Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Los Relampagos - S/Tdotdotdot
artworkIf you're only interested in surf, stop here. If it don't rock, you don't like it, go away. If, on the other hand, you are open to unusual things in areas of music you might otherwise ignore, then this just might peak your interest. This 1990 CD release of a 1980 compilation by Spain's Los Relampagos [the Lightnings] contains both of their mid sixties LP's. It is not really surf related, but it is a solid instrumental album with some excellent material. The soundscapes often blend flamenco, carnivals, dementia, Shadows guitar, sometimes lush keys, even orchestral accompaniment. While some tracks are truly MOR, much of this borders on brilliant in the arrangement area, and most of the music is melodic, memorable and fun. Cross Country Joe & the Fish with Paul Murriat at Cherry Blossom Clinic on Prozac, and well, this just might be it.
Picks: Nit de Llampecs, Dulcinea, El Arlequin de Toledo, La Santa Espina, Brazo de Gitano, Recuerdos de la Alhambra, Seguidillas, Cordoba, Danza del Fuego, Bailarina de España, Granada, Danza del Molinero, El Baile del Bufon, El Torneo, Noches de Andalucia, Dos Cruces, Sevilla, Alborada Gallega, El Himno de las Galaxias, Sonido del Mediterraneo

Track by Track Review


Nit de Llampecs dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

This is a time-warped piece, with near "Telstar" keyboard sounds and hints of "Washington Square" at the ends of the riffs, and excellent almost surf delayed lead guitar with a shimmering feel. It's a slow and almost military number with a cool melody.

Dulcinea dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

"Dulcinea" opens with a serious version of the narration style used in the Treble Spankers' "Araban," and features an almost calliope melody and feel. It's playful, slightly twisted, and quite fun. The dulcimer tone is tasty.

El Arlequin de Toledo dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

"El Arlequin de Toledo" (Harlequin of Toledo) is mighty fun. This prances with a military beat, a surfy guitar tone, a 17th century feel, and mucho fun.

La Santa Espina dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

This tune reminds me of Country Joe and the Fish' "Section 43" behind a spaghetti western... it's playful and weird, sorta psycho, sorta wistful.

Brazo de Gitano dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

Acoustic flamenco guitar, MOR arranging, and a floating feel with distant chorus... it lies somewhere between an elevator and a dreamy beach villa afternoon, with definite vacation overtones.

Recuerdos de la Alhambra dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

Hmmm... this is an odd one. It's very smooth and slow, and quite MOR in structure. It employs a mall organ sound and great damped guitar plucking. I can't decide if I dig the suaveness or dismiss the slushiness.

Seguidillas dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

Like a sideshow flamenco, this prances with precision military timing and a fluid melody, castanets, and way too much fun.

Cordoba dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

Moody spatial keyboard fluffed swirl, soundtrack lushness, and an endless foggy morning bay scene... it takes a while to break into a soft and fluid sub-Shadows sounding number with excellent arranging. Not the least bit harsh, and almost MOR, but definitely suave. Like what might happen if Focus or Camel were to discover the beach.

Danza del Fuego dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

Sci-fi weirdness, surfish delayed guitar, ominous organ, relentless percussion, and a progression that pulls you further in with each verse. If you are already gone, you'll be right at home. If not, you'll want to hang onto your sanity carefully. Excellent and original. Just watch out for the boys in the white coats.

Bailarina de España dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

Another slightly Shadows influenced tune, like maybe the Challengers might do it, but cleaner sound and more authentic flamenco influences, plus a minuet overlaid for the shear contrast. Quite interesting.

Granada dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

Tuxedo promenade accompaniment, with an eerie carnival edge that makes you wonder just what they meant... like a Peter and the Wolf for the twentieth century, it is lushly accompanied with strings and interesting production. If Lawrence Welk actually arranged seriously without the bubble machine for film scores, he still wouldn't quite come up to this most unusual track.

Danza del Molinero dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

"Danza del Molinero" [de "El Sombrero de Tres Picos"] floats on a the surf, enjoying the flamenco dancers on the deck of a passing cruise ship while waiting for the swells to rise. If that's not clear enough for you, just dig the sensual black lace groove.

El Baile del Bufon dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

To paraphrase Jim Morrison, weird scenes inside a tube... jaws harp, carnival dementia organ, a "Let's Go" cheerleaders stomp beat, and a tasty richly tones Duane Eddy guitar tone. The blend could only happen in the mind's ear of a recent guest of the Cherry Blossom Clinic. Amazing.

El Torneo dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

With a definite MOR edge, and excellent guitar, this cross between a pre Victorian minuet and a Paul Mauriat lush orchestral is really unusual. Like some of the soundtrack stuff that Hollywood placed behind sixties drug movies, but more complex.

Noches de Andalucia dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

Acoustic flamenco guitar and fluid organ, this loungy number floats across the mind with a peaceful sub-Shadows feel and a commercial air. Quite nice.

Dos Cruces dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

"Dos Cruces" opens with the "Walk Don't Run" rhythm, but then graduates to a very Shadows style, with the requisite deep whammy. The airy slushy keyboards are a strange contrast. The melody is mature and wistful, but also supports some surfability.

Sevilla dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

Spanish themes with cheesy organ and playful pluckery. This is pretty cool, but definitely for the restrained among you. The Shadowsy guitar mid-tune is very nicely played.

Alborada Gallega dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

Almost hinting of very early Pearls Before Swine aurally, this makes for a strange semi carnival backdrop, more than a wash of scenery, less than a main focus. It is strangely magnetic, in an off balance kinda way.

El Himno de las Galaxias dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

Think pre percussion "Slpoosh" (Ozric Tentacles) with off duty military malingerers, or maybe an open road from a helicopter... it's pretty smooth and interesting.

Sonido del Mediterraneo dotdotdot
Flamenco Based Surfish Soft Rock (Instrumental)

With a nod to Hot Butter, this percussive piece plays with your mind, balancing between that "Popcorn" sensibility and lush soundtrack ethics. It's quite unique.