Here’s another artist from left field catching me completely off guard. I was working on a 3 cd set of obscure prog rock, and I needed one more album or artist to make it complete. I checked out Sakalli, a veritable gold mine of high quality music, specializing in 60’s and 70’s rock (with an emphasis on prog), looking for something I’d previously missed, when I stumbled upon Almendra. I’m not sure why I’d passed them up before, perhaps because they were from Argentina, and their albums were from 1969 and ’70, which is a little early for prime prog rock.
I downloaded Almendra II, listened to half of “Toma El Tren Hacia El Sur”, thought it had promise and burned a cd to play in the car (one of my favorite listening rooms). Later that day I returned to Sakalli, and similarly, Pescado Rabioso caught my eye.
70% of what I download without first hearing isn’t worth the effort, time, or hard drive space, but this was something else again.
The first song from Artaud also sounded worthy of a burn. I listened to the whole thing while assembling my annual Christmas cd’s. It wasn’t until I went back to reread Almendra, or check out another Pescado Rabioso album that I realized the same artist was responsible for all this music.
He is Luis Alberto Spinetta, and the founder, singer, songwriter, and guitarist in Almendra, Pescado Rabioso, and Invisible, all considered legendary in the history of Argentine rock.
Last week I downloaded eight albums, two are doubles. This covers The years from 1969-1976. He is still active.
It was really difficult picking out seven representative tunes, as the albums are all worth listening to in their entirety.
There are many songs over 6 minutes long which are really little suites.
The sound is uncluttered with the musicians playing the majority of the music live in the studio together.
It’s some of the most original and exciting rock music from anywhere I’ve ever heard.
His album Artaud, essentially a solo album released as Pescado Rabioso, was initially package in an oversized cover, awkwardly shaped, which would not fit comfortably into a standard record rack.
Luis Alberto Spinetta is an Argentine musician, one of the most influential of South America, and together with Charly García and Fito Páez is considered the father of Argentine rock. He was born January 23, 1950, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the residential neighbourhood of Belgrano. As a kid he listened to all kinds of music: folklore and tango, and a little bit later, rock. As with almost every other rocker of his generation, The Beatles would change his life. In 1967, in the midst of a repressive political climate, he formed a band called Almendra with school mates.
It was 1969 and his band, Almendra, recorded their first album. The band started recording and playing intensely and it became successful almost overnight. Almendra composed its own songs and the lyrics were in Spanish (something radically new). The subtlety and beauty of their sound would be one of the milestones (maybe the first) of Argentine rock. After two albums that enjoyed radio diffusion and deserved fame, the band split. Spinetta composed and recorded a new solo album, but an inadequate environment (he would later say that the mood of Argentine rock and rockers of those times were too “heavy” and negative for him) and the vast changes that success effected on his life made him leave the country.
After a lengthy stay in Europe, he returned to Argentina and formed a new band: Pescado Rabioso. It was destined to be as mythical as Almendra. With a far more powerful sound and expressing the tension in the streets of an increasingly violent Argentina, Pescado recorded its first album in 1972. It was both a continuation of the creative stream of Spinetta and a drastic change in the style of his music and lyrics. The band recorded a second album; although a third one carried its name, Pescado was by then dissolved; Artaud, recorded in 1973 and mostly a solo album by Spinetta, was a major breakthrough. Partly based on the writings of Antonin Artaud, Spinetta exorcised many of the demons of his past in this album. This process would open the door to a new era in his music.
In 1974 he formed a new band, Invisible. With his new band he recorded three albums; Invisible, Durazno Sangrando (together with Artaud, hailed as his best album ever), and El Jardín De Los Presentes. With Invisible, he left the powerful and rough sound of Pescado; the new tunes were more harmonic, soft and mellow, yet his work remained essential and revolutionary. Following this line, he embarked on a solo project, A 18´ del Sol, after dissolving Invisible in 1976–77. By then, ten years later after starting his career, his style had become a delicate amalgam of old and new; the old pop and (proto) heavy rock had merged with various elements of jazz and bossa nova. That unique flavour would become his style during the next half decade.
After recording and editing a failed album in the United States in 1979 (the only album that Spinetta lamented ever doing), with lyrics in English and destined to the US market, Spinetta returns to Argentina and starts a prolific era: he would record two albums with a short-lived Almendra Revival (one with original songs and the other live), and embark on a new project: Spinetta Jade.