Veneno: A Treasure From the '70s Andalusian Underground Unearthed
It's said that only a thousand people bought the Velvet Underground's debut album when it was first released in 1967 -- but every one of them started a band.
Veneno may be the Andalusian Velvet Underground, at least in that regard. Coming a decade later, Veneno's lone album didn't bear much musical relation to the VU, but it marked a similar place in the history of Spanish rock, a revolutionary, raw and progressive take on flamenco traditions that barely made a blip on the pop radar but could well be seen as a wellspring of a new era. Not least of that was that as the Velvet Underground led to the higher-profile solo careers of Lou Reed and John Cale, Veneno begat the teaming of brothers Raimundo and Rafael Amador as the iconic nuevo flamenco duo Pata Negra, as well as a solid solo career from leader and eponym Kiko Veneno.
Now there's another chance to embrace this bracing music. 'Veneno' is being reissued by the Spanish label Vinilisssimo. And in a nice bit of symmetry, it's a limited edition of a thousand high-grade vinyl copies, available in the US via Forced Exposure. It's part of a Spanish rock reissue series that also includes another flamenco-prog classic of the era, 'Gipsy Rock,' the debut by the group Las Grecas, fronted by sisters Carmela and Tina Muñoz Barrull -- which did have a greater commercial impact.
For a taste of Veneno's distinct approach, you can hear an excerpt of the song 'La Muchachita' here and one of 'San Jose de Arimatea' here. These only give a hint, though, of the wonders of this music, extended trips blending new and old sounds with a vivid sense of both emotion and economy, groundbreaking from start to finish. The 'Veneno' material embraces the flamenco's flourishes