by: Paulo Correa
I am introducing you to a man to be respected. He is perhaps the most important figure in the incipient history of Colombian rock. Chucho Merchán a music graduate from Cambridge University has a long trajectory in the world rock scene. In the 70’s and 80’s he had his own jazz band, Macondo, which rapidly became known in Europe. This drew attention towards him and he was asked to participate as bassist in great artist’s productions. To name a few, he played in recordings by The Who, The Pretenders, George Harrison, Brian Adams, Sinnead O’ Connor, Simply Red, Everything But The Girl, Phil Manzanera, Bob Geldof, David Gilmour and Roger Waters from Pink Floyd, among others. His most noticeable participation took place as an active member of Annie Lennox’s band: Eurythmics. Afterwards he accompanied her in her solo carrier. While in Eurpoe he also directed The London Philharmonic Orchestra for a recording. In the 90’s his name started gaining recognition in Latin America by becoming the bassist of Jaguares, the well remembered Mexican band. Then he naturally evolved into producing music for several artists, like Fito Paez, Luz Casal, Robi Draco Rosa, Miguel Ríos, Los de Adentro, Ivan Lins, Miguel Bosé and Cabas.
Now, this sort of Latin music hero presents his first solo album, “De Regreso a Casa” (Back Home). After being on the back for so long it was almost an exigency for him to step forward and claim the place of honor he deserves in the Industry.
His first album exhibits what experience truly means. The lyrics have a nostalgia to them that remembrance the 60’s, the decade in which he grew up. We find him talking to us; form the beginning, about love, peace and rejection to war. Right in the middle, we find a song dedicated to his friends, a couple of environmentally themed songs and another one searching for restoration of the rights of the native Americans. We could just say that it is an album with a clear politic conviction in which Merchan is exorcised 17 times: Every recording is an ideological shout.
It is a very well produced disc, with dense powerful guitars, a vibrant bass, a piercing strong voice, a retro sound and choruses that will get stuck in your head but that are far from yearning to be a commercial success. In some moments we get submerged in dark hard rock fragments while in others we venture through small lounge textures at times accompanied by accordions and trumpets and some other times absolutely minimalist, with very few vocal arrangements but all of them being well elaborated in a work that keeps its unit from start to end.
I recommend “Una canción a la paz” (“A song for peace”) an unforgettable rock ballad. I also recommend the rhythmic and non-conformist “Cinturón de miseria” (Belt of misery, slum) and “Libre” (free) where he renders homage to Nelson Mandela. But most of all, I celebrate an applaud the energetic “Celebremos” (Let’s celebrate) which leaves the best for last and could easily be one of the best rock songs in Spanish of 2008.
Astonishing independent rock work, which is sadly scarce and poorly spread, it only has a video in youtube, the first single “Sin amor” (without love) and a couple of live performances, he doesn’t even have a myspace profile. For those interested in listening to the songs, a preview of the first album is available online on Merchan’s website.
Key Tracks: "Sin amor", "Celebremos", and "Cinturón de Miseria"