Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Leño "Leño" 1979 Spain Hard Rock


Leño  "Leño" 1979 Spain Hard Rock 
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https://rougerthanatos.bandcamp.com/album/le-o-le-o

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https://open.spotify.com/album/0mHI2ldIP9spGGPe9Ga2Ua



It seems incredible that after almost forty reviews of albums recovered from punk, metal, heavy and state rock, no one had yet marched on Fridays, those who are considered the fathers of a way of understanding Spanish rock and roll : Leño. After releasing an EP of two songs in May 1978 ( ‘Este Madrid / Aprendiendo a escuchar ’), almost a year later and with many concerts already in the bag, Leño appears , a forty-minute disc that is something like that like the bible of the genre. A manual of instructions that will revisit all the later groups: The Soft ones, Barricada, Extremoduro, Tide, etc. without end … Something that recognizes until the punctilious José Carlos Molina of Ñu … 

… to which we must thank him for always in addition to his songs, which we will also talk about on a Friday here, that will provoke the departure of Rosendo Mercado from his training after an irrevocable discussion. In fact, the disagreement continues more than thirty years later. (And that it is difficult to imagine Rosendo angry with someone …). 

Molina has always been a sullen guy and very critical in his words with everything (even with his own sound in a concert, I give faith), an honesty of thought taken to the extreme. While everyone reveres the influence of Leño, he stands out saying that “at a musical level they opened the door to the musical mediocrity of 'anything goes and anybody in the neighborhood can sing’. Thanks to that they have forged groups that are a copy of Leño: (eye to the sites that quotes) Navarre, Extremadura, Galicia … who saw a reef in the 'raca raca’ ” ( State Rock, No. 13 ). He concludes by saying that without Leño the music of this country would have been more interesting … 

Beyond the unpopular of the event, he is right that Leño encouraged thousands of kids of the time to pick up a guitar (is that bad?) And that his influence is undeniable and non-negotiable. 

His 1979 record was recorded in seventy hours with Rosendo Mercado as guitar and voice, Ramiro Penas on drums, percussion and chorus and Chiqui Mariscal, who left Leño once recorded the album, bass and choirs. He replaced it (also in a track on the album, 'The Train’) Tony Urbano , who joined the trio until his break in '83. The harmonica and the keyboards of the record were recorded (yes, the former president of Sgae) Teddy Bautista (who also destroyed the production of the second album, by the way). 

Unlike the rest of the albums in which the majority of the songs become small rocket piles of two or three minutes, Leño is an album primarily musical, full of rythm and blues, elaborate developments, with songs that stretch without complex . 

Open with a subject of more than ten minutes as 'Punishment’ is a letter of introduction and statement of intent. A psychedelic opening gives entrance to a slow Rosendo solo, a line of dark and dark bass awaits with expectation, until the rhythm begins to grow powerfully with a drums and bass reminiscent of the early days of Triana . He just keeps growing from the third minute until a hard rock break in the fifth minute gives voice to Rosendo. A voice that will become a symbol and that concentrates in just one minute. From there, the improvisation returns, the guitars bent and the entrance of almost epic keyboards. A huge piece of history in ten minutes essential and exhausted . 

The record has grabbed you by the lapels and has shaken you, so you just have to keep discovering. And they continue with the vacillation of the seventh cavalry that serves as an intro for the trotona 'El Oportunista’ . An accelerated blues exercise that represents Rosendo’s rugged vocal beauty, which boldly ends each phrasing. A new break for battery and bass show off another greatness. 

'El Tren’ is the third theme and is another contribution by José Carlos Molina to Leño, because the intro, whose riff is constantly repeated, is his. A sort of zeppelism and an ode to LSD, all very much of the time. It has become a myth and perhaps it is the most well-known song on the album along with 'Este Madrid’ , which after a powerful instrumental introduction of two minutes, gives way to the rosendiano derision that will populate his discography forever. The singing of Rosendo in the refrain, much more torn, almost with shots that sound wrong, increase the suffocating sensation of a decadent city. 

'La Nana’ is the other great composition of the album. An instrumental theme (another blow to commerciality, like 'Punishment’) of eight minutes of psychedelia. If 'The Train’ is a song to the drugs in the lyrics, 'La Nana’ is in the music, an acid hymn with disturbing choruses and keyboards. Only in the last two minutes the rhythm accelerates for another improvisation full of blues and black melodies. A trip to another world. 

The trotón rhythm is recovered with 'Sodoma y Chabola’ , with lyrics by María Fernanda de Andrés (who would also write 'Cucarachas’ on the album Más Madera). A cryptic song that serves as an excuse for another brand development of the house as the instrumental input once again occupies half of the song in which highlights the versatility of the battery. To conclude, 'Se Acabó’ , another surprise punch to the ears with an instrumental acoustic !, almost precious and medieval, composed by Rosendo and that reminds a lot of the melodic sonority of Ñu. (The punch would be for another then …?). 
In short, one of the ten most important records in the history of rock in Spanish…..~




Talking about Rock and Roll in Spain can be considered today something normal, even routine. Overcoming certain prejudices (for years now) about the “dangerousness” of rockers, nowadays, few people identify Rock with crime or subversion. A faithful reflection, this, on the other hand, of the decline of gender as a catalyst of rebellion, nonconformity. But there was a time, and not too far yet, that riding a rock band was a sign of going against the established order. To navigate against the wind and to challenge an authority that viewed with bad eyes any cultural manifestation that involved breaking with social stereotypes strongly rooted in a large part of the population. 

At the end of the 70’s in Spain, winds of change were blowing. But this change was not going to be achieved overnight. And it was not going to get easily. In 1978, in any city in Spain, many young people formed rock bands as they could, based on instruments of very poor quality, with very few means, but plenty of enthusiasm. They challenged the conventions of a society like Spain, which was torn between an old guard who refused to evolve and a youth who, tired of knocking on doors that never opened, was increasingly willing to tear them down. And in many cases, it was decided to try to knock them down to guitar. 

Armed with their instruments, their hair, their discontent with the environment and with - besides illusion - a lot of talent, Leño recorded their debut album, which today is rightly considered a classic of Rock made in Spain. The band - at that time formed by Rosendo Mercado, singer and guitarist; Chiqui Mariscal, bass player; and Ramiro Penas, drummer- got into the recording studio under the legendary label Chapa Discos, recording his first album with Teddy Bautista, acting as producer, keyboardist and harmonica player. 

What we heard on the album is something we have rarely heard in Spanish Rock. I’m not saying that there was no one like them before or after, but really, Leño were among the few bands that in this country knew how to understand the format and philosophy of the so-called power trio, so in vogue in the 70’s in Great Britain and the United States. United. Thus, the album shows all the influences of Rosendo, Chiqui and Ramiro, and it is easy to recognize Black Sabbath, Grand Funk, the first Motorhead and even Taste, idolized by an almost sickly Rosendo fan of Rory Gallagher. 

The album opens with the long song Castigo , which at times seems a jam more than a song itself, and continues with the caústica (eye to the lyrics) El Oportunista , Hard Rockero bullet unappealable. It closes the legendary El Tren , composed by Rosendo with José Carlos Molina, and that could be said to be the band’s reference song. Brilliant metaphor of the underworld of drugs. Machacona and heavy, at times it seems as if the spirit of T.Iommi had seized Rosendo. 

The B side of the vinyl opens with another super classic like Este Madrid . The dark side of a city that, of course, did not like Leño. And so they expressed it. La Nana is possibly, in my modest opinion, a subject that has aged somewhat badly, especially its long intro. It is fair to admit that the second half of the song is brilliant and the group rocks hard. And it gives way to Sodom and Chabola , with another brilliant lyrics and with the band sounding wild at times. The closing comes with Se finished , a soft and brief instrumental, with Rosendo on the Spanish guitar that puts a great gold pin to the record. 

There are seven themes. Only seven. But what seven! Contrary to what is sometimes thought of Leño, they were not coarse and limited musicians. And who knows this album will agree that Rosendo is shown as a very bright guitarist and lyricist. And the rhythm section with Chiqui Mariscal and Ramiro Penas fulfills more than enough. Ramiro Penas, specifically was an excellent drummer and I think he never got the recognition he deserved. To say that Chiqui Mariscal left the group when the record was not yet finished, and Tony Urbano is the one who plays the bass in the song El Tren. The cover would reflect this change, since in it Rosendo and Ramiro are seen sitting at a table, Chiqui is leaving and we see how Tony Urbando is coming, On the back cover we see Rosendo, Ramiro and Tony sitting together and the silhouette of Chiqui , alluding to his abandonment. 

I think it is worth noting also the work as a producer and supporting musician of today very reviled Teddy Bautista. Leaving aside what everyone thinks about him today, on an artistic level his resume is more than worthy and his work on this album is, of course, worthy of mention. 
An album that in my opinion, is essential and that continues to sound, thirty-seven years after its publication, powerful as few. If you are fans, I invite you to listen to it again. And if you do not know it, I suggest you discover it. I am convinced that it will be a very pleasant surprise for many…..~




Credits 

Drums, Percussion – Ramiro Penas  
Technician [Tecnico de Sonido] – Luis Calleja 
Vocals, Bass – Chiqui* 
Vocals, Guitar [Guitarras] – Rosendo







Tracklist 
A1 Castigo
A2 El Oportunista
A3 El Tren
B1 Este Madrid
B2 La Nana
B3 Sodoma Y Chabola
B4 Se Acabo!!! (Instrumental) 

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