Los Straitjackets: Rock en Español, Vol. 1

Masked musicians record an entertaining set of classic rock & roll covers in Spanish, proving once again that music is a universal language.

Los Straitjackets

Rock en Español, Vol. 1

Label: Yep Roc
US Release Date: 2007-04-03
UK Release Date: 2007-04-16

I’m not quite sure why surf guitar seems to inspire such devotion in some musicians. Don’t get me wrong, I like it too -- my collection contains discs by the Ventures, and Duane Eddy, among others. But bands like Los Straightjackets and Man or Astroman? take their love of surf music to the next level -- much like the Cramps, who, inspired by a fierce love of old rockabilly, transformed it into something new, twisted, and weird. While Los Straightjackets’ take on surf music is a bit hard to take seriously, what with the colorful wrestling masks and all, the band has some serious chops, refined over long years of touring, and they rock pretty convincingly.

Mixing the familiar guitar twang of Southern California surf music with the over-the-top camp of lucha libre (Mexican wrestling), Nashville-based combo Los Straitjackets first donned their trademark wrestling masks in the mid-'90s. Composed of Eddie Angel (guitar), L.J. "Jimmy" Lester (drums), Danny Amis (guitar) and E. Scott Esbeck (bass), the band signed with Upstart Records in 1994, and released their debut long-player, The Utterly Fantastic and Totally Unbelievable Sound of Los Straitjackets, in March 1995. After an extensive U.S. tour in support of their debut, the band returned to the studio, and released ¡Viva! Los Straitjackets in 1996. The relentless touring and recording paid off with a series of well-received performances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, numerous television and movie soundtrack appearances (including Malcolm in the Middle, Melrose Place, Meet the Parents, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and Psycho Beach Party), as well as a string of immensely entertaining albums, including The Velvet Touch of Los Straitjackets, ¡Damas y Caballeros!, Sing Along with Los Straitjackets, Supersonic Guitars in 3D, and Twist Party (with the World Famous Pontani Sisters and Kaiser George), not to mention their Christmas album, entitled 'Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets.

For Rock en Español, Vol. 1, however, the masked musicians changed gears, opting to record a set of tunes with vocals -- in Spanish. Enlisting the help of Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos (who also produced the disc), Big Sandy of Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, and Little Willie G. of Thee Midnighters, Los Straitjackets recorded an entertaining set of classic rock & roll tunes, proving once again that music is a universal language. Most of the songs on Rock en Español, Vol. 1 were originally massive chart hits for rockers like the Kinks ("All Day and All of the Night"), the McCoys ("Hang on Sloopy"), and the Troggs ("Wild Thing", covered as "Loco Te Patina el Coco"), and for R&B stars like Jackie Wilson ("Lonely Teardrops") and Arthur Alexander ("Anna"), or for '50s rockers like the Coasters ("Poison Ivy").

Kicking off with "De Dia y De Noche", a boisterous cover of the Kinks classic "All Day and All of the Night", the disc maintains its raucous energy all the way through the closing notes of "Tu te Vas", a cover of Barbara Lynn’s "You’ll Lose a Good Thing" with vocals by Big Sandy. Other highlights include "La Hiedra Venenosa", a fabulous cover of the Coasters' "Poison Ivy", also featuring Big Sandy on vocals, and "Hey Lupe", a version of the McCoys' "Hang on Sloopy", transformed into an ode to a girl named Lupe. Through it all, Los Straitjackets play it straight, cranking out these covers with boundless energy and enthusiasm. Those new to the band may want to start with one of their earlier albums, like ¡Damas y Caballeros!, but those already familiar with the band’s many charms will likely enjoy this album as much as I did.





In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.


Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.


Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.


Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.


Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.


'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.


Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.


From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.


Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.


Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".


On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.


Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.


That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.


Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.


Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.


Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.


'Thor: Ragnarok' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.


Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.