Bloque — Bloque
(Safiro 50601001, 1978/1991, CD)
Bloque — Hombre, Tierra y Alma
(Si Wan SRMC-3002, 1979/1993, CD)
by Mike Grimes, Published 1995-07-01
There really was some great music coming out of Spain in the late 70s, and unlike a lot of their Spanish contemporaries, Bloque actually stayed together long enough to record more than one album! Bloque's sound is driven by the dueling guitars of Juan Carlos Gutierrez and Juanjo Respuela, who both share vocal responsibilities as well. On Bloque, most of the guitar playing is electric in nature, with stylistic nods to the British rockers of the earlier 70s. Partly due to this, this album has a more commercial feel to it than Hombre, Tierra y Alma does. Several of the tracks on Bloque are pretty straight beat rhythms with soloing over the top. While this isn't that bad, when compared to the more complex song structures evident on Hombre, the writing on the self-titled album seems a bit sophomoric. One immediately obvious difference between these two albums is the addition of Mellotron on the second. They use the 'Tron to great effect, and it is greatly responsible for the more symphonic sound of Hombre. While the first album has some good moments, there are some mediocre ones as well. These mostly occur during the first part of the album. Overall, the original LP's side 2 is much better, and the final track on Bloque makes the album worth the price of admission. By far the best track on the album with odd time signatures, tritones galore, yelling out vocals — it has all the essential ingredients of a good prog song.
Hombre, Tierra y Alma shows a more mature band with more diverse songs. The acoustic guitar is featured more prominently, and the obligatory prog instrument, the flute, is even used on a track. The two guitarists complement each other better on this album too. On the debut, a lot of the double guitars were straight harmonies that one person could have overdubbed. On Hombre however, they tend to be playing completely different parts more. I'd rate this album up there as one of the best Spanish prog rock albums from that era, with their first quite a ways behind, but still worth a listen. Those fond of Crack, Nu, as well as the other heavier prog will enjoy Bloque. My primary complaint about Hombre is that it appears to have been mastered from vinyl! Although they clearly used a relatively clean copy, there are many spots where clicks and pops can be heard. Overall though, it's not that noticeable, and worth putting up with for the quality of the music.
Related artist(s): Bloque
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more