Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Arcadio Elias and His Famed Mariachi Nacional - Tequila! 1959

All the favorite melodies of Old Mexico... gathered together at last!

Tequila, the crystal clear, fiery national drink of Mexico is roughly equivalent to our gin or vodka, and with it you can even make a sort of sun-drenched martini, the Margarita (see recipe below).

Likewise, the mariachis, those happy little bands of Mexico, have their stateside parallels, too. In sound and spirit, they are somewhere between our polka bands and those smooth little groups playing for dancing in U.S. hotels. The typical mariachi has lots of spritely singing strings, a trumpet lead, guitars of assorted sizes, and sometimes, as in this case, an orthodox rhythm section. The result, at its best is a polished, light-bodied sound, pleasant to the ear, and here, it is at its best: the Mariachi Nacional is the finest of its kind and Arcadio Elias might reasonably be called Mexico's Lawrence Welk!

As to the tunes themselves, they are the most popular Mexican folksongs, loved around the world. Even though a title or two might not ring a bell at first, the melodies themselves will prove immediately familiar to almost every North American. And in a gesture of neighborliness, bandleader Elias has even included a couple of stateside standards, done up in delightful mariachi style.

Because this album brings together all these world-wide favorites of Mexican music for the first time, it is a particularly fine addition to the collections of schools and folkdancing groups. But it's equally appropriate for informal parties and friendly get-togethers when a kind of sunny, happy music is always welcome.

So mix up a nice, icy batch of Margaritas and give SeƱor Elias and his boys the floor; you'll find yourself whisked across the border in a trice, to a land of song and gayety. Salud!

Margarita -half jigger of Triple Sec, juice of 1 lime, jigger of tequila. Shake well with shaved ice and serve in a salted champagne glass...

1. Tequila!
2. Guadalajara
3. Cielito Lindo
4. Alla En El Rancho Grande
5. Rosa de San Antonio (San Antonio Rose)
6. La Golondrina
7. Jarabe Tapatio
8. Las Chiapanecas
9. La Bamba
10. La Varsoviana (Put Your Little Foot)
11. La Raspa
12. La Cucaracha

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dallas County - Dallas County 1970

aka where I'm from...

1. The Toll
2. Mad Dog
3. Small Vacation
4. Roads
5. Reflections
6. If We Try
7. Love's Not Hard to Find
8. Blowin' in the Wind
9. She Didn't Say Just Why
10. It Shall Pass

Friday, November 4, 2011

Auracle - Glider 1978

Trumpet, flugelhorn - Richard C. Braun
Woodwinds - Stephen R.F. Kujala
Mallets, percussion - Steven A. Rehbein
Piano, electric keyboards - John Serry, Jr.
Bass - Bill Staebell
Drums - Ron Wagner

State-of-the-Art, at least in records, has come to mean hundreds of hours slaving over a hot console, fine-tuning a click track to bring machined precision to the rhythms, artfully stacking overdubs (and punching out the flubs), tweaking a battery of outboard devices to further shape and cut the music.
These tracks are state of the art in a different sense, one paradoxically much older and, of late, making a welcome comeback: the art in question is performance, meaning the precision lies in the heads, hearts and hands of the players. The musicians comprising Auracle are young, but they're puting all their cards on the table first time out. They draw from a wide range of sources
and arranging styles, which will lead to some conflicting tags, but it's likely they'll slip as gracefully through those tags as they do through the fluid changes in their songs. No one here uses his vocal chords, and supplies words to explain the melodic sense of the songs, but Auracle sings just the same. Sam Sutherland - Record World Magazine

1. Columbian Bubblegum
2. Tom Thumb
3. Glider
4. Sno' Fun
5. Sleezy Listening
6. Kids' Stuff
7. Chez Amis