I come from that generation of peruanos who’s never seen Peru win anything in fútbol: we last made the World Cup in 1982, when I was five, and last won a Copa América in 1975, a couple of years before I was born. But there’s always hope. South America’s soccer championship starts tomorrow, and though we have a tough group (Chile, Mexico, Uruguay) right now, as I type this: we’re all tied for first place.
So I’m posting this sublimely patriotic track from Arturo “Zambo” Cavero, “Y se llama Perú”, to inspire fans and players alike to dream big, or at least lose with dignity. My guess is Papicultor is as optimistic about Colombia’s chances, as I am about Peru’s; and that Posoule is smug and confident after Chicharito et al won the Gold Cup in impressive fashion.
This past Saturday was filled with lots of excitement—those of you who were waving Mexican flags up and down Mission Street in San Francisco or partying in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena know what I’m talking about. After the final, a portion of La Pelanga crew carried on the great night with Joe Bataan, the king of Latin soul who performed at Yoshi’s SF.
Best known for his anthem Ordinary Guy, Joe Bataan is by all means a man of the people. Each time I’ve seen him he is more than happy to greet you before and after his shows, take pictures and sign records. In fact on this particular trip out to San Francisco he did separate meet and greets at the Bayanihan Community Center (Filipino community center in S.F.) and Milk bar. Even in his senior years the man still has juice, which is no surprise considering he once was a leader of a Puerto Rican gang in East Harlem—and he’s not even Puerto Rican. He had the half Latino, half Filipino crowd up on their feet dancing and soul clapping the whole night. His success of merging of R&B with Boogaloo, Mambo and Salsa in my opinion would never be possible without his voice. At first listen it sounds flat, somewhat scratchy and well ordinary, but if you continue to listen you’ll find his voice is one of kind. It’s full of that down to earth soul, that just sinks into you and comforts you like smelling your mom’s favorite dish. One of the early songs he performed was Ordinary Guy-Afro Filipino, (his 3rd version of Ordinary Guy) and you’ll get just what I mean from the opening “Ahhhh….”.
His music was always progressing and breaking new ground starting with boogaloo in the 1960s and going all the way to disco-hip hop (it’s argued that he wrote the very first rap song, Rap-O-Clapo). But it’s really his classic ballads that those out here on the West Coast latched onto. What some call oldies, his ballads are still played out of every classic Impala and essential to any good low-rider mix-tape. Personally for me, this music strikes a deep chord. Songs like I Wish You Love from Saint Latin’s Day Massacre, which he also performed, fall into that special category for my sweetie and I. We’re not alone of course. His music has played at countless weddings, (I’m sure our fellow pelanguero, DJ Smokestack will have Joe Bataan playing at his wedding next Saturday), and it will definitely be playing at mine one day.
The one unfortunate thing about seeing Joe Bataan now is that he no longer performs with the same incredible Puerto Rican bands that he did from his days on the Fania label. It was common with these Latin Soul records to have songs both in English and Spanish which helped create appeal to a wider audience. Though Joe Bataan would occasionally sing in Spanish he would also have guest salseros or members of his band handle Spanish vocals. For example on this same Saint Latin’s Day Massacre album we get an incredible bailable like Charangaringa. Sadly it’s these songs that we no longer get to hear live, but to be honest I wasn’t disappointed. The man is still extra-ordinary.
A touch of nationalism now and then isn’t a bad thing, as long as it isn’t dogmatic. It’s even better when it’s shared musically. What I like about this record is the very notion behind it: a Cuban group performing in honor of Peru. That’s pan-Latin Americanism I can get behind…
In the comments of Papicultor’s excellent previous post of Ogyatanna Show Band he requested another 10 min African burner. Well this is about hot as they come. The one and only Lita Bembo et L’Orchestre Stukas Mombombo. Known in the 70s as just Orchestre Stukas, they started out in Kinshasa, Zaire as a pure James Brown cover band. Unlike their famous contemporaries Zaïko Lang Langa and O.K. Jazz who played in the downtown clubs they took to the strategy of playing in the outskirt rural areas for those who couldn’t afford to see the big acts in the city. This proved wise as they gained a big following to the point that the government actually had them performing daily on TV as a way to keep kids off the streets. Their popularity even gained them a spot at the legendary 3 day concert event — Zaire 74 (the famous concert that coincided with the Muhammad Ali – George Forman fight “Rumble in the Jungle”, which featured: Miram Makeba, The Fania All-Stars, BB King, Tabu Ley Rochereau, Bill Withers and James Brown.)
I’m not even sure where to begin to describe this song Dina.
If you close your eyes while listening you’ll likely have some strong visions like being in a cramped humid Kinshasa cinder block walled club, or perhaps some alternate world filled inter-galactic travelers who offer you a draw off their colorful hookah pipe. Whatever it is, if you’re anything like us pelangueros by half way through the song you’ll have all your furniture pushed out of the way, the volume up twice as high and be dancing wildly all over the place. Adjoa, I hope you like this one too. Enjoy!
And here they are performing “Mombomo Dominé” from one of their many TV performances. These guys are just nuts!