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Azahar Azahar album cover
4.01 | 44 ratings | 6 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1979

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Expreso a Ketama (4:43)
2. La naranja y el limon (5:12)
3. Noche de primavera (3:46)
4. Zahira (3:40)
5. Bulerías de lujo (2:44)
6. El mago acidote (9:33)
7. Aire y fuego (5:08)
8. Expreso de Ketama (4:00)

Total Time: 38:46

Line-up / Musicians

- Dick Zappala / vocals, clavinet
- Antonio Valls / acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin
- Manolo Manrique / grand piano, Fender Rhodes, synthesizers, organ
- Willy Trujillo / drums, percussion

- Julio Blasco / bass
- Enrique Carmona / bass
- Isabel y Esperanza / vocals (6)

Releases information

LP Movieplay ‎- 17.1536/3 (1979, Spain)

CD Fonomusic ‎- CD-1423 (1997, Spain)
CD Fonomusic ‎- 5046657795 (2006, Spain) Remastered (?)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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AZAHAR Azahar ratings distribution

(44 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(51%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

AZAHAR Azahar reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Soon after the release of Azahar's debut album, a series of extra-musical events that eventually led to the lead vocalist's deportation out of Spain, forced the disintegration of the band. Fortunately, a couple of years later, the band resumed their career with the former lead singer back in Spain, but by then, the line-up had changed substantially: the Uruguayan keyboardist and bass player that had been part of the original formation were gone, and now the band had a new keyboardist and a drummer (plus a couple of guest bassists for the recording sessions). Since in their debut album there was no drummer in the band, you can easily notice that the inclusion of one served as a source of tightness for the performances and arrangements of the new album's repertoire, making the ensemble sound more solid; on the other hand, a portion of the eerie magic of the debut is lost, since now the music is more construed and less free in its form. Of course, Ricardo Zappala's timbre and vocal style are an acquired taste, since he is an overtly exaggerated performer, but he certainly can evocate the passion and emotion of Flamenco with a wicked rocking twist, making his singing a fundamental element of the band's overall sound. But we must consider that half of the material is instrumental (Zappala plays some keyboard and percussion, as well), so it's obvious that Azahar is more focused on the music itself than in Zappala's voice. The band clearly goes for a rough approach to Flamenco-oriented symphonic prog. Keyboardist Manrique's work on his layers and occasional solos is the only source of finesse, while Zappala's frontal chanting, Valls' enhanced electric and Spanish guitar playing, and Trujillo's potent drumming create a powerful wall of sound mostly erected by basic exotic lines and chord progressions. Trujillo's labour (in conjunction with the alternating guest bass players) adds some energetic touches of funky and jazz fusion, which feel particularly effective in the instrumental tracks: both the opening and closing numbers are catchy and evocative, and so are the heavily Flamenco 'Zahira' and the psychedelic 'Bulerías de Lujo', which includes an almost tribal drum solo. Their sound reminds me very much of Medina Azahara, if only a bit less refined and a bit more aggressive, even in the slower passages. Among the sung numbers, 'La Naranja y el Limón' and 'Aire y Fuego' are the most impressive, since they are fluidly articulated and show off that special South Spanish magic so well. 'Noche de Primavera' is an emotional rock ballad that could have gone to more places had it been developed more thoroughly, while the 9+ minute mini-suite "El Mago Acidote" tends to drag during its second half - this is where I miss the ethereal nuances that made the best of the band's first album. All things considered, although it doesn't match the overall strange magic portrayed in their debut album, this is quite an excellent recording, full of appealing musical ideas, solid performances, and a genuine sense of passion. Rating: 3 ½-4 stars.
Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars In the early Nineties I bought a few Sirius magazines (former Spanish progrock fanzine) in order to improve my poor school Spanish. I noticed an add in which the known Spanish proghead Angel Romero was offering his entire progrock LP collection. I got in touch with him (we shared a negative view on the awful tradition of bullfights!) and he explained that he was suffering from an increasing dust-allergy, how sad. I asked him for advise to buy Spanish progrock records from him. Nowadays AZAHAR's second eponymous album is still one of my favorites, the debut-album was entitled "Elixer". The difference between these two CD's (released by Fonomusic) is that the second sound far more mature. The eight compositions (running time between 2 and 10 minutes) are more varied and elaborated. The guitarplay is sensitive featuring short but powerful soli and some exciting flamenco guitarwork. The Spanish vocals has a typical Spanish undertone, very warm and expressive. The keyboards sound lush and have a pleasant variety: strings, organ, synthesizers, clavinet and acoustic - and electric piano. The rhythm-section plays dynamic, Spanish people have a natural feeling for rhythm! This CD is a very fine example of the unique Spanish progrock: harmonic, melodic and tasteful compositions above self- indulgence.
Review by NotAProghead
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors & Omissions Team
5 stars If AZAHAR debut ''Elixir'' is only a good album, their second effort, ''Azahar'', is a masterpiece. It is in my opinion a key Spanish prog album, of the same level as TRIANA's ''El Patio'' or ''Recuerdos De Mi Tierra'' by MEZQUITA.

''Azahar'' is a tasteful, very energetic blend of symphonic rock, flamenco (mostly in the way of singing, Spanish guitar plays a lead role only in one song) and jazz with some Arabian touches here and there. First class musicians offer the listener great variety of moods and melodic finds. Ricardo Zappala's singing deserve special mention - Spanish in nature, sometimes gentle, sometimes aggressive, but always natural. The writing is also strong, ''Azahar'' instantly grabs your attention, but every time you listen to the album you can find new nuances.

AZAHAR made a classic record, one of the best in the genre, it's a pity their career was so short. Highly recommended.

Review by seventhsojourn
4 stars When Azahar released Que Malo Hay, Senor Juez? as a single in 1977 it was banned in Spain because it advocated the legalisation of marijuana. A further consequence was that vocalist Ricardo 'Dick' Zappala, who was of Egyptian origin, was deported. Ironic indeed, given the band's concern with ideas of freedom. However with the help of guitarist Antonio Valls, Zappala was later allowed to return to Spain under the condition that he did not enter the capital of Madrid. By all accounts crowds flocked to the few concerts they gave, such was their reputation following the above incident. Original members Jorge 'Flaco' Barral (bass) and Gustavo Ros (keys) subsequently left to form Azabache during 1978. Manolo Manrique replaced Ros, although Zappala himself also contributed in the keyboards department. Willy Trujillo, formerly of Gualberto, joined as drummer; Azahar's first album (Elixir) had featured some percussion but no drums. Barral wasn't replaced and a couple of guest musicians supplied the bass guitar here: Julio Blasco, who had appeared on Granada's Valle De Pas album, and Enrique Carmona. The song writing on this album is mainly shared between Zappala and Valls, with the other two band members having only one credit each. The music falls broadly within the Rock Andaluz category having something of a North African flavour, similar in some ways to Mezquita although the Azahar album preceded Mezquita's debut.

What we have here then is mainly symphonic prog with some Arabic/flamenco elements. One or two tracks have a slight disco feel due to some of the drumming, but overall this isn't an issue. The band employs a wide variety of keyboards but there's also more than enough excellent guitar work to keep axe victims happy. The tracks are an even mix of songs and instrumentals, although Bulerios De Lujo is basically just a drum solo. All are of a consistently high standard but three are worthy of special note. The flamenco influence really shines on Zahira. It begins with Spanish guitar and is then joined by synth and organ. Castanets begin clacking in the background, followed by doleful electric guitar phrases. Drums finally enter and join the now prominent castanets; this is really wonderful stuff as Spanish guitar trades with synth and Santana-influenced electric guitar. El Mago Acidote is another highlight and at over 9 minutes is arguably the most symphonic track on the album. It features some lovely keyboard parts, with bell-chime electric piano and funky clavinet featuring prominently. A very light fusion influence is evident here, slightly reminiscent of Gotic. The first half of the song has a warm and optimistic feel; the second half is slower in tempo with fervent vocals and organ contributing to a melancholic atmosphere. Aire Y Fuego has the strongest Arabic flavour on the album thanks to its harmonic minor scale and wailing vocals. Zappala's singing is especially noteworthy here as this is a notoriously difficult scale for vocalists. The song also features superb organ, by turns psychedelic and churchly.

Azahar was one of many fine bands from Spain during the latter half of the '70s and this is a very pleasant album that takes melodic symphonic prog and imbues it with traditional elements, full of typical Spanish exuberance. Bearing in mind that I'm a big fan of Spanish prog, I can't give this any less than 4 stars.

Latest members reviews

3 stars No other country in the world delivers such a widespread blend of ethnic music (flamenco) combined with modern music (from rock and pop to jazz, psychedelia and symphonic rock) as Spain with the Rock Andaluz movement. The most legendary Rock Andaluz band is of course Triana that speerheaded the ... (read more)

Report this review (#2583615) | Posted by TenYearsAfter | Thursday, August 5, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another example of flamenco rock. Azahar shows us in his self-titled album with strong roots Arab of Andalusian rock . The first cut, 'Expresso a Ketama' is a great and powerful album start, with great guitar work, which is the basis of the song. In 'La Naranja y el Limon', Azahar musician ... (read more)

Report this review (#602459) | Posted by Popovych | Tuesday, January 3, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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