In 1996, Draco Rosa released the album Vagabundo which I still consider to be the most essential record made in the entire decade of the 1990s within the Rock en Español music scene. Indeed, other musicians/bands made important contributions to Spanish Rock, like Andres Calamaro (Alta Suciedad, 1997 & Honestidad Brutal, 1999), Caifanes (El Diablito, 1990, El Silencio, 1992 & El Nervio del Volcan, 1994), Los Fabulosos Cadillacs (Rey Azúcar, 1995 & Fabulosos Calavera, 1997), Enanitos Verdes (Big Bang, 1994 & Nectar, 1999), Jaguares (El Equilibrio de Los Jaguares, 1996 & Bajo El Azul de Tu Misterio, 1999), La Ley (Invisible, 1995). All of those albums are essential and iconic records, But Draco Rosa’s Vagabundo was in a league of its own.
Vagabundo was utterly different from everything else coming out into the Spanish Rock market during the ’90s, and nothing else sounded quite like it. The album was a rollercoaster ride of psychedelic rock, wrapped in raw melodies of love, solitude, desolation, and melancholy. The album was recorded in England and produced by Phil Manzanera, who by that time had already collaborated with other Rock en Español artists like Fito Paez (Circo beat, 1994), Heroes del Silencio (Senderos de Traicion, 1990 & El Espirito del Vino, 1993) as well as Aterciopelados (La Pipa de la Paz, 1996) and with the late Antonio Vega (Océano de Sol, 1994). Phil Manzanera understands the soul of rock en Español music, and it clearly shows in the records that he has produced.
After 22 years since the release of Vagabundo, we finally have a remastered version and a limited release vinyl LP. It was remastered by the legendary Bob Ludwig (U2, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Nirvana, Paul McCarney). This is truly a unique and special release — additionally, this newly remastered edition takes it to another level.
Here is a quick rundown of all the tracks on the album:
Hablando del Amor: Not really a song, just an intro track. You get the sense of where the record is taking you; you can hear sounds of a forest in the background followed by some poetic lines.
Madre Tierra: This is an excellent rock song, guitars, drums, and Draco’s powerful voice turn this song into a beautiful, fast tempo rock anthem.
Llanto Subterráneo: This track is a beautiful poem wrapped in melody. Slower tempo than the previous track, but the song still maintains a powerful rock vibe with some dark undertones and very intense lyrics.
Vagabundo: This is a more acoustic sounding track, where all you get is guitar, Draco’s voice, and some background vocals. The lyrics are powerful, intense, and there is a touch of occult undertones in the meaning of the lyrics here.
Penelope: This song reminds me of Joan Manuel Serrat’s “Penelope,” but told from a different point of view; while Serrat’s Penelope was told from the point of view of a narrator, this song is told from the point of view of the traveler longing for the love he left behind. This is a beautiful song, one of my favorites.
Delirios: Here, we go back to a faster-paced tempo, more massive sound. Draco displays his great rocker frontman talent while at the same time keeping up with some powerful guitar and drums.
Para No Olvidar: Death, life, and desolation are the themes of this track. It starts slow, setting up the psychedelic mood with a sweet melody; we go from slow to fast and heavy multiple times. This is an intense song.
Blanca Mujer: The closest thing to a rock ballad in this entire album. Piano and guitar in the background create a compelling and persuasive companion to Draco’s voice. I consider this song a classic in Draco Rosa’s catalog.
Vertigo: Another dark and psychedelic sounding track shows a feeling of rawness and heaviness in Draco’s voice that works beautifully on this song.
Vivir: Probably the most personal track on this album. It starts with a piano intro that feels straight out of a carnival stage show or circus, then the song takes on the first-person narrative, stating Draco’s journey from Popstar to freeing himself from the shackles of stardom and into becoming the artist he longs to be.
Brujería: A mix of psychedelic and gothic vibe give this track a unique sound and energy. Draco’s furious intensity makes this track one of the very best on this album. The guitars are also superb.
La Flor del Frio: This is a raw sounding track that works beautifully as a change of pace from the rest of the album. A piano accompanies Draco. There is a crowd of people talking and clapping in the background, which gives this track a unique feel and vibe. The raw and melancholic melody is the star of this song.
Amantes Hasta el Fin: This song sums up the theme of this album perfectly. It has it all; a beautiful melody, lyrics of love, desolation, death, and despair. Draco’s singing takes you on a ride from a mellow vibe to furious rage. The entire surrealism of the album is best displayed here.
Vertigo22: This track is a gem straight from Vagabundo’s recording studio archives. It is raw, powerful, and heavier than the album version. The song sounds completely different.
Madre Tierra22: This version of Madre Tierra sounds more like a demo, and at the same time, it has a raw and organic feel to it than the album version. Another gem from the PHVX Vault.