El disco es cultura! Indeed it is, for in those beautiful, scratched, dusty black platters ,often hidden behind colorful album covers, tattered dust sleeves, and gatefolds lays a rich musical history that begins to tell itself as soon as you put the needle to the record. These records or “Discos”, that have exchanged hands between generations, have often even crossed geographic borders before finding their next resting place in a forgotten box in a basement; continue to tell stories of cultural and historical intersections between peoples, places, and experiences that should not be forgotten. Nevertheless, for diggers of these special treats, these dusty slabs of history continue to inspire and open our eyes to music that delights the ears and eyes and inspires us to relentlessly rediscover and connect the musical dots of our global music scene.
This mix represents a little overview of the Chicano, or “Mexican American Sound” that evolved beginning in the 1940’s through the 1970’s namely in the southwest region and California regions. The offspring of immigrant workers who settled the fertile valleys of southern valleys of California grew up seeking musical outlets that expressed the fresh youthful exuberance of hip sounds of the day often seeking to distance themselves from the traditional regional Mexican genres leading them to embrace the “in” sounds of the day including boogie woogie, r n’ b, rock, soul, funk, and later disco among others.
Our mix kicks off with two musical giants of the early Chicano and Latin rock era, Lalo Guerrero and bassist Edmundo “Don Tosti” Tostado. Often using singing using the slang vernacular of caló, or pachuco, their songs incorporate the themes of the pachuco counterculture and lifestyle infused with Mexican sounds with jump blues and boogie woogie of the late 1940’s. Guerrero’s “Chicas Patas Boogie” maps out the happening and not so happenin’ dancing spots in the Southwest, “lo bailo en San Jo(San Jose)[… ] a San Tony (San Antonio…”).
From pachucos we move to the late 60’s to the East L.A. sounds of Eddie Davis’ Rampart Records which included such groups as The Premiers ,The Blendells and their hit, “La La La La La” and Cannibal and the Headhunters and their hit “Land of 1000 Dances”. Their hit came by way of an accidental slip by the Headhunters’ lead singer Frankie Garcia. During a live performance he forgot the lyrics to the song (originally a tune by Chris Kenner from 1962), so he improvised the lyric filling in the space with the song’s famous “ Naa na na na naa” phrase and made it a hit. According to the now owner of Rampart, Hector Gonzalez, “By that time everybody was singing the Na-na-na-na [lyric]. It has become one of the most popular and one of the most recorded phrases in the history of American rock and roll. It was written by a young Mexican American boy from the Estrada Courts in East L.A.
Meanwhile in Texas labels like Tear Drop, Jox, Zarape, and Falcon were putting out their own unique sound. From the group we’ve included Rene and Rene’s 1964 hit “Angelito”. The duo from Laredo, Texas took the Norteño influences along with doo wop and soul styles often singing in both Spanish and English within the same song. In addition Texas also was home to numerous groups that propelled the crossing of regional influences with numerous Latin American genres, including tropical rhythms like the mambo and cumbia that were still popular dance styles well into the 70’s. With their raucous horn section Little Little Joe y La Familia deliver a Texas style rendition of the Colombia cumbia classic “La Cumbia del Sol”.
Of course we couldn’t end our trip into these vinyl sounds without digging up some tasty covers along the way. The Caribbean funk of The Beginning of the End’s “Funky Nassau” gets a great rare and raw version from Frank Cardona y sus Alegres Tejanos, a group that had some ties to Chicago, and Stevie Wonder’s “I wish” is re-envisioned for the Chicano barrio’s of California by Ray Camacho y su Banda Internacional.
From Sonorama enjoys the mix and always remember….el disco es cultura!!!
Lalo Guerero-Chicas patas boogie
Don Tosti’s Pachuco Boogie Boys-Guiza gacha
Don Tosti’s Pachuco Boogie Boys-El tirili
The Atlantics 2-Beaver shot
Sarah James & Soul babies-Takin care of business
Agustine Ramirez-She’s looking good
The Premiers-Get your baby
Canibal & The Headhunters-Land of 1000 dances
Rene & Rene-Angelito
Willie G with the Six Pack-Brown baby
Village Callers-The frog
Los Strwk-Go-go 70
Ray Camacho & the Teardrops-Tus modos
Frank Cardona y sus Alegres Tejanos-Funky Nassau
Little Joe & The Latinaires-Cumbia del Sol
El Chicano-Don’t put me down if i’m brown
Sunny & the Sunliners-El Mexicano
Ray Camacho y su banda internacional-Recuerdos del barrio
One G plus Three-Poquito soul