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Carmen The Gypsies album cover
3.13 | 44 ratings | 7 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Daybreak (5:10)
2. Shady Lady (4:02)
3. High Time (3:21)
4. Dedicated to Lydia (2:52)
5. Joy (3:47)
6. The Gypsies (7:32)
7. Siren of the Sea (3:53)
8. Come Back (3:52)
9. Margarita (3:15)

Total Time 37:44

Bonus tracks on 2007 remaster:
10. Flamenco Fever (3:29)
11. Only Talking to Myself (for John) (5:50)

Line-up / Musicians

- David Allen / electric & acoustic guitars, piano, Mellotron, synth, vocals
- Angela Allen / piano, synth, Mellotron, vocals
- John Glascock / bass, synth, vocals
- Paul Fenton / drums & percussion, vocals
- Roberto Amaral / percussion, vibes, chimes, castanets, flamenco footwork, vocals

- Laurence Elliott-Potter / keyboards & sampler (11)

Releases information

Artwork: Jim Schubert (art direction)

LP Mercury ‎- SRM-1-1047 (1975, US)

CD Line Records ‎- LICD 9.00658 (1988, Germany)

2CD Angel Air Records ‎- SJPCD225 (2007, UK) Remastered by Ian Shepherd and bundled with "Widescreen" 2007 solo album, including 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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CARMEN The Gypsies ratings distribution

(44 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CARMEN The Gypsies reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars After recording their first two albums in England, Carmen decided to record their new one in New England, as their tour ended in NY, far away from either LA (their original home) or London (their adopted one). Completely exhausted from long tours with Tull, they had no choice than to record another album and looked for a suitable place to compose. The group, still with its original line-up, released this record in haste and unfortunately it sounds a bit like it. Although the album has a very inviting cover (I suppose this artwork is partly responsible for my Gypsy girl fantasies), it does not come to the waist level of its predecessor.

As the album starts with the promising Daybreak, it quickly sinks with the mediocre Shady Lady and a no-better High Time (a rare track written by Glascock), it is clear that the group had said everything it had to say on the previous albums. The rest of the first side slides smoothly along, unremarkable and almost unnoticed, even if Joy is rather good.

The flipside does start on the best (longest and title) track of the album; it is also the more dramatic one, with plenty of instrumental interplay, rhythm changes and plenty of energy. Had they written two more tracks like this beauty, this album would've been of equal quality to FIS and close to DOACW. Siren Of The Sea (know of any other kind?) tries hard to maintain the level, but fails because of the cheesy vocals (and lyrics) and predictable songwriting. Worse still the album sinks rock bottom with the atrocious sing- along Come Back (just completely idiotic really), while the poor closing instrumental shows just how the end was near.

Uninspired songwriting (most likely written during the recording sessions), a tight schedule, a group nearing its end, needless to say that this album is not quite as good as FIS and DOACW, but I have seem many groups end in a much lesser manner than Carmen did. Glascock will join Tull, but the others will not really survive in the professional music industry. I believe Amaral gives Flamenco guitar lesson and Angela gives dancing lessons. Hardly essential, even best avoid, only the lead-off track on each side are worthy of the previous albums.

Review by The Whistler
3 stars Carmen's The Gypsies is one of the most paradoxical albums I've heard. On one hand, it's an album that anyone could have recorded, and yet it still retains that old Carmen style. And, even though I usually try to shoot down so-called "sell out albums" (usually choosing my misguided own), I can fully understand why this is thought to be Carmen's pop album, even though Carmen was utterly incapable of selling out as a rule of thumb.

It's actually a really sad record as a whole. Partly is because of the atmosphere: as usual, Carmen belts out some pretty moody stuff. However and as usual, this has to do with the band itself. In case you didn't know, they were in bad shape by now. The various tours were collapsing, their various vans with their various instruments were exploding, various members were being eaten by horses (Paul Fenton! NO! Why? Why not Roberto Amaral?!?). Huh? Oh yeah, and John Glascock was being tempted into the fold of the diabolical Ian Anderson.

But here's the real problem: Carmen, since they were only really capable of creating (and recreating) one album, they had to add something to the mix each time. The first one rocked hard. The second one "progged" it up. The third? Er, well, it just tries to be quiet and pretty. And it does succeed, for the most part. But, in all sad honesty, it adds nothing to Carmen's legacy.

We open with "Daybreak," another pessimistic flamenco rocker. Except it opens with a nice acoustic introduction, that ALMOST turns into "Bulerias." Heh. Wonder if they threw that in for the fans (if you'll recall how the other two openers started)? Anyway, the rocker part is nice, if nothing we haven't heard before. Good guitar and cute keyboard noises in the background.

"Shady Lady" follows the pattern; sweet, acoustic intro, before turning into a harder number. However, it's not THAT hard. It's more like...flamenco soft rock. If you can imagine that. And I think you can. Gorgeous vocals, of course. "High Time" continues that trend, another soft flamenco rocker that's nice, but nothing new.

While it might not be the most instantly rewarding number, I swear that "Dedicated to Lydia" is the best song on the album. Just listen to that (again) acoustic introduction; it's absolutely Carmen, but I can imagine hearing it on a classic Genesis album or something. It's similar in feel to, say, "Lonely House," but quite different. And the ghostly, floaty vocals? Charming. Bittersweet lyrics, Carmen's goodbye. Great use of build too, love the keyboards and drums when they come in. Totally atmospheric, totally sad, too bad it ends so soon...

Of course, Carmen couldn't let us go without one duffer, so next is "Joy." Once again, the melody is decent, maybe good. But the stupid birthday anthem lyrics? "Without the kids next door, there'd be no laughter after the pain?" Ugh. Your arena rock is showing again Carmen...

Well, the title track should win back a little. "The Gypsies" is a sturdy song for sure, featuring Allen's last shot at true, finger flashing catharsis. Best guitar solo on the album, as well as proof that Carmen could still belt out a killer coda when they wanted. Well, in truth, the coda IS just the solo, but it's a cool solo! And then it fades back into the sound effects it started with. Neato.

"Siren of the Sea" is also a highlight, a desperate waltz with a nice, mandolin powered intro. Well, no mandolins credited in the album, so it must just be a guitar. Anyway, nice tune, very Queen-like (it seems to me). "Come Back" is no great shake. It's another flamenco soft rocker, although it's got a very nice, very noble guitar solo in it. Once again, getting the Queen image...

And we close with "Margarita," an instrumental. It is, once again, pure Carmen, but totally un-Carmen. It's not heavy. It's not technically shocking. It's just...pleasant. Acoustic and piano driven. Nice martial drumming. Pure atmosphere. And fades...away...

I think that's half of what makes people call this the Carmen pop album, by the way. That the numbers are shorter and fade out rather than come to a definite conclusion (as it stands, the title track will probably please the proggier listeners the most). But, rather than some selling out, I'd wager that this has more to do with the band falling apart, little by little, and just not having the strength to finish the songs.

And this is not surprising at all. I mean, we all knew that Carmen couldn't last. And, once again, there should be no surprise that the album is a little softer. After all, Carmen had been experimenting with spacey synths on the last album, and the sound and feel here is much closer related to that than the heavy, showoffy Fandangos in Space. Heh. In fact, isn't that like the classic progressive genre in a microcosm? From loud and moody to spacey and synthy to keyboardy and poppy? I mean, you can only turn the sound so far if you lose the guitars...

But without any real classic numbers (although the highlights are all good, just nothing you haven't heard before...well, 'cept maybe "Lydia"), there's nothing to REALLY make the album. I actually don't see how they could have done worse; Carmen's understanding of melody and song structure is too pure to create something THAT gross. Unless, you know, they just started pumping out all kinds of synth driven arena rock. Even though this is certainly the worst Carmen album, it's also the most underappreciated...uh, if something like "appreciation" has ever actually been heaped on Carmen.

Still, Carmen decides to go out with a whimper instead of a bang. And, all things considered, it leaves me a little sad. And, after all, wasn't that the point?

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Gypsies in space

This is Carmen's third - and sadly also their last ever - album. The Gypsies is a bit different compared to the first two Carmen albums, but it is still a very good album. The songs are generally of shorter length and each song stands on its own this time; the songs don't share any common themes or flow into each other like on previous albums. But make no mistake, this is still the unique, elaborated, very tasteful Flamenco infused Hard Rock we would expect from Carmen and there are still many sparkling acoustic passages, excellent Queen-like harmony vocals, gorgeous melodies and pleasant keyboards. However, The Gypsies is a bit less progressive and somewhat closer to Hard Rock compared to the previous albums. But it is an interesting, elaborated and eclectic Hard Rock! This album represents, in my view, a realistic 'progression' from where the band started a few years earlier, but it remains far behind the masterpiece that was Fandangos In Space.

The album opens with Daybreak which begins with exquisite Flamenco style guitar that is suddenly interrupted by electric guitars and strong vocals. The song has Spanish castanets and great guitar work and it is a good opener but not the most interesting song of the album. Shady Lady is also a reasonably straightforward Hard Rock song with a strong chorus and excellent acoustic guitar breaks. High Tide features a gorgeous vocal melody, keyboards and some bluesy guitar licks. The keyboards are mainly synthesisers and piano and even if they are often discrete they add great effect to the music. Songs like High Tide and Dedicated To Lydia slows things down more than we are used to from Carmen and I must admit that the fantastic energy and strong intensity of Fandangos In Space is somewhat lost. But these are still very good songs that keep the album reasonably varied.

Carmen reminds me of some of my favourite bands; Queen, Jethro Tull, Rainbow and Gentle Giant, yet they have their very own unique style. The very Gentle Giant-like Joy is very nice! This song also slightly reminds me somewhat of Beggar's Opera.

The energy and intensity returns with a bang on the excellent title track, however, which is the highlight of the album for me. This great hard edged song surpasses anything from Dancing On A Cold wind and is almost up to par with the brilliant material on Fandangos In Space! The electric guitar work is superb here and the Carmen trademarks are strong in this song; castanets, footwork, male/female vocals, acoustic/electric guitar interplay, synthesisers etc. Too bad the rest of the album is not of such intense quality.

The last few songs of the album are not very strong with such sing-a-long songs like Come Back and rather straightforward rockers like Sirens Of The Sea. These numbers are bound to leave any Prog fan underwhelmed.

Even if The Gypsies is a very good album that I thoroughly enjoy, it is not consistently excellent and it is certainly not the best place to start if you want to investigate this great band. I strongly recommend starting with the band's first two albums and if you like those you will certainly find something to like here as well.

Review by Progfan97402
3 stars As I now own all three Carmen albums, I have to agree this is by far the least good of their three albums. Also there's a couple of songs with that somber tone like "Dedicated to Lydia", "Siren of the Sea" and "Joy" with the latter actually getting pretty joyful (no pun intended) towards the end. I absolutely can't stand "Come Back" it's by far the worst song Carmen ever done, I almost wondered if the warning I received about this band (by someone I used to know) being cheesy back in 1994 came from this album? Luckily the album has some winners, I do very much enjoy "Shady Lady", sounds like the band attempting a hit, and the title track is amazing. But in the end, the album, except for the godwaful "Come Back" isn't bad but this album really does pale compared to their past triumphs. It's as if the band was following the trends of 1977 in 1975 by going a more simplified direction. But between Paul Fenton and his horse riding accident and the band exhausted from hectic touring, little wonder they broke up with John Glascock joining Jethro Tull and Angela Allen singing backing vocals on "Crazed Institution" and "Big Dipper" on Tull's Too Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die. So it's clear that Fandangos in Space is a must have, so is Dancing on a Cold Wind, but the Gypsies is the one to worry last as it's pretty spotty, but has its moments.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Two years following their incredible debut Fandangos in Space, Flamenco-Prog band Carmen released The Gypsies, their third. In my experience, it's a bit confusing just calling them a 'Prog Folk' band. They have so much to offer and so much of that is heavy as hell! "Daybreak" opens the album ... (read more)

Report this review (#2676138) | Posted by DangHeck | Monday, January 24, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Carmen should have been huge. In the early seventies several bands that mixed prog elements with glam and mainstream rock sensibilities were common and successful. 10cc, Cockney Rebel and Be Bop Deluxe spring to mind. Carmen were another in my opinion albeit more aligned with the progressive ... (read more)

Report this review (#43580) | Posted by Dave Preston | Saturday, August 20, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I defy anyone to listen to the exquisite melodies of "Shady Lady", "High Time" or "Siren of the Sea" and not be singing along with every listen. This album was Carmen's last gasp but it was a swan song in the truest sense - they went out on a high note. "The Gypsies" is so often over-shadowed ... (read more)

Report this review (#23340) | Posted by | Monday, March 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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