Category Archives: Spain

The Explosion

Babatunde Tony Ellis – lead guitar

Ronald Simmonds – bass/lead vocals

Danny Evans – drums

I would be interested to hear from anyone who can throw any further light on this obscure Jamaican band who cut two rare 45s in Spain in 1968-1969. Singer Carl Douglas was also a member but judging by the picture sleeve of their two releases and the credits, he only appears to have been on the second release.

Douglas told me that the rest of The Explosion comprised musicians from Argentina, Colombia, France, Spain and Morocco. I also understand that Ellis, Simmonds and Evans were originally in a band called The Links who were regulars at Count Suckle’s Cue Club in Praed Street, Paddington.

Copyright © Nick Warburton.  All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any from or by any means, without prior permission from the author.

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The New Group

The New Group, from left: José Company (Pancho), Ramón Morán and Santiago “Santi” Villaseñor
Santiago Villaseñor had been in Los Buitres, a fine Madrid group with one EP on Columbia.

According to the liner notes to a 1985 Spanish LP Historia de la musica pop española no. 32 on Alligator Records, Santiago reformed Los Buitres with the drummer Pancho from Los Comperos, but soon they dropped the name “Los Buitres” and had a working name of the “New Group”. The LP lists the band’s members as Santiago Villaseñor (lead guitar, harmonica and lead vocals), Rafael Rios (rhythm guitar), Dani Portilla (piano and vocals), Pancho (drums), plus an unknown bassist who was a friend of Dani.

They recorded two songs at Publivox studio (Estudio Publivox), both originals by Santiago and both sung in English. “Ella se come mi mente” (“She’s Eating My Mind”) has great freakbeat-style lead guitar, and you can’t beat that title.

“Aqui, ahora, entonces” (“Here, Now, Then” would be a literal translation) has a breezier sound, but a cool guitar figure and good harmonies. The excellent lyrics fit in with the time and point to a more appropriate title for the song: “Nothing ever matters much, no one has a care, all that you could ever want, is love right then and there”.

These songs went unreleased until 1985 when Historia de la musica pop española no. 32 included the New Group tracks along with the Los Buitres Columbia EP and two EPs released by Cefe y Los Gigantes.

The sound quality on the Alligator LP is OK for the time, but not as good as these songs deserve. For example, one channel drops out for a few seconds during “Aqui, ahora, entonces”. I see there are mp3 downloads that can be purchased on the ‘net. Maybe these have better sound quality, I haven’t checked.

The New Group at Publivox Studios: José Company (Pancho) at the drums, Santi on guitar and Ramón Morán on bass
The information the ’85 LP gives about the New Group is very different from what I heard from one of the members, Ramón Morán, who provided the following correction and the photos seen here:

I would like to make some comments to The New Group, because the information regarding the story of this band is not completely correct. Los Buitres were not related to The New Group, the only relationship was that Santi had been part of that band in the past. Some people who were not part of The New Group are mentioned and some others, who were part of it, are not.

I do not know the source of the information of the Historia de la Música Pop Española LP, but I do not know either Rafael Ríos or Dani Portilla and I can confirm that neither of them were part of New Group at that time. I [was part of the] New Group from its foundation until its disappearance. The only possibility that I can imagine is that some years later some former member refounded New Group and included these two people in the band. But it’s sure that none of them were part of the band during the recording of those two tracks.

Let me you explain the story. The band started in Madrid during the beginning of 1967, the founders being:

Santiago Martínez-Villaseñor (Santi), who was the main singer and the guitarist. He came from Los Buitres.
José R. Company (Pancho), drummer. He came from Los Camperos.
Ramón Morán, bass player. I came from Los Pinchos.

The band was only made up by the three of us but occasionally, some other musicians played with us and we also played with other singers in their shows.

July 1968 we recorded in the Publivox studios the songs “She´s Eating My Mind” and “Here, Now, Then”. This was made under the production and supervision of the American Christian York (“Gipsy”) and the British Paul Murphy.

Publivox was an independent studio that was hired by the producers for our recording. At that time, music companies in Spain only put their money in top artists and none of these companies was concerned about our group.

Apart from the three of us, a fourth member took part in this recording, as a guitarist and secondary singer. His name was Jorge Salvador, and he was from Cuba, but he left the band not too long after that.

The New Group with new drummer Jorge Matey (left), Ramón and Santi

In September 1968 Pancho left our band to take part in The Silver, whose drummer has left to join Los Pekenines, a star band in the Spanish pop music. Furthermore, the drummer who was leaving Los Pekenikes, named Jorge Matey, came to The New Group and took the vacancy Pancho has left in our band. So the three bands were still the same but with this rotation in the drummers.As of that moment, the music style of the band changed, when new musicians such as Eduardo Vecino, who was a brilliant guitarist and Pedro, a saxophonist, joined us. The band broke up in the spring of 1969, and Santi and me continued playing as base musicians with singers in their performances.

Ramón Morán

Special thanks to Borja for turning me on to these songs by giving me a copy of the Cefe y Los Gigantes / Los Buitres split LP.

Second stage of the New Group, from left: Jorge Matey, Ramón and Santi

Los Buitres

Five musicians from Madrid formed Los Buitres (The Vultures) in July 1964:

Enrique Martinez (Quique) – lead vocals
Juan (Jeannot) – lead guitar and vocals
Santiago Villaseñor – rhythm guitar, harmonica and vocals
Michel Minguez – bass guitar and vocals
Antonio Casado – drums

The band landed a contract with Columbia in November and cut four songs released in February of 1965. The EP included two fine original songs: the excellent “Sensacion” and more formulaic “Ritmo y movimiento”, but failed to sell. The band was disappointed with the sound of the EP, which they though lacked proper reverb, as well as the lack of promotion on Columbia’s part.

They lost their singer Quique to Los Continentales and for a time Santiago took over on lead vocals. By coincidence, they were soon able to recruit the former lead singer of Los Continentales, Boris (Salvador Benzo), who was born in Ceuta, the tip of North Africa across from Gibraltar. Calling themselves Boris y Los Buitres, they entered a band competition in León. They didn’t make the finals, but Boris was a sensation due to his shoulder-length hair. Boris soon went solo and the group broke up, members scattering to other bands.

At the end of 1968, Santiago Villaseñor formed a new version of Los Buitres with the drummer Pancho from Los Comperos, but, according to the liner notes to a 1985 Spanish LP Historia de la musica pop española no. 32 on Alligator Records soon they dropped the name “Los Buitres” and had a working name of the “New Group”. Bassist Ramón Morán provided many photos and a history of the group, so I have moved that part of this article to its own page.

Thanks to Bård for the transfers of “Sensacion” and “Ritmo y moviemiento” and for pointing me to for a scan of the EP cover. Special thanks to Borja for turning me on to these songs by giving me a copy of the Cefe y Los Gigantes / Los Buitres split LP. This article is based on the liner notes to that LP – if anyone has more information or corrections please contact me.

Pino Donaggio

Spanish sleeve

Pino Donaggio was a singing star from Burano, Italy. Starting out as a classical violinist, he began writing his own pop songs in the early ’60s. He often recorded his songs in Spanish as well as Italian versions, but “No tengo la culpa” has an upbeat production unlike anything else I’ve heard of his. I don’t know if the Italian version is as rocking as this one in Spanish. Orchestration was by Giulio Libano.

Los Salvajes did another one of his songs, “Se llama Maria” on the same EP that they cover Satisfaction and Wooly Bully, but it’s not a standout in their career.

In the early 70’s Donaggio started composing scores for films, first for Don’t Look Now and later working with Brian DePalma and Dario Argento.

Thanks to Borja for hipping me to this one, and for the sleeve scans.

Italian version

Los Arlequines

A band from Madrid, the Arlequines released only this one 45 in 1967.The a-side is “Tomando Cafe”, which seems to be an adaption of a traditional song by Maximo Baratas. It rides the line between rock and soul in that peculiar Spanish style.

Even better is the flip, the tense punker “No Hay Amor Para Mi” (“There Isn’t Love for Me”). The guitarist throws out fuzzed lines over a steady drum beat, while the organ player’s emergency siren-like pulsations fade in and out. The singer spits out lyrics in english that’s barely decipherable, while still managing to sound soulful. Plenty of attitude here, even the short bridge comes off drugged and ends abruptly.

As this was the b-side, it may be a band original; it was written by Juan Bona and Jose M. Panizo.

Info on the group is scant, but from what I can gather, their singer was Pepe Robles (José Robles Rodríguez). Pepe went on to join the established group Los Ángeles before forming Los Módulos, one of Spain’s most successful bands in the ’70s.

Pan & Regaliz

I bought this single when I was in Spain last month. Pan & Regaliz were part of a great scene of progressive psychedelic music in Barcelona around 1970.

On “Magic Colors” they float phased vocals and flute over a heavy beat as the guitar shifts from syncopated chords to full-on riffing during the chorus. The flip “A Song for Friends” is in the tradition of vaudeville, certainly the very worst choice of genre for any band to revive, so I won’t feature it here.

The band started in the Gracia district of Barcelona as Els Mussols (Muchuelos) in 1967, a teenage Catalan folk group who were part of the local “Nova Canço” movement. In 1969 they changed musical direction, renaming themselves Agua de Regaliz (translates as Licorice Water), which comes from a series of childrens’ books by Richmal Crompton about a boy named William.

At the start of 1970, they recorded for Angel Fabregas’ company Als 4 Vents, under its Diabolo imprint. Their first single was “Waiting in the Munster’s Garden” / “When You Are So Bringdown”. I’d say their sound at this point is reminiscent of early Jethro Tull.

By the start of 1971 Als 4 Vents was having legal and financial problems with its distributor, Movieplay, causing the band to jump ship and sign with the Dimension subsidiary of the Ekipo label of Barcelona. The group wanted to rename the band Pan, but added Regaliz so people would recognize their former incarnation as Agua de Regaliz.

The band at this point consisted of Guillen Paris on vocals, flute and harp; Alfons ‘Muiti’ Bou guitar; Artur Domingo bass and Pedro Van Eeckout on drums and percussion.

As Pan & Regaliz, they released their next singles “Dead of Love” / “Thinking of Mary”, followed by “Magic Colours” / “A Song for the Friends”.

In May of ’71 they went into Miguel Casas’ Gema studio in Barcelona to record a few more songs for their LP, and on May 22nd they played a major outdoor music festival in Granollers. However, soon after their album’s release Pedro Van Eeckout left to join a jazz-rock group, Jarka, with keyboardist Jordi Sabates. Arturo Domingo went into the final line-up of the German-Spanish group Evolution, who had also cut some excellent psychedelia on the Dimension label.

Guillem Paris remade the group with former Agua de Regaliz drummer Arturo “La Paca Ferocisima,” then recorded a solo album that was rejected by his label for being too uncommercial.

For some reason I’ve only ever heard Magic Colors in mono, while all their other work appears in stereo on reissues. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

Sources include: La Caja de Musica

Los Soñadores

Los Soñadores (the Dreamers) were from, I believe, Seville. Their first 45 has an excellent original “Sin saber por que” and a song I haven’t heard, “Judy con disfraz”. If I can find a copy I’ll post it.

José Luis Garrido wrote both songs on their 45, including “Vete,” a short, upbeat number with elements of Knock on Wood and Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag. The a-side is a pop ballad “Lo sé por mi.” This is one of the discs I found in Valencia with the help of Borja.

After Los Sońadores, José formed a group called Flamenco, opened recording studios and worked as musical producer on films.