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Máquina! - Why ?  CD (album) cover





3.58 | 31 ratings

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3 stars I must start by saying that I'm not very keen on proto-prog, and if you like this sub-genre you will most likely add one more star to my rating, perhaps even two.

I have often seen Maquina!'s Why? described as "one of the best rock albums ever made in Spain". Well, that's an opinion I certainly do not share for what concerns the quality of the music as such, but what is true is that this was an album of great historical significance, in spanish rock there would be a "before Why?" and an "after Why?".

Spain was still under the dictatorship of Franco (until late 1975) and everything which looked or sounded too modern or libertarian was censored, so all the true aspects of rock came late and watered down. Sure enough there was some late 60's beat and psychedelia, but it was a carefully sanitized version of the real thing, with all the guys / girls looking nice and tidy, the songs still kept short, not too wild and with innocuous lyrics. Maquina! from Barcelona in the region of Catalunya were the first band to portray a genuine free and hippy attitude, with really long hair, long instrumental jams and non-commercial stance (in parallel Smash would do the same in the southern region of Andalucia). They achieved this partly by singing in english and by avoiding any political connotations in their lyrics. The term Prog was not yet used and this music became known in Spain as "Underground".

The music is proto-prog, influenced by the likes of Iron Butterfly, Rare Earth, Brian Auger, Hendrix etc, with a trippy rhythm section filled up with fuzz guitar and Hammond.

The opener I Believe became quickly popular by its distinctive ¾ beat, still not very widespread in those times. The title track Why? accounts for nearly 25 minutes which in those times in Spain was unheard of, and it was splitted in the 2 sides of the LP, the first part of 12 min in side A being the main song theme and the 13 min in side B being mainly an instrumental jam with a reprise of the song theme in the end. Really something special for Spain in those times. The last song on the LP was Let Me Be Born, something more like a Beatles song.

In the CD edition there are 2 bonus tracks, Earth's Daughter and Look Away Our Happiness, originally released as a single in 1969, the first one very much influenced by The Beatles and the latter more similar to a Brian Auger fast-rhythm soul track.

Regarding the cover art with the clock stuck on a croissant, it has been frequently interpreted as a methapor "calling Spain to wake up from the Franco dictatorial regime" but its author bassist Jordi Batiste explained in an interview that it was not so intentional, he just wanted to do something in the style of Dali, he took some croissants he bought from the bakery and started playing with them, pinched them with screwdrivers, electric switches etc until he came up with the clock. The popular interpretation was nice but reality was more mundane.

Their next release "En Directo" would be quite different due to line-up changes, more jazz- rock-soul oriented and with much more brass.

In summary, recommended for fans of proto-prog or those curious for the development of prog in Spain, but far from essential in my personal book.

Gerinski | 3/5 |


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