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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - La Biblia CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)


Various Genres

4.28 | 57 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars While Argentina was slow to jump on the rock bandwagon, they more than made up for it once the 70s hit and developed a wide range of European styled progressive bands along the way. The very first band to craft a fully developed concept album was the Buenos Aires based Vox Dei who released a double album titled LA BIBLIA (The Bible) early in 1971. Not only was it the first Argentine concept album but also one of the first rock opera albums of the entire Latin American scene. While clearly inspired by the Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar" of 1970, LA BIBLIA displayed an exponential leap in the rock simplicity of early Latin American rock and created a work on par with its Anglo counterparts. As expected the concept tackled the narrative of The Bible that began with Genesis and ended with a Revelations styled track called "Apocalypse."

While the Vox Dei album would become an undisputed classic of the Latin 70s rock scene, apparently not everyone was happy with its outcome. Three years later in 1974, Jorge Álverez, the producer teamed up with Billy Bond to re-record the entire album and craft it they way they thought it should've been made. While the original was a double album just shy of an hour's run, the new version would trim the fat and keep things at a single vinyl album's run of just shy of 45 minutes and create more ambitious renditions of the same exact run of tracks. This new version of LA BIBLIA was truly a work of passion with an ambition that was unparalleled at the time. Sparing no expenses, this new recording amassed over 400 hours in the studio and took nine months with the most modern equipment of the era that utilized eight channels.

The cast included an army of musicians and the most well known Argentine bands such as La Pesada, Sui Generis, Espiíritu and Pescado Rabioso. Some of the participants included Alejandro Medina, Carlos Cutaia, Carlos Goler, Charly García, Claudio Gabis, Claudio Martinez, Kubero Díaz, David Lebón, Fernando Bergé, Gustavo Beytelman, Gustavo Kein, Jorge Pinchevsky, Juan Rodriguez (el batero de Sui Generis), Miguel Cantilo, Moro, Nito Mestre, Osvaldo Favrot, Poli Martínez, Raúl Porchetto and Rinaldo Rafanelli. If that wasn't enough the musicians were backed by La Ensamble Musical Buenos Aires. Ironically none of the members of Vox Dei were invited to participate in this newer rendition despite the album serving as a faithful re-recording of that band's efforts.

LA BIBLIA is as magnanimous and monumental as its subject matter suggests which took the Spanish language narrative and dressed it up with epic compositional flair that fused highly developed Western classical music with the heavier edges of hard rock and symphonic prog. The music is so perfectly constructed that it practically narrates the emotional responses despite any language barriers experienced by non-Spanish speakers, a luxury of readapting a prior work instead of inventing one from scratch. Technically speaking, this sonic interpretation of the scriptures utilized a quadraphonic system that utilized live and studio settings as well as the early 70s love affair with the synthesizer in ways made popular by the likes of Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman.

Billy Bond has stated that the intent of remaking this classic is the fact that the original sounded so rushed and was recorded in a mere three to four weeks which was hardly enough to animate such a soundtrack of an epic topic such as the Bible. He also explained that while certain parts were right on target, the mid-section felt pompous and out of balance. The whole affair was tantamount to launching a three ring circus with so many musicians laying down countless tracks as to create a larger sum of the parts. While the album was lauded by critics, the commercial success was disappointing as the ambitiousness of the album coincided with the military dictatorship years of the 70s. While the initial fruits of their labor may have been brushed aside during its time, the album has retained a sense of timelessness and is a less haughty affair than many similarly natured concept musicals that tackle the seemingly inexpressible concepts like the entire works of such a massive historical tome.

This second recording of LA BIBLIA recorded by the plethora of artists and managed by Billy Bond and Gustavo Beytelman is quite the triumphant expression that captures the spirit of not only the Argentine rock scene of the early 70s but also successfully conveys the message of the theme. It's a grand expression of not only the exquisitely delivered classical compositional constructs but also exudes healthy doses of harder edged rock in the vein of contemporary bands like Led Zeppelin complete with heavy guitar riffs and stellar soloing. The production techniques are cleverly utilized to implement the perfect accompanying effects whether it be the backmasking, echo effects or other accoutrements. Like many an Argentine prog band of the 70s, this too has quite an air of the classic prog that was all the rage in Italy since Argentina was colonized by many Italians and even its dialect of Spanish has taken on Italian language characteristics. So too has the musical delivery of this style of symphonic prog and luckily the efforts that went into this one have been rewarded by a sense of longevity as the decades plod on. This is a great work and despite sounding like a major cheeseball is quite tastefully carried out.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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