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The Culture Vulture

About cultural things: music, dance, literature and theatre.

Sunday, August 21, 2022 @ 8:52 AM

The Culture Vulture loves listening to music, especially live. Since he began studying Spanish at the age of 18 his love of music and songs in the Spanish language has grown ever stronger. Here is a selection of some of his favourites in chronological order of discovery.


JOAN MANUEL SERRAT was and still is “de puta madre" (the dog’s bollocks). I heard his music for the first time in 1970 when I made my first visit to Spain at the age of 20. He had just released his album Mediterráneo. It’s amazing and I still listen to it regularly over 50 years on.

Since the lyrics and pronunciation are very clear, when I was a Spanish teacher in the 70s and 80s, I used his songs as a teaching resource in my A-Level classes. In particular La mujer que yo quiero, Tío Alberto, Barquito de papel, as well as Mediterráneo, the title track.

Here is an example of his work:


RADIO TARIFA. I am very sorry that this unique band no longer exists. I discovered their music when a girlfriend gave me the album Temporal in 1997. I subsequently bought all five of their albums.

I saw them live three times: in Plasencia (Extremadura), in Manchester (UK) and in Warrington (UK).

Carolina Luce, a Canadian friend who lives in Montejaque (Malaga) said: “I also loved this group. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to this CD, and it was perfect for parties. I especially liked the song El Mandil de Carolina.”

Emilio García from Ronda wrote: “I also remember that group; they had their audience, especially in Andalucía”.


BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB. This Cuban phenomenon came to my attention almost as soon as American singer/guitarist Ry Cooder, on a visit to Cuba, discovered a bunch of elderly musicians not making music any longer. He hauled them into the recording studio where they created their unique eponymous album in 1996. They became an overnight sensation and toured the world playing concerts. I saw them at the Royal Festival Hall in London on their 1997 tour.

German director Wim Wenders captured their 1998 performance in New York on film for a documentary—also called Buena Vista Social Club—that included interviews with the musicians conducted in Havana. Wenders' film was released in June 1999 to critical acclaim, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary feature and winning numerous accolades including Best Documentary at the European Film Awards. This was followed up by a second documentary Buena Vista Social Club: Adios in 2017.

The success of both the album and film sparked a revival of interest in traditional Cuban music and Latin American music in general. Some of the Cuban performers later released well-received solo albums and recorded collaborations with stars from different musical genres. The "Buena Vista Social Club" name became an umbrella term to describe these performances and releases, and has been likened to a brand label that encapsulates Cuba's "musical golden age" between the 1930s and 1950s. The new success was fleeting for the most recognizable artists in the ensemble: Compay SegundoRubén González, and Ibrahim Ferrer, who died at the ages of ninety-five, eighty-four, and seventy-eight respectively; Compay Segundo and González in 2003, then Ferrer in 2005.

Suddenly these poor folk had became very rich. Sadly, as mentioned, the older ones have now died, but they gave lovers of Cuban music a great few years.

The first track on the album, Chan Chan, performed by then 89-year-old Company Segundo,is a four chord son that became what Cooder described as "the Buena Vista's calling card".

Listen to it here:


ORISHAS (Havana, Cuba). I don’t remember exactly when and how I discovered the music of the Hip Hop band. I think I read a review of their first album A lo Cubano in the English newspaper The Guardian in 2000. At that time I was developing my love of Cuban music through bands like the Buena Vista Social Club, The Afro-Cuban All Stars and Sierra Maestra.


CHAMBAO. This flamenco chill band appeared in 2001 with their first album Pokito a poko. A real sensation. This album was played a lot in the bars in Ronda at that time, especially in the old bar irlandés O’Flagherty’s on Calle Santa Cecilia opposite Bar Faustino. Both bars are closed these days. Unfortunately. 


DIANA NAVARRO. I discovered the music of this singer from Málaga by chance in January 2008 in Ronda. Eight months later I was watching her in concert in the bullring in Carratraca (Málaga). After the concert I got to go ‘backstage’ and meet her. I have a photo as proof (it appears in the article below).

Here is one of my favourite songs by her:

I wrote this article in 2020, describing our meeting:

Carolina Luce from Canada commented: “That’s wonderful that you met her! I was also enthralled by her voice when I first heard it, when I was living in Granada and her single Sola first came out, in 2005 I believe. I went out right away to buy the CD No te olvides de mi, listened to it many many times, and even challenged myself to sing along with her”.


So, those are my six choices. I hope you liked them.

Please feel free to comment or make other suggestions.

Like 1


lenox said:
Sunday, September 18, 2022 @ 8:53 PM

Diana Navarro is superb. I have a couple of her CDs and love to listen to them.

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