One of 20JFG’s significant others has, as part of a project to learn Spanish, been listening to quite a lot of music from that country, with a particular focus on 1980s material.
In addition to generating intense waves of nostalgia in your humble scribe, this has helped resurface an avalanche of gems that, he thinks, might have somehow seeped into his subconscious when he was growing up, too small to have a taste, planting the seed of a penchant for sleazy synthesiser melodies, robotic drums, and super-heroic elf dance-floor swirling.
For how could a suggestible, flexible brain resist the allure of things like these?
We previously featured Mecano, the biggest Spanish pop band of the 1980s.
El Amante de Fuego, included in their 1983 album Dónde está el País de las Hadas, is a song about a woman who falls in love with/is possessed by the spirit of a fire victim. It is a weird banger bringing together Ana Torroja’s high-pitched operatic pixie vocals, a hypnotic synth melody and a metronomic beat grounded on some pretty cool binary bass action.
It also does that structurally paradoxical thing where the song keeps going up but ends up where it began. Someone call Douglas Hofstadter.
Mecano – El Amante De Fuego
Azul y Negro were the pioneers of Spanish techno pop. After their La Edad de los Colores debut, an informationally-dense example of new wave crossover with echoes of Joy Division, Kraftwerk and Roxy Music (and cotemporaneous with New Order, having come out in 1981), they released La Noche, and what a beast of a night La Noche is.
It is the perfect soundtrack for a perfect party, which happens to be the same thing as the soundtrack for the disco scenes in some hallucinated 1980s hit movie where everything is glamour, pastel, leather and flash, shot by Michael Mann after rediscovering his feminine side.
The Night, inside it, is a pure blueprint for everything that is brilliant about italo disco that I’m sure many of you have already heard it while having a sassy dance out, and thought it is some Italian Superradio gem. No, it’s Azul y Negro, from Cartagena via Madrid.
Azul y Negro – The Night
La Noche also features the anthemic Con Los Dedos de una Mano, which with added vocals/vocoder would become “No Tengo Tiempo (Con Los Dedos de Una Mano)”, the soundtrack for the Vuelta a España cycling competition in 1983.
Azul y Negro – No Tengo Tiempo (Con los Dedos de Una Mano) (Extended).
We conclude with Alaska, one of the coolest people in planet Earth.
Alaska was one of the stars of the Movida, the Spanish equivalent of New Wave/Punk which took place in the years after the advent of democracy (an intense time, as you might imagine).
[She was also a children’s TV presenter for a time, positively messing up the brains of a generation of Spanish children including your writer in la Bola de Cristal (a show that was eventually cancelled because of its subversive slogans against authority and capitalism).]
Her career comprises a never-ending stream of hits, including Kaka de Luxe, Alaska y Los Pegamoides, Alaska y Dinarama y Fangoria. Today we leave you with a song where she talks about wanting to be a box of washing powder in order to appear in TV, remixed to reach extreme apices of Hi NRG hysteria.
Alaska y Dinarama – Bote de Colón (Tecno Chochi Club Mix)
Alaska is still going strong. Find out more about her in the Fangoria website.