Various Artists – Los Nuggetz (review)

Various Artists – Los Nuggetz: 60’s Garage & Psych From Latin America (Rock Beat Records)

4-disc set of raw Sixties rock n’ roll – with Spanish lyrics!

We have the Beatles to thank for the Garage Rock boom of the mid-Sixties.  The four lads from Liverpool were a band, not merely a cute singer backed by professional musicians.  And, they wrote their own material. Suddenly, success seemed within reach; at least it was a lot closer than before.

Many great compilations like Nuggets & Pebbles have chronicled the Garage Rock genre from the US, UK and Australian perspective.  But, the British Invasion’s influence wasn’t limited to English-speaking countries, as a new, 4-disc set, Los Nuggetz: 60‘s Garage & Psych From Latin America, makes perfectly clear.  The Beatles, and the bands that followed, influenced folks all over the world.

First of all, it’s great to see a boxset in 2013.  Once a mainstay during the 1990‘s, multi-disc compilations faded away as the public turned to mp3s as their primary music source.  But, owning a collection like this used to mean something– it reinforced your passion for a particular band or genre of music.  They usually contained rare material and insightful liner notes, and were housed in lavish boxes.  It was something you were proud to show off to your friends.

RockBeat Records has created a collection that ranks up there with some of the finest box sets ever released.  Chances are, you’ve never heard a single note of this set before, but anyone who’s a fan of Nuggets or Little Steven’s Underground Garage will find plenty to love here.

You’ll be familiar with a lot of the songs here – a good percentage of the tracks are Latin American versions of rock classics – For instance, “Satisfaccion” by Los Apson captures the raw spirit of the Stones’ original, although the drums sound like garbage can lids – trashy!  But, there are a good deal of originals here too

Disc one, track one begins with “Bule Bule” – the Spanish version of “Wooly Bully” by Los Shain’s – a very faithful, rockin’ rendition of the party-rock classic.  In fact, every frat rock favorite is represented in a Latin counterpart – “96 Tears,” “Gimme Some Lovin,” “Wild Thing,” and “Gloria” – just to name a few.  Highlights from disc one include “Colours” from Kaleidoscope, full of distorted guitars and strange noises; “Todo Negro” from Los Salvajes, the Latin version of “Paint it, Black;” and “Amame Dos Veces,” a crazy rendition of “Love Me Two Times” where singer Hugo Fattoruso does a pretty good Jim Morrison impersonation.  Then there’s “Esta Botas Son Para Caminar,” where Gloria Benavides actually manages to out-camp Nancy Sinatra’s original “These Boots Are Made For Walking” – especially in the mouthful Spanish translation of the chorus.

Standouts from disc two include the shuffling “Deja De Llorar (Everything’s Alright) from Los Johnny Jets; a killer take of “I’m a Man” from Els 5 Xics; and possibly the greatest Garage-rock song title ever – “Bla Bla Bla” from Los Cheyenes.

Disc three features “Mi Generacion,” a rather straightforward take on the Who classic, while the grooving “No Te Astuses, Es Solo Vivre,” is one of the real surprises of the whole collection by Los Dug Dugs – sounding like Buffalo Springfield meets early Sweet.  There are two takes of the Four Tops’ “Reach Out I’ll Be There” – Los Stop gets the edge because of a fantastic female lead vocalist.  Los Pets turns “Hello I Love You” completely inside out, featuring fuzz guitar and backwards effects.

The final disc opens with “Me Reire,” a crazy track featuring laughing and a Yardbirds-style rave-up by Los Shakers.  How about a girl’s take on “Get Off My Cloud”? That’s what Sonia does to “Aqui En Mi Nube.”  Not every cover works – “Tu Seras Mi Baby” lacks any of the Phil Spector magic of the original “Be My Baby” – and it’s sung by a man.  Los Mustang’s “La Carta” is better in its Spanish take of “The Letter,” featuring improved harmonies over the original.

Several Spanish commercials and radio station ID’s are interspersed throughout the collection – kind of like adding a little hot sauce on your favorite Mexican dish – the one for Volkswagon is a real hoot.

The hardback set comes with a 70-page book, featuring exhaustive notes on every track, including band members, country of origin, and interesting tidbits.  They even managed to dig up 45 & LP sleeves from many of the songs.

Any fan of early Punk and Garage rock will enjoy this wacky collection, which successfully captures the spirit of mid-Sixties Latin American rock n’ roll.  –Tony Peters