Judging from what you hear on classic rock radio you would think that the influence of Latin music on rock ‘n’ roll began and ended with Carlos Santana and a little bit of War. But here in the Deep Tracks, we take a broader view. Charting it on a time line you could argue that it started in 1958 with Ritchie Valens and “La Bamba.” In the early sixties, over in the world of pop, leaning toward the middle of the road, we heard Latin influences in the records of Herb Alpert and Sergio Mendez. Around 1962, Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaria had a hit with a cover of Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” and in 1970, El Chicano delivered “Viva Tirado” while Simon and Garfunkle gave us “El Condor Pasa.” Los Lobos has been delivering great albums with south-of-the-border influence since the early 1980s, including a nice cover of “La Bamba.” It turns out that if you poke around a little, you’ll find that a lot of rock and rollers like to pull out the congas now and then. Stephen Stills is a good example. He spent part of his childhood in Costa Rica and the Panama Canal Zone and those rhythms stayed with him. Think of “Cuban Bluegrass” on the original Manassas album and “Pensamiento” from Down The Road.
In fact today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl was inspired by the release of previously unreleased tracks from the original Manassas sessions. The disc is called Pieces and there’s a short instrumental track that Stills later turned into “Pensamiento.” Of course there’s some low-hanging fruit in the set with one each from Santana and War, and for the more adventurous listeners we’ve got something from by Osibisa; also the “Desperation Samba,” and one from Mink DeVille. Now, we’ve got two surprises in here, the first, three songs into the set, and the second at the end; just try to guess who that last one is without looking at the screen. But we’ll start with something from Chicago’s seventh album, a track I dare say has never seen the light of day on terrestrial rock radio. So break out the salsa, along with the tangos and mambos, from the Way Back Studios, here’s a serious case of “Mongonucleosis.”
|Para Los Rumberos
|Walk Don’t Run
|Music For Gong Gong
|Tan Sola Y Triste
|The Blues Image
Closing the set with something from Open, the second album from The Blues Image. That’s an instrumental called “Consuelate.” At the top of the set, we had a track from Chicago’s seventh album, that went platinum based on a couple of middle-of-the-road hits, but one that also featured some more interesting and jazzier stuff. We heard one called “Mongonucleosis.” That was followed by “Para Los Rumberos” from Santana’s third album. After that, we had a little surprise: Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass from the album Going Places, we heard their cover of the Ventures’ hit, “Walk Don’t Run.” In the middle of the set, we went a little deeper, first with another great track by Mink DeVille, “Demasiado Corazon” from the album Where Angels Fear to Tread. That was followed by a song from the debut album by Osibisa, a group formed in 1969 by a Ghanian sax player by the name of Teddy Osei. Osibisa generally showed more African and Caribbean influence than Mexican or South American but the track we heard, “Music for Gong Gong” fit perfectly in that set.
The short instrumental after that was Stephen Stills and Manassas, one of the previously unreleased tracks from the original Manassas sessions, a piece Stills later turned into “Pensamiento.” After that, Jimmy Buffett’s “Desperation Samaba” with none other than Harrison Ford cracking the whip; that’s from Last Mango in Paris. And there toward the end, that guy who don’t use no gas ‘cause he don’t drive too fast, ‘cause he’s a “Low Rider.” If you’d like to see the set list for this or any of the other shows, you can find them on my website, just give me a google. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, thanks for listening. I’ll be back and sooner or later with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.