Never Mind the Salsa, Here's... Hispanic Garage Rock!

¡España! A land untouched by Toilet Guppies… Most of the people who check out this blog do so from IP-addresses in Indonesia (hello, Indonesia!), so in an attempt to break Spain and the 30 per cent of South America that isn't Brazil (no offense, Indonesia), I have put together a primer of Spanish-language rock'n'roll, as a tribute to all my Spanish friends (all three or four of 'em—and that's counting the Catalans), one Mexican acquaintance, some Peruvian regrets and three Norwegians I know who are trying to learn Spanish.

For a northern European infected with Protestantism, it's immensely beautiful to see how in Spain people know how to enjoy life and the moment they're in. Like when they're indulging in an absolutely delicious cuisine (one of the world's tastiest!) that, once you take a bite, sends a message throughout your entire body that this shit is unhealthy, the mortality it reminds you of making you feel more alive, not like you're merely preserving your body with all these nutritionally correct foodstuffs.

Spain! The land where they still indulge in bloody, brutal animal sacrifice in public. (Still in touch with what it is to be human, warts and all…) Where you can buy witchcraft paraphernalia in run-of-the-mill specialist shops that aren't even considered weird or unusual. (Keeping the mystery alive…) Where the brown eyed girls' voices are as sensually rough and gravelly as the coffee is smooth and rich… Where the sun actually warms!

Even in the bars, they give you napkins made out of paper that doesn't absorb, so that you have to use a ridiculously extravagant amount of them. And due to a complete and systematic lack of bins in these bars, like a naughty child you have to gleefully throw all those discarded tissues right onto the nasty floor, until at the end of the day you're sat in an oversized ashtray and they finally sweep up the rubbish and the ashes and cigarette butts (because no health freaks refuse you to smoke in public in Spain!). Only then will they put all of that trash in a bin liner that, in more practical cultures, it all went straight into in the first place… And let's not forget the siesta—two hours of sleep or fucking in the middle of the work day, which snowballs your schedule to the point where you don't eat dinner until ten at night—again, against the express advice of your physician.

These self-indulgent, non-functionalistic routines, rituals and ways to go about everyday life, some of them bordering on the idiotic, all amount to one defiant rebellion against the grinding boredom, grim inevitabilities and unhappy accidents of human existence. Rationality's got nuthin' on the complexity and immensity of life, to the point where living your life sensibly isn't sensible at all, so you may as well move to Spain and enjoy yerself!

Or, in lieu of that, listen to some great Spanish-language music, from Spain and equally groovy (if not more so) South America—where mothers pushing prams sexually harrass you in the street and little Lolitas on scooters wolf whistle like hardened construction workers as they drive past. Where the girls are fiery and prone to a violence that defies the dull demands and expectations heaped upon their gender.

Naturally, in the long run the Latin passion, heat, possessiveness, faked intimacy and lack of both punctuality and a neat social order will prove grating on a northern European, but let's pretend I'm not Norwegian for now and that the New World of South America is the Promised Land. In such a promised land, I would like the soundtrack to sound something like this:

These dilettante rockers didn't invent or even re-invent the wheel, but they made something that lasts to this day—a mix of fun, sex and anxiety that's unaffected by nostalgia, irony, pretentions of cool, etc. In addition to a couple of deranged Peruvian originals (check out the cojones on track 21! And 22 gives Norwegian black metal a run for its money any day), there's the unexpected rendition of Desmond Dekker's golden ska oldie «Israelites», as well as a whole host of Spanish language covers of British and US American garage rock staples like «Hey Joe», «Gloria», «Pushin' too Hard», «Little Girl», «Take a Heart», «19th Nervous Breakdown», «For Your Love»… There's the ultimate version of «Wild Thing», rather freely translated as «Loco te patina el coco», performed by some joker calling himself Juan El Matemático (who competes with Los Johnny Jets for best artist name on this comp). Bo Diddley's no-nonsense warning «Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut» becomes even less of a compromise as «Hey, monstro».

Incidentally, there's only one group on here from Spain (I think—some of them I don't know where the hell they're from). Others are from Mexico, some Colombia, some Peru, one from Brazil. I suspect Argentina, Chile and/or Uruguay (or was it Paraguay?) may also be represented, but who knows and who cares, it's all in Spanish and it kicks culo. Some of these tracks are so obscure you wouldn't even be able to find them on secondhand vinyl—you're lucky to get them as low bitrate mp3s after thoroughly scouring the Internet for amateurish Third World music obsessives' dodgy uploads, so don't come pissing and moaning just because some of the tracks are as low as 160kbps and full of vinyl crackle and hiss. The wildest music most true to the spirit of rock'n'roll was never about high fidelity, anyway.

So, roqueros y roqueras, bring out the tapas, cocaine and sexism, and rock out to these scuzzy southern sounds of the '60s. ¡Viva España! and all of her former colonies and la revolución! Rock y roll!

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