Almendra - Almendra + Almendra II (1969-70)
Genre: Argentina, Progressive rock
1. Tema De Pototo - (studio)
2. El Mundo Entre Las Manos - (studio)
3. Hoy Todo El Hielo En La Ciudad - (studio)
4. Campos Verdes - (studio)
5. Gabinetes Espaciales - (studio)
6. Final - (studio)
7. Muchacha (Ojos De Papel) - (studio)
8. Color Humano - (studio)
9. Figuracion - (studio)
10.Ama No Duerme - (studio)
11.Fermin - (studio)
12.Plegaria Para Un Nino Dormido - (studio)
13.Estos Hombres Tristes, A - (studio)
14.Que El Viento Borro Tus Manos - (studio)
15.Laura Va - (studio)
16.Hermano Perro - (studio)
17.Mestizo - (studio)
18.Toma El Tren Hacia El Sur - (studio)
19.Jingle - (studio)
20.Rutas Argentinas - (studio)
When this album finally came out in Argentina, it was a wonderful day for hundreds of us, young people who long for a "long-play" vinyl from Almendra. They had already released some singles and play the few venues dedicated to this kind of music then but, by and large, they remained a band who few knew, compared to the throngs still digging the bands who were still singing in English, more concerned with selling records than breaking new ground. But, then, this album was released and popular music was not the same anymore, at least in Buenos Aires.
Now, many could argue that Almendra was not the beginning, and they are right. They weren't the first nor the only ones but they extended the "fan base" for non-Tango urban music exponentially. Listening to it again now, some 35 years later, it's clear some songs have aged better than others, yet many of the themes and the level of playing is not different from a lot of indie band sprouting all over America right now -I'm thinking of the current San Francisco folk scene, for instance.
Here you have beautiful ballads, classics really, about young women ("Muchacha Ojos de Papel" and "Laura Va"), concerns with what reality -really- is ("Figuracion"), and witnessing people losing sight of what life is all about ("A Estos Hombres Tristes"). See what I mean? Things that young people are still concerned about, and thank God for that!
Even if you don't speak Spanish, you'll fall in love with Luis Alberto Spinetta's voice, their lead singer and predominant composer/poet.` If you know the language or, even more, if grew up down South -extremely South- this album holds a wealth of memorable songs. If you weren't there then, imagine "Rubber Soul" coming out, and you'll get the picture.
PS: this edition also contains all singles before the album came out as well as some songs from their double album follow-up.
Emilio Del Guercio
Luis Alberto Spinetta
Rodolfo Garcha*Almendra II (1970)
2. No Tengo Idea
3. Camino Dificil
4. Vete De Mi Cuervo Negro
5. Aire De Amor
6. Agnus Dei
7. Para Ir
9. Cometa Azul
10. Florecen Los Nardos
12. Amor De Aire
13. Verde Llano
14. Leves Instrucciones
15. Los Elefantes
16. Un Pajaro Te Sostiene
17. En Las Cupulas
Though nobody thought about it when the whole thing started, nowadays everybody agrees that the Argentine rock movement was stablished by three groups: Los Gatos, Manal, and Almendra.
While Los Gatos played beat-pop, and Manal played urban blues, Almendra (Almond) played something completely creative, innovative and... different. No other group had sounded that way before! Almendra played beautiful melodies and magnificent lyrics, sometimes mixed with extremely moody sounds and sometimes mixed with extremely furious -but always melodic- lines.
Almendra was formed in 1968 after the break up of three teenage school groups: Los Sbirros, Los Mods, and Los Larkins. The initial rehearsals were held at the Spinettaґs house in Belgrano (an upper-middle class neighbourhood of Buenos Aires). By mid 1968, they met producer Ricardo Kleiman, who signed them for a single. (Kleiman was the owner of an important clothing shop -Modart- and ran a radio show -Modart en la Noche /Modart at Night- that aired the latest editions of beat and rock music of the world).
On September 20th, 1968, "Tema de Pototo" (a.k.a. "Para saber cуmo es la soledad") b/w "El mundo entre las manos" was released. "Tema de Pototo" is a beautiful beat ballad about a friend they thought was dead. Both sides feature orchestral arrangements by Rodolfo Alchourrуn (a producerâ™s request). This was the starting point of the brief career of one of the most wonderful groups in the world!
By the end of the year, "Hoy todo el hielo en la ciudad" with a great fuzz guitar work by Edelmiro, hit the stores. The b-side features "Campos verdes" from which a promotional film was made.
Due to their performance at the Festival of Aucбn, in Peru (something completely unusual at that time) the single became a huge success in that country. They even appeared on a TV show in Lima.
Back in Argentina, Almendra played during the summertime -that is, beginning of 1969- in Mar del Plata (a beach city 400Km South of Buenos Aires). Their debut in Buenos Aires was on March 24th, at the DiTella Institute (the avant-garde cultural centre of the 60s). Almendra spent the rest of the year performing at different venues, until September 21st (the first day of Spring -also the Studentâ™s Day) when they played at the Pinap Festival. Pinap was the name of a beat magazine, and this Festival was the first major event of Argentine rock.
Meanwhile, the group was recording their debut album. An odd event marked the completion of it. Spinetta had drawn an original enigmatic face character for the cover. Days afterward, the record company told the boys that the drawing had been lost, so they were planning to use a photo of the group instead. Obviously upset, the musicians looked for the lost drawing and eventually found it discarded in the garbage! Spinetta stayed up all night reproducing his original artwork and took it to the record company the following day. They offered no excuses the second time!
The extraordinary debut album was finally released on November 29th, 1969. Along with the infamous drawing, it included an insert with the lyrics and technical information. The black & white back cover pictured the group live at the Pinap Festival.
This LP is astonishingly beautiful. All songs are excellent. It is really hard to try to explain them!
The opening track is an argentine rock hymn: "Muchacha (ojos de papel)", an acoustic Spinetta song devoted to an old girlfriend that still thrills the listener. Next comes the superb 9 -minute long "Color humano", written by Edelmiro, featuring his now famous long fuzz guitar solo. Molinari would name his next group after this song.
"Figuraciуn" is a soft tune brilliantly sung by Spinetta with Pappo on backing vocals and Emilio del Gьercio on flute. The energy and fuzz guitar returns with the superb "Ana no duerme", one of the best tracks of the album. Santiago Giacobbe guests on organ.
Side two begins with the sweet "Fermнn", another beautiful song where everything is well done: the guitar, the organ (played by Edelmiro), the vocals... followed by a lullaby tune "Plegaria para un niсo dormido" with yet another inspired Spinetta lyric.
I am personally fond of "A estos hombres tristes", a song with changing rhythmic and melodies. Emilio wrote and sung lead in the next one, the pleasant "Que el viento borrу tus manos".
The LP ends with the slow and beautiful "Laura va", yet another great Spinetta song full of urban moods. Rodolfo Alchourrуn was called on again for his fruitful orchestral arrangements and Rodolfo Mederos played the bandoneуn to complete the sound of Buenos Aires.
This indisputable masterpiece is one of the best albums ever recorded in South America and a must to anybody interested in the music of these latitudes.
By the end of 1969 the record company released a new single featuring "Tema de Pototo" and "Final". The latter was originally scheduled to end their debut album, but could not make it due to time length limitations. The group wanted "Gabinetes espaciales" to be the a-side of this single but RCA wished to promote "Pototo" instead. "Gabinetes..." was eventually included on the compilation LP Mis conjuntos preferidos (RCA Vik 3836).
In early 1970 another single was released with two songs from the album. Meanwhile, Spinetta was working on a highly ambitious -though not original at that time- project: a rock opera about mankindâ™s inner search. But while they were working on this new album the group split.
On December 19th, 1970, Almendra (a.k.a. "Almendra double album") was released, along with a new single taken from it. The 2-LP set included only traces of the unfinished opera but was full of songs that previewed what the members of the group (noteworthy Emilio and Edelmiro) would do next. Although Luis Alberto Spinetta was the main composer of the first album and most of the singles, it was clear that his fellow musicians had their own ideas as well.
The brilliant double album is, thus, pretty heterogeneous. The music is more complex and has much organ and guitar playing.
Emilio Del Guercio
Luis Alberto Spinetta