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Soleras S/T Solera
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Recorded in 1973, Solera's debut was a Spanish interpretation of the US West Coast sound and late-period Beatles. The four band members were responsible for the wonderful songs and lyrics, and the album was brilliantly produced by Rafael Trabucchelli.

A landmark in 1970s Spanish music, the birth of Solera can be explained looking at the career of its four members. The most experienced of them, José Antonio Martín (Málaga, 1943), had already toured Europe aged 14 along with his city's choir and dance group. By then, both he and his brother Manuel (Málaga, 1947) had become infatuated with the sounds of young America, but their presence in several 60s bands only left a trace of two records for RCA with Los Gansos.

Rodrigo García (Sevilla, 1943) came back from Bogotá in 1969. He had lived the previous few years as a star fronting the Colombian band Los Speakers. Thanks to that background he soon was busy in Madrid, featuring briefly in Los Pekenikes and getting a regular gig in charge of the Vox organ in Juan Pardo's band. José y Manuel enrolled him for their first LP as a duo, the amazing "Génesis" (Hispavox, 1971). But everything would change with the second LP, "Pronto amanecerá", when bassist José María Guzmán (Madrid, 1952) joined the band, who despite his young age had been performing on stage for five years, first with the "Rey del Silbido" ("King of the Whistle"), Curro Savoy, and later with Los Diamantes and Micky.

In the periods between recordings and rehearsals, the two brothers discover the McCartney-esque talent of Guzmán and Rodrigo's Dylan phrasing, and start to wonder how they would fit in with the increasingly folkie atmosphere of their compositions. When Hispavox offers to support their forthcoming release with a proper promotional campaign, they already know they want to record as a four-piece.

As a whole, "Solera" appears today as the most accomplished piece of its authors' saga, only comparable to "Señora azul" (Hispavox, 1974) by Cánovas, Rodrigo, Adolfo y Guzmán (CRAG). The brothers' vocal harmonies reach great heights and provide a deliciously sunshine counterpoint to the ochre-coloured sound of their colleagues. Rodrigo writes a major classic, 'Linda prima', and generally exhibits his maturity as a songwriter. But Guzman's talent also shines on "Solera", and it's likely he's ultimately responsible for the chamber pop character that permeates the record, specifically the sweetly playful 'Viejo París', the Beatlessounding 'Juan' or the Badfinger reminiscences of 'Tiempo perdido'.

In spring 1973, critics unanimously lauded the album on its release. But as could have been expected, the whole seemed too neat and kind for the pamphletary silliness of those years, and the total lack of interest by the FM stations condemned the record to the AM ones.

It's possible that when they formed Solera, Rodrigo and Guzmán already had CRAG in mind but, with Cánovas and Adolfo busy with their respective groups, they opted for this adventure as a temporary solution. Still immersed in the album's promotion, Rodrigo gathered the band at the Hispavox offices and announced that Guzmán and he were going their own way, which was seen by the brothers as a betrayal and prevented the name Solera from being used in the future. Of course, listening to this record nowadays we won't understand the reasons for those events, but we will be amazed at the romanticism these timeless grooves exude.

César Sánchez

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