Friday, April 08, 2011

VINYL-PALOOZA #2: '60s Guatemalan Garage/Psych

Mid-to-late '60s garage/psychedelic rock seems to be some of the most expensive collectors items out there in record-land, and the more obscure, the better. Well, see how many boxes this one checks: it's so obscure, there's no mention of it anywhere on-line that I can find, it's so obscure it's from, of all places, Guatemala. You got yer heavy fuzzed-out guitar, you got yer wah-wah action, you got yer sleazy organ, and you got yer original songs (no Stones retreads here), and most importantly, you got good songs. Some great songs, actually, with a heavy surf influence - a bit late for surfing in 1969 (or thereabouts) but, hey, they're not as trendy as los norte Americanos down there in Central America. If this can't make collectors cream their jeans, I don't know what can.

Side one kicks things off with a massive fuzz-fest that is virtually a one-chord
song, allowing Armando de Leon
Flores a chance to go to town on his guitarra. The cheesy organ on the second song practically takes things into Herb Albert territory (which is fine by me), and only by the third track do we finally get some vocals, and what fine harmonies they are. The 4th song is fast and frantic, but with a definite Latin feel to the melody, distinguishing it from the usual "Louie Louie" clones. "Luna de Xelaju" is an atmospheric waltz-to-rocker with evocative tremoloed guitar, and "Genesis" is another upbeat instro.
Plenty of awesomeness right there, but the medley that takes up all of side two completely shreds - from the standards "Telstar" and "Penetration" to scads of unknown (to my gringo ears) Central American gems, The Electronic Fountains deliver as perfect an 18 minute set of garage/psych/Latin/surf as one could hope for. Whatever the tune is that starts at around 10:30, it's now one of my favorite songs. What more could one ask for? Better sound quality, I suppose - the vinyl's worn. But you're never gonna find a copy of it. Bidding starts at..?


Ade said...


Holly said...

Cool - thank you!

Murky Recess said...

¡Mucho gracias! Yo crema de mis vaqueros.

uglyradio said...

One of the best kept secret is that Mexico and surrounding countries had an amazing Garage, Psych and Prog scene, sounding really different from their contemporaries (at least the latter two genres). They also had a fairly robust New Wave scene, with some pretty amazing electronic music.
Some people to check out are Arturo Meza, Aristeo, Decibel and some Neuvo Mexico bands Interface and Syntoma.

This blog - and radio show - from my pal Alejandro is pretty damn amazing: http://laruletaradio.wordpress

Mr Fab said...

Dont know those guys (thanks, I'll check out that blog/show), but I do have a bunch of Mexican rock from earlier in the '60s: surf/garage and pop, some rockabilly. I should pull those out - Might make a good Cino de Mayo post...

Anonymous said...

The melody in question at 10:30 on the "side 2" medley is Herb Alpert's
"The Lonely Bull". Pretty sure. Thanks for this cool post, amigo. DDP

QuizMasterChris said...

I'm really looking forward to this. I have dug through what few records I could find on the street in Guatemala City and never found anything this cool. Thanks!

This is all the more amazing considering that Guatemala is and has been rather poorer than Mexico and the audience for this at the time was very small indeed - the elites of the country clustered in and around the nicer parts of G. City no doubt. Central America is by and large to Mexico what Mexico is to the United States in terms of poverty (and of course we are Canada's Mexico on that count...)

These days there are some Guatemalan metal bands and the usual Latin pop strains, but on the whole most people are still rural and are still listening to some fairly traditional musics.