José Barroso

7. Flamenco

FlamencoFrontRecord: Flamenco
Artist: José Barroso
Released: Crown Records, 1959

If there's one thing that I've learned in talking to people about music over the years, it's that people who truly love music never confine themselves to one genre. Most will claim a favorite genre, perhaps the music they listened to exclusively in their youth, but tastes broaden and mature as we age and begin to see commonalities and appreciate differences beyond what we had been comfortable with.

According to his music collection, my father was no different. There are roughly three or four hundred records, and the variety is striking. The collection is divided almost equally between jazz and classical, but there is nothing mainstream. Not a single Beatles record, no Buddy Holly or Elvis Presley or James Brown. No Motown. The only nod to pop music of the day is Frank Sinatra, but my father filed him with the classical records.

But there are a few unexpected albums that pop from time to time as you're flipping through, like this one. We discover new music in different ways, or at least we used to. Last week I heard a song that I thought my daughters might like, so I texted them an Apple Music link. When I was their age, someone would have had to put a physical copy in my hands. My first exposure to 70s prog rock came through a high school friend of mine, Christian. We were in physics together, and when he'd come over to study, he'd always bring a different Genesis album. It was unlike anything I'd ever heard -- none of it was on any of the radio stations I listened to -- but I quickly fell in love. If my own children go through my vinyl collection after I'm gone, they'll likely be as surprised by my Genesis albums as I've always been by my father's Flamenco.

What I've always wondered about is how my father came across this record. Did a friend put it in his hand the way Christian did for me? Or was he drawn by the cover art, a flamboyant photo of a woman with castanets in her hands? (Castanets are not heard on the record, by the way. Only a single guitar, played beautifully by José Barroso.) 

I'll never know how it got here, but I'm glad it did. It tells me something of his approach to and appreciation of music. He admired musical expertise, and I've no doubt that that's what appealed to him with this record. I've had the same response listening to Rodrigo y Gabriela, a flamenco-influenced guitar-playing duo from Mexico City (also the birthplace of Barroso). My wife and I saw them play at a benefit show years ago, and I immediately bought their self-titled album. I still love listening to it, not just because of the beauty of what they've produced but because I can't begin to imagine how they do it. Even so, it didn't lead me to explore any deeper into the genre, and neither did this album encourage my father to buy anymore flamenco records.

One side note. There was something about this record -- the physical record -- that always bothered me. There was no paper cover for the vinyl, and that just didn't seem right for my father, who clearly cared for his collection. When I gave the record its first spin, I could see that it was slightly warped, and it didn't sound as clear as the others I'd been listening to.

But when I did my usual research I found that Crown Records was notoriously cheap and known as "the king of the junk record labels." According to, "The covers usually fell apart almost instantly. LP's were shipped out with NO inner paper liners, thus splitting covers. The cheaply-made records sounded worn right out of the package. Plagued with more than the typical pressing flaws, noise can be heard and bumps seen on most LP's." 

And yet somehow this record survived sixty years. I'm glad it did.


Side 1
El Vito
Serenata Española

Side 2
Cuadros en Aragon
Página Romantica
Soleares Opus 10
Tango Español