Oom-bip-bip, oom-bip-bip, si!

productimage-picture-algo-salvaje-vol-1-604_jpg_382x5000_q100Vampisoul, 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…

¡Algo Salvaje!

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 garagnivram-los-los-nivram_1636627e 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…

Mambo Loco

85191One of the best parts of going to any new city, here or wherever, is finding the record shops, and spending an afternoon having a good nose around the vinyl therein. My trip to Spain this time round was a little disappointing in most of the cities I visited – there were invariably record shops in each place but nothing very special.

Madrid was again the massive exception, with at least five absolutely belting record establishments, where I spent rather too much. My favourite of all of these was a place called Discos Babel, looked after by a very friendly and helpful feller whose English was thankfully better than my Spanish. I remember it from my previous visit to the city and last time, I bought just the one record (Uruguayan beat sensations, The Mockers, as you’re asking). This time the damage was a little heavier.

I’m still investigating the Vainica Doble record I found there, and a couple of other things but currently occupying the (sadly virtual) turntable at our house was this great little compilation from AnalogAfrica, not exactly a crate-diggers bargain, but a scorcher nonetheless…

Aníbal Velásquez y su Conjunto

a3951239925_16Aníbal Velásquez is, I gather, your genuine Colombian living legend, with a 60 year career behind, which began in the 50s. He reached a bit of a peak in the 60s having founded his own conjunto with brothers Juan and Jose, playing what I think of as Cumbia, but seems to have a number of other names to them that know these things. He has a reputation as an innovator and a number of instruments have been revived (or even created) under his auspices. Not least of these, is the accordion itself:

“When I started to play the accordion, the instrument was not very popular – it had not become a main part of Costeño culture, and it was considered a second class instrument – a bit foreign and awkward”

CS388341-01B-BIGSince those days, despite the gradual decline in interest in Cumbia, his own reputation has actually grown, playing in and gradually becoming the star turn in various local and national festivals. His stature even appears to have withstood a 19-year period of self-imposed exile in Venezuela.

The record is a wonderfully jittery one, easily as clangy and shouty as the Aliboria record in the last post, each track parading its own stroppy but catchy rhythm which won’t be denied.

Watch this video about the making of the title track, Mambo Loco:


As you can see there’s a right old troop of bangers, tingers and scrapers furiously doing their thing, with the man himself struggling to be heard over the racquet. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s damn hard to sit still.

It’s not all about the rhythm, though, the keys and at times guitar work weave carefully in and out of the rhythms behind them. Velásquez’s muscular finger work is pretty impressive too. I love the sound of the accordion, full stop; partly because it does still sound foreign and awkward (even cheesy at times), but I think the man does have a glorious driving style of his own. By now in his eighties, he’s still something of a local celebrity in Baranquilla and still performs live.

I bet he’s great.

Clanc! Clinc! Dum! Bum!

Well, those three weeks went quickly.

Back from Spain and had a terrific time (thank you for asking) – lots of good food and drink, plenty of lying around in the ridiculous heat of Seville, some record buying in Madrid and a fair amount of linguistic stumbling around in front of patient strangers.

Before we went down to Andalucía, we spent a week in Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia in the wet and windy far north west of Spain. Fortunately, there was none of that – it was sun all the way (we were assured by friends that this was very unusual, even in August).

The day before we arrived, was national Galicia Day, and as a result there were musical celebrations in the Square outside the cathedral and concerts every night, which over the course of the week was a lot of fun. In fact, the first night we got there, we arrived in the square to see the Dandy Warhols setting up for the evening. We stayed on to watch some of their set, which was kind of fun but considering Galicia has such a reputation of having something of a distinctive culture all of its own, it was a little bit MTV (“Love your beautiful city, people. Fuckin’ viva spainya, man!”)

As it turned out, this lot had been in the square the night before…

Xosé Lois Romero & Aliboria

Yep, those are indeed shells, pans, oil cans and graters, supplementing the various drums. And the bizarre contraption that Romero is playing, which looks like a cross between a brush and viola
with bells on it, is apparently something called a charrasco. You think you’ve heard it all, eh?

alib 3The whole record’s like that – boisterous singing and soulful bellowing, accompanied by industrious, skittering rhythms; all manner of kitchen-sink clattering and a full dollop of lai-la-lai-ing. It’s all done with a cheerful arrogance and furious intensity that borders on the scary at times. The words, although clear, are lost on me; I’m not even sure whether theyre in Spanish or Galego. No matter, it’s the heart and spleen you’re listening to really…

Xosé Lois Romero is some sort of folk arranger who has a bit of a history that I shall be investigating soon, but most recently has put together this shouty ten-piece of jinglers and clatterers to apparently take traditional Galician percussion in jarring new directions, (I’m paraphrasing). And I’d say they’re pretty much doing that.alib 4

I bought the record when I heard it playing in a giftshop. I asked the lady in the shop if there was any gaita on the record, but she screwed her nose and said that, no, there wasn’t any of the Galician bagpipes on it, but that she didn’t care for them anyway. The gaita and that other Galician curio, the hurdy-gurdy or zanfona were plenty in evidence on the streets during the week but apparently had no place on this record. And although the prospect of a whole CD of percussion seemed a bit heavy at first, I’ve been pretty much hooked on it since we gotalib 5 back.
The liner notes while not that helpful to me (or I suspect many) as they’re not even in Spanish but Galego, do provide a few useful and rather endearing illustrations of each percussion instrument and the noises they make, which I thought you’d find interesting…