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'The Very Best Of Gipsy Kings' is a collection of hits from the successful pop-flamenco crossover act. The band are one of the biggest Spanish acts of all time, and their combination of traditional Spanish folk and pop has won them favour with a world-wide audience. Includes the international hit single 'Bamboleo'.
This eponymously-titled U.S. debut introduced the world to the Gipsy Kings' unique, pop-inflected take on native Spanish music, in the process bringing the band international popularity. Though the group's members aren't technically "gipsies" (they acquired the name during their early days of travelling, gigging, and playing in the streets of Southern France), their music draws heavily from gipsy and flamenco traditions in content and style. However the Gipsy Kings regional roots are only the first ingredient in their special brand of World Fusion; elements of Latin American, Middle Eastern and North African music are also in evidence. On this, arguably the finest of the group's efforts, the calibre of the musicianship is striking. Rhythmically athletic acoustic guitars, passionate singing, and stirring, syncopated handclaps coalesce to create a fresh, romantic, and eminently danceable sound. Modulations of mood abound, from joyous, percussive romps ("Bem, Bem, Maria") through more sedate tunes evocative of intimate Spanish cafes ("Quiero Saber"), to plaintive melodies embellished with gorgeous flamenco motifs, such as "Tu Quieres Volver". Also included are two of the band's biggest hits, "Djobi Djoba" and the endlessly infectious "Bamboleo". GIPSY KINGS is an excellent place to start exploring this inventive, wonderfully accessible music.
The Gipsy Kings'work has made them one of the top-selling pop-flamenco ensembles in the world. But this band of brothers and their cousins didn't start off that way. The group was created when an offshoot of the family ensemble Los Reyes joined with three cousins from the Bailardo family. Together, these relatives from the South of France were wandering minstrels, speaking primarily the Gitane gypsy dialect. They began adding influences from North Africa and South America, and suddenly found themselves on music charts all across Europe. Thanks to strong albums and hit songs like their 1987 single "Bamboleo" -- which got fresh exposure in an ad campaign for Burger King last year -- the group has also become the biggest-selling French ensemble in the United States. "The rhumba and flamenco is something they learned themselves," says manager Pascal Imbert. "It's like coming from Africa, they then went to Cuba and came back through Spain, and they saw the girls dance the rhumba. They said, 'This is good music.' And then the Kings developed that style and added more rock elements by bringing drums, bass and keyboard." The band comprises lead singer Nicolas Reyes, the son of famed flamenco singer Josť Reyes; singers and guitarists Canut, Pablo and Patchai Reyes; and Diego, Paco and Tonino Bailardo. As the band's work developed, its music has evolved into what Imbert calls a kind of a rhumba-flamenco. They use their own unique language, as well -- a combination of Catalan Spanish, a French patois, and the gypsy dialect of southwest France. Drawn from a 9-album discography that has proven one of the most durable artist catalogs in the genre, this new compilation expands on their single-disk "Best of" from 1995 adding newer material along with a richer harvest of earlier tunes.
Blending French, Spanish and North American influences, the Gipsy Kingscontinue to create music that can truly be called universal. Now this chart-topping world music group follows up 1.5 million unit in hits compilation sales with Somos Gitanos--their first new studio recording since 1997's Compas. The Kings merge the sounds of traditional flamenco with Middle Eastern modalities and Latin rhythms on such tracks as "Poquito A Poco," "Majiwi" and the energized title track. Elsewhere on Somos Gitanos, lead guitarist Tonino Baliardodisplays his extraordinary technique on the instrumental "Flamenco Aire" and the sun-dappled "Felices Dias". Somos Gitanosis the long-awaited new effort from a band that has created one of the longest-running success stories in adult music of any kind.
After ten years of playing in the streets, at weddings, and in restaurants, the Gipsy Kings were swept away in a feast of commercial and critical success in the late '80s. By the late '90s, they had sold over 15 million albums worldwide and become one of the best-selling all-Spanish language acts in U.S. history. Their Greatest Hits collection, released in 1998, aptly reflects the time-perfected technique and soulful delivery that allowed them to transcend ethnic and age differences as few bands have. The introductory sequence of songs simply explodes out of the blocks. If consecutive hip-shakers "Djobi, Djoba," "Baila Me," "Bamboleo," "Pida Me La," "Bem, Bem, Maria," and "Volare" don't have you at least tapping your feet, someone ought to take your pulse. The tempo relaxes modestly in the middle section, with slower but equally moving love songs such as "Tu Quieres Volver" and "Mi Manera." The album finishes with a fluid medley of their most popular material. Wisely, seven of the album's 18 tracks were taken from the Gipsy Kings' 1988 self-titled debut, including "Bamboleo," "Djobi, Djoba," and "Moorea." However, it isn't easy to date their music, as most of it was written long before they had recorded in the studio. "Dona" and "Amor" are on a number of their earlier recordings, in addition to appearing on this compilation. Their seven-guitar version of the Migliacci Brothers' classic "Volare," a necessary addition for any greatest hits package, injects vigor and vitality into a song with dour lounge act connotations. If any fault is to be found with this collection, it might be the underrepresentation of the Love & Liberte album. But another, more complete double-CD greatest hits compilation (The Very Best of the Gipsy Kings) does exist for hardcore fans. This Greatest Hits album, accessible from start to finish, serves as an excellent introduction for just about any kind of music lover. ~ Kieran McCarthy
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