Friday, October 12, 2007

Barrabas - On The Road Again

" Barrabas holds the distinction of being in at the early stages of disco music and then disappearing during it's peak only to resurface again in it's aftermath. Quite interesting for an artist. But then Barrabas was never really a "disco group."
The roots of Barrabas actually starts in the 1960's with Juan Pardo and Fernando Arbex. They formed
Los Brincos as an alternative to The Beatles. Their mentor Luis Sartorius was killed in an auto accident in 1964 but the group persisted. A move to Milan in 1966 brought them further success when "Lola" became a breakthrough hit. After recording a third album in 1968 the group made the move to the U.S. Between 1968-70 the group experimented with different sounds and musical textures and released "Mundodemoniocarne" in 1970. With no commerical success the group disbanded.
Fernando Arbex pulled together 5 fellow musicians to form his own band later that year. At its formation,
Barrabas was Tito Duarte, Miguel Morales, Ricky Morales, Ignacio Egana, and Joao Vidal. (Members changed occasionally; the most significant change occurred when vocalist Jose Luis Tejada was added to the lineup.)
They spent two years refining their sound. A sound that was rich in funk and psychedelic rock, jazz and even disco. Their first album released in the U.S. was 1972's
"Wild Safari" it spawned the radio hit "Woman."
They followed their debut with 1973's
"Power" another album that featured their varied and stylistic interests. The most interesting numbers were the instrumental number "The Horse" featuring Tito Duarte's flute and "Time To Love" a breezy pop confection.
By the time of their next release in 1974 (
"Barrabas") disco was in full swing and the group, who flirted with many different styles, added disco to their repertoire. They asked Herbie Mann to guest on their version of his hit "Hi-Jack" and turned in a killer club smash with "Mad Love."
"Mad Love" was serviced to club D.J.'s on a 7" 45 rpm with a 33 1/3 hole punched in it. See in 1974 record labels were grappling with this new phenomena of club D.J.'s and discos. They knew that the market was there for sales and exposure but unsure of how to service it. And Tom Moulton had yet to invent the 12" single. So they modified the traditional 45 into something more manageable for disc jockeys, hence the "disco single." So Barrabas has the distinction of being one of the only actual groups to be distributed in the old and new club single formats. Still their popularity remained underground confined to the latin and club sects.
By 1975 disco had exploded, Moulton had invented the 12" single and Barrabas was poised for their greatest disco success. When Atlantic released
"Heart Of The City" they had no idea how to market this multi-faceted group. Given their initial club success they choose the logical marketing ploy of issuing a 12" single of "Mellow Blow" to radio stations and club disc jockeys. The results were astounding. Radio, which has always been prone to following instead of leading, missed the song altogether. Clubs however embraced the spicy group and early charts show them in the Top Ten in most areas." (from

Love this track "On The Road Again" - check the live video out below

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