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Alameda - Alameda CD (album) cover

ALAMEDA

Alameda

 

Symphonic Prog

3.52 | 34 ratings

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TenYearsAfter
4 stars "One of the most refined examples of Rock Andaluz"

One of the main features of the very interesting but overlooked Spanish progressive rock is the blend of elements from the Classic Prog bands (especially King Cimson, Genesis and Camel) and a captivating own musical identity. Just listen to the albums of Atila, Eduart Bort, Canarios and Granada, to name a few, that's what genuine prog is about: adventure, ideas, skills and emotion. Remarkably is the delicate way Spanish prog bands incorporated ethnic elements, like Itoiz, Gotic and Ibio. In Andalusia many bands even went a stup further, their sound was firmly rooted into the local ethnic music, the famous flamenco. This sub-category of the Spanish progressive rock became known as the Rock Andaluz movement, speerheaded by legendary Triana since 1975. Their success was a boost for the blossoming Rock Andaluz movement , from bands like Mezquita, Cai and Azahar to Gualdalquivir, Iman, Medina Azahara, and Alameda.

The Spanisch five piece formation Alameda was founded in 1977 when four musicians met each other on the 'Conservatorio Superior De Musica' in Seville: the brothers Rafael and Manuel Marinelli (both keyboards), bass player Manuel Rosa and singer Jose Roca. They were eager to scout musical borders, inspired by the gradually emerging world of Spanish progressive rock since the late Sixties, from Gong and Nuevos Tiempos to Smash and Pan Y Regaliz. In 1978 Alameda did a serie of gigs (now with drummer Luis Moreno in the line-up) in their hometown Seville, this was a boost to the development of the bunch of compositions the band had written. So Alameda became a tight and experienced unit. In 1979 Alameda was allowed to record a demo-tape and soon after Alameda went from company to company to ask for attention for their demo. Finally Alameda was embraced by CBS and got the opportunity to record their demo tape in the AudiFilm studio in Madrid, with the help from Maximo Moreno (known for his work with Rock Andaluz legend Triana). In 1979 Alameda released their eponymous debut album, followed by three other studio-albums between 1980 and 1983. On their fourth entitled Noche Andaluza famous flamenco player Paco De Lucia joined the band on one track. In 1983 Alameda called it a day but in 1994 they re-united, along many other classic Rock Andaluz bands, like Cai and Quadalquivir. Then Alameda released three studio-albums and one live-CD, a registration from their 20th Anniversay concert in 1999. In 2003 record company CBS released a very comprehensive 2-CD compilation from their early work between 1979 and 1983.

This review is about Alameda their eponymous first album, because I consider this one as their most elaborate, varied and adventurous effort. The seven compositions (between 2 and 7 minutes) sound very pleasant, with the emphasis on melody and harmonics. The 'flamenco factor' in Alameda their music is omnipresent, from the typical wailing undertone in the vocals to the palmas (handclapping) and the art of the flamenco guitar. An extra dimension is the tasteful duo-keyboard work by the Marinelli brothers, from sparkling Grand piano to sensational pitchbend driven synthesizer soli. The fluent rhythm-section adds a strong jazzrock element to Alameda their sound. The refined way Alameda is scouting musical borders makes this first album very interesting, topped by Jose Roca his passionate, often romantic sounding vocals. My highlights.

Swinging piano (fusion between jazz rock and Latin) with palmas and flamenco guitar runs (by the famous Enrique Melchor as guest musician) in the instrumental La Pila Del Patio.

Obvious hints from Triana with wonderful vintage keyboards (synthesizer and strings) and flamenco guitar (also by Enrique Melchor), and finally palmas and emotional vocals in Ojos de Triste Llanto.

An awesome blend of classical, jazzrock and flamenco in Hacia El Alba: first a sparkling Grand piano intro, then a piano-flamenco guitar duet, followed by a swinging rhythm with a flashy synthesizer solo and in the end a duet by palmas and passionate vocals, unique prog!

Pure symphonic rock in the long and alternating Amanecer En El Puerto. The intro delivers a layer of fat synthesizers and the sound of the sea and boats, then twanging acoustic guitar and warm vocals. Gradually the music turns into a swinging rhythm featuring dazzling synthesizer flights and outstanding interplay between the musicians, especially the guitar and varied keyboards, topped by passionate vocals.

And a captivating blend of styles, with jazzrock overtones (evoking Seventies Camel and Guadalquivir) in the instrumental A La Vera Del Jueves, featuring a cascade of exciting moments, from a fiery guitar solo by guest musician Luis Cobo (Gong, Veneno, Guadalquivir, Manglis and Triana) to a swinging piano solo, with a strong Latin vibe, spectacular!

Highly recommended, one of my favourite Rock Andaluz albums!

TenYearsAfter | 4/5 |

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