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CARMEN The Gypsies/Widescreen Angel Air SJPCD225 (2007)


In common with the more celebrated Sparks, Carmen flew into Britain from the US to hitch up to the 70s glam rock scene.

Both bands were fronted by siblings and hired local talent to make up the numbers. But where the Maels hit their stride early with a string of chart hits, David and Angela Allen never really took off with the proposition of flamenco fusion.

Two pretty good albums on the wrong label (sleepy Regal Zonophone) were met with relative indifference. Nonetheless, a catchy live act saw the band head home for a 44 date tour in 1974, opening for the likes of ELO, Santana, Golden Earring and Jethro Tull. They never came back.

Before hanging up the castanets, Carmen recorded 'The Gypsies', a late 70s offering, the Hispanic passion of its forebears retained, but with a more US rock sound. It stands up well against its Brit cousins.

Bonuses are the band's second single 'Flamenco Fever' and 'Only Talking', a tribute to bassist John Glascock , who died in 1979.

This last number is the bridge to 'Widescreen': recorded in the late 90s and a solo, instrumental album by David Allen, released here for the first time.

It's a pleasant enough outing, melding flamenco to techno jazz, and as much of its time as the band's material was 30 years previously. This then is for fans.

For the full Carmen effect, clear the furniture and put on 'Fandangoes In Space/Dancing On A Cold Wind' - both are reviewed here.


Review by Peter Muir

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© 2007 Angel Air Records. All rights reserved.

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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