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Carmen - Fandangos In Space/Dancing On A Cold Wind CD (album) cover




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3.55 | 19 ratings

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4 stars Review Nš 420

Ahead of their time, even in the experimental early 70's, Carmen was unlike anything else on the prog scene, least of all the American scene. Allen siblings, David and Angela, were raised on flamenco, forming Carmen in 1970 as a way to meld their roots with their love to rock. Unable to find a label in the U.S., the band escaped to London in 1973, hooking up with Tony Visconti, who recorded the band's debut studio album "Fandangos In Space". Carmen released their sophomore studio album, "Dancing On A Cold Wind", recorded again with Visconti in 1975. Carmen released a third studio album, allegedly a more commercial album, "The Gypsies", before split up in 1975. The finalized form of Carmen took shape in 1973, after relocating from Hollywood to Britain. There, the band's line up was revised with a British rhythm section, which included John Glascock allowing the band to finally unleash its flamenco-infused prog rock.

"Fandangos In Space/Dancing On A Cold Wind" is a compilation of Carmen and was released in 2006. This Angel Air release rescues Carmen from the oblivion. Given the music, it's not a difficult thing to do, but we give credit when credit is due. This double release includes the first two Carmen albums, on two separated discs, "Fandangos In Space" and "Dancing On A Cold Wind", with two favorable bonus tracks and a worthy booklet in the tradition of Angel Air Records.

As I've already reviewed these two albums previously on Progarchives, in a more extensive way, I'm not going to do it again. So, if you are interested to know, in more detail, what I wrote about them before, I invite you to read those my both reviews. However, in here I'm going to write something about them in a more short way. So, of course, I'm not going to analyze them track by track, as I made before, but I'm only going to make a global appreciation of both albums.

"Fandangos In Space": "Fandangos In Space" is particularly a very refreshing album. The band uses footwork and castanets to augment the sonic palette, in addition to a fine, well harmonized, vocal performance of both male and female vocals. Sure, the vocal harmonies and the hard rock-meets progressive textures are reminiscent of Uriah Heep, but they're enriched so well with flamenco-derived ideas that they manage to achieve a singularity of their own. Above all, though, it's the percussive punctuation with which everything is served that provides the album its unique, punchy, hard edge. At times, the tradeoff between the rhythmic approach and the compositions results in slight fragmentation, but the guiding hand of the renowned producer Tony Visconti certainly helped to round up the edges and emphasize the qualities of the music of Carmen. The rhythm section kicks upfront and more than once a wise synthesis of the synthwsizers and the Mellotron with the other instruments creates a noteworthy and original musical atmosphere. The final result of this is grandiose, yet natural, escaping of pompousness. "Fandangos In Space" also boasts a decidedly funky rhythm, and it's the album's shifting, intricate, and unique rhythms that further removed them from the pack.

"Dancing On A Cold Wind": "Dancing On A Cold Wind" continues where their first debut album left off. This album also features an expanded line up with some other guest musicians. "Dancing On A Cold Wind" has impressive electric and acoustic guitar playing, fuzz-rich bass sound and a spacey aura paint the earthly, human scenes with some exotic fascination. The songs flow better as a unit, half of which function as a lengthy love affair suite as is usual in all conceptual albums, and manage to sound less fragmented, but it lack to it some of the previous album's rhythmic vitality. "Dancing On A Cold Wind" was even more adventurous than their debut. The rhythms are more disjointed the styling more operatic and the sound more majestic. At points, the album meanders into prog rock, as Angela's spacey keyboard effects swoop across the grooves, elsewhere British influences strongly surface. Visconti's production understandably emphasizes the glammy feel of this set, the last one rocked. This one glitters in the vastness of the sparse arrangements. The fourteen songs are bolstered by a couple of hissy, but worthy, efforts. The main course is a smorgasbord of chorale pieces. It all rather merges into oneness by the end, but at the time that would've been nirvana.

Conclusion: Anyway you look at it, the Carmen material included on this release should be considered classic stuff, and is therefore highly recommended for all fans of the 70's progressive rock music, if only for the taste of heard something a bit different. Of the two albums, "Fandangos In Space" is the most "commercial" of both albums, so much of the songs could get airplay, even today. "Dancing On A Cold Wind", in contrast, is the most intriguing for the noodlers and lovers of the unique and original style of this band. Maybe we can say that it's, perhaps, more prog. With this excellent release, Angel Air reissued of the two albums together on two CD's releasing a couple of bonus tracks, Carmen returns with a passion and love for the good old prog days, the days of the 70's. This is highly recommended.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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