Sunday, July 30, 2006

Carmen - "Dancing On a Cold Wind" {US, UK & Spain} [1975] @256 (Very Good Flamenco Prog)

Carmen is an unfairly forgotten band. Formed in Los Angeles in 1970, they were, since the very begining, under the influence of the west coast psych movement and andalusian flamenco.

In an attempt to expand their audience, Carmen members moved to London in 1973, where they underwent the process of transformation that would lead many bands like Procol Harum (another heavy influence on them) or Moody Blues into the early shape of what we call now Progressive Rock.
But Carmen was a bt different and they were metamorphosed into prog and sometghing else. Something with the flavor of a good spanish wine.

The line up at the time was:Roberto Amaral & Angela Allen, singers, footworking, spanish percussion and dancing.
David Allen, Angela's brother, (not the Gong founder), played the Guitar (both acoustic and electric), John Glascock: bass and Paul Fenton, Drums and percussion.

In London they found shelter under the wings of Tony Visconti, a man who had produced many good artists, including David Bowie. Visconti saw the potential of the band and arranged the production of their first album, "Fandangos in Space", mixing the energy of rock with the strenght and vertigo of flamenco. "Fandandos in Space" is a good album, but it lacked certain maturity that happeneed a bit later, after some gigs and TV presentations. Although the album was not a super success, it called the attention of people like Ian Anderson, who had driven his own band, Jethro Tull to the status of a super group. Meanwhile David Allen, a virtuoso guitar player heavily influenced by Sabicas' frantic way of playing the flamenco scales, started to prepare the new Carmen album.

By 1975, harder prog bands like King Crimson influenced Carmen. Allen wanted a more abrassive and hard sound for his band. They entered the history of Prog that year with the publication of "Dancing On A Cold Wind", a conceptual album of sorts which opened with the mind expanding track Viva Mi Sevilla, a strong and very solid mix of flamenco whirlwinds with hard rock and intense footworking that makes you feel like jumping out of your chair and dance.

The album is complemented by the epic suite Rememeberances (Recuerdos de España) a narrative musical journey accross the exotic landscapes of the moorish occupied Spain.

That was Carmen's zenith. That year they toured with Jethro Tull and were well received by the audiences although the albums sales were never too good. It was probably too early for ethnic flavored rock.

Let's remeber that the Franco's rigid dictatorship was still in control of Spain. Rock and liberal thoughts were not well received there and extraordinary flamenco-rock bands like Triana or I man had never crossed the spanish border. Flamenco-rock was then an unexistent contraption outside the Iberic peninsula, so Carmen's sound was something odd. Never heard before and maybe too alien.

After the tour, John Glascock was invited to join Jethro Tull (an invitation he couldn't refuse). The Allen brothers and Amaral wanted to go back to the USA. Eventually they managed to built a third album with some previously unreleased material and a few new songs, but by 1976 the fate of Carmen was sealed.

Another brilliant but ephimerous spark in the history of rock had illuminated the sky for a split second.

Today, 31 years later, we bring this memory from the past for you.

Listen to it loud.

The track Viva Mi Sevilla will make your blood boil.

España y Olé!

Keep Listening...!!!

Dance your way down to the links, which are in the comments section.

PS. I Included some rare video footage of Carmen at David Bowie's TV show 1974. This was not included in the CD reissue.

Carmen – Table Two For One…


The Herbalist said...

Have an unforgettable evening with Señorita Carmen

Eddie Riff said...

Outstanding! I still have a vinyl copy of "Fandangos In Space" but this one slipped away during the last few decades. Many thanks. Eddie

Anonymous said...

Hi, would love if you could reload "dancing on a cold wind" by Carmen once again.
I love this site and I appreciate all the work and effort that goes into it.
warm wishes

Anonymous said...

Love your site and appreciate the care and effort.
There are those few who with their time and genorisity bring much pleasure to many....

Anonymous said...

Could you please repost? Link is long-dead, and I missed it (*sob*) when it was originally posted. Thanks

Anonymous said...

the link is broken

Anonymous said...
working link

Anonymous said...

What about the cover? It seems that J. J. Cale made an homage to their album with his own: "Shades". Isn'it?

Don Sancho said...

Sorry, just a little correction; Is 'La', 'La Señorita Carmen', not 'Señorita Carmen', my Herbalistic friend. The mode of 'ñ' is allright.

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