Anglo-Argentine Differences

An article from an English language newspaper from Argentina about Ant and
Quique Berro Garcia's collaboration on the Antiques album.

Anglo-Argentine differences nonexistent on rock level

By Uki Goņi

It is, perhaps, the unspoken ambition of any struggling Argentine rock musician to one day cut a record with one of the legendary superstars of modern US or British music.

This is the story of one artists for whom the dream came true. Enrique Berro, 32, started teaching himself guitar in his early teens, playing with a number of amateur bands at Buenos Aires teenage parties and learning piano in his spare time.

At 20, in what he calls a "lucky break", he joined the group Safari, which only three weeks later went on to record "Estoy hecho un demonio", the number-two biggest selling single ever in Argentine pop history, with 385,000 copies sold.

But, despite Safari's phenomenal success, the group didn't last long in its original line-up and Enrique Berro, seeking to widen his musical frontiers, spent three years at the Manuel de Falla school of music studying piano, guitar and harmony, while at the same time playing at local discos with a group called Zatrapa, doing note-perfect renditions of Genesis and Beatle songs.

These years of musical preparation were to bear their fruit when Berro, drawn by the music he had grown up with and played so long, left for London in 1978. Upon arriving there, he started calling up for auditions in response to ads in Melody Maker magazine, "getting an idea of how musicians work there and what kind of music was happening at the time." This was followed by a stint of touring in Spain with Argentine pop star Roque Narvaja (who returned to Argentina with the commercial success "Menta y limon" last year).

But on his return to London, Berro decided to "approach the whole thing a different way". He thus signed at the Guildhall School of Music for a number of subjects including orchestral conducting, guitar and piano. He also attended the Chigihana classical guitar seminar in Italy with the internationally-known classical guitarist Alirio Diaz.

Berro soon found himself totally immersed in the study of music in a way he had not experienced before, spending four to five daily hours just practising his instrument, without counting the time he put in attending classes at the Guildhall.

Meanwhile, Anthony Phillips, one of the members of the super-group Genesis in its original line-up, was working on his solo career, just as former Genesis men Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins were.

Dining with London friends one night, Enrique Berro met a record producer who at the time was working with Anthony Phillips on a new LP, Sides. Asking if he could attend one of the recording sessions, Berro was invited for the following week.

It turned out on that particular day that Phillips stayed working on the record till four in the morning. While the recording engineers worked on the mix, Phillips and Berro passed the time playing old Genesis numbers. Berro, an ardent Genesis fan, just happened to know the songs backwards. "He plays them better than I do, " Phillips joked.

Phillips was impressed by Berro's playing, and the two soon became friends, meeting regularly to go to the movies, play tennis or dine together. "We just became good friends, without really meaning to compose or play together, " says Berro now. "It was more friendship than a musical thing, and we both knew it."

Despite this, Phillips soon began to toy with the idea of including Berro on two or three tracks of his forthcoming instrumental LP, the third in a series of yearly albums titled "Private Parts & Pieces".

In early 1981, Phillips and Berro began working on this idea, composing tunes at Berro's London flat on a cassette recorder. The two soon found they were musically attuned to each other. "We could each guess ahead what the other was going to do, " says Berro. "We've got enough here for a whole LP," said Phillips.

Working later at Phillips' home studio on an eight-track recorder the guitar duets which make up the LP "Antiques" took their final shape.

Still, when the recording was over, Berro couldn't bring himself to believe it was really going to be edited as an LP, and, later that year, he returned to Buenos Aires. But "Antiques" finally did appear, the following year, which unhappily was the year of the Malvinas. "When they sent me a copy of the LP and I actually saw it I couldn't believe it, " says Berro.

Looking back on the episode, certain things etched themselves very clearly on his mind about Phillips. "His professionalism impressed me. He never takes a rest. He's working on a symphony, TV jingles, musicals, quartets all at the same time. When we finished "Antiques" we went to Rome for a holiday. Instead of touring the town at night, I found myself in the hotel room every evening in long sessions transcribing what we'd recorded to sheet music to be published by Ricordi."

Since his return to Buenos Aires, Berro has given eight classical guitar concerts, once with a full orchestra at the Cervantes theatre and another time at the cabildo. He has also been working as session man on a number of local recordings and is presently rehearsing with Argentine rock idol David Lebon.

"There are plans for touring with Phillips next year, " he says.

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