Los 3 Caballeros
Los 3 Caballeros s/t 10" (Musart, 1956)
Roberto Cantoral and Los Tres Caballeros are very well known in their native Mexico and throughout Latin America, but were pretty much ignored north of the border. That's nothing new: U.S. Americans tend to not be exposed to much music sung in languages other than English, that is, unless it is presented to them as a novelty. We will wallow in "Volare" or "99 Luftbaloons" til our ears wax up in rebellion but only when such songs are brought to us. For all our braggadocio, we are not a very adventurous people, at least when it comes to culture. Of course, as the world shrinks and this thing called the internet provides a way to share more and more stuff, ears open - xenophobes be damned.
That said, even with this "interconnectiveness" information on records such as this one or groups like Los Tres Caballeros is difficult to find. My only the Cabs popularity is coming upon CD "Best of..." best of collections on Spanish language websites and seeing that their records were in print though out Latin America. Maybe someone out there can clue us in on this band.
Initially I was drawn to this record by the guitar and then the production. The sharp plucks accented with warm reverb really grabbed me. Ultimately, though, it was the trio's voices which hooked me. And as I listened more I heard melodies I was already familiar with - not through Mexican music but from American haunted pop of the same time period, specifically that of Roy Orbison and Gene Pitney. I'll let who influenced who be fought over by others. To me it doesn't matter. I love finding these universalities (or at least strong similarities).
Bless Me Jesus
Prof. Harold Boggs Bless Me Jesus 45 (Nashboro, 1963)
Nothing beats a good Black gospel single. Sure, there are plenty of things as good but when the voices, feeling, and instrumentation all click, this is music that can't be topped. Columbus, Ohio's Professor Harold Boggs and his group The Specials came up with a great slow one in the B-side to "Doing All the Good We Can." A solid, simple piano meets strong backing vocals, with Boggs' soulful voice up front. Had Boggs opted for a secular career his pipes might have carried him to stardom.
The Sacramento Amazons Baby (2010)
When I am especially bored, I click on youtube and start searching for videos tagged "Sacramento." I find all kinds of goofy stuff, weird crap, and really really mundane clips. Never have a found a video as charming and unpretentious as this one of the Sacramento Amazons. The clip is of three young women - one on ukulele and two singing. They are sitting on some back steps, it is evening, and they are busting out a version of Justin Beiber's hit "Baby."
The Beiber version is your typical version of teen pop confection. Though I am sure his fans will argue, there is nothing in his "Baby" that distinguishes itself from the corporate pop drivel emitted by the Jonas Brothers or Mylie Cyrus. However, in the Sacramento Amazons hands the song is stripped of all artifice and just is. There is no image, no attempt to sell anything, just three young women sitting on the steps having a good time playing music.
There is a reason the Sacramento Amazons are so cool: They are not a professional singing group. They are a women's rugby team (undefeated Nor Cal champs! They really smash other teams!). One of their members happens to tote around a ukulele. They sing for the joy of it. Looking at other video of them, they like to have fun, dance around, and every once in a while do a song. And they like to play rugby.
When I stumbled on this video, there were only four views of it. I am passing it on to you because I am entranced by it. Hopefully spreading it around won't intrude too much into these young ladies' world and destroy their spontaneity. Go Sacramento Amazons!