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Medina Azahara - 16 CD (album) cover


Medina Azahara

Symphonic Prog

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Medina Azahara is a very popular and interesting Spanish rock band that exists for almost 40 years: they were founded in 1979 and this spring 2018 Medina Azahara will give a serie of concerts in Spain (from Cordoba to Madrid). The only founding member in the recent line-up is the tall singer Manuel Marti­nez, who looks like a cross between David Byron and a Viking. But guitarist Francisco 'Paco' Ventura is another Medina Azahara veteran, he plays in the band for almost three decades (since 1989). Back to the late Seventies, singer Manuel Martinez and four other musicians wanted to make rock music, inspired by Deep Purple, Pink Floyd and Uriah Heep . The young band embraced the Rock Andaluz movement (from Andalusia in Southern Spain, blending the distinctive ethnic flamenco and rock music), speerheaded by legendary Triana. This was an important influence on their eponymous debut album from 1979. However, from their second album La Esquina Del Viento (1980) Medina Azahara turned into more harder-edged and catchy melodic rock with fiery guitar, functional keyboards and emotional Spanish vocals as their trademark. But due to the passionate Spanish vocals (with flamenco hints) and the colouring with Morish accents by the guitar and keyboards, their music kept nice Rock Andaluz undertones. To emphasize Medina Azahara their prog tendencies, the band also collaborated with: new flamenco guitar hero Vicente Amigo (.. en Al- Hakim, 1989), African musicians (Tanger, 1998), the Cordoba Symphony Orchestra (Aixa, 2003) and the Sevillian band Fondo Flamenco (La Memoria Perdida, 2012).

Of course this comprehensive compilation (although I miss the 'stage favorites' Busca and Otono) contains their most famous track Paseando Por La Mezquita. This has become the 'Rock Andaluz anthem': a known and propulsive flamenco chord is played with a powerful electric guitar, accompanied by catchy synthesizer flights featuring a strong Morish flavour and topped with passionate Spanish vocals, very exciting! Another 'must' is the inclusion of a Triana song (their strongest influence, especially on the first album), here we can enjoy a great rendition of Abre La Puerta: intense flamenco guitar, heavy guitar riffs, sumptuous organ and a sparkling synthesizer solo, what a wonderful tribute. The songs Palabras De Libertad, Necesito Respirar, Tierra De Libertad and Velocidad epitomize Medina Azahara their harder-edged and catchy up-tempo rock. To my delight this compilation also contains two tracks with flamenco guitarist Vicente Amigo from the album ... En El-Hakim: Al Hakim... Otro Lugar (a Morish climate, expressive Spanish vocals and Mark Kelly-like synthesizer flights) and the compelling Desde Corrdoba (captivating interplay between flamenco - and electric guitar). Other interesting compositions are Cordoba (with the Cordoba Symphonic Orchestra, along moving electric guitar runs) and Danza Al Viento (Medina Azahara rock mixed with African percussion), both showcase the adventurous side from Medina Azahara.

If you like harder-edged melodic rock with prog tendencies (including the Rock Andaluz sound) and passionate Spanish vocals, this compilation is a way to discover the special Medina Azahara sound.

My rating: 3,5 star.

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Posted Thursday, March 22, 2018 | Review Permalink

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