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MEDINA AZAHARA

Medina Azahara

Symphonic Prog


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Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This was the record that put Medina Azahara (from the Andalusian towen Córdoba) on the Spanish rock map. This namesake debut follows the path of many other Andalusian bands, a symphonic progressive heavily infused with Flamenco colours, but unlike the jazzy guys of Guadalquivir, the Camelesque Cai, and the Pink Floydian Triana, Medina Azahara gave preferential space to the ways of hard sounding art rock (not without its notable progressive touches, of course). The electric guitar is the prominent instrument here, with a solid rhythm section supporting its riffs as well as the symphonic textures played on keyboards. Martínez's vocal style and timbre is very hard-rock oriented, though its most norable feature is that typical Flamenco overwhelming passion. The opening track was also the first single, a huge hit in the whole country (its catchy introductory riff even served as background music for a bunch of radio and TV programs), keeping the commercial success of Southern Spanish prog a bit longer (just a nit, before its impending decline). Though their music is not as complex as Cai's, Mezquita's or Triana's, these guys sure can expand creatively on their own musical ideas and recycle the evocative nature of melodic Flamenco through an ambitious rock filter. Their compositional efforts reach a peak of progressive creativity and emotional richness in tracks 1 (the aforementioned banner 'Paseando por la Mezquita'), 3 ( 'Hacia Tí', more symphonic a-la classic Yes and less Flamenco), as well as the lat 3 numbers, in which the band really approaches the exuberant complexity of their neighbours Mezquita. 'Amiga' and 'Sé' keep a special folkish flavour among the hard rocking sounds of guitar an keyboard soloing and harmonies on a solid rhythm pace, with a lead singer that never gest tired of wearing his heart on his sleeve with every word, every verse, every chorus; 'Recuerdos del Ayer' remains consistently engaged to beauty, althoug with a slightly decreased Flamenco flavour. An excellent musical work that was destined never to be surpassed or even equalled by the band in their following reordings: though not a masterpiece, "Medina Azahara" is really worth adding in any good collection of Spanish prog... or prog, in general.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#27229)
Posted Monday, May 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This popular Spanish band from Cordoba was founded in the late Seventies. In 1979 Medina Azahara released their debut-album Paseando Por La Mezquita (aka Medina Azahara). This album earned a double-platinum status and since 1983 when Spanish legend Triana called it a day (because of the tragical death of their keyboardplayer/singer Jesus De La Rosa) the Spanish fans consider Medina Azahara as the successors of Triana, the masters of the Prog Andaluz movement.

On their debut album Medina Azahara delivers a very pleasant blend of melodic rock (mid-tempo songs like En La Manana and Se), neo prog in the vein of Marillion (lots of Mark Kelly-like synthesizer flights) and Prog Andaluz (mainly ballads and slow rhythms) with strong hints from Triana like in the exciting titletrack (a flamenco rhythm with heavy guitar riffs, howling guitar and emotional vocals) and En La Manana and Busco (parts with flamenco guitar). A very strong point on this album is the guitarwork, from sensitive and howling to electric rhythm guitar that creates a flamenco atmosphere, this matches perfectly with the emotional Spanish vocals that contain a wailing undertone you can often hear in flamenco singing.

Medina Azahara still makes music (in 2003 they released their latest studio album entitled Aixa and in 2007 a tribute to Triana entitled Se Abre La Puerta) but during the years the sound became more polished and straighforward rock so I consider this band as a heavy version of Triana, not every album is interesting (even melodic hardrock) but they have made some very good records like En El- Hakim and En Vivo (live), especially their early work is worth to check out.

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#155869)
Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars Formed in late-70's,MEDINA AZAHARA are still active nowadays and belong among the great names of Spanish rock in general.However,their debut album holds enough prog elements to be listed as a progressive one.Heavily influenced by TRIANA's style,this work is a very interesting mix of synth-based hard rock,dominated by melodic guitars,romantic vocals and an emotional atmosphere.Hardly you'll find any flamenco guitars (except at some rare moments),but guitarist Miguel Galan's style is too close to andalusian flamenco-based prog,while the Molina brothers' rhythm section adapts a simple yet soundful style.Another important late-70's release with symphonic leanings,amazing melodies and a deeply emotional atmosphere...Not exactly highly recommended but a decent 3-star addition to any prog collection.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#165882)
Posted Sunday, April 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars The name Medina Azahara comes from the old city ruins of the same name in Cordoba, Spain. The name wasn't an omen anyhow, because the band is still alive and they recently (2005) published their sixteenth(?) studio album La estación de los sueños. It's the vocalist, Manuel Martínez who has carried the name Medina Azahara over the years and he is the only one who is left from the original line-up. At the beginning Medina Azahara followed in the footsteps of the success of Triana that had pointed the direction of new Andalusian progressive rock few years earlier. And they apparently gained a huge success in Spain like their predecessors.

There have to be a some kind of spell what it comes to band debuts in Andalusian prog - they tend to be all exellent! As well as for example Triana's El Patio and Mezquita's Requerdos de mi Tierra are truly excellent albums, so is Medina Azaharas debut, called as Paseando Por La Mezquita or self titled. It reaches almost all the aspects of what makes El patio a perfect album: Very dynamic rhythms and intense playing of drums and bass, strong guitarwork both in electric and flamenco guitar, beautiful keyboards and on the top: truly wonderful vocals, always high almost shouting, powerful, crying, heraldic and extremely sentimental!

Compared for example to El Patio that has got some long and complex compositions, this is more straightforward and easy offering some shorter tracks, less complex theme developments and strong and more simple but very catchy melodies. However, Paseando Por La Mezquita is still very impressive pacage of kick-ass spanish prog!

The title track ''Paseando Por La Mezquita'' starts the album with a power of angry bull! A very strong guitar riff and rhythm with peculiar sounds takes on the song while a vivid bass plays on background and continuing organ solo alternates with solo guitar for two minutes until the song suddenly changes into ultimate sentimentalic passion lead by Manuel Martínez. The change when angry spanish rock turns to this yearning emotion is done in such a brilliant way that you'll gonna wait for every time with excitement. An absolutely fabulous song!

The other highlights of the album are... the rest of the album! They're all almost in vein of the title song but not quite reaching the same heights, like ''Si Supieras'' being a brilliant ballad including a spoken part reminding of italian symphonic prog, or the ending song ''Recuerdos Del Ayer'' with a very similar structure to ''Paseando Por La Mezquita''. I find only ''En La Mañana'' not as intensive and satisfying than the rest of the album - still it's a good song too.

If you want to get familiar with Andalusian prog, there's three 'A Must have' albums: Triana's El Patio, Mezquita's Requerdos de mi Tierra and Medina Azahara's Paseando Por La Mezquita. Those will get you high!

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Send comments to Nilman (BETA) | Report this review (#168580)
Posted Thursday, April 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This band comes from Andalucia, like their glorious predecessor Triana who came from Seville while Medina Azahara obviously has its roots in Córdoba.

The music proposed by Medina Azahara has a more rocking angle. It is even heavy during their debut album (Paseando Por La Mezquita or Hacia Ti).

The later is a real upbeat song and features some splendid (electric) guitar from Miguel Galán. Hacia Ti is a very melodic track and is extremely enjoyable. It is a highlight.

This album is actually very catchy, the Spanish language being a wonderful add-on to this heavy- symphonic music (a new genre maybe). A song as Si Supieras, even if it holds some basic lyrics, is a very emotional moment of this work: the song is again dominated by the great guitar work as well as moving vocals.

Busco is also worth the mention. It is the most Andalusian track so far; mainly thanks to the vocals which are somewhat flamenco oriented. But the lead singer Manuel Martinéz is not at all exaggerating this aspect. He is not as exuberant as Molina (from Ñu) or de la Rosa (Triana). He is more sober but as efficient as both of them.

I really like their guitar-oriented symphonic music. Still, the other band mates are not staying behind: the rhythmic section is particularly solid: this is particularly confirmed during Se during which the flamenco style also gets a chance to emerge. A fine song as well.

It is a pity that this band is not better known outside of Spain. They also have very little exposure on PA. But the same applies to Triana and another great band from that country: Ñu.

Medina Azahara really deserves your attention. Guitar lovers and progheads looking for something different: this album is highly recommended.

Four stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#187447)
Posted Thursday, October 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars I'm so sorry , and I wish to presents my excuses for my friends (collaborators, members, prog reviewers and etc...) from P A , but, I cannot agree with the 44% who give "Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection" and so minus to 31% who gives " Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music". After some careful auditions, my conclusion about MEDINA AZAHARA (self-titled) still the same: In spite of present some very beautiful guitar and keyboards passages, the disk suffer of a "deathly sin" - a very monotonous rhythmic section and this fact make one track very similar to others. If I want be coherent with one of my parameters of "What make a music be really progressive ?", which is the evolution of harmony, melody and rhythm, I think that last term from my "equation" are renegade at this work. For the reason above-mentioned, my rate is only 2 stars !!!

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Send comments to maryes (BETA) | Report this review (#566533)
Posted Saturday, November 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars ProgArchives is a very valuable tool for discovering new bands. One of them is this Spanish band. This album is Medina Azahara's debut album from 1979. The band is still going strong.

Spain is more a confederation of independent nations than a nation itself. I find Spain a very fascinating country seen from afar and I have a lot of time for Spain. This band is from Cordoba in Andalusia, a region and nation in the far south of Spain. Their music is called Andalusian Rock. Exciting stuff, in other words.

And the music here is indeed very special and indeed a subgenre within the symphonic prog genre. Genesis, ELP and Yes copies, this is not. But still well within the symph prog genre. The music is both melodic and rhythmic with a very large slab of flamenco and folk rock. The opening song is much more a hard rocker than the rest of the album so don't think this is a hard rocking album. The music on the rest of the album is very melodic and keyboards driven with Spanish vocals on the top. This interplay between hard rocking guitars, melodic keyboards and superb vocals is something we also find in Rock Progressivo Italiano. Hence, those who likes Rock Progressivo Italiano will also like this album and this band.

The overall quality is very good, bordering to great. Hacia Tí with it's moog is a great song and closest to what I feel is missing on this album; a real killer track. But this is indeed a very good debut album which has made me order some more albums from this band.

3.75 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#573359)
Posted Wednesday, November 23, 2011 | Review Permalink

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