Guitarist/vocalist Chico Bouchikhi
got his start with the Gipsy Kings, who made their infectious brand of flamenco a worldwide phenomenon in the late '80s. One of the first world music groups to explode into the mainstream, the band eventually became a family affair, so Bouchikhi
left to form his own group, and the results are much the same. On Vagabundo
, Chico & the Gypsies
deliver the same impassioned sort of flamenco romanticism, adding subtle flavorful touches such as piano, bass, keyboards, and even tabla and clarinet on the hypnotic "Arles" to give their music a better-than-pedestrian allure. Fans of the Gipsy Kings may find Chico & the Gypsies
to be somewhat derivative, but the truth is that, in a blind taste test, the two bands' sounds are virtually indistinguishable.