Carmen

Carmen was an English-American flamenco-rock band, formed in Los Angeles by guitarist–keyboardist David Allen. They relocated to London and released the 1973–74 albums Fandangos in Space and Dancing on a Cold Wind on Regal Zonophone. After opening the 1975 US Jethro Tull tour, Carmen recorded The Gypsies for Mercury.

Members: David Allen (vocals, guitar, piano, Mellotron, synthesizer), Angela Allen (vocals, piano, Mellotron, synthesizer), Dennis Trerotola (vocals, 1970-71), Marc Anthony (guitar, 1970-72), Brian Glascock (drums, 1970-73), Adam Moody (guitar, 1970-71), Mark Moody (bass, 1970-71), Vicente (1970-71), Rick Chavez (guitar, 1971-72), Nigel Griggs (bass, 1971-72), Roberto Amaral (vocals, vibraphone, chimes, castanets, percussion, 1971-75), John Glascock (bass, vocals, synthesizer, 1972-75), Paul Fenton (drums, percussion, vocals, 1973-75), Mary Hopkin (vocals, 1974), Chris Karan (percussion, 1974), David Katz (violin, 1974)


Background

Carmen formed in Los Angeles, where teenage music veteran David Allen conceived a flamenco-rock act with his younger sister, Angela.

Their parents, Clark Allen (1925–2008) and Margarita Cordova (b. 193?), owned and operated the El Cid flamenco club at 4212 Sunset Blvd in East Hollywood. Clark was an accomplished flamenco guitarist and modernist painter who exhibited locally and sold multiple works to actor Vincent Price. Margarita was a flamenco dancer and actress who appears in 1960 episodes of The Twilight Zone (“A Thing About Machines”) and Peter Gunn (“Cry Love, Cry Murder”) and plays a dancer in the 1961 Western film One-Eyed Jacks, starring Marlon Brando.


Earlier Bands

Dave Allen got his showbiz start at age four as a member of his parent’s nightclub act, Sabicas. At thirteen, he formed the Offbeats, a Beatles-inspired band with bassist Dennis Trerotola, guitarist Paul Dobies, and drummer Ricky Cameron. They performed three songs on the September 1, 1965, broadcast of the ABC music program Shindig. After the 1966 Tower single “Mary” (b/w “You Tell Me”), Angela joined and they became Somebody’s Chyldren, which released one single on Uptown Records (“Shadows”) and two on Dagonet as The Chyldren (“This Sporting Life,” “Cut Your Lawn”).

The Chyldren’s producer, Dave Mallet, linked the teenage band with pre-code film siren Mae West (1893–1980). They provide backing on her 1966 rock album Way Out West, which contains covers of The Beatles (“Day Tripper”), the Isley Brothers (“Twist and Shout”), and Johnny Kid & The Pirates (“Shakin’ All Over”).

Allen then formed The Mariane, a psychedelic rock band with Trerotola, Cameron, and vocalist Samra. They recorded multiple sides, including the 1968 single “Like a See Saw” (b/w “You Had Better Change Your Evil Ways”) on EMI Columbia. After two years, Allen and Trerotola formed the spinoff duo Brave Butter, which cut the 1970 single “Calendar” (b/w “The Sound of It”) on Happy Tiger Records.


Carmen Forms

As Allen talent-searched for his flamenco-rock concept, his visited the Viper Room on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, where patrons linked him with bassist Mark Moody and English drummer Brian Glascock, a recent transplant who played in a sequence of Gods precursors (The Juniors, The Hi Numbers, The Favorite Sons) with his bassist brother John. The Glascocks recently played on the second album by blues rockers Toe Fat.

The next arrival was flamenco dancer Roberto Amaral, the son of composer Nestor Amaral, the onetime musical director for Brazilian showbiz legend Carmen Miranda. Roberto started flamenco at age fifteen and danced professionally at El Cid between stints in Madrid, where Margarita contacted him about her son’s band. He flew back in December 1971 and joined the Allen siblings.

Moody cleared for English bassist Nigel Griggs, the onetime Octopus member who recently played in an abortive lineup of Khan. After Green’s short tenure (he later surfaced in Split Enz), Brian summoned John Glascock, who departed Chicken Shack to join Carmen, which secured management in Byron Griffith, the representative of actress Donna Douglas (The Beverly Hillbillies) and the nephew of silent film director D.W. Griffith.

Allen spent his college reserve fund on Carmen’s relocation to England. However, Brian Glascock opted to remain in LA (where he later surfaced in The Motels). In London, Allen went to a Kensington Market snakeskin apparel shop, where staff informed him of drummer Paul Fenton, a recent touring member of pop-rockers Christie. Upon his return from a South American tour, Fenton joined Carmen just weeks before their first sessions.

Carmen signed with Regal Zonophone and enlisted producer Tony Visconti, a soundman for David Bowie and T. Rex. Bowie booked them for the 1980 Floor Show, a three-night event (October 18–20, 1973) at London’s Marquee Club with sets by Marianne Faithfull and The Troggs. In November, the NBC music program The Midnight Special aired 39 minutes of the event, including the Carmen number “Bulerias.”


Fandangos in Space

Carmen released their debut album, Fandangos in Space, in November 1973 on Regal Zonophone. 46:45

1. “Bulerias” 5:24
    a) “Cante”
    b) “Baile”
    c) “Reprise””
2. “Bullfight” (Roberto Amaral) 4:28
3. “Stepping Stone” (Roberto Amaral) 2:52
4. “Sailor Song” 5:13
5. “Lonely House” 4:07

6. “Por Tarantos” (Trad. arr. by David Clark Allen) 1:44
7. “Looking Outside (My Window)” 7:20
    a) “Theme”
    b) “Zorongo”
    c) “Finale”” (David Allen, Roberto Amaral)
8. “Tales of Spain” 5:17
9. “Retirando” (2:14) group-written
10. “Fandangos in Space” (Roberto Amaral) 4:33
11. “Reprise Finale” 3:00

Recorded John Kongo’s Studios, Air Studios and EMI Studios

David Clark Allen – lead vocals, electric guitar, flamenco guitar
Roberto Amaral – lead and backing vocals, vibraphone, castanets
Angela Allen – lead and backing vocals, synthesizer, Mellotron
John Glascock – backing vocals, bass guitar, bass pedals
Paul Fenton – drums, percussion

Additional Personnel
Tony Visconti – producer, engineer
John Kongos – engineer
Alan Harris – engineer
John Kurlander – engineer
Peter Mew – engineer
Peter Howe – photography

In September 1974, Fandangos in Space appeared in the US on Dunhill with new cover art. Carmen supported the album on opening dates with Blue Oyster Cult, Santana, and Electric Light Orchestra.


Dancing on a Cold Wind

Carmen released their second album, Dancing on a Cold Wind, in 1974 on Regal Zonophone. 49:04

1. “Viva Mi Sevilla” 6:03
2. “I’ve Been Crying” (David Allen) 5:08
3. “Drifting Along” (Roberto Amaral) 3:19
4. “She Flew Across the Room” (David Allen) 3:57
5. “Purple Flowers” (Roberto Amaral, John Glascock) 6:47

Remembrances (Recuerdos de Espana)
1. “Table Two For One (Zambra)” 2:15
2. “She’s Changed” 2:57
3. “Gypsy Girl (Caravan)” 3:15
4. “The City” 1:36
5. “Time (She’s No Lady)” 1:24
6. “People Dressed in Black” 4:05
7. “Dancing on a Cold Wind” 2:11
8. “The Horseman” 4:01
9. “Conclusion (She Changed)” 1:54

David Allen – vocals, electric guitar, flamenco guitar
Angela Allen – vocals, synthesizer, Mellotron
Roberto Amaral – vocals, vibraphone, castanets
John Glascock – vocals, bass guitar
David Katz – violin
Paul Fenton – drums, percussion

Mary Hopkin – backing vocals
Chris Karan – additional percussion
Tony Visconti – woodwind and string arrangements
Danny Thompson – double bass

House of Wizzard artist Ken Hilton designed the cover in a spoof of the Gitanes cigarette logo.

In January 1975, Carmen supported Jethro Tull on their 13-week North America tour behind War Child. After the final date in Boston, Carmen decamped to Long View Farm in North Brookfield, Massachusetts, to record the next album.


The Gypsies

Carmen released their third album, The Gypsies, in 1975 on Mercury.

1. “Daybreak” (5:10)
2. “Shady Lady” (4:02)
3. “High Time” (3:21)
4. “Dedicated to Lydia” (2:52)
5. “Joy” (3:47)

6. “The Gypsies” (7:32)
7. “Siren of the Sea” (3:53)
8. “Come Back” (3:52)
9. “Margarita” (3:15)

Recorded At – Long View Farm Studios

Arranged By – Carmen
Art Direction – Jim Schubert
Bass Guitar, Synthesizer, Vocals – John Glascock
Design [Cover Design] – Joe Kotleba
Drums, Percussion, Vocals – Paul Fenton
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Mellotron, Synthesizer, Vocals – David Allen
Liner Notes – Brian Longley
Performer [Footwork], Vibraphone [Vibes], Chimes, Castanets, Percussion, Vocals – Roberto Amaral
Photography By – Dennis Scott
Piano, Synthesizer, Mellotron, Vocals – Angela Allen
Producer – Steve Elson
Producer [Assistant] – David Allen
Producer [Assistant], Engineer [Mix And Re-mix] – Gil Markle


Discography:

  • Fandangos in Space (1973)
  • Dancing on a Cold Wind (1975)
  • The Gypsies (1975)

Sources:

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