Having first experienced the Gypsy Pistoleros on their UK tour last year, I have been meaning to get hold of one or two of their recordings. Time has flown (it was July 2011 when I saw them) and finally, ‘Forever Wild, Beautiful & Damned! Greatest Hits Volume 1’ has found itself falling into my greasy mits. Live, the band hold that piece of ground somewhere between sleaze and glam – crunchy guitars and a feelgood experience all around. Could they match this on record?
The Pistoleros have a new album due later this year and it’s impossible to predict a limit on where they may take ‘flamenco glam’ next. In the meantime, an anthology out on April 9th titled ‘Forever Wild, Beautiful & Damned! Greatest Hits Volume 1’, should be regarded as much as a primer for new Pistoleros converts as a memento collection for the established following. Packing in prime cuts from 2008 debut ‘Para Sempere!’ and 2009’s mini-album ‘Welcome To The Hotel de Muerte’, and tangling Spanish and English tongues through a dizzyingly array sounds, ‘Forever…’ encapsulates the energy, excitement and explosive collisions of unlikely influences which make the Pistoleros so captivating. In fact it fits the bill perfectly for people who, like me, have meant to get hold of some Pistolero CD action.
The insane inspiration came from frontman Lee Pistolero, who struck on fusing his roots in the British glam punk circuit to the traditional sounds of Spain when living in Zaragoza during the late-90s. The classifieds rarely being cluttered by musicians who might share such a vision though, Lee left his idea just that for a few years, leaving the recruitment of a fit foil to complete the Toxic-Twins-sloshed-on-sangria core this bizarre band demanded down to Fate. And so, eventually, arrived Iggy, a guitarist so plentifully inked and perennially tanned he practically charts on his hide his and Lee’s shared journey, from stale-beer scented Midlands rock dives, to the majestic Med-coast just upwind of exotic Morocco. Even before some six-string skills of impressive versatility (and surprising virtuosity, even after a dozen vodkas) could be tested Iggy simply looked indispensable to the hard-living gang of highwaymen that would be the Gypsy Pistoleros.
On calling card number ‘Un Hombre Sin Rostre Pistolero’, hollers of ‘Pistolero!’ announce the band’s arrival cockily as a round of bullets blasted skywards, before they show-off sharp-shooting skills to back the big mouth, as Iggy slips from sleaze-Santana strokes of Spanish guitar into a last blaze-of-glory Slash solo. Still, the Pistoleros do not easily settle to the Sunset Strip show-offs’ side of the glam spectrum, and when half the notes and twice the pace will suffice, Iggy competently wields the sinewy wired ‘n’ electrified guitarlines that Thunders’ and his waifish, hard-livin’ amigos gave East Coast glitter punk. Dicey tales of edgy encounters on the wild frontier ‘Hotel de la Muerto’ and ‘1234 Kiss Me Then I’m Damned For Sure’ are then completed by some frantic vocal takes from Lee, where he channels Dolls’ descendents Hanoi Rocks in the prime of their wasted youth.
Getting still wilder, faster ‘n’ looser with the curveball influences, ‘Sangre de las Roses’ could be Mariachi El Bronx; if they did American arena ballads and had the cheeky British wit to drop references to South London into the continent-crossing mix! ’Un Para Todo es Bandido’s brass-embellished anthem for restless outlaws could then be the sound of Gogol Bordello’s cousins from warmer climes, but it’s ’Shotgun Kiss is Ay Que Dolor’ which may best put the case for the Pistoleros’ fusion-genre being more vital musical missing link than contrived try at contrariness. Squeezing flamenco’s fire and sleazy rock’s unsubtle sexuality cheek-to-cheek in such style, the tune leaves them looking anything but unnatural bedfellows.
So, in answer to my question – can the Gypsy Pistoleros match their live show on record?
The simple answer is….yes. but as in most things the more complicated answer covers more ground. Managing to balance the tight but loose tightrope, the energy can be easily felt. I can already feel this CD soundtracking warm, summer’s evening of beer and barbeques (warm and summer that are two words rarely used in the same sentence about the UK, even less so Bolton – it only rains here once a week….starts on a Monday and finishes on a Sunday!)
Lead single preceding the album on March 26th will be a live favourite cover of ‘Livin La Vida Loca’, which with cinematic spaghetti western intro, punk’d up pace and tongue-in-cheek humour convincingly reboots Ricky Martin’s Latin pop classic as a theme for the Gypsy Pistoleros’ own tornado-like approach to hard ‘n’ fast nomadic living.
Album release date: 9th April 2012
Single release: 26th March 2012
More information: www.gypsypistoleros.com
Review: David Wilson
Photographs: John McGibbon