Raimundo Amador

Un Okupa en Tu Corazón

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If Carlos Santana was a gypsy guitarist from Sevilla, Spain, he would probably be Raimundo Amador. Amador is a historic figure who occasionally recorded behind flamenco icon/innovator El Camarón de la Isla and pioneered a blues/rock & roll/flamenco blend in the early '80s with Pata Negra, and his solo career includes a guest shot from B.B. King on a late-'90s live album. He's a rock fusioneer coming from a Spanish base -- the downside to that is that his music can suffer from mid-'80s AOR guitar hero-itis. But not on Un Okupa en Tu Corazón; the dozen compact, well-crafted songs here suggest Amador wanted to make a solid studio recording -- and he did. The opening "Caminito" makes the Santana connection explicit with searing fills before a Latin rock breakdown kicks in hard behind Amador's solo. The title track is a near ballad with fills that again visit Mr. Santana's neighborhood before slipping into a very relaxed clave groove. "De Qué Vas" takes the Latin tip over a harder rock bridge with savvy horn and organ fills and a burning guitar solo, while the acoustic "Es Normal" throws in a surprising harmonica before a final wah-wah breakout. Amador only had a hand in writing half the songs, but it's a very varied lot here. "Enciendo un Pitillo" and "A Mi Primo Tomate," the latter with flamenco star Tomatito on guitar, take care of the puro flamenco quotient. "Veneno, Qué Bueno!" humorously salutes Japanese flamenco fanatics in Sevilla in hard-rocking style, while the largely acoustic "Qué Maravilla!" has a lilting jazz/blues flavor and prominent horn section. "Me Voy a las 3000" jump-shifts to an acid jazzy flavor with rap vocals, a guest shot from young female rapper La Mala Rodríguez, and a full horn section. What could easily be a messy pastiche actually holds together pretty well. Most songs have some kind of blues tinge (usually in Amador's guitar) but they're all well-crafted, the full arrangements stay this side of overblown, and Amador's appealingly rough voice delivers them well. Un Okupa en Tu Corazón is a very good introduction to a Spanish rocker who you can easily imagine recording with, or opening a tour for, Santana. Who knows, maybe they already have.

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