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CARMEN

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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Carmen biography
In the early seventies, the British-American group CARMEN broke new ground in rock music, combining the British flair for progressive rock with traditional Spanish folk themes into a very fresh, energetic and powerful new mix. The sound is centered around guitar, keyboards are used subtly but to good effect. On the whole, they are a rather hard band to describe ... "They sound only like themselves, because it IS so unique". Some vague comparisons could be made to JETHRO TULL, MEZQUITA (some of the Spanish themes), and TRIANA (the flamenco/prog combination).

CARMEN released three albums only: "Dancing On A Cold Wind", "Fandangos In Space", and "The Gypsies". It's hard to say which of the first two albums is better, both are excellent starters. Two great tastes that taste great together. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED...!

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CARMEN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

CARMEN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.87 | 81 ratings
Fandangos In Space
1973
3.76 | 51 ratings
Dancing On A Cold Wind
1974
3.22 | 27 ratings
The Gypsies
1975
3.44 | 9 ratings
Widescreen (David Clark Allen)
2007

CARMEN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CARMEN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

CARMEN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.26 | 12 ratings
Fandangos In Space/Dancing On A Cold Wind
2006
3.67 | 9 ratings
The Gypsies/Widescreen
2007

CARMEN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

CARMEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Fandangos In Space by CARMEN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.87 | 81 ratings

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Fandangos In Space
Carmen Prog Folk

Review by GKR

5 stars So, Carmen, aye?

I will strongly defend a solid 5 stars to the two first Carmen' albums. The motives for such a high score I will probably construct through several revisions of this reviews.

First, we do have to take in consideration the fact that Carmen is actually a live performance band. With flamboyant stage clothes, numbers of dancing and a complete stage performance with artistic interventions for each song. The combination of elements, music styles and artistic aproach is already a total comprehension of art group that deserves our attention.

Although a little bit poorly recorded, the vocals of John Glascock e David Allen are always in sintony and Glascock basslines always present and even with distorsion in some tracks. The compositions ("Saylior Song" and "Stepping Stone") and the repetition of the first melodies in the end of the album is remarkably.

Five stars to the Caballeros of Prog Rock!

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 Fandangos In Space by CARMEN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.87 | 81 ratings

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Fandangos In Space
Carmen Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Carmen promises Fandangos In Space and that's exactly what they deliver in this exciting mashup of flamenco rock and space rock. With lyrics in English betraying their origins as a combination of British and Mexican-American talent, it's a very different approach to the flamenco rock concept than homegrown Spanish bands would deploy (for one thing, Carmen could avoid the censorious attention of the Spanish regime of the age, whilst the Spanish flamenco rock bands had to more carefully judge when to toe the line and when to defy it), and also a great opportunity to hear John Glascock in action prior to his more famous work in Jethro Tull.

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 Fandangos In Space by CARMEN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.87 | 81 ratings

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Fandangos In Space
Carmen Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Carmen were a Los Angeles-based band, formed by guitarist/singer David Allen in 1970, featuring also his sister Angela on vocals and keyboards.They started as a seven-piece group and moved to London in early 73', reduced to a quintet and failing to find a contract in the US music market.After drummer Brian Glascock was replaced by Paul Fenton, the Goddess of Luck helped Carmen sign with EMI Records and eventually record their debut ''Fandangos in Space'' in 1973.

Having quite a daring sound for the time, Carmen blended the rock attitude with the charm of Flamenco music, creating an original mix, as Spanish bands had yet to show anything around the style due to the dictatorship in the country.Their sound was not only innovative but also fairly complex with plenty of interesting breaks, although the vast of time length is dedicated to the mix of typical Psychedelic/Heavy Rock with Flamenco.As expected the band mixed also English with a light dose of Spanish lyrics.To the music, this contains plenty of interesting and easy- listening arrangements, build around numerous shifting moods and led by the vocals and guitars of David Allen, ranging from electric poundness to acoustic softness, almost always driven by flamemco-flavored textures.The rhythm section provides an even cleaner sound of the style the band tried to promote.Angela Allen not only contributes with her lovely voice but she is also given some space to deliver good synthesizer and mellotron breaks.Another trademark of the band were the typical Spanish-sounding multi-vocal harmonies along with the strong amount of changing climates from explosive rock sounds to delicate acoustic structures.

''Fandagos in space'' should have been a masterpiece back at the time of its release, but just a few years later I can do nothing but admit that the Spanish bands did it a bit better regarding the style of Andalusian Rock and what more reasonable than this.Still the album sounds great even nowadays and deserves a strong recommendation both for its originality and its musical value...3.5 stars.

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 Fandangos In Space by CARMEN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.87 | 81 ratings

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Fandangos In Space
Carmen Prog Folk

Review by RIREINC

4 stars So I read about this band in an old prog magazine, and after a long time I was able to locate a copy of the album... and I must say I'm impressed by the great musicianship and the excellent blend between Flamenco and prog-rock. The guitars may re-utilize some of the themes trough the album but in general its tolerable. Of course some of the lyrics are in Spanish but that's not a drag because in its majority is English.

For a debut album its pretty good and you should check it out if you are into flamenco and (sometimes) bolero. Bulerias and Looking Outside (My window) are probably the best songs from the album but the rest is interesting too.

4 Stars!

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 Fandangos In Space by CARMEN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.87 | 81 ratings

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Fandangos In Space
Carmen Prog Folk

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

3 stars Carmen were a band who fused prog and flamenco. Made up of both British and American musicians, including the brother and sister team of David Allen(vocals, guitar) and Angela Allen(keyboards, vocals, footwork). The most well known member here is bassist John Glascock who would later join Jethro Tull. The stomping and other sounds coming from the feet of Angela and Roberto Amaral is an important component of the music. This album was produced by Tony Visconti, best known for his work with David Bowie, but also working with Gentle Giant previously.

Some of the lyrics are in Spanish, and they talk way too much about Spain. I love Spain as much as the next person, but there is more to life than just Spain. "Bulerias" has a musical theme that gets reprised later on in the album. Begins with singing in Spanish, then English. Some good flamenco rock. In the middle the song changes and a guitar solo. Then footwork and celebratory voices. Acoustic part near the end before it goes back to the main theme. "Bullfight" is a more typical '70s rock song at first. Then a synth solo with percussion. After a different section. Ends with a vocal dominated part.

"Stepping Stone" is a more funky song. Features "do do do" type vocals. I like the synths in this song. "Por Tarantos" is an instrumental with great guitar playing. "Looking Outside(My Window" is the longest and best song. Starts off with the main theme from "Bulerias" briefly, then changes to a part with mostly Angela singing. Some vocals in Spanish before an acoustic guitar section. Then back to the main part now with dancing/footwork. More acoustic guitar and harmony vocals. After the bass solos for a bit. Music stops then a nice harmony vocal section; I like the part that goes "good it is to feel the sun".

"Retirando" starts with a great beat, I wouldn't be surprised if some hip-hopper has sampled this. Then some Mellotron and vibraphone. Some "badadada" vocals. Ends as a folk-rock song. The title track starts off sounding like Gentle Giant before it goes into a flamenco rock part. The two parts alternate. I like the guitar playing in the Gentle Giant-ish instrumental middle section. Later on some great footwork and piano briefly. Then a part with acoutic guitar, back up vocals and call-and-response vocals. Ends with an a capella section in Spanish. The last song "Reprise" has the main theme from "Bulerias" before a nice acoustic ending.

Fandangos In Space is the Carmen album I'm most familiar with, but I prefer the follow up Dancing On A Cold Wind. Never heard the third album. Not the proggiest album of the time but an original idea mixing rock and flamenco. A good effort, I'll give this 3 stars.

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 Fandangos In Space by CARMEN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.87 | 81 ratings

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Fandangos In Space
Carmen Prog Folk

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

4 stars Something quite different. As I was told many times, as I believe, prog is about something new. And this blend of Hispanic influences (right?) and typical prog traits for its time. As every new thing, I mean so new, it leaves me quite puzzled. Yes, my reviews can be divided to those written after just one listen and those about well known album. "Por Tarrantos", why I feel like listening Andres Ségovia here ? Because this is one side of the album, Spanish guitar, flamenco, however you call it side. And prog on the other one. Most of songs are combination of these two, but I hear more of prog. Something like a lot of influences, one of the biggest would it our Spain-like one.

One thing is pleasant here (and in fact, on every record), songs differ greatly. When somebody said that Not of This World by Pendragon songs sounds very similar, I agree (but don't see it as a mistake). Well, this is opposite situation.

4(+) stars for such fusion.

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 Fandangos In Space by CARMEN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.87 | 81 ratings

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Fandangos In Space
Carmen Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars If originality was everything in progressive rock or in music in general, CARMEN would crush the competition, as they really did define an Anglo American/British flamenco style hitherto and since largely unexplored, although I do wonder if BABE RUTH might have been Carmen fans. The familial angle covered by the Allen siblings is evident in the tightness of the vocal harmonies and arrangements, and the almost jerky yet confoundingly well synchronized vocal and guitar juxtapositions. John Glascock's bass provides a tenuous link to Jethro Tull, who were also to the folk side of prog, but whether his style can be recognized or not does not change his impressive work here and that of his rhythm counterpart Paul Fenton.

Part of my relative enjoyment of Carmen may stem from my inability to understand the over the top kitschiness of their material, or even divine a guess as to their level of "seriousness". This allows me to revel in the pan-cultural "Bulerias" and "Bullfight", as well as the compact "Stepping Stone" which gets full marks for inventiveness in a short time frame, while the Flamenco prowess of David Allen in "Por Torrantos" is another highlight. But repetitiveness of lyrical material can be problematic if the song is not particularly memorable, which is the case in "Sailor Song" and "Lonely House", even if the wordless vocal section of the latter is appealing. But "Retirando" is a better example of this technique and throws in a mellotronic massage for good measure.

"Looking Outside my Window", the longest track, is comprised of a collage of different song and instrumental fragments, deliberately juxtaposed in a seemingly haphazard way, which gives it a certain ragged charm. Still, any formula used will generally be overused at some point, which is the case here and there throughout this disk, and keeps me from considering "Fandangos in Space" to be an essential release at large, although people with a penchant for the flamenco mixed with hard rock and a sprinkling of psych may well turn cartwheels cross the floor over it.

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 Dancing On A Cold Wind by CARMEN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.76 | 51 ratings

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Dancing On A Cold Wind
Carmen Prog Folk

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Fandangos In Space part 2

I own this album as part of a two-for-one double CD on which the band's debut album, Fandangos In Space, makes up the first disc and this, their second album, makes up the second disc. This is really a great way to get both these brilliant albums! Putting these two albums together like this is also highly appropriate given that Dancing On A Cold Wind in many ways could be seen as Fandangos In Space part 2.

The first track Viva Mi Sevilla reprises a theme from the debut album. Namely, the 'give a woman a gypsy lover, and I promise she wants no other?'-theme. At first this quote disturbed me somewhat, thinking that they were apparently running out of inspiration after the masterpiece that was Fandangos In Space. However, my impression changed and now I think it is quite clever to quote an older work like that. Yes quoted a short passage from Close To The Edge on Tales From Topographic Oceans to similar effect.

Tracks 6 to 14 are thematically and musically connected to make up a 23 minute plus epic, apparently called Remembrances. However, these songs are just listed as if they were independent songs and there is no mention whatsoever of the title 'Remembrances' in the CD booklet or at the back of the CD box! This song cycle is the highlight of the album for me.

Compared with Fandangos In Space, it took longer for me to get into this album. At first I somehow felt that it was only a weaker copy of the debut album. But I changed my mind after further listens. Carmen progressed from their first album. There are more instruments on this album; more keyboards and some flutes, stringed instruments and percussion instruments. But overall the sound is still very similar to that of Fandangos In Space. There is again brilliant guitar work and vocal harmonies and strong melodies.

The energy and restlessness that I found so appealing on Fandangos In Space is not so strongly apparent here. As far as I'm concerned Fandangos In Space was a masterpiece of progressive music. Dancing On A Cold Wind is not, but it is a very good album nonetheless. It proved that Carmen were not one-hit-wonders.

Dancing On A Cold Wind is an excellent companion to Fandangos In Space. But my advice is to wait with Dancing On A Cold Wind until you have fully devoured Fandangos In Space because it can be a bit much to take in one go. Fandangos In Space is the stronger album, but if you liked that one, you will no doubt like this one too. I highly recommend getting the double CD with both albums.

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 The Gypsies  by CARMEN album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.22 | 27 ratings

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The Gypsies
Carmen Prog Folk

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 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.

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 Fandangos In Space by CARMEN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.87 | 81 ratings

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Fandangos In Space
Carmen Prog Folk

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

5 stars Olé!

Most of the albums I have reviewed since I joined Prog Archives have been albums that I have had for a long time. This album, however, is a relatively recent find for me (and do I need to add that I never would have heard of it if it wasn't for Prog Archives?) I have now been listening to this album quite a lot for about six months and it is now safe to say that this is a masterpiece of progressive music. This is truly unique and brilliant music! It is quite different and I must admit that I wasn't fully convinced on the first couple of listens. But there was something that made me come back and hear it again and again. And now I cannot listen to the first track without listening to the whole album. It's strongly addictive!

The music can be described as progressive Hard Rock with many influences from Flamenco music and very strong melodies! This album is filled with good musical ideas, great harmony vocals (often reminding of Queen), a perfect mix of acoustic and electric guitars with occasional synthesizers and a discrete Mellotron in the background. Several songs also have those typical Flamenco hand claps and Spanish castanets. Unique and brilliant!

All the instruments are very well played and the guitars, bass and drums are all elaborated and compete with each other for attention. It is never the case that there is just a simple rhythm section over which a leading instrument can carry the music forward. All instruments carry the music forward all the time, which makes for a loaded and constantly interesting sound. The music is totally restless! This might be a bit tiresome for an untrained ear, but after just a couple of listens new layers reveal themselves.

The bass guitar is played by Jethro Tull member John Glascock. And there are a few similarities with Jethro Tull's music.

What I like most about Fandangos In Space is that there is an enormous sense of urgency in the whole album and not one second is wasted on filler and there are absolutely no weak moments. Every musical idea is exploited only to its full potential and then they immediately move on to the next one - they have so many! Some musical themes are featured in several tracks, making the whole greater than the sum of the parts. The whole album is really one long piece of excellent music where every track flows perfectly into the next one.

If I must choose a favourite moment I would pick Looking Outside My Window, which repeats the Bulerias theme but soon transforming into something brand new. Then a couple of minutes into Looking Outside My Window, there is again an acoustic part which could be Poor Tarantos part 2. This is a brilliant arrangement! The Bulerias theme returns again in the title track. And the Retirando theme also appears in more than one track towards the end.

The lyrics are predominantly in English but some lyrics are in Spanish. The lyrical themes of the album are also Spanish in that they sing about bull fights and 'lonely houses on hills in Madrid' (but the band is American/British and not Spanish, probably they have never even been to Madrid because there are hardly any lonely houses in such a major city, are there?). But it really doesn't matter where they come from or where they are going (into space?), it is just an image and slightly silly perhaps, but it really works!

The album features predominantly male vocals, but occasional female vocals are heard as well. In Looking Outside My Window the female vocals remind slightly of Babe Ruth (who also had some Hispanic influences in their music, but Carmen is extremely much better). Naming any favourite tracks from the album would be futile since I would end up listing all of them! This is a very consistent album that is great from start to finish. It closes with a beautiful acoustic outro.

The CD version I have is in total 45 minutes and 54 seconds and is part of a two-in-one 2CD package with the band's second album Dancing On A Cold Wind. The one listed above is only 37 minutes and 51 seconds! I haven't heard the short version, but I strongly suggest you get the long version in the 2CD set.

Fandangos In Space is a masterpiece of progressive rock and extremely recommended!

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