Archive for the ‘Covers’ Category

Trinidad Goes Latin

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

The island of Trinidad, the cradle of Calypso, is home to an incredible history of unique music. As with pretty much anywhere in the musical melting pot of the Caribbean, influences and styles cross-pollinated freely. The Mambo and Cha Cha Cha crazes of the 50s and 60s left their mark throughout Latin America and the Caribbean and this blog is pretty much devoted to just such cultural exchanges. This week’s episode features two obscure Trinidadian 45s recently obtained on a dusty digging expedition in Brooklyn, NYC, which both reveal the beautiful things that happened when Latin music found influence in Trinidad.

The Monogram Caribbean Orchestra played with none other than the legendary Calypsonian Lord Kitchener, but is virtually unknown beyond that (try Google if you don’t believe me!). Here they do a blistering tune called “Calypso Cha-Cha For Spooks” that’s more of a slow Calypso-Rhumba than a Cha Cha Cha, but that’s hardly the point. Stylish soloists go to town over the brooding bassline and drum beat, with piano, flute, trumpet, guitar and alto sax all doing their spookiest. They were certainly a talented group of musicians, and I wonder who else they played with?!

Next up is Pete De Vlugt & Orchestra doing “Caremelos (Twist)”. It’s a cover of Sonora Matancera’s tune of the same name, which provided a young Celia Cruz with an early hit. This totally reminds me of Congan Rhumba music (itself also heavily influenced by Cuban groups like Sonora Matancera), and no doubt you will agree once you press play. The swinging piano and melodic horns are simply beautiful. Enjoy the heavy Tropical vibes!

Monogram Caribbean Orchestra: “Calypso Cha-Cha For Spooks”
From the Monogram 7″ (USA)

Pete De Vlugt & Orchestra: “Caremelos (Twist)”
From the RCA Victor 7″ (Trinidad, W.I.)

Guest Post: High-C from Rehash Media

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Back again on Música del Alma is the dude High-C, joining us on a whirlwind promotional stint in honor of his freshly redesigned mega-blog, Rehash Excavation. Along with partner in grime Wilson, High-C has been generously sharing quality soul and funk music on his website for well over a decade. Today, he provides us with some killer Tejano Soul courtesy of Tony Hernandez!  -Slim Jenkins

Tony Hernandez and the Latin Liners: “Jo Tex” & “Nothing is the Same”
From the La Voz Encantadora LP  (Capri Records – Dallas, Texas)

Hailing from Seguin, Texas, just 35 miles east of San Antonio, emerges one of Chicano music’s less heralded bandleaders, Tony Hernandez. Like other comparable Mexican American bands of the day, Tony and his Latin Liners boasted an eclectic repertoire, delving into multiple genres, playing everything from traditional Mexican rancheras and boleros to up-tempo, chugging funk instrumentals. Following suit behind the A-listers on the scene such as Sunny & the Sunliners and Little Joe and the Latinaires, Tony spared no expense on the horn section’s payroll. This barrage of fortified brass is what defined the Texas Sound in the 1960s-70s and is what makes the featured tune so undeniably heavy. An homage to a fellow Texan soul brother, “Jo Tex [sic]” is one of two funky offerings on an LP composed almost entirely of rancheras. The second point of interest (to funk fans, anyway) on “La Voz…” is the band’s take on the 1970 Grand Funk tune “Nothing is the Same.” The familiar drum, bass and guitar intro that inspired sampling hip hoppers over twenty years ago sounds even sweeter given the Latin treatment. – High-C

EDIT:

Thanks to Detective Jenkins for mining deep into the Youtube-o-sphere to uncover that “Jo Tex” is not an original TH & tLL composition, but in fact, a cover of a cover:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTnG2duZ_rk

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3XCRtEsBx4

Check out High-C’s previous Guest Post for Música del Alma. Un abrazo, compadre!

 

Guest Post: LA CUMBIA TEJANA

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Alex LaRotta is a good friend and emerging ethnomusicologist based in San Antonio, Texas.  This week he has written an outstanding overview about the incorporation of Cumbia into the Tex-Mex gamut.  Thanks, man!

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What’s often misunderstood about La Onda Chicana – the Tex-Mex musical/socio-political movement of the early 1970s – is that the ‘new sound’ emanating from Texas didn’t just incorporate American r&b and rock music, as it is popularly understood.  Tex-Mex orquestas associated with La Onda Chicana also incorporated música tropical of Caribbean and South American influence, though to a discernible lesser degree than Latin groups in New York and Chicago. The Colombian cumbia became wildly popular in Mexico by the early 1960s in part by Eduardo Baptista and his Mexico City-based musical powerhouse, Discos Peerless – one of the oldest and most influential Latin American record labels of the 20th century. As late as the mid ’60s, Peerless and its various subsidiary labels were licensing, pressing, and distributing Colombian cumbias across Central American and into the American Southwest, feeding the infectious cumbia frenzy on both sides of the border. Meanwhile, tropical groups started popping up across Mexico, emulating the great cumbia and tropical bandleaders of Colombia – Pacho Galan and Lucho Bermúdez were particularly popular figures of Mexico’s tropical scene. Though the craze wasn’t as profitable as the mambo or cha-cha-cha of several years prior, cumbia has enjoyed an arguably longer shelf life than many other of the ‘trendy’ Latin musical styles. Later re-imagined by Selena and her early ’90s pop crossover sensation, cumbia remains a genre favorite for Tejano bands even today. Needless to say, the synth-heavy and all-too-’80s sound of the modern cumbia tejana is a far stretch from its Colombian Afro-Caribbean roots, but these early Texas cumbias were remarkably pretty close to the big band sounds of Colombia’s golden age. Most Texas cumbias were covers of Colombian and Mexican hits, so while there weren’t tropical arrangers in Texas per se, Tex-mex bands of La Onda era were definitely bit by the cumbia bug.

Subtle changes to band arrangements and instrumentation can be found in La Onda records of the late ’60s/early ’70s, which had evolved from the basic bass-and-accordion conjunto instrumentation known throughout most of South Texas to big brass bands and full-bodied orquestas. Considering that both the Colombian cumbia and Tex-Mex conjunto are characteristically accordion-driven musical styles, the genre melding during La Onda heyday sounds quite natural, though notably distinct than the original Colombian compositions.

All history/ramblings aside, big up to Adam and Música del Alma for inviting me to share a few of my favorite cumbia tejana sides. Gracias compadre! Enjoy!

Sunny and The Sunliners – “La Pollera Colorada” & “Cissy Strut” from The Missing Link LP (Key-Loc, 1970)

Though Sunny and The Sunliners’ The Missing Link LP is well-known in latin funk circles (and it does get super fonky – check their rendition of The Meters’ “Cissy Strut” below for the non-believers), this record contains one of my all-time favorite cumbia covers. Sunny takes a swing at the immortal cumbia classic – “La Pollera Color·” – written by Colombian costeÒo Wilson Choperena of Pedro Salcedo y su Orquesta fame. Though no one could ever really top Choperena’s original, Sunny’s version easily qualifies for honorable mention. Wilson Chopenera recently passed on (a week ago as of this writing), but his legacy lives on with this timeless Colombian anthem and countless other compositions. R.I.P. maestro.

Little Joe and The Latinaires – “Cumbia de la Media Noche” from the Arriba! LP – (Buena Suerte, 1968)

From José ”Little Joe” Hernandez’s Arriba! LP – the debut full-length of his Buena Suerte imprint (of legendary Brothers Seven fame for the funk heads) – “Cumbia de la Media Noche” is a personal favorite. The huge (huuuge!) horns and luscious, bright keys alone gives it my Colombian stamp of approval – trust me, used only sparingly. “Cumbia de la Media Noche” was a popular cover tune of early Mexican tropical groups, recorded and popularized by Mexico’s Carmen Rivero y Su Conjunto in 1964. To my knowledge, Little Joe was the first Tejano to take a crack at it.

Lalo Garciano y Su Orquesta – “Poquita Fe b/w Alegria” (El Zarape, 196?)

A relative unknown of the Tex-Mex music world (aka ungoogleable), Lalo Garciano y Su Orquesta’s “Alegria” (a typo from the real title of the song, “Alergia”, and coincidentally my Mom’s name – HI MOM!), “Alegria” is a big horn cumbia produced by Mr. Onda Chicana himself – Johnny Gonzales of the Dallas-based El Zarape Records.* Originally recorded in 1968 by popular Mexican tropical group Sonora Santanera for CBS Mexico, Garciano and his group faithfully execute a near note-to-note cover of Chico Navarro’s original. Gotta love that big bellowing “CUMBIA!” that kicks off at the top!

Catching up: Caribbean Heat

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

I’m feeling guilty for the lack of posts lately so I decided to do a couple more today!

One of the more sought after titles on Disques Debs, the Ce Soir Grand Bal De L’A.J.S. LP is a split album between Les Maxel’s & Typical Combo, who were two of the top French Caribbean bands of the early 70s from the islands of Guadeloupe & Martinique.  What stood out to me immediately about this record were the covers of two classic NYC salsa tunes, one by Willie Colon (“Ghana’e”) and the other by Ricardo “Richie” Ray (“Guaguanco En Jazz”).  Both covers proceed with a Caribbean style that is equal parts heavy and jazzy, all the while coming across as totally playful and fresh.

The rest of the album is pretty standard fare for a Disques Debs release, with one major exception: the Les Maxel’s track entitled “Ni Longtemps Ou Po Ko Vine a Case”.  The track is a jazzy, uptempo burner of a jam that I cannot wait to try out on a packed dancefloor!  If anyone has any other recommendations for stuff that sounds like this, please drop me a line!

Les Maxel’s: “Ghanae” (Disques Debs, Guadeloupe)

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Les Maxel’s: “Ni Longtemps Ou Po Ko Vine a Case” (Disques Debs, Guadeloupe)

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Typical Combo: “Guacuanco In Jazz” (Disques Debs, Guadeloupe)

Harold y su Banda – Heavy Colombian Funk

Monday, July 18th, 2011

I have finally gotten around to processing all of my finds from my Colombia / Venezuela trip, so while I put the finishing touches on a couple of mixes I’m working on, check out this LP by Harold y su Banda.  In terms of funky stuff, the below LP quickly bubbled to the top and stood out from the all rest.  What ended up being a nice find on my last day in Colombia from a street vendor in Bogota, the Evolucion LP really has a lot to offer those of us who love Latin Funk music.  Harold Orozco, originally from Cali, Colombia, was apparently an integral force behind Colombia’s La Nueva Ola (New Wave) rock / beat scene during the 1960′s which looked to American and British popular rock groups for inspiration.

Eventually, instead of simply covering North American songs, Colombian musicians branched out and explored amazing new avenues of sound in the late 60′s and early 70′s. This brings us to Harold’s 1975 album, Evolucion, with its incredible production of funky rhythms and lush soundscapes.  A true studio creation, recorded in Bogota between 1973 and 1975 at the legendary Ingeson Studios, you really get the sense that Harold’s musical vision has reached maturity.  My first impression of this LP when I heard it was that it was recorded by a Colombian musician who had relocated to the US (also, the LP’s cover photo looks like it was shot in the American Southwest, cover photo shot in Colombia’s Tatacoa Desert).  But after more detailed listening I think that this album is a unique Colombian creation.

“Latino” is a killer uptempo b-boy funk track that leads off with a stylish guitar and rumbling bass-line.  The brass section and vocals really make this track shine, though! And how about those breaks?  “Busque El Gato” sounds like it could be at home on a Wganda Kenya album with its Afro Funk guitar, and was recorded in 1973 (two years before all the others).  Again, this is b-boy catnip! I wonder what other stuff he recorded in the early 70s?

The last two tracks I’m including here, “Ansias de Vivir” and “Alguien”, definitely have obvious mid-70′s American funk influences.  I can hear Mizell Brothers vibes all over the place in “Ansias…” (RIP Fonce), and even some Barry White in “Alguien”!

Harold y su Banda: “Latino”“Busque El Gato”, “Ansias de Vivir” , “Alguien”
From the Evolucion LP (CBS, Colombia, 1975)

Los Aristocratas de Chicago Go Funk

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

While you may not think that Chicago, Illinois, was a hotbed of Latin activity in the 70s, think again. Not only were there plenty of hot salsa groups being recorded by EBIRAC Records, a Mexican-American group called Los Aristocratas de Chicago also found modest local popularity playing Latin music typical of Northern Mexico and the American Southwest. To be sure, though, they recorded for the Los Angeles-based Musimex label that marketed and distributed their releases mostly in the Southern border region of US where their core market resided.

Hidden in two bargain bin albums (both recorded in 1974) are single tracks that show another side to Los Aristocratas’ usual Cumbia / Ranchera / Balada musical leanings: funk music.  The first great example of this comes in their Vol. 1 LP with a real nice cover of Ray Barretto‘s classic summertime jam, “Cocinando”, which I have already featured on this site.  It’s a pretty straight-forward cover but for the hot electric guitar that comes in the end.  Suave!

While I’m at it, I wanted to throw up another track by Los Aristocratas that appears on their Vol. 2 LP from the same year (and most likely the same recording session).  “Poppin” comes across in true border-town Latin Funk fashion, and really it’s a funky ranchera a la Los Vampiros.  Me gusta!

Los Aristocratas de Chicago: “Cocinando” & “Poppin”
From the Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 LPs (Musimex, 1974)


SOLID LATIN FUNK 45s

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Three bangin tracks from 2 rare 45s this week!  Two of my favorite scores of 2010…

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Cheesy Afro-Latin funk at its best! This is by far the best thing I’ve heard by the Panamanian group The Beachers. They put out at least 10 LPs in the seventies and eighties on various labels from that country (Loyola, Tamayo, etc), their best being Africa Caliente, IMO. But here, we have a 45-only track (to my knowledge at least) absolutely brimming with pure energy and tropical fire. Most of the time their beyond-cheesy organ is a total killing point for me, but I really love it in this track. Multiple breakdowns and teenage back-up singers charge “Black Soul” along and keep things interesting. Cheers to DJ Papito for selling me this 45.

The Beachers: “Black Soul”
Taken from the Loyola Records 7″ (Costa Rica Press)

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One of my favorite scores from the past year (thanks, Noel!), and a solid double-sider at that. Don’t know much about Los Africanos except that it’s Bobby Marin produced and that it absolutely HAS to be Ricardo Marrero on electric piano. It has his signature watery keys as heard on “Babalonia” (Yu Qui Yu) and his A Taste LP on TSG. If anyone has any more info for me that would be great, please leave a comment.

Los Africanos: “Together People (Pamoja Watu)” & “It’s Your Thing”
Taken from the TR Records 7″ (1974)

Picking up the Crumbs

Monday, March 1st, 2010

This week we have an interesting LP from Florida: Sincerely Antique. Miami’s token Latin Rock band a la Santana, Antique (aka The Antiques) were a popular regional act that also explored the heavy psych and funk sounds prevalent at the time. The main draw of this LP (at least for me) is their epic version of the sure-shot Laura Lee classic “Crumbs Off the Table”. Pounding Latin percussion and heavy organ make this version their own, while lead vocalist Eddy Diaz belts out the man’s side to Laura Lee’s story.

On “Batuka”, a Santana original from their III album, the band covers new ground and play the already-sparse track rawer and funkier than Carlos and his crew ever could. (A quick aside: In a nod to Santana’s legendary use of Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va”, Puente himself covered “Batuka” on his 1972 album Para Los Rumberos.) Antique credit the song to Tito on the LP’s back cover, as it turns out.

Lastly, I wanted to include “Taboo” here, as I rarely post any mellow goodness. Overall a cool LP from a local Miami scene I’m becoming increasingly interested with. Judging from the front and back cover, it looks like they had plenty of fun making it! The band have one other LP on Funny (Antique Sorcery) plus an earlier one on Audio Latino. Both are pretty sick and worth tracking down if you can find them.

Expect new and exciting things here at Musica Del Alma in the coming weeks!

Antique: “Crumbs Off The Table”, “Batuka”, + “Taboo”
Taken from the Sincerely Antique LP (Funny, 502, 1973)

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Tighten Yourself Up for 2010

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Just in time for 2010, Los Johnny Jets urge y’all to tighten yourself up for the new year with a raw and fantastic cover of the Archie Bell and the Drells classic.  Coming from the seemingly endless vault of Mexican covers of popular American soul and funk songs from the 1960s and 70s, most of which are quite forgettable IMO, “Apretado (Tighten Up)” relishes in its own grittiness.  Bass, drums, guitar and hand claps are all this garage-styled monster needs to hold its own (and get your new year started off on the right foot!).

Shouldn’t be too hard to grab an affordable copy of this LP with enough patience.

Los Johnny Jets: “Apretado (Tighten Up)”
From the La Minifalda de Reynalda LP (Harmony, 1968)

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Gallina Funky

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Apologies for the long gap in posts, but I got the swine flu! Back on track with some crazy fresh Latin Funk covers supplied by Mexico’s very own Comparsa Universitaria, yet another group coming from our southern neighbor that specialized in covering popular songs from the US. Here we have them doing the “Funky Chicken” by Rufus Thomas and “Chicken Strut” by The Meters, putting their own style to the hit soul songs of the day.

Comparsa Universitaria de La Laguna: “El Ritmo de Gallina” y “El Pavoneo de la Gallina”
From the Una Comparsa Con Sabor album (Orfeon, Mexico, 196?)

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They must have found a winning formula by covering Rufus Thomas, because on a later LP entitled La Nueva!, the group returns to his catalog and bangs out a seriously cool cover of the “Push and Pull,” one of my favorite of Thomas’ songs to begin with. Do the “Poooosh and Pooooool” everybody….

Comparsa Universitaria de La Laguna: “Empuja y Estira
From the La Nueva! album (Orfeon, Mexico, 197?)

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