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Carmen - Dancing on a Cold Wind CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.73 | 84 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Those were the days

Carmen's second album, released a year after their first, continues to explore the unique territories which saw them combining traditional Hispanic sounds with progressive themes and West Coast rock. While the line up is unchanged, guest musicians are added to further diversify the sound, including violinist David Katz and vocalist Mary Hopkin. Hopkin, who at the time was married to album producer Tony Visconti (who also plays recorder on the album) is best known for her presence of the Beatles Apple Records label, and her hit single "Those were the days".

Once again, the music features the male/female vocals of brother and sister David and Angela Allen, with strong harmonies and excellent guitar work. If anything the music here is even more diverse than on the first album. Tracks such as "Drifting along" and "Purple flowers" offer hints of early Jethro Tull but all the while the sound is unique and varied. The latter for example veers off into Spanish hand claps supporting a brief synth run, prior to multi-part a-cappella harmonies.

The "Remembrances" suite which dominates the album is a collection of individual songs which make up the whole (a bit like "Supper's ready" or the second side of "Abbey Road" in terms of structure). Once again, Angela Allen provides some great mellotron while David's guitar work is excellent. The songs themselves are rather fragmented, loosely telling a tale of troubled love. The individual sections are short, but segue together to form the complete piece. Once again, there are strong vocal harmonies, but there is overall an excess of vocal passages. Whether the apparent link with the opera "Carmen", which is based on the love life of a Spanish gypsy girl (one of the tracks here is "Gypsy girl - caravan") is deliberate is not clear, but there are distinct overlaps in the themes.

In all, an album of wonderful creativity which by and large pulls it off. The "Remembrances" suite perhaps displays the band's frailties a little, but that should not distract from what is another pioneering album.

The sleeve imagery was based on a cigarette packet theme, the marketing stating that "Every album carries a government health warning".

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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