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Carmen - Fandangos in Space CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.87 | 145 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Tales of Spain.. and Los Angeles

Such are the Spanish influences on the music of Carmen that they are sometimes taken as being from that country. In fact the reasons for those sounds are more prosaic, stemming largely from the fact that band members (brother and sister) David and Angela Allen come from a Los Angeles family who owned a Flamenco restaurant. Their father also played Flamenco guitar, and their mother was a Spanish dancer.

Carmen formed in 1970 and relocated to London in 1973, hooking up with the well known producer Tony Visconti. In addition to future Jethro Tull bassist John Glascock, Paul Fenton was brought in on drums to replace John's brother Brian, who had remained in the US.

The opening three part suite "Bulerias" immediately indicates that the Hispanic side of the band is going to come through strongly throughout the album. In particular, the Flamenco guitar of David Allen is ever present. It is however Angela Allen's contributions which define the album. While she is usually in the background, venturing forward on occasions to provide the lead vocal, her mellotron and synth work provides a powerful melodic basis on track after track.

It is difficult to offer comparison bands for the music of Carmen, such is the unique nature of their work. The track "Looking outside (my window)" for example, starts with pretty orthodox Spanish guitar, then suddenly burst into a driving rock piece with strong harmonies, and perhaps a hint of CURVED AIR. English language lyrics are intertwined with Spanish as the mood switches dramatically back and forth.

"Tales of Spain" manages to cram about 20 different mini-songs into the space of 9 minutes. The male/female harmonies reflect the west coast roots of the principal vocalists, while the guitar and mellotron duet reminds us more accurately of the band's chosen foundations. The closing title track opens with a frantic instrumental leading to some intriguing multi-part harmonies.

In all, "Fandangos in space" is a unique album which blends traditional Hispanic sounds with simplistic vocal prog. The band deserved far greater success than they achieved, but the eclectic nature of the music was possibly too unconventional, even for the broad minded record buyers of the early 1970's.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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