Bishbosh was good enough to allow one of my earworms submissions to round off the list this week and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see that it has received generally favourable responses. It’s by Rosendo, who just happens to be one of the Spanish musicians I most admire and I was going to wax lyrical about him in the comments section when I realised that that is not what earworms is about. If we want to say a bit more about an artist we should do our own posts. So here’s one on Rosendo.
Rosendo and I were always going to get on. He was once quoted as saying that his favourite group was the Stranglers – not that you’d really know from his music. He’s a straightforward, guitar wielding rock merchant. There’s nothing complicated about his music but it is consistently good and lyrically he is something else. Never afraid to speak out; denouncing corruption, the construction boom that helped to get Spain into the mess we seem less and less likely to get out of, the greed driven society that has made this country such a less pleasant place to live in. And he’s made money doing it. Of course he has.
But that money has often been ploughed back into the same scene that made him famous, and that’s really one of the main reasons I love the guy. Born in 1954 in Madrid and bred in Carabanchel, one of the humblest barrios in the south of the city (just round the corner from the Makis, in fact). He’s one of the few musicians I’m aware of that has really stayed true to his roots. He never moved out of the barrio and can still be seen doing his shopping, taking the metro into town and all the other stuff the rest of us who live here do. He’s received awards from the highest institutions, toured with the best and could probably buy and sell us all ten times over but you wouldn’t know it if you bumped into him in the queue at your local supermarket. He may well spend his holidays in Martinique for all I know, but he doesn’t brag about it.
He started off in hard rock group called Ñu. (That’s Gnu to us English speakers). Early and clear influences were Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and perhaps, most tellingly Rory Gallagher. He was still eligible for military service when the group was formed and his “patriotic” commitments led to the eventual dissolution of the group. After that came Leño, who, with the possible exception of Barón Rojo, are the very personification of mid to late seventies Spanish rock. Here’s a couple of their tracks. Rosendo’s trademark stratocaster (later on he switched between this and a Les Paul) is already evident.
Like all good things, Leño came to an end and Rosendo carried on as a solo artist. By now (mid eighties) of course he was well known and started being able a) to record pretty much what he wanted to and b) sponsor and, above all, produce up and coming acts from the Madrid area and further afield. He was also free to let his pen flow freely and get more lyrically committed than when he’d been in a group.
Of the groups he’s sponsored I’ll offer just the following. It’s by Los Porretas and is called Marijuana. I’d hazard a guess that, as well as producing, Rosendo helped out on guitar duties but he never took a credit.
His solo career has seen its ups and downs but has produced a slightly more varied canon than might have been expected.
In Listos Para La Reconversión he spoke out about the absurd re-categorising of vast tracts of Spain (to allow planning permission to be granted) in 1996, as the rest of us were rubbing our hands with glee at the profits to be made. We’re all, he warned, ready to be recategorised. How right he was.
He made fun of the yuppie, banker, broker type and warned of how dangerous they were in Masculino Singular. We sang along merrily but still fell into their trap!
But Rosendo keeps on at it. He doesn’t sell as much as he used to. Does anyone? But he believes in music in its power to spread a message and its power to give people a good time. Relentless and anonymous promoter of many up and coming groups, a man with a riff and a half to his name. (Never hurt many much more successful artists). And over thirty years service to the Spanish music scene. He’s tired and the title of his last CD says it all – Sometimes It’s Hard Just Getting to The Chorus. Well, yes my friend, it is. But when you get there, I’ll be singing along.