Elia and Elizabeth Fleta were the granddaughters of Spanish tenor Miguel Fleta, and their parents supported their daughters’ musical aspirations by buying them acoustic guitars. Elia’s guitar lessons, however, ended badly when her father made such fun of her teacher’s laugh that the teacher quit. But Elia had learned enough to start composing her own songs, music inspired by the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. Elia was a precocious musical omnivore, and this gives the music on La Onda de Elia y Elizabeth its charming combination of psychedelic pop and youthful purity, a trait that may have foreshadowed one sister’s eventual change of career.

The sisters made their television debut at the age of 12 and 13 on a show called “El Tio Johnny a Go-Go” in Lima, Peru, and they were properly discovered in 1971 on a television homage to their musical grandfather. This appearance caught the attention of a record producer who released their first single, which provides two of the most charming tracks on the album. “Cae La Lluvia” (“The Rain Falls Down”) and “Fue Una Lagrima” (It Was a Tear”) were Elia originals that featured bright soft-pop arrangements. An electric harpsichord line places the latter squarely in the lineage of baroque pop. Its idiosyncratic drum beat gives it a modern Latin feel, and the sisters’ slightly out of sync harmonizing carries the song’s gentle melody.

“Alegria” launches the album with lightly funky rhythm guitar laying down a foundation for the sisters’ charming harmonies and a soul brass arrangement. Their sounds like a tropical variation on the kind of soft pop of late ’60s A&M records acts like Roger Nichols and the Small Circle of Friends. This is soft-pop coming at the end of the psychedelic era, and some of these arrangements will definitely appeal to psych-folk fans, with nice fuzz guitar on “Todo en La Vida” and electric guitar and agitated farfisa on “Ponte Bajo El Sol.” Their one cover song, a version of Paul Revere and the Raiders’ “Kicks” called “Pesadilla,” is less inspiring than Elia’s originals. There’s no translation, so I can’t tell if the original’s anti-drug message is intact; the subject matter may be what appealed to Elia y Elizabeth, but its flat melody wasn’t a good showcase for the sisters’ melodic gift.

This Vampisoul reissue combines tracks from the duo’s only two albums, from 1972 and 1973. “Buscandonos,” from the 1973 album ¡Alegria! is almost soft disco, the kind of early ’70s music that inspired the sophisticated pop of early Everything but the Girl and Pizzicato Five. The sisters’ star rose and their television appearances became a weekly event, but as Elia’s lyrical content grew more spiritual, so did her dissatisfaction with the music industry. The last straw came after a Colombian music festival competition that was unfairly judged. The press had begun to murmur that Elia was planning to become a nun, and that’s exactly what happened. She joined a Carmelite teaching order and went on to work in Madrid, Rome, Mumbai and Cameroon. Her sister Elizabeth also left the music business, got married and had a family, and she too became a teacher. Elia y Elizabeth both went on to teaching vocations, but they left behind a modest musical legacy that may well teach the value of harmony.

3 Comments

  1. inken esch

    January 21, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    thanks for the information. get connaissance of elia and elizabeth by DJ Micha in Bonn – Germany .DJ also in my favoured club “Blow Up” founded by my friend Det Jung, who´s already gone -i´ll be with him in my cioncentrated mind

    Reply

    • John Klink

      March 20, 2020 at 5:23 pm

      Listening to this for the first time right now. It is nice to have the background but this is a good record just for itself. For me with almost no background in pop music from this part of the world I am really impressed with the arrangements and their voices- very fresh sounding.

      Reply

  2. PABLO ZAPATA ALVAREZ

    October 8, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Great review man!!

    Reply

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