Over the years, East LA stalwarts Los Lobos have consistently proven themselves to be visionary recording artists, approaching each album with a distinct sonic palette, a daring attitude, a batch of kickass songs, and lots of pure rock n roll abandon. “La Guacamaya” is from their most controversial record, La Pistola y El Corazón, which is a cover album of sorts: the entire record, save for two originals, features the group’s interpretations of songs from various Mexican music traditions.
“La Guacamaya” is from the Son Jarocho tradition, which originated in Veracruz, Mexico. “La Bamba” is probably the most famous Son Jarocho tune. Though I also love the moody Huapango style, Son Jarocho is probably my favorite style of Mexican music because of both the form (characterized by call-and-response vocals, rhythmic playing, and improvisation) and the instrumentation (I love La Arpa Jarocha, the harp associated with this style). “La Guacamaya” (ostensibly about the multicolored toucan/macaw bird) is rendered here with the precise syncopation and gusto of musicians who thoroughly know and love this music. The lead vocal is by Cesar Rosas, whose way with a Spanish lyric expresses both the intent of the tradition and his own rock/R&B background. Dig the lyric: