks. The first album was best, but depending on your taste in humour, you might find the second album quite hilarious.
|1||TARANTULA 1||1977||NOVOLA 1073|
A progressive rock group from Andalucia.
This group were exponents of the archetypical Spanish fusion style with exotic rhythms and the usual flamenco-influences.
|1||TECLADOS FRITOS||1978||MOVIEPLAY 17.1391/1|
These three hippie troubadours recreated the cosy atmosphere by the evening campfire with their lazy songs. This is particularly true with Al Fin...! (1975), which sounded more like a leftover from 1970 with some three-part vocals (but fortunately still not much like Crosby, Stills & Nash), Dylan-esque harmonica and song titles such as "Love Is Coming" and "Birds Song". A lovely album indeed, emitting innocence and country air! Alcocebre (1976) saw Luis Granda replaced by a bass player and Tilburi switching to Spanish lyrics. The songs were longer and more ambitious, but still largely acoustic. The vocal arrangements also sound more studied and less spontaneous than on the first album.
|1||AL FIN...!||1975||MOVIEPLAY 32.644|
Topo played soft, symphonic heavy-rock (this may seem like a contradiction, but then think again!) with lead guitars, organ and synthesizers. It's among the best I've heard in this field with inventive vocal arrangements and various atmospheric sound effects created by synthesizers. This is comparable to the group Bloque in that both were influenced by Yes, Genesis, Deep Purple and obviously also the first album by Iceberg.
Reputed to be unspectacular heavy rock.
Triana were one of the best known creators of symphonic flamenco-rock and inspired countless other late seventies Spanish groups. Their style highlighted the distinctive vocal and Spanish guitar stylings of flamenco (where rhythm is a keyword), alternating it with more symphonic parts by moog synthesizer, string ensemble, piano and electric guitar. This fusion was almost perfectly homogenous on El Patio (1976), sounding like these styles had never existed separately! Most tracks (seven in all) were written by De la Rosa, previously a member of Nuevos Tiempos, who released some singles in the early 70's. Some reviewers judge Triana to be a pinnacle of Spanish progressive rock, but I honestly find their albums a bit tedious after repeated listenings.
ALBUMS (UP TO 1981):
|1||EL PATIO||1976||MOVIEPLAY 17.0638/7|
|2||HIJOS DEL AGOBIO||1977||MOVIEPLAY 17.1439/4|
|3||SOMBRA Y LUZ||1979||MOVIEPLAY|
|4||UN ENCUENTRO||1981||MOVIEPLAY 17.1606/9|
A folk-rock group from Mallorca playing traditional material in sparse arrangements (acoustic guitar, tablas and flute).
|2||EN AQUESTAILLA TAN POBRA||1976 EDIGSA|
A Basque folk-singer, whose heavily orchestrated album included a 17-minute title track. This is serious stuff reminding me of a pompous, Basque version of Cornells Vreeswijk.
|1||GURE LAGUNEI||1978||NOVOLA NLX-1112|
This was a Spanish-Dutch duo, who sang their own folk-rock songs. Both Heliotropo (1973) and Contracorriente (1973) are masterworks of folk-rock. On the latter the two girls are helped by Limón Express (Galvez, Cervera and Company), but also Gualberto (previously a member of the group Smash) on sitar and Carlos Carcamo (the leader of Granada) on violin. The music could be described to be a mix of The Trees, the German Popol Vuh (their oriental songs with Djong Yun) and the relaxed, song-oriented Pink Floyd with slide guitars (on Obscured By The Clouds' "Wots...Uh The Deal"). This is only meant to illustrate how exotic Vainica Doble's music really is, always bringing in different sessionmen. Their first album is extremely rare and I have never seen it for sale. The later albums on Guimbarda veered towards traditional classic folk, but are richly arranged with violins and cellos and still feature the talents of Gualberto.
|4||EL ESLABON PERDIDO||1980||GUIMBARDA|
|5||EL TIGRE DEL GUADARRAMA||1981||GUIMBARDA|
Tomas Vega is an experienced guitar player who had made records with the Madrid group Los Grimms in the late sixties. His solo albums veered towards soft jazz-rock with the guitar to the fore. Some tracks had only solo guitar with flamenco influences, though. All three albums are pleasant enough, but not really indispensable.
|1||ANDALUSA||1978||MOVIEPLAY 17 1358/3|
|3||SOL DE OSCURIDAD||1981||MOVIEPLAY 17 2655|
Straight heavy rock with loud guitars and vocals resembling Roger Chapman in Family.
A hard-rock band from Mallorca.
|.||MUSICA PROGRESSIVERESIVA ESPANOLA||1971||EDIGSA|
|.||NACIMIENTO DEL ROCK EN ANDALUCIA||1978||EDIGSA|