Luis Carlino
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Luis Carlino

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Still working on that hot first release.



I couldn’t blow my own trumpet if Sachtmo came back to hit me in the head with it, so this is what my friend Carlos Ruano, a brilliant journalist, wrote:

“I’m sorry to be late, but I was busy living,” he told me when I asked why he took such a long time to publish the flashes of genius that make up ‘Emotional exile’. “As far as my music is concerned, I’ve always been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and my alternative lives have been too good for regrets.”

His eyes – with turquoise blue irises that, defying science, react to mood changes as well as light – twinkle with irony as he recounts the highlights of what he calls “my cat lives”: posh teenage rocker, philosophy graduate, trained classical musician, foreign correspondent, media executive, three marriages, several close calls and, finally, a wonderful daughter …

I met Luis in the mid 80’s as a seasoned journalist that hid a deeply sceptical philosopher behind a wild sense of humour, but it was the artist that finally dazzled me. It was shortly after arriving in Madrid that, encouraged by the comeback of his idols – like Peter Gabriel or Paul Simon – he began writing the 10 songs that, after years of barking up the wrong tree, try now to hit a road clogged by heavy traffic. It would have been a sin that the work of this major composer remained within the four walls of his friends’ living rooms.

Luis was born on April 9th, 1952 in Buenos Aires. His father, Carlos Carlino, a well-known poet and playwright, was the penniless heir of a family of grain merchants wiped out by the 1929 Wall Street crash, and his mother, Nélida Chiarello, a theatre actress. At the age of four, he started studying classical guitar, but one year later -- watching Elvis Presley on television -- he discovered his two lifelong loves: rock n' roll and the English language.

Educated at an English school for black sheep, he formed his first group -- aptly named The Jerks -- at 14 to sing early Rolling Stones and Kinks material, and at 17 he started writing his own songs -- in English. In 1970, he made his pilgrimage to San Francisco, and six months at the Haight Ashbury finally convinced him that his future was not in the incipient Buenos Aires rock scene, where groups were making the first attempts to develop Spanish language material.

While still a philosophy student at Buenos Aires University, he joined Reuters as a subeditor in 1973, and three years later he was posted to Panama as a correspondent -- a lucky move that got him safely out of the country during the first, bloody years of the military dictatorship. After covering the Panama Canal Treaty negotiations and the start of all the little dirty wars that plagued Central America in the late 1970's, he went back to Argentina and -- bored of the bland pop music of the time -- started studying classical piano and composition.

Following a stint working at Reuters' Fleet Street headquarters, the Falklands war -- which he covered from Buenos Aires --, his first divorce and the death of his parents sealed his emotional exile, and he took a job as correspondent in Spain. After years of blissfully studying the classics with no ambition whatsoever, his songwriting bug reawakened, and well-meaning people helped push him into the thankless task of trying to find an outlet for his music -- in the wrong language by a composer of the wrong nationality living in the wrong place -- while writing lyrics -- in Spanish, naturally -- for his famous friends across the pond.

In 100 hectic hours of 1992, he recorded the demos for his unreleased first album, Emotional Exile, with his lifelong friends Quique Berro playing guitar, Willy Iturri on drums and Octavio von der Heyde adding backing vocals.

Quique -- a Guildhall graduate who recorded two guitar albums with Genesis founder Anthony Phillips – is one of Argentina’s and Spain’s top session men and has worked, among others, with Joaquín Sabina, Pedro Guerra and Alex Ubago.

Willy -- one of Latin America's top drummers -- was the rhythm behind the legendary Charly Garcia’s best albums and a former member of supergroup G.I.T.. He now lives in Chile and has just released his first solo record, AyerHoy. Luis wrote the lyrics for his songs in G.I.T’s last album, Distorsión, and three of the solo album tracks.

Luis spent the next few years banging his head against the walls of the music industry territorial divisions. In the UK, despite the backing of some top record executives and his seasoned agent,
companies said the music was great but he wasn’t there so he should try it in Spain. In Madrid, they said the material was wonderful and he was welcome to come back when he had something in Spanish.

In 2005, with new songs demanding to be written, he started taking digital recording lessons with Guido González – an Argentine musician, producer and sound engineer based in Madrid. When Luis played him the old 16-track Emotional Exile master, Guido convinced him t