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Black Is Black
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  • Liner Note Author: Nick Rossi.
  • The Spanish band (with a German singer) Los Bravos will forever be remembered outside their home country as a one-hit wonder. What a hit it was, though. "Black Is Black" is a towering example of what made the '60s so great musically, with a Motown beat, soul-jazz organ, glitzy soul horns, and over-the-top emotional vocals. If Los Bravos had done nothing else, they'd still be legends. This collection of tracks taken from their four-year run shows that there was more to them than just the one gigantic hit. Though they were never able to recapture that giddy height, they made a great deal of interesting pop music, and Mike Kogel's expressive vocals are always a source of joy and wonder. Like "Black Is Black," many of the songs Los Bravos recorded (or more accurately, the session men who played instead of them) were sourced from outside their ranks, including Oviedo-born performer/composer (and subsequent music label executive) Manolo Diaz. The two discs of material here include plenty of excellent horn-driven pop, some attempts to clone "Black Is Black," a few tough rockers (like the desperate "Trapped"), the occasional baroque pop confection, and even some tracks that call to mind a frantic Tom Jones. Apart from their big hit, Los Bravos' finest moment was their brief partnership with the Easybeats' Harry Vanda and George Young. They met up while touring, and the pair proceeded to send Los Bravos the song that should have been their second big hit, "Bring a Little Lovin'." It wasn't to be, however, and the group eventually ran out of steam and Kogel left to start a solo career. Though they aren't considered one of the great bands of the era, listening to the music on this compilation is proof that, unlike a lot of bands, they had a sound that was unique and easily identifiable. Plus, they had a lot of good songs. Black Is Black: The Anthology 1966-1969 may not be an essential purchase for the casual fan of '60s pop, but for someone looking to dig deeper and discover some hidden gems, it totally fits the bill. ~ Tim Sendra
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