Toreros After Olé: S/T 12” (1983)
My pick for you today is the self-titled 12” EP from Madrid, Spain’s Toreros After Olé, originally released on the Nuevos Medios label in 1983. I first heard Toreros After Olé 10 or 15 years ago, and from the moment I heard them I was hooked. Eventually I got the tracks from this 12” on an excellent bootleg called Five Old Spanish Punk Rock Twelve Inches (highly recommended if you ever come across a copy!) and I recently upgraded to an original pressing which has had me spinning this record again.
I’ve never known much about Toreros After Olé, but I spent some time reading this morning and it appears they were a controversial band in the 80s Spanish punk scene. The band—in particular leader Manuel Malou—got tagged as interlopers because they had a musical past, having released rumba and pop music under names like the Gulfs and Manolo Y Jorge. Manolo Y Jorge released an LP on major label RCA and even had their eyes on the Eurovision Song Contest. While it was hard for reviewers to deny the power of the music, zines from the more DIY / anarchist end of the scene criticized Toreros After Olé’s credibility and their political stance. (This info all comes from the excellent Wikipedia page on Toreros After Ole, by the way.)
It makes sense to me that the members of Toreros After Olé had a music industry background, because this 12” is a very strong production. Like a lot of the “fake punk” that came out of the UK (see the awesome Who’s a Punk bootleg compilation LP), even if Toreros After Olé’s hearts weren’t in the music’s political dimensions, this record clearly benefits from their songwriting and studio experience. The 12” has a big, clear, and powerful sound that rivals the best American punk records, not to mention great songwriting.
Speaking of which, another unique thing about Toreros After Olé is that they sound more like an early 80s American hardcore band than the punkier, moodier sounds I associate with classic Spanish punk bands like Ultimo Resorte, Paralasis Permanente, and Vulpess. In particular, Toreros After Olé reminds me of the tightest, most complex and explosive American punk records like the Circle Jerks’ Group Sex or Dead Kennedys’ Plastic Surgery Disasters.
While this 12” was Toreros After Olé’s only release in the 80s, 2011 saw an archival release called Grabaciones RNE 1984 that contains a live set recorded in 1984 for Spanish Public Radio. Most of the songs they play appeared on the 12”, but there are two excellent unreleased tracks and, like the 12”, the production is great. The vinyl pressing from 2011 is long gone, but it’s available digitally on Manuel Malou’s Bandcamp page, right alongside his more recent rumba recordings.