Los Amaya Y Su Combo Gitano
Released by EMI in 1971, the debut LP by brothers José and Delfín Amaya with their Gipsy Combo is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega of a cultural and musical movement, the rumba, that spread its infectious rhythm all over the dancefloors of Spain and beyond. The illustrious musicologists Don Sicalíptico and Diego Manrique write of these EMI recordings, respectively, as of "The Gospels," and as equivalent in importance to those of Elvis for Sun Records. What Los Amaya y su Combo Gitano achieved on this LP is a milestone, a place where nobody had gone before and few would reach later. It was only when Los Amaya arrived that pop prophecy became flesh: rock 'n' roll, pop, boogaloo, soul, salsa, and plena exploding into gypsy music. Many elements can explain this miracle of a record. A gypsy identity, their traditional interests (the music of their race running through their veins, being nephews of the immortal dancer Carmen Amaya), but also their modern tastes. From tender moments in the night club, perhaps, come jíbaro hits such as "Pena, tristeza y dolor" and "Qué mala suerte la mía," both very successful for Los Amaya and both written by Toñín Romero, or "Ya la pagarás" by Baltazar Carrero, who, like Romero, was a famous Puerto Rican hillbilly or "jíbaro" music singer. In the neighborhood movie theaters, the brothers watched Spaghetti Western films whose famous music scores they recreated here in two gypsyfied covers that must have made Morricone pale with jealousy: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and For a Few Dollars More (titled "La muerte tenía un precio" in Spain). They wrap it all up with a frantic ode to the Passion of Christ Our Savior, "En la cruz moría." The last key element is the sound, both in form (a miracle of production: the whole quintet recording everything live into just two microphones) and in content, as these songs sound like Los Amaya and nobody else: the guitars played, as Manrique says, "not with guitar picks but with pocket knives," the high-pitched vocal harmonies, the ubiquitous Cuban bongos, the hands clapping, the constant jaleo of the encouraging exhortations, bravado, mouth whistle and whistling, cowbells, Far West bandits screaming... and everything played at top speed. Includes liner notes in English and Spanish by David Menéndez. On 180 gram vinyl.