Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Day After The Sabbath 104: Onsta la Yerbita [Peru]

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Here is my first collection from Peru. [Editor's note: there have now been five Latin rock volumes: 118 (Chicano Rock) 84 (Brazil), 89 (Mexico), 104 (Peru) and 43 (general South America)]. I was initially planning to make only one, but I have found so much good stuff that this is part 1 of at least two volumes. Similarly to when I made the Brazilian Vol84, I was bowled over by the talent and enthusiasm of the bands that this South American country produced. Also like Brazil, and some of the other countries I have covered, these musicians had a hard time to work under hardline government rule.

After the military coup in October 1968, rock was outcast by the government of General Juan Velasco Alvarado. A highly anticipated Carlos Santana concert was banned in 1971 and other concerts in important venues were cancelled. However, AM Radio stations such as Miraflores, Radio 1160, and Radio Atalaya continued to play rock. Also, record companies continued to release LPs of rock bands (such as Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix) in Peru. The movie Woodstock was shown in Lima every two or three years. As a result, bands here such as Pax were cut short in their prime and did not get to develop their obvious talents until the situation changed.

Mag and "El Virrey" logos
Mag and "El Virrey" logos
Two old labels to check out when looking for Peruvian rock are Mag (including Tarkus, Traffic Sound, Laghonia, Telegraph Avenue on its roster) and "El Virrey" - Warner's Peruvian subsidiary (Gerardo Manuel & El Humo, El Polen, The St. Thomas Pepper Smelter). Some of these bands are covered here, and some will be in the next Peruvian instalment. Another highly recommended label is the Lima-based Repsychled, who specialise in re-issuing Peruvian rarities.

The title of this volume is taken from a Los Destellos track. "Onsta la Yerbita" means "Were's The Green Leaf", although i'm not entirely sure what kind of leaf this refers too...

Tracks
01. Introduccion (1972)
       from album 'Concierto en Rock'
02. Los Texao - Stone (1970)
       Single
03. New Juggler Sound - Glue (1968)
       Single and album ‘Glue’ (as Laghonia)
04. We All Together - Follow Me If You Can (1974)
       From album ‘Volumen II’
05. Smog - Wiched Man (1971)
       Single
06. El Alamo - Malos Pensamientos (1971)
       From album ‘Malos Pensamientos’
07. Los Nuevos Shain's - Wicked World (1969)
       Single
08. Pax - Pig Pen Boogie (1970)
       Album ‘May God and Your Will Land You and Your Soul Miles Away’
09. Los Destellos - Onsta la Yerbita (1971)
       From album ‘Constelacion’
10. Los Saicos - Fugitivo de Alcatraz (1965)
       Single
11. The Mad's - Fly Away (1971)
       from archival release ‘Molesto’

references

Gerardo Manuel Rojas
Gerardo Manuel Rojas
The introductory ditty is the un-credited opener from a 1972 LP called 'Concierto en Rock' [Rock Concert]. It appears to have been a collection of contemporary rock recorded in Peru. luizcore.wordpress.com claims that it was originally released on the 'El Virrey' label and produced by Gerardo Manuel Rojas. Gerardo is an important figure in Peruvian rock, he was in some of the country's first groups like Los Doltons, Los Shain's, The (St. Thomas) Pepper Smelter and 'Gerardo Manuel y El Humo'. Although called 'Rock Concert', and having screaming audience sounds on each track, the LP was not recorded at a live event, it is a collection of singles. www.incarock.com states that the LP was also released as Polydor 2403006 in 1973.

The acts appearing on it are Los Ringers, Cacique, Litta Diaz, La Maquina del Tiempo, Los Belkings, El Polen, Cacique, Gerardo Manuel y el Humo, El Ayllu, El Trebol and Elisa Diaz. The story goes that The Ringers were an L.A. band that temporarily relocated while on tour, recording the LP 'Before & After' in Peru on the El Virrey label. So far I have been unable to find any pictures of the 'Concierto en Rock' LP, let me know if you can help out!

Los Texao
Los Texao
Next up is a single from 'Los Texao'. A Texao is a Peruvian flower which is commonly associated with the province of Arequipa, where the band originated. They were Feño Humbser (guitar), Víctor Dibán (bass), Edgar Manrique (drums), Juan Núñez (vocals), Julio Torres (keyboards) and Adolfo Ballón (percussion). They only released 3 singles. The group’s sound was described as the ‘niebla’ [fog] sound because they made heavy use of echo and reverb which was a new thing for Peruvian bands. There is an interview in Spanish with the drummer here. English translation here.

Laghonia
Laghonia
Next up is three songs all connected to one of the most important Peruvian bands, from the San Miguel District, Lima. They formed in 1965 as ‘The New Juggler Sound’, and changed their name to Laghonia around the time of their first album in 1969. Laghonia continued until 1972 and four members; Saúl Cornejo (lead guitar), Carlos Salom (organ), Manuel Cornejo (drums) and Ernesto Samamé (bass) started the band ‘We All Together’. This new band advanced further from the psych of Laghonia into the progressive rock you can hear on the track ‘Follow Me If You Can’.

Smog - Wiched Man 45
Smog - Wiched Man 45
Briefly existing alongside We All Together was ‘Smog’ which included two of it’s members, Ernesto Samamé on bass (also of Laghonia) and Eduardo Vásquez on drums. Smog only made one single, and the B side to the bluesy ‘Time For The Blues’ was the track included here, ‘Wiched Man’, which has a rawer sound. After Smog and We All Together split, another band arose called Sudamérica.  This act comprised Saul Cornejo (guitar), Manuel Cornejo (drums) and Ernesto Samamé (bass), all of Laghonia/We All Together, and Felix Varvande of We All Together/Smog. As yet I have only found one recorded track by Sudamérica; a psychedelic balled called ‘Yo no sé señor',  which is included on the excellent compilation; “Back to Peru: The Most Complete Compilation of Peruvian Underground 1964-1974 Vol II”.

Track 6 is from a 1971 album called ‘Malos Pensamientos’ [Bad Thoughts] made by El Alamo, from Chachapoyas. The band was Tino Pow Sang (guitar), Luis Iturri (guitar, vocals), Arturo Montenegro (bass), Jaime Salinas (organ) and Ricardo Allison (drums). The title track included here is an astral psychedelic ballad with an engrossing atmosphere!

Pax (l-r) Pico (gtr), Miguel Flores (dr),
Jaime "Pacho" Orue Moreno (vox),
Marc Aguillar (bass)
Next we have two tracks from connected bands. Los Shain’s were one of the most notable Peruvian beat bands, starting in 1963 and making many records. Started by brothers Juan Luis and Raul Pereyra, by 1965 they had added guitarist Pico Ego Aguirre and singer Gerardo Manuel Rojas (mentioned previously). Towards the end of Los Shain’s, Pico became interested in the emerging hard rock of bands like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, and with ‘Los Nuevos Shain's’ in 1969 he started to cover these bands, as you can hear from track 7. This is one of the earliest recorded Black Sabbath covers I have ever heard, the only other bands I'm aware of that did it this early were Johannesburg's Suck (see Vol47), and Iron Claw (See Jim Ronnie interview and Vols 7 / 25).

Pax LP 1970
Pax LP 1970
In 1970 he started a new band called Pax [eng. Peace] to specialize in this sound, and they made the first ever Peruvian hard rock LP, “May God and Your Will Land You and Your Soul Miles Away”. Pig Pen Boogie is by far the heaviest track in this volume; crunching incendiary blues rock with the doom atmosphere of Sabbath. I also used “A Storyless Junkie” back in TDATS 43. In 1975 Pico put Pax on hold as the military dictatorship made it very hard to maintain a hard rock band, and they have come back in various forms from time to time. Pico also played on Gerardo Manuel's two "Gerardo Manuel & El Humo" albums, which he tells more about  in an interview here on the awesome Psychedelic Baby blog.

Los Destellos
Los Destellos
Track 9 from Los Destellos [The Flashes] brings some welcome latin flavour to this volume. They are described as a ‘Cumbia Peruana’ band. According too RYM this is “(Also known as: Chicha, Andean Tropical Music ) A variation of Colombian Cumbia originating in Peru in the 1960s. It was developed by the Andean people who migrated to the cities and was originally influenced by Psychedelic Rock. During the 1980s it gained popularity and became known as the music of the outcasts (due to lack of recognition from the middle and upper classes). In the 1990s, it gained influences from other music styles such as Tex-Mex, Salsa and Merengue. During this time it also became more popular outside of Peru, most notably in Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina”. ‘Onsta la Yerbita’ is taken from their 1971 album ‘Constelacion’ and this wonderful 6 minute jam with trippy psychedelic guitar work has a cosmic feel indeed.

Los Saicos
Los Saicos
For our penultimate track we go back in time a little further to 1965, for some great garage punk courtesy of ‘Los Saicos’ [A Spanish interpretation of ‘The Psychos’]. Rolando Carpio (guitar), Erwin Flores (vocals, rhythm guitar), Pancho Guevara (drums) and César Castrillón (bass) formed the band in 1964 in Lince, Lima. This is about as heavy as anything you’ll hear from that time, the vocals impressively so!

They were at one time the most popular band in Peru and in 2011 the late guitarist’s son made a band documentary called Saicomania. In 2006 the remaining members started some reunion shows, reportedly the first time they had played since 1966, and the last one played was 2011 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The Mad's - Molesto LP
The Mad's - Molesto LP
The closer of this set is from Lima’s “The Mad’s”. They counted in their ranks drummer Richard ‘Bimbo’ Macedo who was previously in Pax. The rest of the band included Manolo Ventura (lead guitar), younger brother Alex Ventura (rhythm guitar), Toño Zarzar (guitar), Fernando "El Loco" Gadea and singer Bill Morgan. The band was discovered by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger in a happening Lima club called Club Tiffany, and on an invitation they opened shows for the Stones and recorded some tracks in their mobile studio, Stargroves. Unfortunately things didn't work out and the band fell apart without the sessions seeing release. Last year the great Lima label Repsychled records issued some of these tracks, and some recorded in Peru, in an album called Molesto [eng. “Annoyed”]. ‘Fly Away’ is an ambitious and adventurous 7 minute track which gleefully fuses western rock with latin rhythms.

Thanks for listening!
Rich

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7 comments:

  1. There is some great stuff here. I am currently in Kyrgyzstan for the summer, but will be back in Ghana in August. If you ever do a Ghana edition let me know and I will see if any of the ethnomusicologists at the university have any suggestions.

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    Replies
    1. Sure thing, if you send some ideas i'll follow them up! The only Ghanaian that comes to mind right now is Mack Sigis Porter.

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    2. Here are some others.

      http://jpohl.blogspot.com/2014/03/k-frimpong-and-his-cubano-fiestas.html

      http://jpohl.blogspot.com/2014/03/vis-vis-obi-agye-me-dofo.html

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  2. I'm a Native Mexican so I know what "Onsta la Yerbita" means. Onsta is a contraction of (D)on(de) (e)sta that is "Donde esta". So Onsta la Yerbita means "Where is the (little and dear) Marihuana.

    ReplyDelete