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BANDOLERO – Life Is Love, Love Is All

This Puerto Rican band recorded their sole album in 1970, and delivered an amalgam of rock, blues, psyche and garage. Vocals are mostly in English, and the sound is easily accessible to UK and US rock audiences. ‘I Got It’ is a good opener, being a fast-paced rocker with organ and guitar, and sets out the band’s stall from the beginning. ‘Tenura’ is a harmonic ballad, and is the only track to be sung in Spanish, while ‘Love Me Tonight’ shows the band’s garage leanings, with an up-tempo rocker featuring a good guitar solo. ‘Don’t Hang Me’ is a slower song, but still has some nice playing on it, while ‘I Can Always Think Of You’ is a dramatic ballad, enhanced by prominent piano. ‘Salsa Friquea’ closes the first side of the album with one of the most overtly Latin American tracks on here. After some moody organ chords the Latin rhythms kick in and we get something akin to early Santana, which the band use as a starting point for some funky grooves, slowing down for a thoughtful mid-section and then making a comeback for a rousing finale. ‘Together’ has the same Latin feel as ‘Salsa…’, with the stabbing guitar and organ making it even more like Santana, and ‘My Life Is Always Going Through Changes’ stretches out to over six minutes, which gives the guitar and organ plenty of opportunity to indulge in the odd duel. ‘I Want To Get There’ is a bluesy boogie, and is something of a disappointment after the preceding tracks, but ‘Awake’ brings back the Latin rhythms for a more satisfying sound. ‘Truth And Understanding’ rounds things off with a slow blues, which gradually becomes more rock orientated at the track progresses - culminating in some fine fuzz guitar-work – before the blues makes a brief re-appearance, leading into a drum-laden Latin finale. Not a bad album, although the spirit of Santana seems to hang heavy over much of side two, but the playing is generally very good, and the songs perfectly enjoyable, so on the whole there is much to recommend about this album. It has been re-issued on CD, although I haven’t seen it in current catalogues, but if you do see a copy then at least give it a listen.
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