When Viva Espana came out in 1992, nuevo flamenco had been going strong for over 20 years -- and it continued to sound fresh and cutting-edge. Nuevo flamenco also remained controversial; the risk-taking spirit that draws younger listeners to the music (which can fuse flamenco with everything from pop and rock to salsa, depending on the artist) is the very thing that flamenco purists hate about it. In a nutshell, nuevo flamenco is to flamenco what Astor Piazzolla's music is to tango, Bob Dylan's electric folk-rock was to traditional folk and jazz-fusion is to jazz -- an innovation that provokes very strong feelings of either adoration or animosity, depending on one's biases. Because of its emphasis on nuevo flamenco, this compilation won't appeal to purists. But more broad-minded listeners will greatly appreciate selections by Rumbalea, Jaleo, Hippolyte Baliardo and other Spanish groups. The music on this CD doesn't treat flamenco like a museum piece -- it expands and broadens it and looks to the future, much as Piazzolla did with tango and Miles Davis did with jazz when he went electric. Quite a few nuevo flamenco collections came out in the 1990s, and listeners can rest assured that Viva Espana is among those that are worth obtaining.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson