Camarón de la Isla

Legends of Flamenco Series

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AllMusic Review by

Jose Monge, known as Camaron de la Isla (the Shrimp of the Island), had a natural gift. He could make his voice sound stressed and distressed without shredding his vocal cords. This talent gave him the physical basis for singing the heartbreak and outrage that is flamenco. This voice is, of course, the first thing you notice on this disc. The second thing is the poor recording. It's strange, because the performances don't sound amateurish, but the sound does. The liner notes contain no information about the session, except that it dates from 1971, but the explanation is probably that the recording was made at a "juerga," or jam session that was recorded with a cheap tape recorder. These sessions are greatly prized for their spontaneity, rather like a bootleg of a Grateful Dead concert. Other than the singing, one cannot help but notice the fabulous guitar work of Antonio Arena, which is fast and furious on "Los Siete Sabios de Grecia" and cool and furious on the solo guitar piece "Granainas." The album's one drawback (other than the sound) is that it is only 32 minutes long. Still, it is an amazing document.

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