Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Carmen - Dancing on a Cold Wind CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.73 | 80 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 267

Carmen was a project of the Los Angeles based sibling couple Angela and David Allen, whose parents ran a Spanish restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, in which the flamenco guitar playing of David Allen was the main focus. In July 1970, they formed Carmen, which quickly became a popular local live act, but that couldn't land at any record company. So, in the early of 1973, a large part of the band moved to UK, where they stabilized as a quintet. There, the line up of Carmen was added by two British musicians, the future bassist of Jethro Tull John Glascock and Paul Fenton, an English drummer best known for his work with T. Rex. They managed to be produced by the famous Tony Visconti. Under his aegis, the first two Carmen albums emerged, 'Fandangos In Space' on 1973 and 'Dancing On A Cold Wind' on 1975, which can be attributed to the small genre 'Flamenco-Prog', otherwise that only can be founded in Spain, really.

The style of the music played by Carmen broke a new ground in the rock territory. It combines the British flair for the prog rock music with the traditional Spanish folk themes into a very fresh, energetic and powerful mix. The sound of their music is centered on the classical guitar. The keyboards are also used, subtly, but with a good effect. Carmen's stage performances featured Roberto Amaral and Angela Allen dancing on a specially amplified stage floor. So, their flamenco tap dance, 'zapateado', became an integral percussive addition to the music. The Spanish influences in their sound included acoustic guitar interludes in flamenco style, occasional Spanish lyrics, themes of betrayed love reminiscent of Federico Garc'a Lorca, and castanets, all supported by a traditional and very rich rock rhythm section.

So, 'Dancing On A Cold Wind' is their second studio album and was released in 1975. This is a conceptual album, with a cheesy story about a prostitute turned into a dancer that lost her lifetime love. It opens with a fantastic track called 'Viva Mi Sevilla'. The vocal part features references to the track 'Bulerias' from the first album. After the vocals, the track goes into a bunch of instrumental passages and ends with a beautiful synth vibe theme that builds up to an incredible powerful finale. It has rousing flamenco percussion and a crashing bass that provides a great energy. In the following 'I've Been Crying' the flamenco elements comes to the fore again, but the catchy vocal harmonies dominate. A pumping bass, which competes with the emotional castanets, provides a considerable increase in dynamics. From the hidden, a symphonic undertone emerges. Unctuous mellotron surfaces languish briefly together with a delicate percussion. At the end, John Glascock lets it sound almost like a Chris Squire and puts a dynamic end to the elegiac insert. It sounds to me almost like a flamenco version of Curved Air, with catchy vocal harmonies. In the ensuing ballad 'Drifting Alone' a sweetish pathos unfolds. Here the transfigured and romantic component is worked out. 'She Flew Across the Room' is a more laidback acoustic track that floats into each other without any Latin elements. Carmen indulges in atmospheric harmony in the title 'Purple Flowers'. Powerful bass lines mate here with an ethereal romantic string processing and elegiac key pads. In the background, the mellotron languishes in buttery sounding string sound, while catchy vocal lines testify to a song oriented origin. It includes some very heavy bass lines and the usual flamenco influences in the middle of the track. The second side consists of 24 minute 'Rememberances (Recuerdos De Espana)'. It's a very vocal orientated piece with few instrumental parts, but the themes and melodies are all really nice. This suite characterizes the penultimate album of Carmen as a sprawling long track and unites all the strengths of the band. It has catchy grooving vocal harmonies, crisp rhythm lines, dreamy uses of the acoustic guitar and gently built in symphonic smouldering unite here to form a small epic. Angela Allen, sister of bandleader David Allen, who is responsible for the dance element and delicate keyboards, contributes more convincing lead vocals in self confident mania. The Flamenco also appears, but only sporadically in this finale, which is characterized by emotional contrasts. Her voice remembers me sometimes the voice of Sonja Kristina of Curved Air. Overall, the individual parts flowing into each other also lack a bit of the connecting element in order to produce the right dramaturgical coherence on the second part of the album.

Conclusion: 'Dancing On A Cold Wind' remains, for me, a very good album. I'm not sure about the album I like most. 'Fandangos In Space' is more immediate and more catchy than this second is. But, perhaps, 'Dancing On A Cold Wind' be more 'serious' and prog than the previous one is. Overall, this album is more complex then the first one, but as a whole, is less enjoyable. It has also less influences of Flamenco and more influences of the traditional prog rock music. Having said this, I'm perfectly convinced this album have enough positive energy to satisfy even more the most critical prog fans, than their debut. But, can you prefer more this second album or their first one, 'Dancing On A Cold Wind' is the excellent companion to 'Fandangos In Space'. So, I highly recommend the double CD with both albums.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this CARMEN review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.