Thursday, October 25, 2012

Kapp Records: Viva Tirado

I don’t think El Chicano’s interpretation of Gerald Wilson’s composition “Viva Tirado” was played much on Pittsburgh radio, but I remember hearing it in 1970. Perhaps it was on WCFL (1000) or WLS (890) out of Chicago or WABC (770) in New York, as I frequently listed to these distant clear channel stations in the evening on our old RCA 1936 Presidential model radio in our basement. I had it connected up to our TV antenna and it could really pull in the distant stations. Although Pittsburgh had great radio, it was always exciting to hear new music from elsewhere. Obviously, this is before Top 40 radio became sterile and homogenized.

Originally named VIP, the band changed its name to support Chicano consciousness movements that were occurring around America, but were no doubt the strongest in Southern California where the band made its home in Los Angeles.

This instrumental was so long that the single was split to parts one and two on the single. It wasn’t the band’s only hit as they had two other singles to chart: “Brown Eyed Girl” at #45 and “Tell Her She’s Lovely” at #40. “Viva Tirado,” however, was their biggest release and it peaked at #28.

Besides the obvious use congas by Andre Baeza, there are several other key elements to this instrumental. The band’s founder Bobby Espinosa provides the critical Hammond organ track for this recording. In addition, Mickey Lespron’s nice octave guitar work conjures up the late Wes Montgomery – only with a Latin feel. Other musicians on the cut include El Chicano’s rhythm section of bassist Freddie Sanchez and drummer John DeLuna.

El Chicano’s sound was somewhat of a departure for Kapp Records, but I am glad they signed them. The popularity of other Latin bands, such as Malo on Warner Brothers and Santana on Columbia may have influenced Kapp to seek out their own representative of this sound that was new to the majority of the American record buying public. Although El Chicano’s personnel has changed, it still performs today. Sadly, “Viva Tirado” is not heard currently on oldies radio.

No comments:

Post a Comment