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Fandangos In Space AUDIOPHILE 180 Gr - Extremely Limited

Carmen

Vinyl

Data aparitiei: 19.06.2013

Gen: Progresive Rock

Casa de discuri: Akarma

159.99 LEI

Descriere

still sounds fresh today"

Given how deeply today's rock and pop is in love with latin music, this article could start with a paraphrase of that classic Monty Python-sketch, where Graham Chapman is the presenter for "It's the arts":
"Good evening. - Santana. Gypsy Kings. Jennifer Lopez. Shakira. Even Enrique Iglesias... Latin music that will live forever. Why is it the world never remembered the name... "
But then, the name to follow should not be Johan Gambolputty-de-von-whatever, but Carmen - a rock band that in the early seventies created the perfect blend of serious rock and traditional Spanish and flamenco music.

You'll only occasionally find any information on Carmen in encyclopedias or books of rock history (in print and on the net). But everywhere, the band and its music are mentioned very favorably - here are a few samples:
  • "Majestic"
  • "A very unique and very excellent band"
  • "Still sounds fresh today"
  • "Their sound is difficult to draw any comparisons to, because it is so unique."
In All Music Guides, François Couture writes
"...the musical elements are so well integrated into the progressive rock vocabulary (including hand claps, castanets, and flamenco footwork) that one wonders why nobody followed the band's footsteps (literally!)."

Short saga

Initially, Carmen was a success. They played with Bowie, toured with Jethro Tull, worked with one of the hottest producers, debuted with an album that critics instantly loved...

So why are these pioneers not more widely known?

Just plain old bad luck, it seems. The band was only two years old, and were considered as support for a Rolling Stones tour, when a series of coincidences struck - the drummer's accident, loss of management, general befuddlement, perhaps touring fatigue. The band lost heart, and the great promises were not fulfilled.

A year or so later, punk rock was steam-rolling the world, and there was no place whatsoever for a band that used more than three chords and had professional dancers on stage. The window of opportunity had closed.

Luckily, Carmen's music is preserved; in recordings, but foremost in the hearts and minds of the people who got the chance to listen to them.

People and records

Front man in Carmen was guitarist David Allen (not to be confused with Daevid Allen of Gong). Allen played flamenco styled rock guitar, with the same power and intensity as an acoustic flamenco player.

The other distinct part of the band's sound was the castanet-taps and heel-clicks of Allen's sister Angela and of lead singer Roberto Amaral, doing flamenco dancing. Live, the band had a special soundboard stage with microphones, on which Roberto and Angela would dance as part of their show. Angela Allen occasionally played keyboards. Drummer Paul Fenton also added to the rhythm.

Bassplayer in Carmen was John Glascock, formerly of Chicken Shack, who had joined the band in 1972 in Los Angeles. John Glascock was later to become bass player with Jethro Tull. He played with them from 1975 to 1979, when he died, tragically, at the age of just twenty-eight, from complications stemming from a congenital heart defect.

Carmen released three albums:
  • Fandangos in space (1973)
  • Dancing on a cold wind (1974)
  • The gypsies (1975)
The first album was the product of three years honing material - played lived and rehearsed endlessly - influenced by Genesis, Yes and Led Zeppelin. Tony Visconti produced the record but wasn't that much involved with the band's creative ideas. He mostly helped Carmen realise them technically and created an enthusiastic, comfortable environment in the studio.

"Dancing on a cold wind" is more intellectual, with the second side being a complete mini-opera: the nine-part suite "Rememberances". All band members are cast, with Roberto Amaral as narrator. The plot concerns a gypsy ex-prostitute who finds and loses the love of her life: Angela Allen sings "I'm a gypsy girl, and the streets are my home". Almost all the material was written and arranged in the studio, without having been played live. Again, the same influences.

The third album, "The gypsies" was the product of one and a half years touring the states, and heavily influenced by Jethro Tull who we opened for for three and a half months. Tony Visconti was no longer involved with Carmen by this point.

Line records released a CD with both Fandangos in space and Dancing on a cold wind, but that CD is no longer available.

No gimmick

Why does Carmen's music still sound so fresh today?

One reason is that their special fusion of Latin music and rock was not some kind of cheap trick or gimmick. Neither was it a formula, thought out by record company executives. David Allen had literally tried for years to find the right mix, the combination that could work.

Another reason: experience shows. When Carmen started playing together, the members were all seasoned performers and musicians with several years of hard work in other bands and acts. David Allen had played flamenco guitar since very early childhood.

In the last ten years, we have seen a continually growing interest in rock and popular music with a Latin flavor: from The Gypsy Kings and "Macarena" to artists like Enrique Iglesias, Shakira, to the recent surprise mega-comeback of Carlos Santana.

And today, a big audience finally has a chance to find out what they have missed.

Carmen's first two albums - "Fandangos in space" and "Dancing on a cold wind" will be re-released in October 2006 as a 2 CD set by Angel Air records!

This is the first legitimate re-release of Carmen's records, with songs remastered from the original tapes. The package will also contain two rediscovered Carmen tracks, never before heard on record, and a 20 page booklet with new pictures of Carmen from the bands personal collections.

The CD set is scheduled to be released in early October, but you can pre-order it already from Angel Air records or from amazon.com.


Jonas Söderström
thin line between columns
 

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