Here’s a little trio of funky covers from the Lone Star state. First up is an obscure little record that features a wicked little version of The Beginning of the End’s funky hit “Funky Nassau”. This one been blogged about before, and yet it still remains a rather obscure record with very little information about it’s artists or origins. Back when this version was posted elsewhere on the web, some of his children came forth adding that he lived in Chicago before moving to San Antonio. Unfortunately Frank passed away in 2006 leaving everyone still in the dark about this energetic cut that’s quite a short little stormer with some tight organ keys and a tasty break to top it off. The rest of the record is mix of rancheras, polkas, pulpy cumbias, and follows a familiar formula many other bands from this period during the heyday of the tejano conjuntos that spanned from the mid 60’s to the later half of the 70’s.
Another band that enjoyed considerable success in the late 60’s and well into the 70’s was La Internacional Banda de Ray Camacho. The “international” in their name comes from their tours playing overseas at various US military bases, including Vietnam during war time (hmm think Apocalypse Now), but the title also reflects a versatility of many tejano bands from the period; occasionally cranking out a groovin “soul” cut, to loping cumbias norteñas, perez prado mambos, slow balads, to even merenques all on a single release.
Trumpeter, Ray Camacho was born in El Paso, Texas but grew up and spent most of his years in the Fresno area in California, though the band enjoyed success across all the southwestern states. The band a few years ago were the subject of a sweet comp that saw the reissue of their more groove orientated songs by Freestyle records compiled by UK’s Pete Isaac founder of the long running rare groove Jelly Jazz parties. Interestingly they left out this little cover of Stevie Wonder’s 70’s soul hit “I wish”. (Check out Pete Isaac’s great interview with Ray Camacho here)
As the previous bands indicate the tejano conjunto and bandas of the 60’s and 70’s were definately taking cues from a number of influences among them R&B/Soul, pop, and rock and Little Joe and the Latinaires, later renamed Little Joe and La Familia were no exception. Little Joe and others like Latin Breed infused elements of orchestra bands, integrating more players on horns and leading to a number of cuts like this one a romping instrumental jam, a cover of a Colombian cumbia together with some fuzzed out guitar and some nice work on the alto sax. Enjoy the tunes. EB