No habla Ingles? No problem! Los Straitjackets have teamed-up with Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos, rockabilly belter Big Sandy and east L.A. legend Little Willie G. to deliver Rock En Espanol Vol. 1, an all Espanol album of vintage Rock n' Roll. Rock En Espanol is inspired by the great border rock of Freddy Fender, as well as Mexico City's great sixties garage and rockabilly madmen (Los Teen Tops, Los Rockin' Devils, Los Apson and many more) who took American hits and wrote new Spanish words. The album also makes a nod toward east L.A. with the inclusion of Thee Midnighter's classic instrumental 'Whittier Boulevard' and the presence of Midnighter's lead vocalist Little Willie G, on three cuts. With production by Rosas throughout, the Straitjackets hard-edged twin guitar onslaught drives propulsive rockers like 'De Dia y de Noche' (The Kinks' 'All Day and All of the Night') as well as tender ballads like 'Tu Te Vas' (Barbara Lynn's 'You'll Lose a Good Thing'). With Rock En Espanol Vol. 1 Los Straitjackets take their considerable chops to the heart of the Spanglish universe, bridging the cultural gap across decades and the Rio Grande. Digipak.
Between their name, stage introductions spoken in a uniquely twisted form of Spanglish, bizarre lucha libre
attire, and ongoing association with Latino rockabilly revivalist Big Sandy, Spanish has always been a major facet of Los Straitjackets' shtick. So it's little surprise that the Nashville-based garage/surf/twang/trash rockers decided to head south of the border for an all-covers album. You don't need to hablar español
to shimmy, shimmy, shake along with the quartet. Guest vocals from Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos (who also produced the disc), Little Willie G. of East L.A.'s vintage Thee Midniters, and Big Sandy bring a soulful strut to these punchy stompers. True to form, liberties are taken with the song titles: "Hang on Sloopy" is now "Hey Lupe," "Bony Maronie" comes out as "Popotitos," and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" inexplicably appears as "El Microscopico Bikini." But that's all part of the fun as the masked men and singers swing through hot-tamale versions of signature hits from the Kinks, the Troggs, the Coasters, and others. Although the Fab Four aren't here as songwriters, their spirit energizes rocking renderings of "Dizzy Miss Lizzy," "Slow Down," and "Anna," all early Beatles staples. The Straitjackets haven't entirely abandoned the instrumentals from their own early years, as the scorching "Whittier Blvd." attests. Slow dancers will swoon to ballads such as "Dejenme Llorar" and Barbara Lynn's sublime "You'll Lose a Good Thing." Liner notes tell us that Spanish covers of many of these tunes managed to become moderate hits in the '60s and '70s, but it's safe to say these fresh versions will spice up any carnival
. Let the fiesta begin! --Hal Horowitz