Vampisoul, along with its parent label, Munster, is definitely, definitely, my very favourite label ever. This is not only because of their sterling work putting together those wonderful Yé-Yé compilations that I may have mentioned before (I’ve a feeling there’s a third Chicas! record on the way…), nor all the fine boogaloo stuff they’ve dug up, nor even the opportunity to stick your snout into all sorts of the very nichest of interests (“you mean you’ve not heard any Czechoslovakian funk? For shame…”)
No today’s reason why Vampisoul is top of the pile is this…
In our last feverish days in Madrid, I spent a happy few hours trekking around the city visiting the record shops I’d read about on the Internet. I’d love to give an enthusiastic plug to whichever shop it was that I found this record, but I’m afraid I’ve already forgotten. Shame, but what can you do?
I’d begun to form the opinion that the whole Spanish beat scene was a bit of a novelty, mainly interesting for its managing to exist at all during peak Franco years. Once you actually get round to listening to some of the records of the time though, and you see they’re kind of sweet, but generally pretty anaemic. Or so I thought…
Turns out I’m a complete idiot (who knew?), and ¡Algo Salvaje! is the absolute proof. Fondly presented with liner notes on each of the 28 featured bands, it’s a double album of absolutely stonking garage punk. You’re treated to the raspiest of fuzztone, loads of fantastically spooky farfisa organ and some genuinely irrational (and at times ill-advised) vocals, and all with only the occasional cover version. I’m all turned round about Spanish Garage!
Highlights include “Sombras” by Barcelona’s Los Nivram, (great vocals and hypnotically quavering guitars); and “It is my World” by fellow Catalans Prou Matic, (featuring the sneeriest of punk shouters, a violently enthusiastic drummer – who is unwisely given a solo – and production values that would shame the Green Fuz). There’s also a highly entertaining version of the Pretty Things’ LSD by Los Polares which is called “La Droga” and is thus an even more basic single-entendre than May and Taylor’s original. (You wonder what Franco’s censors were up to that weekend, bearing in mind that even Cliff Richard had at one point been considered too suggestive for Spanish listeners.)
There’s just loads of tracks to talk about but one of my favourites would be “Ven a Mí” by yet another bunch of Catalans, Els Trons, which really deserves to be better known, with its disconsolate, cheesy organ lines, naughty Stones riff and tactless, club-handed drumming. Turns out if you go to Soundcloud, there’s a whole bunch of Els Trons stuff you can stream.
No “Ven a Mí” but try this… (I think Arthur would be OK with this version)
(If you go and listen to the rest of the tracks – there’s loads – you’ll be rewarded by intriguing Elia y Elizabeth song. I’m saying no more…)
Another of my favourite tracks is by Los Botines, whose singer, Camilo Sesto, later went on to star in the Spanish version of Jesus Christ Superstar, become a Shakespearean actor, score numerous number one hits as a Spain’s top seventies crooner and sell more than 175 million records worldwide. All of which is alright, I suppose, but I guess once you’ve appeared on TV singing with your band dressed as wandering minstrels in El flautista de Hamelín, it’s all downhill from there…