Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sabicas - Rock Encounter With Joe Beck (1966)
"In my eternal quest to Prog Andaluz music, I stumbled upon this unique and very interesting musical project from 1966, probably the first musical encounter between flamenco and rock music!

In those days Joe Beck was a respected composer and rock guitarist, he had played in symphonic orchestras and performed with the top names in rock and jazz (from Tim Hardin to Steve Gadd). After making the album Middle Eastern Rock with Oud player John Berberian, Joe's producer Harvey Cowen suggested Joe to do the same with flamenco and rock. He succeeded to recruit flamenco guitar legend Sabicas (1912-1990, thanks to Sabicas' brother Diego because he wanted Sabicas to scout the musical boundaries. Now Joe decided to assemble the best New York musicians: drummer Donald McDonald (in The Satyrs he had jammed with Frank Zappa, Ritchie Havens and Jimi Hendrix), 20 year old bass player Tony Levin (introduced to jazz and rock by Steve Gadd, later he joined Peter Gabriel his band and King Crimson, playing on the distinctive Stick) and keyboardplayer Warren Bernhardt (he has accompanied singers like Donald Fagen, Carly Simon, Art Garfunkel, Ritchie Havens and Liza Minelli), wow, what an awesome line-up!

1.- Inca Song (5:15) : The first and final part deliver the jaw-dropping art of the flamenco guitar, from twanging and rhythm to speedy runs (picados), very exciting! Halfway an accellaration featuring a powerful rhythm-section, howling electric guitar and an organ solo. This is the typical 1966-1969 Sixties rock sound and its captivating to hear the blend of passionate flamenco guitarwork and raw rock.

2.- Joe's Tune (3:49) : This track contains a Moorish atmosphere with flamenco guitar, jazzy piano and again howling electric guitar, culminating in an exciting duel between wah-wah drenched electric guitar and speedy flamenco guitar runs.

3.- Zapateado (9:36) : This word means tapping with the shoes, its all about speed and control in a cheerful climate. The first part contains pure flamenco with guitar and zapateado, the second part sounds like Jimi Hendrix inspired rock, two different worlds but very enthralling!

4.- Zambra (4:02) : The zambra is the most Moorish influenced flamenco rhythm and Sabicas is a master in playing the zambra (my recommendation: the DVD Sabicas: King Of The Flamenco). You can also enjoy the tremolo technique (imagine the guitar piece Recuerdos De La Alhambra by F. Tarrega), wonderful! Then rock with organ and fiery guitar, very powerful with that warm undertone of The Sixties.

5.- Handclaps (0:31) : In the flamenco it is named palmas, a very distinctive part of the flamenco.

6.- Flamenco Rock (7:25) : Halfway through this album the band starts to rock, in a bluesy climate we can enjoy a blend of Hammond organ, howling electric guitar and exciting flamenco guitar (from picados to tremolo), this is great Prog Andaluz!

7.- Bulerias (7:25) : This track contains vocals in the flamenco tradition (very emotional), it fits perfectly with the compelling work on Hammond organ and sensitive electric guitar, the blend of flamenco and rock sounds like early Triana, goose bumps!

8.- Farruca (4:45) : The first part contains the art of the flamenco guitar (beautiful tremolo), then a slow rhythm with swirling Hammond organ, powerful drums and bass and Paco De Lucia-like flamenco guitar runs, again goose bumps, what a hot session!

The circumstances in the recording studio were not easy: it was hard to communicate between the Spanish guitarist and the English musicians and its still very difficult to amplify an acoustic guitar and also quickly overshadowed rock instruments like the drums, bass, guitar and organ. Sabicas was not really satisfied about the result (I did it for my brother) but in my opinion this album contains lots of captivating and exciting musical moments. And especially from the song Flamenco Rock the musicians seem to have reached a kind of chemistry, it sounds like embryonal Prog Andaluz. Highly recommended to all Prog Andaluz aficionados, fans of progressive folk music and adventurous progheads! " (Erik Neuteboom www.dlsi.ua.es)

"Hard to believe that this strange rarity was reissued on CD and reissued legitimately, but here it is on the Long Hair label, who do these things well! Sabicas was a famous Spanish flamenco guitarist who lived in the USA for a number of years. In 1966, under pressure from his brother, he recorded this fusion of Spanish music with psychedelic rock and jazz in a band that features US guitarist Joe Beck, Tony Levin on bass, Warren Bernhardt on piano and organ and Donald McDonald on drums. It's a surprisingly solid progressive album, especially for how early this is and considering the meeting of Spanish traditionalist with NY rockers, it could have been a mess, but it compares very well with Spanish bands doing a similar thing several years later. "This album shows a fantastic mixture of authentic traditional flamenco, progressive and psychedelic rock by Spanish legend Sabicas and extraordinary electric jazzrock guitar by Joe Beck with congenial backing band among others Donald MacDonald on drums, Warren Bernhardt organ and Tony Levin on bass. This is an album for those who are willing to look over the edges of their progressive and psychedelic horizon. Great guitar playing (lots of electric and acoustic guitars) all over. Unique and hypnotizing! Originally released in 1970 and for the first time on CD. Digitally remastered from the mastertape." (waysidemusic.com)

1. Inca Song
2. Joe's Tune
3. Zapateado
4. Zambra
5. Handclaps
6. Flamenco Rock
7. Bulerias
8. FarrĂșca

Sabicas - Flamenco Guitar
Joe Beck - Electric Guitar
Tony Levin - Bass
Warren Bernhardt - Keyboards
Donald McDonald - Drums


Part 1__Part 2

See ya

Monday, January 11, 2010

Still Life - Still Life (1971)
"This is a very satisfying album of well executed Hammond organ-driven proto-progressive. Still Life was a fairly obscure early release on England's famous Vertigo label, and still a valued find on LP. Musically, Still Life isn't complex at all, but bears fantastic melodies and a slight aggressive edge. Parts of the album even have a hard rock feel, minus the electric guitar, and with a heavy organ emphasis. The sound quality is excellent on the CD release, and certainly adds to the warm early '70s vibe. Aside from the bass guitar and drums, the organ seems to be the only other instrument present, and far and away functions as the melodic focus of the album. The vocals come across very strongly when given a powerful line or melody to work with. Another strength is the nice bass playing, which provides a rich melodic backdrop to the organ. Like many early progressive works, Still Life is not a particularly complex album, concentrating more on creating atmosphere and good songwriting. For the most part, the band's approach is pop/rock with heavy organ and nice vocals, with plenty of allowance for instrumental breathing room. For this reason, the good songs on here are awesome, while some fail to excite me even in the slightest. "People in Black" is one of the greatest songs ever written in this style, aggressive and biting, with a totally catchy chorus and great organ riffs. "October Witches" sees the band stretch out a little more, allowing more room for the organ and bass to create some great textures, as the song once again showcases their more aggressive side during the vocal portions. A great track. "Dreams" is another hard rocker, very straight forward, but a lot of fun. "Love Song No. 6" is slower and more melancholy, and succeeds for the most part, coming across as very rich and emotional. The only throwaway on here is the limp "Don't Go", basically a typical rock ballad with nothing to distinguish itself. Boring. "Time" is another aggressive stomp that closes out the album in grand fashion. While perhaps overshadowed by the likes of Beggars Opera, Cressida, Marsupilami and other bands of this style, Still Life is an album I certainly wouldn't want to be without. A must-have for fans of the genre." (Gnosis2000)

1. People In Black
2. Don't Go
3. October Witches
4. Love Song No.6
5. Dreams
6. Time

Martin Cure - Vocals
Terry Howells - Keyboards
Graham Amos - Bass
Alan Savage - Drums

Not My Rip - Thanks to original uploader/releaser!

Part 1__Part 2