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Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Formed by five sessions musicians (a couple of them, recurrent collaborators for Triana, while keyboardsman Rafael Marinelli assisted Guadalquivir on piano duties), Alameda turned out to be one of the most refined cases of symphonic prog with a strong Flamenco essence. Their own country's musical press hurried at pointing them as a Triana-clone band, but the fact is that the similarities are only partial. Their refinement didn't get them as far as to equal that amazing magic that Mezquita, Cai and Imán provided to the listener through their astonishing albums, that's true; yet, Alameda's music remains a consistent exposure of Flamenco-tinged romanticism and texturial elegance, all of it seasoned with Latin-jazz inspired flavours every now and then. The fact that the two Marinelli brothers were in charge of keyboards (grand and electric pianos, synthesizers and some clavinet) makes the repertoire enhance its melodic aspect, as well as retain an unmistakable sense of exquisiteness. That becomes clear from the opening track: 'Aires de la Alameda' is a flow of pure musical magic focused on the orchestrations, harmonic leads and layers created on the dual keyboards' input. It's a pity that the fade-out comes too soon: its 4:20 duration feels really too short, especially when you come to realize that guitarist-lead singer José Roca has the most beautiful voice of Flamenco-based prog. It's really true that a well performed and genuinely emotional singing makes the mastery of language a trivial issue: you don't need to speak Spanish to feel touched by the song's structural emotion. The same goes for the album's summit track, 'Amanecer en el Puerto'. This is perhaps the band's most emblematic song in their whole career. Starting with a sonic portrait of a deck (including sound effects of water flowing and seagulls softly screaming) in a subtly mysterious way, the mood changes for the main section, a beautiful celebration for a new era (perhaps the advent of democracy in Spain? I don't know). The continuing piano washes perfectly complement the synthesizers' harmonies and leads, while the rhythm section sustains the overall sound with accurate precision. The most intense side of Alameda is shown in those numbers instilled with obvious Latin-jazz references: those are 'Hacia el Alba', 'Matices' (a great closure) and the instrumental 'A La Veradel 'Jueves'' (featuring "Manglis" from Guadalquivir as a guest lead guitarist). It seems as if the romantic side of Roca's musical ideas were as strong as to lead the band through the path of melancholy, so the adequate counterpart had to come from a more essentially joyful musical source - and joy is what Latin-jazz is mainly al about. These aforementioned tracks are the ones in which the musician's technical abilities become more obvious, since the ambience is set to demand a more thorough use of colorfulness in the instrumentation. There is another instrumental in this album: track 2 'La Pila del Patio' is sheer Flamenco-fusion (hand clapping included), something that might have appeared in any Guadalquivir album with a different instrumentation. Track 3 is really moving, and the only song based on a Flamenco guitar duet [leads played by guest Enrique Melchor], with a subdued keyboard role. The lyrics, passionately and hauntingly sung by Roca, portray an overwhelming oath of loving care and devotion. This is the closest that Alameda gets to traditional standardized Flamenco: a breeze of simplicity among a forest of tastefully adorned stylization. In conclusion: Alameda's debut album, while not genius, is well structured, full of attractive melodic ideas and skillful performances. [I dedicate this review to the memory of Manuel Marinelli].
Report this review (#71574)
Posted Friday, March 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Alameda is a band that has to be placed into the fascinating realm of andalusian rock movement (some would call it "prog-andaluz"). Their debut is from 1979 and they follow the wake of more famous bands such as the pioneer TRIANA or the contemporary MEDINA AZAHARA. Unilkely to the said bands, their debut is closer to pop, romantic and slow for the most part, with massive use of piano (both classical and electric) and synth's flights, with hints of jazz here and there (in "Matices", for example).

There's excellent flamenco guitar here and there, as in "Ojos de Triste Llanto"; "Aires de la Alameda" is particularly noteworthy also for the sweet melody and typical morish climate (even if not too original); palmas (handclapping) are even added in some tracks as in "La Pila del Pato".

The result is very good: elegant music with low rock quotient.

Report this review (#633424)
Posted Monday, February 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Alameda were part of the 70's Andalusian Rock movement in Spain.They came from Sevilla and were led by Marinelli brothers, keyboardists Rafael and Manuel, along with guitarist/singer Jose Roca (Jose and Rafael played formerly with Tartessos), bassist Manuel Rosa and drummer Luis Moreno.With a demo out in 1978 they searched for a contract, eventually signing with CBS and releasing their self-titled debut in 1979 (under the Epic Records name).

Their sound was no more or less than romantic Andalusian Rock with Latin Jazz/Fusion influences, based on pleasant vocal harmonies and the dual keyboard work of Marinelli brothers.The tracks are characterized by Flamenco-flavored pleasant melodies, led by the pianos and the flamenco guitars of Rosa, partially mixed with the strong moog synthesizers and supported by a tight rhythm section.There is a very calm and positive atmosphere throughout the album, lacking the intensity of TRIANA, though their sound is fairly comparable.As the album unfolds the tracks obtain an evident Fusion edge with good interplays, strong synth work and an uptempo rhythm section, filled with some nice solos.The instrumental parts are decent, well- executed and performed, but the compositions lack a real depth to say the least.

''Alameda'' belongs among the good albums of the movement, energetic, fast-paced and rhythmic Andalsusian Fusion/Rock with decent individual performances and fine vocals, despite lacking a monster track.Recommended.

Report this review (#653823)
Posted Sunday, March 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
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!

Report this review (#1999034)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2018 | Review Permalink

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