Okay, so Spanish bands don’t get as much attention as their American and British counterparts. But there are some absolute gems to discover – and Gusto Guides has done all the hard work, so you don’t have to.
Formed by brothers Raimundo and Rafael Amador along with their friend Kiko Veneno, Veneno started making music when Spain was going through a period of renewal and rebirth at the end of the Franco era. With revolution and rebirth in mind, they released their self-titled debut – and only – record in 1977, before breaking up just a year later. This record embodies Andalucian wit and musical nouse and had a big impact on the flamenco scene as well as launching solo careers for each of the band members, most notably Kiko Veneno, the master of the rumba.
Before the movida madrileña arrived and changed Spanish pop music for good, there was Burning. And, as the band recently commented in an interview for Spanish television, perhaps the movida kept them from achieving the fame they deserved.
Whatever. There aren’t many songs quite like the generational anthem Qué hace una chica como tú en un sitio como este, or many voices quite like that of frontman Pepe Risi.
The 80s were tough for the Basque Country. Terrorism (via ETA and allied groups) was claiming the lives of 100 people every year, much of the region’s heavy industry was closed down overnight and many of the region’s disaffected youths were swallowed up by the heroin that flooded the area. So far, so UK.
So obviously, along came punk. And the most famous group from the scene was Eskorbuto, Spain’s answer to the British greats like The Clash and Sex Pistols. Sadly, heroin would claim the lives of two of the three original members, but not before they could release five searing albums of fast guitars and blistering lyrics.
This report in Rolling Stone explains Eskorbuto’s story in more detail.
Almodovar y Mc Namara
Who ever would have thought that one of these happy nutters would go on to win an Oscar? But this freak-pop duo was where Pedro Almodovar first found fame. Almodovar y McNamara was one of the bands that best reflected the anything-goes spirit of the Movida, and their offbeat lyrics (for example, to hit Gran Ganga, below) give good insight into the sense of humour that infused Almodovar’s early films.
Vivo en continua
temporada de rebajas
Sexo, lujo y paranoias,
ese ha sido mi destino.
Quien soy yo y a donde voy?
Quien es el y a donde va?
De dónde vengo y que planes tengo?
De donde viene y que planes tiene?
Gran Ganga, Gran Ganga
soy de Teherán
Gran Ganga, Gran Ganga
él es de Teherán.
Calamares por aquí
boquerones por allá
Mi vida es puro vicio
y eso me saca de quicio
Parálisis permanente (Permanent Paralysis)
Punk may have been huge in the Basque Country, but it reached other parts of Spain too. Parálisis Permanente were perhaps the biggest punk band from the rest of the country, and have a story similarly tragic to that of Eskorbuto, seeing singer Eduardo Benanvente killed in a road traffic accident at the age of 20.
Spanish indie music can be divided into a before and after when it comes to Granada band Los Planetas. Strongly influenced by bands such as Mercury Rev and Joy Division, their mid-90s records Super 8, Pop and Una semana en el motor del autobús are some of the best to come out of the Spanish indie scene. Los Planetas have now been going for 20 years, and are regulars on the festival circuit – including some of the biggies like Benicassim.
Lagartija Nick (‘Lizard Nick’)
Spanish music has never been given to experimentation – but one great success story is Omega, the record that was born from the collaboration between Granada alt-rockers Lagartija Nick and flamenco musician Enrique Morente in 1996. The mixture of words by Federico Garcia Lorca and Leonard Cohen, with Morente’s voice and flourishes of good old rock produced one of the best records to be released in the past 30 years. So stop what you’re doing! Yes, you! Grab some headphones and give Omega a listen.