Indonesian Mixtape ~ 2013

Benny Soebardja & Lizard
Benny Soebardja & Lizard

Indonesia. Fossilized remains of Homo Erectus and his tools, popularly known as the Java Man, suggest the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited by at least 1.5 million years ago. Austronesian People who form the majority of the modern population, are thought to have originally been from Taiwan and arrived in Indonesia around 2000 BCE. The earliest evidence of Islamised populations in Indonesia dates to the 13th century in northern Sumatra; for the most part, Islam is overlaid and mixed with existing cultural and (curious tolerant) multiple religious influences.

Europeans arrived in Indonesia from the 16th century seeking to monopolize the sources of nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper in Maluku. In 1602 the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was established and became the dominant European power. Following bankruptcy, the VOC was formally dissolved in 1800, and the Netherlands government created the Dutch East Indies under government control. (sic)

By the early 20th century, Dutch dominance extended to the current boundaries. The Japanese invasion and subsequent occupations in 1942-45 during WWII ended Dutch rule and encouraged the previously suppressed Indonesian independence movement. Two days after the surrender of Japan on August 1945, nationalist leader (future leader), Sukarno, declared independence and became president.

Tielman Brothers
Tielman Brothers

While the West and many other western-styled democratic countries reveled in rock music, the left-leaning government of Sukarno took a dim view of western influence in the early days of the Indonesian Republic, restricting the purchase and sale of Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, as well as those of homegrown artists performing western-style rock music. This could be accredited to a rejection of Western culture after three centuries under Dutch colonial rule and was argued to help Indonesian artists create their own form of Indonesian pop music. (!)

Sukarno’s government insisted on Indonesia producing its own brand of pop music, yet many of these groups still showed western musical influences in their arrangements shown either by the crooner styled vocals or R&B flavored guitars for rhythm. Indonesia’s more popular groups, most notably Koes Bersaudara, later renamed Koes Plus found life increasingly difficult under Sukarno frequent queries from the authorities for performing western rock, while other Indonesian rock n’ roll pioneers like the Tielman Brothers had to make their name in Europe.

These were the early beat, garage and pop scene.

Dara Puspita 60's
Dara Puspita 60’s

Let’s go to our history:

Sukarno’s anti-imperial ideology saw Indonesia increasingly dependent on Soviet and then communist China. By 1965, the PKI was the largest communist party, outside the Soviet Union or China. Penetrating all levels of government, the party increasingly gained influence at the large expense of the army.

On September 30, 1965, six of the most senior generals within the military and other officers were executed in an attempted coup. This fact prompted a violent army-led communist purge, aided by CIA and British Foreign Office, over a million people were killed in a year, a year and a half, throughout the country. (!!)

1965-66 Prisions
1965-66 Prisons

General Suharto politically outmaneuvered President Sukarno, and became president in March 1968. When he finally opened the floodgates for western culture, Suharto’s new order regime’s friendly stance towards western powers allowed the emerging rock music scene to flourish. With the country entering open relations with the western, many Anglo-American artists like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Genesis, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, King Crimson, Janis Joplin and Black Sabbath flooded Indonesia’s radio waves while its fresh new sound helped create many of Indonesia’s best-known artists of the ’70s, be it directly or indirectly. The decade also provided numerous bands and household rock stars still active on today’s musical charts.

Thanks to Now Again’s fantastic compilation (2011) of Indonesian rock, Those Shocking Shaking Days, people worldwide were able to taste the greatest bands from the Indorock scene. With a tumultuous historical background, led by a 33-year dictatorship, Rock music was a real exhaust valve in a land of fear, death, and corruption. We’re talking about a place where a right-wing paramilitary organization Pemuda Pancasila grew out of the death squads to reach maximum popularity as national heroes! They got strictly bonds with the government and more than 3 million members throughout Indonesia! With no trials or official recognition, this frightening aspect it’s shown on Joshua Oppenheimer documentary, The Act of Killing.

Commie Purge
Commie Purge

Let’s go to our mixtape:

A Mixtape it’s a personal choice that usually ranges a certain time or era, serving as a gateway for new listeners. Today we’ll focus on 70’s scene, therefore, some brilliant Indonesian bands will be out of our first selection, such as Koes Plus, AKA, Shark Move, Super Kid, Panbers, Duo Kribo, etc. Their complete biography and developments will be left for an exclusively dedicated post, there will be many, don’t worry! This is just warming for Indonesian rock, phew, let’s to them!?

Dara Puspita ~ Tabah & Cobalah (1971)

dara puspita 71 cópia

Harapan Kosong /// Did You Know That?

Dara Puspita (Flower Girls) was Indonesia’s most successful girl band of the 1960s. The girls were one of the few groups who actually played their own music. Hailed from the city of Surabaya in East Java and first formed in 1964, on 1965 the band relocated to Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, and soon gained a reputation as a sensational live act, bashing away their instruments, jumping and screaming out their songs.

Riding on the beat garage, in 1968 they took the almost unprecedented move for an Indonesian band of trying their luck in Europe and spent the next few years touring in England, Holland, France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, and Hungary. They even played in Turkey and Iran! In late 1971 the girls returned to Indonesia and played a number of concerts, and on April 1972 they played their last show.

The selected songs are from their last era, a real psychedelic issue with less girlie posture, serious fuzz, and organ. Words in English and Indonesian, some soul swing and no political themes on lyrics. By the way, the band was much used in Suharto’s years as a nationalist flag of Indonesia’s greatness (sic). Their 71′ released are also on Hans Pokora’s book, that’s why is so difficult to find any good transfer.

Harry Roesli Gang ~ Philosophy Gang (1973)

harry roesli cópia

Peacock Dog //// Roda Angin

Harry Roesli has been a well-known artist in Indonesia, who pioneered contemporary music with consistent delivery of social and humanity critics in a straight forward and transparent way. He was born in Bandung and passed away on December 11, 2004.

During early ’70s, Harry formed a band called Gang of Harry Roesli with his friends: Albert Warnerin, Indra Rivai, and Iwan A Rachman. Five years later the group was disbanded. Harry was then granted a scholarship by Cultuur, Recreatie en Maatschapelijk Werk (CRM), to study in Rotterdam Conservatorium, Netherlands. To support his life while studying and expressing his musical talent, he played piano at Indonesian restaurants, achieving Ph.D. in Music (1981) and then lecturing at the department of music at Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia (UPI).

This is his first release, words in English and Indonesian, fabulous keys timbres, small Latin accent with a pop-psych overall. Harry lyrics suffered constant boycotts and a blacklist agenda by the military government. He’s certainly the most restless author from all, with dozens of records and few acknowledgments worldwide.

Benny Soebardja & Lizard ~ Benny Soebardja & Lizard (1975)

Benny Soebardja cópia

Crime /// Loosing Time

The Indonesian Hendrix, the self-proclaimed founder of the private press scene, Benny Soebardja is one of the most important figures from the Indonesian music industry. Having been a member of three of the biggest bands in Indonesia: The Peels, Shark Move and Giant Step. Backed by the almost unknown Lizard band.

He got some problems due to its first solo release, with a banned cover and government intimidation who saw too much freedom of speech on its lyrics. The words in English were made with the help of British poet Bob Dook. With psychedelic nature, organ, reeds, light/heavy guitar work, and harmonic soulful chorus, some social criticism themes are included. He’s still on the run!

God Bless ~ God Bless (1976)

godbless cópia

Sesat /// Eleanor Rigby

God Bless pioneered the birth of rock music in Indonesia dated back in early ’70s. The band’s central figure vocalist Ahmad Albar, previously formed Take Five (1966-1967), and later Clover Leaf (1967-1972). When he returned to Indonesia, Fuad Hassan (drums), Donny Fatah (bass) and Deddy Dores (keyboard) were invited to form with him, God Bless. They dominated rock music performance during the decade, even though they did cover versions of Deep Purple, Genesis, Kin Ping Meh, Queen.

God Bless also performed as the opening act for a spectacular show (with 120,000 crowds!) featuring Deep Purple live in Stadion Utama, Jakarta, 1975. The band released its self-titled debut album in 1976, by Indonesian label Pramaqua. With a major hit: Huma di Atas Bukit the album remarked the birth of Indo rock scene.

Classic Rock at it’s the best definition, words in Indonesian with a tuned rock band. They’re the best selling rock band from Indonesia history and are still on the run!

Giant Step ~ Kukuh Nan Teguh (1977)

giant step cópia

Mekar //// Alam Bebas

One of the legendary Indonesian progressive rock acts of the ’70s, with influences from the American/British prog legends, they established their own sound with great originality. They went through a series of line-up changes with the omnipresent figure of Benny Soebardja, plus the best musicians from Bandung: Deddy Stanzah (Rollies), Deddy Dores (Freedom of Rhapsodia), Albert Warnerin (Philosophy Gang).

They managed to release several albums with great commercial success before finally breaking up in 1986. Sung in Indonesian, strong moogs and synths, nice guitars, flutes, broken signature, and beautiful rock ballads. Altogether, you can call them true prog heroes, with no influences from traditional music or social criticism themes.

Guruh Gipsy ~ Guruh Gipsy (1977)

guruh gipsy cópia

Janger 1897 Saka /// Geger Gelgel

The only album released by the band (with Chrisye), it’s the second greatest from all time according to Rolling Stone Indonesia (!). We’ll make a complete post with biography and info members in the near future, this is no ordinary record! After sixteen months of production, as the two musical elements have different spectrum in terms of notes and chords progression, Guruh spent a lot of time outside the studio to learn the subtleties of western music as well as Bali traditional music. They strived to find the harmony that blended prog rock with Bali traditional gamelan music.

With a rock combo (guitar, bass, drums, organ), orchestra, female backing vocals, heavy moogs, and traditional instruments, this is probably the greatest mix between traditional and modern anglo music I’ve ever seen, at least in Indonesia!

A symphonic prog with outstanding arrangements, full-length songs, heavenly chorus and many different climates throughout the record, a must-see.

Trip Becik!

Indonesian Orangutan
Indonesian Orangutan

Grazia (גרציה) – Grazia! (1978)

Koliphone Cover
Koliphone Cover

Israel. Jaffa in the late ’60s and early ’70s had an exciting and exotic sound to offer, where folk musicians performed live at its taverns seven nights a week. It was far from the mainstream hit-parade of swinging Tel-Aviv but close enough geographically to attract listeners from across the Tel-Aviv / Jaffa metropolis. The scene got bigger and wilder, as it embraced the Middle Eastern celebration style known as Hafla, involving heavy drinking, local food, and music of course.

Standing at the center of old Jaffa and its vibrant music scene was the record store and label, Koliphone Records. Owned by the Azoulay brothers, Koliphone tirelessly recorded these artists and sold their records to the growing masses. At first, they released mostly Greek and Turkish music, shortly followed by Yemenite, Moroccan and Hebrew records, showcasing the cultural melting pot of this ancient town.

Pradisiac Jaffa
Paradisiac Jaffa

The biggest and most influential artist of the time was Aris San. A singer and guitar virtuoso, San created the Israeli-Greek style and introduced the drums-bass-guitar rock combo to folk audiences. His fans thought they were listening to traditional bouzouki melodies, but in fact, San’s music was a lot heavier, strongly influenced by American surf, verging on the psychedelic. San’s huge popularity attracted many other artists to record the new style he had pioneered. Artists such as Trifonas, Levitros, Nino Nikolaidis and many more began to appear on Jaffa’s record stands. Among them was a young girl who sang in Turkish. Her name was Grazia Peretz (גרציה פרץ)!

Grazia was a wonder kid in the early ’70s. She started singing at the age of nine, performing at Turkish weddings and Mediterranean nightclubs, sharing a stage with Aris San and Trifonas. Soon, she became an in-demand act for events up and down the country, landing herself a weekly TV spot on the Channel 1 music segment!

Let’s go to our record:

Psych Portrait
Psych Portrait

For her 16th birthday, her father sent her to record a full-length Hafla style album at the Koliphone Studios. Marko Bachar, who was the label’s in-house producer, arranger, and keyboard player, was in charge of the project. Bachar had just sold his organ and bought a monophonic Moog synthesizer. Grazia wanted to break free from the conformities of Greek and Turkish folk music and introduce the early sounds of disco she and her peers were getting so much into.

When the album finally hit the shops it sold… nothing! Hard funk drums, pounding bass coupled with synth blips and psychedelic Turkish guitars, well… it was all a bit too much for the unsuspecting folk audience. At the age of 18, disheartened by the music industry and the undue touring environment she had to endure at such an early age, she stopped singing and never returned to the studio or the stage.

The ‘IM’ highlights unfold us a distinctive tinge from the east, beautifully sang in Turkish, with utmost moogsSoyle Beni, with an eerie sci-fi feel, this Israeli disco prog shows us the kind of sound that people used to dance, back on Jaffa nightclubs. And Rampi Rampi, an upbeat with broken pace, key winds solos, luscious chorus and the usual Arab/oriental scales with its minor harmonics. A Rocky feel at its best!

Chuyến đi Tốt!

Tracks include:

A1 Kemangi

A2 Soyle Beni

A3 Artik Sevmeyegegim

A4 Istemen

A5 Elveda Meyhanec

B1 Rampi Rampi

B2 Muhabbet

B3 Olmek Var

B4 Arkadas

B5 Gidis O Gidisse

Licensed courtesy of Azoulay Brothers.

Recorded in Jaffa, 1978.

Koliphone ‎– 46407

Reissue by ℗ & (C) Fortuna Records 2013.

Mariza Koch (Μαρίζα Κωχ) – Arabas (Αραμπάς) [1971]

capa cópia

Greece. The cradle of modern civilization, an amalgamation of elements of Minoic, Phoenician, Doric, and Ionic cultures that at one time spread from the Caucasus to the Pyrenees via Asia Minor, and from the Crimean to Sicily and the North-African coast. Plato, Xenophon, Homer, Socrates, Pythagoras, Archimedes still live on, in their works, thoughts, and writings. Despite its glorious past, Romans, Byzantines, Visigoths, Slavs, Bulgarians, Venetians, Crusaders, Serbs, and finally, Turks took it in their turn to occupy Greece for about 1,800 years!

The last Turkish garrison left Athens in March 1833, they managed to stay more or less independent for just over 100 years, when Hitler and Mussolini decided they’d go for a life-long supply of Ouzo (a greek drink) in April 1941. After a good 20 years of turbulent democracy, Greece was back in the hands of the extreme right when the colonels took over on April 21st, 1967, they were to remain in power ’till 1974.

A democratic and republican constitution was promulgated only in June 1975.

Military Junta Logo
Military Junta Logo

The presence of the military junta during the late ’60s and early ’70s has been quite a deterrent, having prevented a musical development concurrent with that of other European countries. To complete the picture, the continued loss of civil rights, widespread censorship, political detentions, and torture, caused countless confrontations and assassination attempts on both sides. In 1969, Costa-Gavras masterpiece Z, was the first attempt to internationalize the message of serious lack of civil rights and its situation. The film was banned from Greece, at the time.

The late ’60s were characterized by political oppression from the authorities and a strong folk movement (oriented by the political left) that sought its identification in the traditional Hellenic roots. A lot of male and female folk singers were known throughout Greece but the outside world remained virtually oblivious to them. Most of the bands that existed back then, however, played only cover versions of English-sung hits and their overall approach was orientated towards light pop and beat. They were called The Rabbits, The Stormies, The Teenagers, The Knacks, etc.

Z's Poster
Z’s Poster

In the very beginning, the most well-known bands were from outside Greece: Aphrodite’s Child and Axis, achieved relative commercial success in France, singing in English, debuting albums, single charts and appearances on TV shows.

Domestically, over the ’70s, bands and artists like, Socrates Drank the Conium, Nostradamus, Akritas, Iraklis, Dionysis Savvopoulos, Manos Hadjidakis, Kostas Tournas, and Pavlos Sidiropoulos, were largely observed, censored or even arrested by the military junta. (!) This is some of the key figures in the national rock scene, ελληνικό ροκ (Greek Rock). Even the term psychedelic is derived from the Ancient Greek, words psuchē (ψυχή – psyche, mind) and dēlōsē (δήλωση – manifest): 

Translating to mind-manifesting!

But today we’ll speak of a woman, their achievements and wonderful music.

Let’s go to her history:

Mariza Koch is one of the most renowned Greek singers of all time (together with Fleury Dandonakis). Endowed with a superb voice and a colorful timbre, she’s famous for served the Greek traditional music and been the first to introduce electric sound to folklore. Always working beside poets, such as Sappho, Kostas Varnalis and the Greek poet of the seas Kavvadias; its lyrical depth is one of the aspects, which will always be remembered, her minstrel attitude, the freedom of speech and its political views over one of the heaviest cultural heritages from our history.

Young Mariza
Young Mariza

Born March 14, 1944, in Athens by a Greek mother and a German father, member of the army occupation, he was executed by the Nazi forces the very year of her birth. Mariza and her sister Eirini grew up in her mother’s native Thera (Santorini).

From four to nine years old, she grew up in an institution, the widowed mother had problems growing two kids and working alongside. This fact develops a strong bond with her work on itself. Nowadays, she established an own record label (Verso Music) destined to folklore/traditional songs from all over Greece and more specifically, music for children. The experimental music center, Movement & Logos Mariza Koch designed for experimental music teaching only for children has its own choir, plays, books, and cd releases; this is her flag today, an author and educator.

But let us return to our biography

Hippy
Hippy

The time lived in Santorini, founded the roots of its musical expression: the contact with Byzantine music and insular songs. At age 16, she returned to Athens to take music lessons. There, gained contact with the common wave, it’s performers, and debuts commercially in 1967. Two years later, shares an Lp with Nick Chouliaras, based on folk and traditional songs. The year 1970, in Greece, marks the very birth of greek bands singing in greek, Koch’s album ain’t the original first one, but it’s way thicker than other releases from the time, more distant from original folklore.

Based on several traditional regions of Greece, Arabas saw huge commercial success and led her to a large career on different record labels, through the decades.

Mariza: ‘When I started singing was in the era of dictatorship, the very beginning. I wanted to sing an uncensored version from numerous songs, but they all passed through censorship and I can not say exactly what they wanted. So I chose to sing traditional songs that I love very much and I had grown up with them. So the cry of protest is not like before, I took through the text, through the electric instruments and cover versions of songs that I did. It was my personal revolution.’

1976
1976

Soon established as a premier folk singer in her country, instructed by Manos Hadjidakis, she took part in the Eurovision Song 1976 contest, held in Hague, with the song Panagia Mou, Panagia Mou, written by herself, in protest by the Turkish occupation of Cyprus. The coup within the coupled more than 5,000 dead and wounded on and off the isle. (!) The song ends up in 13th place, but its performance, transmitted live through Europe, unleashes her success worldwide.

From that point, she traveled around the globe singing in greatest theaters and recognized music festivals in Western Europe, Russia, Canada, USA, Latin America, Australia, India, Middle East, and Africa as an ambassador of Greek traditional music. Dozens of albums were launched, and over time its aesthetic transformations changed the main proposal of its career: original folklore, from the past with traditional instruments formations (lyres, flutes, and Cretan lyras).

Let’s go to our record:

Today’s record is a bit different, this is for all those who do not resist an acoustic side with strong connections to the traditional folklore. You all will be pleased with a blessed voice, a tuned backing band (bass, drums, guitar, keyboards) and all these beautiful songs and instruments from the Mediterranean!

Eurovision Performance
Eurovision Performance

Mariza’s unique vocals became the centerpiece of the music, which one, more than one occasion needed no accompaniment. Indeed, it’s first solo foray Arabas (Αραμπάς), released in 1971, was a step forward on a greek musical constellation, the first gold album (50.000) in its history! An almost rock album with traditional blends, heavy drums, swing guitar, light fuzz, breakbeats, led by a powerful female voice, who was also a sharp musician and composer, something unusual for the time!

Mariza: ‘Nothing is difficult if it comes from your truth. The difficulties aren’t that will run, as long as it will go, how they establish what you have inside you. For me, it was not difficult this blend, these traditional covers. This sounds like to give and I’m fortunate that he loved and fell in a good time when the audience of my generation understood what was needed. It was a model that was presented as a personal need.’

Live Extasis
Live Extasis

The ‘IM’ highlights are Arabas (Αραμπάς), a mysterious lute introduction unravels a psych melody with hard percussion pace, eerie organs and sweet rhythm guitar, like many others of the album, none of its songs overlaps 4 minutes! And: Smyrna Dance (Σμυρνέϊκος Χορός), an instrumental one, apropos, the unique in that feel on all record, by the way, Smyrna is an ancient city located on the coast of Anatolia, showing us how Greek and Turkish culture can merge, despite the old cultural brawl.

On the back cover, Mariza writes: ‘I started with the desire to keep up with the evolution of our time carrying through my experiences, which are directly associated with the traditional song. So I began an effort to the contemporary expression of traditional song, encouraged by the fact that it always transformed into the tradition.’

Here’s a TV appearance, from 1973, where she sings in a psychedelic scenario, and on its final seconds, her brilliant hippy political view.

Lastly, you can check her astounding performance in Eurovision 76′.

Boa Viagem!

Tracks Include (polytonic, romanized and translated):

A1 Κάτω Απ’ Τη Βροχή / Kato Apo Ti Broxi (Walking in the Rain)

A2 Ο Μέρμηγκας / O Mermigkas (The Big Ant)

A3 Αραμπάς / Arabas (Carriage)

A4 Το Αρμενάκι / To Armenaki (Sailor Boy)

A5 Σαράντα Πήχες Δίμιτο / Saranta Pixes Dimito (Forty Yards of Twill)

A6 Η Λαφίνα / H Lafina (Mother Doe)

B1 Σκέψεις (Χιλιοτσακισμένο) / Skepsis (Thoughts)

B2 Ο Γιάννης / O Giannis (John & Song)

B3 Τσάπ’ Δηλαδή / Tsap Diladi (Tsap)

B4 Τ’ Άστρο Και Το Φεγγαράκι / To Astro Kai To Feggaraki (The Star and The Moon)

B5 Σμυρνέϊκος Χορός / Smirneikos Xoros (Smyrna Dance)

Credits

  • Composed, Adapted: Μαρίζα Κωχ (Mariza Koch)
  • Orchestrated, Conductor: Νίκος Παναγόπουλος (Nick Panagopoulos)

Minos ‎– MSM 139 (Mono) or Minos ‎– ST.MSM 139 (Stereo)

Mariza, Lately
Mariza, Lately

Almendra – First Singles (1968-1969)

almendra cópia

Today’s post will be a little extensive and will continue in future entries, through our ‘IM’ galaxy. Almendra deserves it. This is a first explanation essay, peace!

The holy triad of Argentine Rock, is composed by three groups, the first ones: Manal, a power-trio of blues psych-rock with great influence from CreamLos Gatos, Castellano Rock founders, with a pop beat olla, and finally, Almendra, certainly the most inventive and poetic, of the three, they released only two albums by RCA Argentina, until their end in 1971. Among them, a skinny leader: Luis Alberto Spinetta (January 23, 1950 – February 8, 2012), known as ‘El Flaco’, was a singer, guitarist, poet, composer, considered one of the greatest artists from his country.

His instrumental affluence, lyrical and poetic works, got his recognition throughout Latin America and also worldwide. He’s considered one of the godfathers from Argentine Rock, leading Almendra, Pescado Rabioso, Invisible, and many other bands, apart from his wide solo career. In his lyrics, there’s the influence of writers, philosophers, psychologists, artists such as Rimbaud, Van Gogh, Lü Dongbin, Jung, Freud, Nietzsche, Foucault, Deleuze, Artaud y Castañeda, as also, native cultures.

Almendra & Chicos
Almendra & Chicos

Almendra was a quartet. Before its first historical record, released in late 1969, Los Chicos, in his early year, launched over 5 single records in Argentina. Today on the ‘IM’, we’ll have the first part of the series: two singles, a left out and a B-Side:

1) Tema de Pototo (Luis Alberto Spinetta, Edelmiro Molinari) //////////////////////////// El Mundo Entre Las Manos (Luis Alberto Spinetta, Rodolfo García) [RCA Vik 31Z-1368] *

2) Hoy Todo el Hielo En La Ciudad (Luis Alberto Spinetta) ////////////////////////// Campos Verdes (Luis Alberto Spinetta, E. Del Guercio) [RCA Vik 31Z-1413] **

3) Gabinetes Espaciales (Luis Alberto Spinetta) /////////////////////////////////////// Compilation LP ‘Mis Conjuntos Preferidos’ [RCA Vik 3836] ***

4) Final (Luis Alberto Spinetta, E. Del Guercio) ///////////////////////////////////////////////////// B-Side from [RCA Vik 31Z-1565] ****

Let’s go to their history:

Almendra had his first precedent in 1965, from the English rock bands Los Larkins and Los Sbirros, both from Bajo Belgrano a neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Los Larkins was led by Rodolfo García, future drummer of Almendra, muchacho four years older than ‘El Flaco’ Spinetta and neighbors from the same neighborhood.

Color Humano
Color Humano

Spinetta: ‘Everything started on the 15th birthday of my sister. One of the guests was a pianist and played in a group called Los Larkins, they rehearsed very close to home, where Rodolfo played drums. One day I went to one of the tests with the suspicious eyes from my parents, they knew it was a definite step for me; when I entered and saw all those electric instruments, guitars unlike the Spanish or creole, I completely freaked out! From there I got this sound that is an emblem for me: bass, drums, and guitar.’

The other band that would give birth to Almendra, was Los Sbirros, composed by students from the same school that Spinetta, and was led by Edelmiro Molinari, who excelled at the dominion of electric guitar and Emilio del Guercio, future bassist. Spinetta started in Los Larkins, but played at any given time in both groups. Little by little they were merged in late 1966 and formed a quintet composed by Spinetta (voice), Rodolfo García (drums), Emilio del Guercio (bass), Edelmiro Molinari (guitar) y Santiago “Chago” Novoa (keyboards), they were 16, 17 years old on average and the foundations of what would be Almendra was ready.

Rehearsing
Rehearsing

In early 1967, Roldolfo García was drafted into military service. This fact made the band entered a one-year hiatus, more precisely the year that La Balsa, music from Los Gatos, composed by Lito Nebbia and Tanguito, explodes in the charts, achieving tremendous national success. It was the first original rock sung in Spanish and marks the beginning of a new musical style known in Argentina as Rock Nacional.

1967, 1968 and 1969 were years of great cultural transformations in Argentina and the world, placing the youth as a distinct social, revolutionary group: The Summer of Love that marked the birth of Hippie movement, the assassination of Che Guevara in Bolivia, the French May, the Prague Spring and domestically El Cordobazzo.

Live
Live

On this context, germinate the trends that Spinetta and other young Argentines both crave: take the vanguards of tango and folklore in order to give a sort of rock with local climate, sung in Castellano. The feat was a cultural rupture of enormous proportions, the esthetic standards of the time did not accept this unattended manifestation, especially in Spanish. On March 1968, García was discharged from military service and the group began rehearsing daily. Novoa, keyboardist, simply stopped going to rehearsals and the quintet turns into a quartet:

Luis Alberto Spinetta (leading voice and guitar)

Rodolfo García (drums and vocals)

Emilio del Guercio (bass and vocals)

Edelmiro Molinari (leading guitar and vocals)

Almendra Poster
Almendra Poster

In mid-1968, Ricardo Kleiman, the producer on the radio program La Noche en Modart’, which had enormous popularity with the youth from those years, went to see a band rehearsal, they played an own song with English titles, Where are You Going Mary Sue?. Kleiman was impressed and offer them a single record on RCA with Rodolfo Alchurrón as artistic director. The single was recorded somewhere in August, released on September 20, 1968, and set out for sale at the beginning of 1969.

Tracks include: Tema de Pototo, side A /// El Mundo Entre Las Manos, side B *

Tema de Pototo (Para Saber Cómo es la Soledad):

The first theme edited by the band was composed by Luis Alberto Spinetta to a college fellow who believed to have died on a trip to Bariloche (!). When he received the telegram denying the good news, the verses suggested: ‘La soledad es un amigo que no está / Es su palabra que no ha de llegar igual’. Years later the young prick called Mario D’Alessandro became the band’s official dentist! The theme has an orchestral accompaniment directed by Alchurrón composed of strings and woodwinds.

almendra 3 cópia

Hoy Todo el Hielo en La Ciudad:

The group releases another single record Hoy Todo el Hielo en La Ciudad, side a /// Campos Verdes, side b **, yet in 1968, and it’s from this one that the band begins to be noticed and established commercially.

Spinetta: ‘The Almendra singles are a work in itself, at the margin of the albums. The first two had consequences outside the band. On December 68′ came the second, which included Hoy Todo el Hielo en La Ciudad. There is here a poetic dimension that puts us at a distance of every beat wave, so common to the epoch; we passed by a minor key chorus and followed an epic escalation, with a baroque-pop feel!’

The myth of a dystopian frozen Buenos Aires comes in tune with ‘El Eternauta’ the great sci-fi story by Oesterheld. There is no hell or deluge, in the end, only the eternal ice that covers the sky across the days. Even at noon, there’s no sun.

These years also held two video clips, one of the first ones made ​​in Argentina.

Muertos de Mentira
Muertos de Mentira

The band’s debut on live stages, occurs at the disco Matoko’s in Mar del Plata, at Constitución avenue, a downtown nightlife balneary, where they played throughout the summer. For another magazine/publication of the time, Spinetta declared:

‘Ended the time of repeating what others do, translations, all of these vain things. We have to sing what is ours, what is authentic, from within.’

On January 2, 1969, they fix Gabinetes Espaciales ***  at TNT studios. The band wanted the track as A-side, future single, but RCA Argentina, eyeing the huge commercial success of a romantic rewriting made ​​by Leonardo Favio, re-launched as Para Saber Como es La Soledad, released the band’s third single record with a repeated song: Tema de Pototo, side A /// Final, side B ****

Final, the pretended ending for Almendra (first) Lp, was cut from the final tracklist due to time limitations. It enters here as a tuneful simple ballad B side!

Musica Joven
Musica Joven

Let’s go to our highlights:

Our choices may not be always based on greatest hits, however, it is undeniable the quality and importance for Tema de Pototo, a #1 hit, tremendously arranged, with a hippy aura. It should always be a choice in someone’s lists, a delightful 100% psychedelic! But today, the ‘IM’‘ highlights are for:

Campos Verdes and Gabinetes Espaciales.

Lastly, there isn’t a lot of photos from the band, especially with high quality available on the internet, however, there’s an incredibly rare book, with drawings, text and rare photos, released in 1970/71, that you can luckily check it.

Góð Ferð!!

Afterwards
Afterward (RIP, Flaco)

Kim Choo Ja (김추자) Mixtape ~ 2013

kim choo ja cópia

Born January 2, 1951, in the city of Chuncheon, the youngest in a family of 5 sisters, Kim Choo-Ja (김추자) is considered the first sex symbol of Korean pop music. Despite being an unknown worldwide, she’s one of the most influential artist’s from the Republic of Korea. Born with a lascivious curvy body, something unusual for an Asian, she was not afraid to show off in her dances, performances, clothes and record covers, wearing tight jeans or mini skirts, tops with cleavage-boosting and tall boots, a real foxy! During her career, Choo-Ja passed through a lot of personas and attitudes, that not only reflected on her appearance but also on her sound and sexuality, like the early beat-girlie, the stoned-rock-hippy, and ultimate ferocious diva!

Even didn’t write her songs, as an interpreter, she was much helped by Shin Joong Hyun, the godfather of K-Rock, through her career, especially in her first steps. They met each other in 1969 after she had won the first prize in a festival of Arts at the University of Dongguk, where she graduated in Theatre and Cinema.

1971
1971

In October’s same year, debuts her first album: Before Its Late (늦기 전에), produced by Shin and accompanied by the band The Donkeys, the record reached great commercial success, introducing a new face in Korean pop music. Based on the psychedelic combo bass-drums-guitars-keyboards they Americanize traditional folk/trot music, until then, sung only in a high pitch by singers that looked like plasticized mannequins with their stern-tacky Hanboks.

With more than 30 (!) albums released between 1969 to 1975, Kim Choo-Ja completely dominated the 70’s and has established herself as one of the greatest singers of an era. She had problems with the censors for her hit ‘It’s a Lie’, which was banned by the military dictatorship, on the allegation that it instigates distrust. The military government, ruled by the infamous Park Chung-heealso suspected her dance moves to be a hand signal for North Korean spies. (?!)

1973
1973

There was a period of blacklists and stronger repression, motivated by Shin’s charge and arrest for marijuana possession, in December 75. During those years she was out of the charts, but it won’t last much, her big comeback took place in the series of shows Recital 78, released on 1980, the album brings her greatest hits on some different live arrangements, but it’s probably the cover, its most iconic and extravagant leap, an incredible Korean Power Booty!!

For a society that has lived under a dictatorship for decades, Choo-Ja suffered constant boycotts from the government until its fall in 1988.

With the ’80s, she launches more than 15 (!) discs from live shows (mostly) and romantic collections; due to their children, a remarriage and family reasons, she retires from the market in 1988. But the legacy of Choo-Ja can be seen, in parts, with all those never-ending pretty dolls who littered the Korean pop music scene today.

Hippy 70
Hippy 70

Let’s go to our record:

Today’s album is actually a Mixtape, organized by myself, traversing many records, trying to go through all periods from our Korean Bombshell!

It’s a pop-psychedelic beginning, the encounter with the Soul and its variations, the Latin accent, their romantic-modern versions of Trots and even a medley from the aforementioned ‘Recital 78’, with several successes, such as ‘Sgt. Kim’, ‘Regret’, ‘Rumour’, and even a version from ‘Ani Holem al Naomi’, single that sold more than 1 million copies in 70s Japan, from the Israeli duo Hedva and David!

We would be unfair to Choo-Ja if we just label her as an exclusively psych-folk singer, such as Kim Jung Mi (김정미) was. What we see here are Big Bands and their orchestrations, Brass Funk-Soul, Psych, Rock, Trots, Ballads and a familiar Korean tendency to put a few spoons of sugar into the romanticism‘Nangman’ (낭만)!

Portrait
Portrait

Unfortunately, the translation and reading in Hangul are extremely difficult, the content of the lyrics is still an incognita, as well some of the albums where the songs came out. A large number of compilations, pirate and collaboration albums, contribute to make this a HARD work, but in almost all themes the year is indicated on the mp3 file.

The ‘IM’ highlights today are for: ‘No’ (아니) a megaton groove, with breakbeats, brass, and an outstanding guitar swing! This is a really infectious soul that could be covered by any funk masters, such as Earth, Wind and Fire, Tower of Power or even the pope James Brown! The other one is ‘Rain’ (비), one of the few that I couldn’t retrieve any info, what a pity! I’ve got a sentimental keen on that, a standard ballad, with Big Band accompaniment and a blue finale, an instant CLASSIC!

Lastly, don’t forget to check our special gallery selection, with some personal and rare photos. Phew! Perjalanan Yang Baik!