Los Rockin’ Devils: Juego De Amor (Book of Love)
From 7″ (Orfeon, 1965)
Shout out to Supersonido, who put me up on this song back in Feb. Took me a few months to track down a copy for self but man, totally worth the trouble. I always thought The Mindbenders’ “Game of Love” had a killer riff that belongs in the I-IV-V pantheon. De La Soul and Prince Paul knew the real.
I won’t claim this cover is better than the original…but you have to admit, replacing the original bass line with horns was absolutely the right way to go. I honking love it. Plus, you still have the signature guitar riff and best of all, Los Rockin’ Devils bring some garage sabor to their version. Keep it ruff!
It kind of makes sense that both Eartha Kit and Perez Prado would collaborate together in the 1950′s. Both being known for their stage presence and both being synonymous with “versatility” during their careers – it only lends to the idea of how well an early soul/jazz/Latin crossover works together.
Eartha actually didn’t like the outcome of these recordings she did with Perez Prado, on account of her being sick throughout the entire session. Nevertheless, both Kit’s highly distinctive style of singing and Prado’s brand of mambo are apparent throughout these two amazing tracks. I prefer the B side myself, but I’m a sucker for the slower jams sometimes. Please enjoy!!!
I’ve been working on my Tjader collection since moving to the Bay Area and have nearly completed the 1965-1975 era, which is probably my favorite as it sees Tjader trying to stay hip and relevant and doing a pretty damn good job. The early sixties saw him switch from the Bay Area-founded Fantasy Records to the more nationally-focused Verve Records where he scored his biggest hit, “Soul Sauce”. His mid-sixties Verve albums range from soft ballads to funky latin fusion and are all excellent listens. In the late 60s he founded Skye records with like-minded musical oddballs: Gabor Szabo and Gary McFarland and released three albums: Solar Heat, Sounds Out Burt Bacharach and Plus In. A recently released session from those years “Latin + Jazz = Cal Tjader” is particularly revelatory in that it represented, according to Tjader’s biographer, Cal’s preferred live repertoire: a couple ballads mixed in with some mid-tempo Latin-Jazz numbers.When Skype folded after a couple years Cal went back to Fantasy and put out his funikiest and hardest-hitting Latin albums, in my opinion: Agua Dulce (1971), Tjader (1971), Last Bolero in Berkeley (1973) and Primo (1973). The seventies also saw him focus a lot on recording live, with great results, on Live at the Funky Quarters (1972), Puttin’ It Together (1974), At Grace Cathedral (1975) and Here (1977). As you can see from the tracklist below, some of the best versions of his most loved songs can be found on these live albums. All in all, I don’t think Cal ever made a bad album, nor did he fully sell-out in a commercial sense – there’s no such thing as a Cal Tjader disco album and you can’t say that for most jazz musicians that survived the 70s. I’ve assembled some of my favorite “Tjader Tjams” from the period 1964-1974 for your enjoyment. Eventually, I hope to get around to putting together the ying to this yang, “Tjader Tjems”, the mellow companion to this Latin groovathon. Tjam On!
1. Marty Wyler and his Quartet, Chalypso No. 8 (Planet X 9623)
Marty Wyler and his Quartet were a New York City-based group, their “Chalypso No. 8” recorded in late 1957 or early 1958. It would be among a handful of interesting 45s issued by the short-lived Planet X Records, a label that also released, in quick succession, Bernie Moore’s “Rock Guitar, Rock” and “It Takes Two,” a rare R&B vocal group side by Henry Sawyer and the Jupiters.
An October 1958 issue of Billboard connects Marty Wyler to Holland Records, another tiny New York City label with a small discography divided between rock ‘n’ roll and vocal group R&B. But all other leads dry up early on with Marty Wyler and company.
This is Rock ‘n’ Roll 101. Even at this early stage, the chord changes are breaking no new ground, and a thousand other instrumentals would follow the same essential formula. But few would do it so well. Lean, mean, all attitude, biting guitar and torrid, squealing saxophone, “Chalypso No. 8” exemplifies what makes a lot of early rock ‘n’ roll so brilliant. It wasn’t necessarily what you did, but how you did it.
3. The 4 El-Moroccos, To-bango (Alton 500-A)
Another group that seems to have come and gone without a trace, the mysterious 4 El-Moroccos unleashed this wild instrumental upon the world in July of 1959.
The salient detail here is that both “To-bango” and its flipside “El Mambo Cha Cha” were recorded under the aegis of one Julius Dixson.
Dixson got his start as a deejay but is better known as a prolific and versatile New York City-based commercial songwriter. Among his dozens of songs placed with various aspiring vocal groups and teen singers in the ‘50s and ‘60s, a number would become pop or R&B hits, including 1955’s “Dim, Dim the Lights (I Want Some Atmosphere)” for Bill Haley and the Comets, 1957’s “It Hurts to Be in Love” for Annie Laurie and ”Begging, Begging” for James Brown and, biggest of all, 1958’s “Lollipop” for the Chordettes.
The seemingly tireless Dixson also owned and operated several small independent record labels devoted to teen rock ‘n’ roll and commercial R&B, including Deb Records and Alton Records. Among Alton’s discography was a sizeable hit – 1959’s “The Clouds” by the Spacemen. The fact that the “The Clouds,” not to mention several follow-up instrumentals by the Spacemen and the Skyscrapers (another Dixson session group), was a studio-only affair leads me to believe that the 4 El-Moroccos may have been the same – a Dixson project comprised of for-hire New York City musicians.
None of this detracts from the “To-bango” experience, of course, which doesn’t so much rock as swagger. Primitive, clanging, this is where the rock ‘n’ roll instrumental stood before its final incarnation and creative peak as surf music.