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Best Riffs Only

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Audio CD, April 23, 2007
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 23, 2007)
  • Original Release Date: 2008
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Box Records
  • ASIN: B000T3ZT2W
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,111 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. All I Do Is Try
2. Aw Tonight
3. Alamo Dragway
4. Sometime
5. Cry Cry, Laugh Laugh
6. Happy Go Lucky
7. Gator Gator
8. Roadrunner
9. The Sphinx Won't Tell
10. Rhymes of Tomorrow
11. Sunny Day
12. Times Together
13. Dorothy
14. Find a Girl
15. Christmas Time
16. You're Not My Girl

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Best Riffs Only is the acclaimed 16-song compilation from the pioneering teenage '70s Chicano powerpop garage band The Krayolas. Hailed as Tex-Mex Beatles, just as the Sir Douglas Quintet had been a decade earlier, The Krayolas sound is direct-to-the-brain - joyous, young, raw, energetic, upbeat, charming, campy and fun. Always melodic, the Krayolas easy-to-hum sound puts a smile on your face. It's timeless. Best Riffs Only features long-unavailable, out-of-print indie vinyl 45 r.p.m.singles and rare album tracks for the first time. Some of it dates back more than 30 years, most of it is a quarter century old. The album title comes from a bit of advice that Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds gave the band when they played together at the historic Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa in the late '70s: play your 'best riffs only'. A collectible must-have rarities CD whose essence is irresistible. The Krayolas are timeless.


By the mid-'70s, anyone who loved rock 'n' roll had to feel demoralized about where the music was heading. Between the bombast of art rock, the grating stupidity of Top 40 radio, and the self-important decadence of everything in between, the sense of fun and freshness that had made rock popular in the first place was a fading memory. Punk rockers responded to this creeping sense of boredom with nihilism, by willfully trashing everything in their path. Another faction of disgruntled youth took a less sensationalistic course. They bought smart matching suits and Rickenbacker guitars, and turned to the spirit of British Invasion pop circa 1964-65, before rock permanently became artsy. This form of verse-chorus-verse revivalism, usually pegged as 'power-pop', manifested itself in the work of the Shoes, the Records, the Nerves, and a host of other bands. The Krayolas were San Antonio's answer to this movement, and one of its best practitioners. Anchored by singer/guitarist Hector Saldaña (currently a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News) and his drumming brother David, the Krayolas stormed out of the gate in 1977 with a double-sided 45rpm gem, All I Do Is Try b/w Sometime. Between them, these two songs encapsulated the qualities that would carry the Krayolas for more than a decade. The Krayolas were all about teenage kicks (even their frustrations were so giddily expressed they sounded like kicks). All I Do Is Try finds Hector Saldaña ripping into an anxious raver with a voice that suggests a Tex-Mex Robin Zander. Sometime captures the dreamier, more optimistic side of the Krayolas' pop utopia, with billowy harmonies that reveal considerable command for a group of teenagers in the studio for the first time. For many bands of their era, power-pop required a certain practiced innocence. Take the Knack's Doug Fieger: With all that leering over 'what the little girls do' he came on like the old dude who tries to pick up girls at high-school pep rallies. The Krayolas' innocence felt real, a function of their youth and unironic affection for pop simplicity. At least half of the 16 songs on this career-spanning collection would effortlessly fit on Rhino's DIY series American Power Pop compilations, with the big highlights being Aw Tonight (think In Color-era Cheap Trick) and Cry Cry, Laugh Laugh (a grittier Beau Brummels). Eventually, the Krayolas began incorporating horns and keyboards, with less consistent results (the disc's weakest track, Roadrunner, is a bar-band blues that fails to play to their melodic strengths). But Best Riffs Only is the kind of collection that only grows with time, because its virtues are so rare these days. --Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Current

The next big collector craze? Obscure power pop. No kidding. Nobody needs another copy of the Knack's first album, but power pop bands sprang up all over the place and one-time San Antonio teenage power popsters the Krayolas have recently released a best-of called Best Riffs Only. ''We sounded like a Tex-Mex Beatles'', said Krayolas guitarist Hector Saldaña, now the pop music critic at the San Antonio Express-News. (I've never seen anyone as professional in a pinch as Saldaña. Seeing him trying to write and file a Rolling Stones review during the show in Houston while being harassed by a drunken woman behind him was an object lesson in focus and good manners.) The 16-song collection includes long out-of-print singles and a couple of album tracks. Saldaña said the band is prepping a few songs to record with Augie Meyers, including an unreleased Doug Sahm track called Little Fox, backed with an older Krayolas tune. ''Augie Meyers and Doug Sahm were huge Krayolas fans and always supportive'', Saldaña said. ''Little Fox came from Augie, who I believe authored it. He's going to play Vox Continental organ on it, too.'' --Joe Gross, Austin American-Statesman

The Krayolas could effortlessly throw down guitar-driven, power pop nuggets like You're Not My Girl and Cry Cry, Laugh Laugh. That being the case, Christmas Time is an extraordinarily gentle record. The San Antonio-based 'Tex-Mex Beatles' abandon their Rickenbackers and Ludwigs in favor of synthesizers and carefully constructed harmonies. The end result - baroque pop infused with melancholy, flirting with dissonance - would make Brian Wilson smile (pun intended). ''It's the happiest day of the year'', announces singer Hector Saldaña at the outset. But, by the time the record draws to its dreary conclusion, he sings of tears and fears on ''the loneliest day of the year''. --Randy's Rodeo.com

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. E. Nunley on December 17, 2009
Format: Audio CD
The Krayolas may have formed in the mid-1970s, but their music is rooted 10 years earlier. They released a string of records in the late '70s and early '80s that sounds like it belongs right alongside all the British Invasion stuff. Bright guitars, catchy melodies and vocals, and a boundless optimism and love of music runs through all of these songs. The band lineups do change on the songs; only the Saldaña brothers are a constant. That's what makes all these songs sound like they go together. Particularly welcome are the original versions of "Cry, Cry, Laugh, Laugh" and "Aw Tonight", which were remade in inferior versions for the "Kolored Music" album.

I saw these guys many times in the '80s, and while these recordings don't quite capture the fun and energy of the live band, they're about as close as anybody ever gets.
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Format: Audio CD
Onstage, the teenage Krayolas combined the balls-out, cocky power of the Who and Slade with the melodic hooks of the young Beatles and the Sweet, mixed with a love of soul and garage rock. Admittedly, the San Antonio-based powerpop garage band's self-produced 45 r.p.m. singles never matched that aggressive raw edge. They were amateurish, muddy-sounding, uneven and hardly cohesive, due as much to utilizing different studios and indifferent engineers as to the band's inexperience. Truth be told, the band was never satisfied with its studio output. But damn if this rare, unearthed collection isn't melodic, catchy, upbeat, happy and memorable. Consider that "All I Do Is Try" and "Sometime," the band's first time in a studio, were recorded in one take. Or that Hector Saldana was in high school writing songs like "Rhymes of Tomorrow," the absolute gem of this collection (along with "Times Together"). "Alamo Dragway" is a kick-ass instrumental and "Aw Tonight" was recorded live by a bunch of Trinity University film students with The Krayolas dressed in lime-green space suits! "You're Not My Girl" is from the same session. The Krayolas came out of the early '70s with groups heroes like Big Star, the Raspberries, Badfinger, Bob Dylan and the Kinks, long before punk rock, the Knack and New Wave. They scored regional radio hits with "Happy Go Lucky," "The Sphinx Won't Tell," "Cry Cry, Laugh Laugh," "Sunny Day" and "Christmas Time." It's easy to scoff at this collection (The Krayolas are guilty of that, too), but their is no denying this unpretentious legendary band which outlived so many contrived acts and whose critically-acclaimed modern era output has delivered some real masterpieces.Read more ›
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brian K. Scott on September 23, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Just saw them perform in San Antonio at a great little place. WOW...they were smooooothe.
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