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Black Is Black

Los Bravos

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Album Review

Los Bravos formed in 1966, just as the British Invasion was on the wane, or so the liner notes to this first-time CD reissue say. The group was led by former Mike & the Runaways singer Michael Volker Kogel (born in Berlin, Germany, in 1944). The other four original members — bassist Miguel Vicens Danus (born in Corunna, Spain, 1943), guitarist Tony Martinez (born in Madrid, Spain, 1944), organist Manuel Fernandez (Sevilla, Spain, 1942), and drummer Pablo Sanllehi (Barcelona, Spain, 1943) — had all been working together previously in the Spanish group Los Sonors. Upon coming together to try their hand at cracking the English-speaking European pop market, this new configuration changed their name for a one-off single on Columbia Records' Spanish division before they eventually signed with Decca Records' Spanish division. They were assigned to work with successful British producer/arranger/conductor/composer Ivor Raymonde (who had already scored numerous U.K. hits with Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, Dave Berry, and others) in England. The result of this union of talent and proven production skills produced the band's first single, the rhythm-driven "Black Is Black," that same year. It shot up the charts to number two in the U.K. and on August 10, 1966, it charted on Billboard and CashBox. Soon the band enjoyed moderate to major success around the world. In addition to the band's big hit, this CD reissue of Black Is Black features the group's U.K. follow-up, "I Don't Care," which recalls the Walker Brothers with its similar vocal/horn-laden arrangement — as well as a handful of smartly produced, upbeat British Invasion-style pop numbers (Los Bravos were also influenced by black American soul and R&B acts, especially those on Motown). This first-time ever CD reissue — produced by Ed Strait for Retroactive Records — also reproduces the original LP cover photograph and design, along with rare photos, lengthy liner notes, and a full discography.

Biography

Formed: 1965

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s

In 1966, this Spanish quintet became one of the very few rock groups from a non-English speaking country to have an international smash with "Black Is Black," which got to number four in the U.S. and number two in the U.K. Lead singer Mike Kogel's overwrought, pinched vocals sounded so much like Gene Pitney that many listeners assumed that "Black Is Black" was a Pitney single, and the strong resemblance remained intact throughout Los Bravos' career, both in the singing and arrangements. Indeed, with...
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Black Is Black, Los Bravos
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