Trying to cover every release by Alaska is near impossible. As such forgive these general brush strokes. Suffice to say every Friday and Saturday night I hear this icon of Spanish pop music blast out from cars any time I am in Spain. Her voice is the soundtrack to Spain’s youth of the late 1970s and1980s as the country moved from regime to democracy. Indeed, even as Spain ventured towards its current status of a constitutional monarchy on paper the emotive mentality of the strict Franco social and cultural mores and codes remained intact. Thus Alaska and her crew of musicians however rebelled against this via their glorious pop-punk modus operandi that took notes from similar acts of the time like Blondie, Nina Hagen and Siouxsie and the Banshees. It can not be denied how important Alaska is. She is a central part of the counter-cultural Movida Madrileña movement in Spain. As the embittered country began to underpin its fragile future, artists from the Movida Madrileña translated their experiences of growing up under the regime and the complicated mess of the transition period. They formed the voice the new liberated Spain that embraced the maligned and the queer, desired freedom, demanded rights, celebrated new art and wanted nothing of the social or political mainstream. 

It also can not be understated how vital and outspoken Alaska was and continues to be about gay rights. Ever since her Kaka De Luxe days of the 1970s Alaska has constantly demanded equality for gay and lesbians despite the harsh Vagrancy Laws that criminalized homosexuality, and was often utilised by police especially against political dissenters. Alaska as an activist became pivotal through her campaigning and music to change attitudes and strengthen the gay rights movement in Spain and Alaska’s involvement in La Movida is responsible for Spain’s highly tolerant stance on homosexuality. In this sense, one could say she is Spain’s supreme gay idol.

Everything from movies, musicals to PhD’s have been written on Alaska and her compatriots so it would be difficult to quite capture how significant she is to a whole generation of Spaniards. So I’ll just to point towards to some of my hits of hers. And, gosh she’s released some amazing pop records in her time in various bands. Take a Blondie song from 1978, add some Italo-pop, a little Ramones, a massive amount of disco and throw in dashes of Bobby O, Nina Hagen, David Bowie, Divine, Shiela B & The Devotions and very early S.A.W you’ll get the sound of an Alaska record.

After leaving the punk outfit Kaka De Luxe, a new band was formed of Alaska, Carlos Berlanga, Nacho Canut, Ana Curra and Eduardo Benavente to create Alaska y Los Pegamoides. They released a series of singles and E.P’s that are best described as a super-trooper gulp of disco-punk, a point most accented by their single Bailando. In amongst many of their delicious ditties from this era was one of my favourite tracks Otra Dimension. It sounds like an early Strawberry Switchblade demo crossed with David Bowie and Dusty Springfield. Although most of their work is in Spanish check out their English version of Redrum. It exposes just how tight their whip-lash productions are as they wrap around their barbed lyrics. They also re-recorded their disco hit Bailando which re-emerged as the ultra-camp Dancing could’ve easily been blasted out in Studio 54.

Just as The Tourists re-materialized as The Eurythmics, Alaska y Dinarama came forth from the embers of Alaska y Pegamoids only sans the rocky guitars. The deeply electronic Crisis was their first single released in 1983 however it was pretty much unnoticed on its release primarily down to the continuing success of Bailando. Or, perhaps its fascinating lyrics contained in the delightful refrain of “vice, drugs, Sodom and gomorrah, War, missiles bombs and torpedoes” may have had impact on its promotion. Still, Crisis sounds like something like a song written by Prince for a 1986 Janet Jackson album. It is one of my favourites. Its subject matter of exploitation, fraud and politicians are sadly relatable today as they were it was first wrote. Crisis paved the way for their first album Canciones Profanas which included catchy new wave disco-lite tracks like Club De Egipcios, Kali and Lineas Rectas. However it was Perlas Ensangrentadas that sparkled like a shooting star and became a sing-a-long favourite at concerts which guaranteed it emerging as their second single. Perlas Ensangrentadas highlighted the general euro-post-pop-punk sound that Alaska and her team were heading towards for the rest of the 1980s. It was the fourth single that ultimately secured the albums success and strengthened their position in the clubs of Madrid but also teenage bedrooms of Spain. Their stompy single Rey Del Glam was a massive airkiss from the team to David Bowie but also Marc Bolan. The singled roared through the pop radio stations of Spain, penetrated itself deep in the hearts of Spanish clubland and offered the band bright exposure down paths, catwalks and roads not strutted or graced beforehand. If recorded in English the song could’ve easily taken the band to the heights of Top Of The Pops but the band were already preparing themselves for the follow-up: the mighty and legendary Deseo Carnal.

Produced by Nick Patrick (Camy Todorow, Gina Lamour), their second album was huge. Sounding like a cross between a sparkly Dead Or Alive album, Depeche Mode, Divine, and New Order, Deseo Carnal was the first modern pop album Spain had been waiting for. The sales were off the roof. Those teenagers who’d expressed an admiration for their first album found themselves addressed to on the bands second as each track emerged as emblazoned coming-out anthem. Underscored with supreme production levels comparable to Trevor Horn’s work with Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Deseo Carnal ravished the listener with sumptuous orchestral strings, italo-disco baselines and epic crescendos trumpeted by thick wads of bombastic horns. Cómo pudiste hacerme esto a mí, the first single, proves the point perfectly. Written by Berlanga and Canut, it features a refined electro baseline that is underscored with a dramatic string section which sounds as mighty as the classical piece Rise of The Valkyries.

The second single, Ni Tu Ni Nadie, swallowed up any doubters or haters the band may have had. Recalling some of their rocky stompy efforts of her earlier work, Alaska struts out the party anthem Ni Tu Ni Nadie like her life depended on it. The gloriously lush strings pad out the entire song like a beautiful crown on a feathered Las Vegas showgirl. The song also contains one of the best middle-eights to come out Spain as it sounds like one of those amazing royal fanfares that score the Disney films that then additionally feeds into a mighty key change at the end which takes the song to euphoric elation and crescendo. Ni Tu Ni Nadie is amazing. 

The lead single from their 3rd album A Quien Le Importa is a stunning hybrid of I Will Survive and You Spin Me Around (Like A Record) and seriously needs to be heard to be believed. It has emerged as one of the biggest disco anthems of not just Spain but also Latin America. Queen of pop Thalia covered the song in 2002 and enjoyed huge success with her version taking it to the Billboard Latin top ten charts. Whether sung by Raphael, Rita Pavone, drag queens, famous footballers or on popstar/idol type shows the song has embedded itself within the songbook of modern Spain. Walk around Chueca and you'll even find a bar called A Quien Le Importa (located on Calle Horteleza if you wanna track it down). In 1989 the band released their final album together as Alaska y Dinarama titled Fan Fatal with the lead single being Mi Novio Es Un Zombi which pretty much translates as My Boyfriend Is A Zombie. Much of Fan Fatal sounds like a Pete Hammond remix album of a lost The Flirts album with touches of Soft Cell and Eurythmics. 

Alaska and Nacho Canut formed Fangoria 18 months later launching themselves with the song Hagamos Algo Superficial Y Vulgar, followed by En Mi Prison. The album Salto Mortal sounded like a very well decorated Pet Shop Boys album remixed by Neneh Cherry's producers & included touches of Dee-lite. Fangoria then released a series of E.P's known as the Vulcan collection that were eventually compiled together in one CD package issued in 2003. In 1999 the band released their second album Una Temporada En El Infierno with the ethereal electronic Electricistas flourishing on the radio as the flag-bearer for the album. The album also proved to be one of Fangoria's biggest with the ambient second single Mi Odio Cuando Miento highlighting the overall versatility of the band. Borrowing a title from the Bette Davis film All About Eve, Fangoria immediately released a follow-up to their highly popular 2001 album in the form of Naturaleza Muerta. Produced entirely by Carlos Jean, I love the club-disco friendly album. Beefy baselines are coupled airtight lyrics and swooping melodies the bombastic pop album is one of their best releases for the inclusion of No Se Que Me Das alone. Right after the release of Naturaleza Muerta the band put out Arquitectura Efímera which threw in a few more guitars layered over their distinctive synth-pop wall of sound. 

One of my favourite songs from the album Retorciendo Palabras that eventually became a single and received the duet treatment when Fangoria performed it live with Marta Sanchez. The song itself went to no.1 selling well for a number weeks emerging as one of their most successful singles during the naughties. The second single Miro la vida pasar was remixed by Marc Almond and became a huge club hit in the dancefloors of Madrid, Barcelona and Ibiza securing even further sales for Fangoria who saw the album selling over 80.000 copies in Spain alone. 

El Extrano Viaje saw the band continue right where they'd left off with Arquitectura Efímera with irresistible catchy pop melodies and bouncy lyrics. This release however featured somewhat more of a glam-rocky-sound perhaps down to the appearance of Stefan Olsdal (Placebo). The singles Criticar por criticar, Ni contigo ni sin ti and El cementerio de mis sueños all soared up into the higher echelons of the Spanish charts and made sure the parent album sold over 100.000 in Spain and Mexico. With the immense success of their live album Viven, the band returned to the studio not before releasing a series of re-issues and EP's (such as Entre Punta Cana y Montecarlo). 

This time Nacho and Alaska headed to Dean Street Studios London to embark on what was to become Absolutamente - their next album. Produced by Neal X and Tony James of Sigue Sigue Sputnik, the single Mas es Mas highlighted the pure drama of the record and the band themselves. It went straight to number 1 in Spain and 4 in Mexico with a special re-issue of the album that included the legend that was Sara Montiel. 

Soon after Absolutamente, Fangoria issued an amazing anthology collection called El paso trascendental del vodevil a la astracanada! This included pretty much everything Alaska had ever released with rarities and unreleased gems available on the super deluxe edition. The collection also received two single releases in the form of re-worked versions of Ni Tu Ni Nadie and A Quien Le Importa. Fangoria returned to the studio in 2012 not before issuing another live project called Operacion Vodevil which saw the record company using a new version of Bailando to underscore and promote the live album. Recorded in Madrid, Granada, Los Angeles, Mexico and London their seventh album, Cautricromia, was deliciously sliced into four parts: Pop, Rock, Electro and Gothic with each section co-produced by separate teams La Casa Azul (pop), Sigue Sigue Sputnik (rock), Los Pilotos (electro) and Jon Klein of Specimen (Gothic). If you can find it, I highly recommend tracking down the re-release Policromia purely for The Sound of Arrows remix available on Cd2 of the limited edition pressing. 

As already stated, I can't underestimate the importance of Alaska to modern Spain and her cultural position within the social narrative written after its time as a dictatorship. Moreover, she constantly made sure her output was always entrenched in sublime pop melodies. Her albums were always played by those outside of the tribe but also eventually emerged as anthems of the tribe itself. She wrote and sung for the discos of Madrid and Barcelona but also the isolated teenager in the remote countryside hills of Asturias and Andalucia. She encompassed and included all. She always beats her drum for the marginalised and oppressed with her discography mapping out endless hymns for parties and discos of modern Spain. Pick any album, and you're guaranteed to find yourself boombox classic. Alaska, a Spanish pop legend, gracias por la musica!

The Definitive Introductory Ten Track Alaska MixTape
(Must-have songs to download by Alaska)
Nu Ti Ni Nadie
A Quien Le Importa
Como Pudiste Hacerme Esto A Mi?
Mas es Mas
Retorciendo Palabras
Dramas Y Comedias
Un Hombre De Verdad


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