Tribe of Gypsies

Tribe of Gypsies

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An anthemic combination of Latin and instrumental hard rock, Tribe of Gypsies is an explosion of guitars, drums, and well-timed hooks. This debut from the Los Angeles outfit of the same name is extremely rare in its pure musical accomplishment and thematic depth and clarity. Each track serves a specific and dynamic purpose, as producer/guitarist Roy Z leads his bandmates (vocalist Dean Ortega, drummer Dave Ingraham, percussionist Mario Aguilar, and bassist Edward Casillas) through 13 tracks of rock that's progressive in its pure dynamism, but transcends the emotional vacuum of most eclectic varieties of progressive or "world" rock. Choice selections include the live favorite "Party (Ed's Thumb)," the epic "We All Bleed Red," and the opener, "En Mi Barrio," a fine Abraxas-era Santana sendup that features Z's fluent homage to the Latin king of the solid-body guitar. After a few songs, Z leaves the syncopated stabs at improvised melodicism behind and goes for pure speed. Perhaps the guitarist was just leaning on all his old metal tricks, but when offset against the hard-edged pockets driven by Aguilar's timbales and Ingraham's fine rhythmic groundwork, the musical experiment works. With Z's towering guitars swelling up inside every bar of music on Tribe of Gypsies, it would have been easy for Ortega to take cover and never step out, but the singer rides the many instrumental crescendos, tossing in a few nice licks of his own. An eye-opening affair, Tribe of Gypsies is one of the strongest rock debuts of the mid-'90s.

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