Various Artists

Café Madrid [Metro]

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Café Madrid forgoes the pop-oriented big band flamenco played by groups like the Gipsy Kings and focuses on the passionate single-singer, single-guitar style. The album's fiery and dead-on guitar playing combines well with the vocalists' passionate and unrestrained performances. Singers La Perla De Cádiz and Pepe Marchena are both fascinating as their voices buckle under a heavy weight of emotion but are strong enough to just hold on. Café Madrid offers many more heated and uninhibited performances, including Paco De Lucía's reflective solo guitar opener, which rounds out the collection well. Unlike De Lucía, most of the artist's have discographies of limited availability, and Metro's advertised "track by track," commentary is actually only a list of credits. The included essay on the "real" Café Madrid is entertaining enough, but it won't help those hooked on the collection's excellent choices and wishing to explore the music further.

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