Weary winterers, rejoice: the thaw is at hand. Or, at least, that’s what Vinilísssimo’s vinyl reissue of Colombian rock and roll group Los Yetis’ self-titled debut feels like. Originally released in 1966, Los Yetis radiates retro warmth. The group covers eleven classic jukebox-era tracks and then tops off the lot of them with an explosive original number. “Ya no te Aguanto Más” clocks in at less than two minutes, but the group packs a more powerful punch on the garage rocker than any other song on the album. The tempo is high and the melody is hot; the vocals occasionally dip down into gritty growls. It’s the album’s brightest and most exciting moment, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. There are plenty of good tunes along the way.
Horns and rolling dance beats open the album’s first track, a crowd-pleasing cover of Little Anthony and the Imperials’ “Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop”. After a couple of slower songs, “El Juego del Amor” brings a wilder energy as the boys of Los Yetis start off the Wayne Fontana cover with a few wordless shouts and then throw out each line with devil-may-care swagger. Not much is tangibly different between the cover and the original, but subtle changes in arrangements and attitudes make Los Yetis’ version a little tighter, not just because of more minimal production but because the group moves together so well. Closing out the A side is a speedy rendition of the Beatles’ “Help!” to keep the dance floor alive and hopping.
By the B side, all signs of gentle swaying are out of the picture. “La Bamba” swings into high gear, setting the tone for the rest of the album. Even heartbreak ballad “Tú me dijiste adiós” (originally by Spanish rock group Los Brincos), for all its melancholy, maintains momentum so that the group can move seamlessly back into the quicker grooves of “Por qué te Vas” and a loud, no-holds-barred performance of “La Pocima de Amor” – the Searchers’ “Love Potion Number Nine”, but sounding fresher and lighter. It’s a perfect close to the covers section of the record, one hard to sit still for. On “Ya no te Aguanto Más”, the band then lets loose with a final, show-stopping burst of energy.
Granted, nostalgia plays a large role in appreciating Los Yetis, just as it does in so many reissues. But local 1960s boy bands covering the Beatles are a dime a dozen, while Los Yetis comes across as the genuine article. That’s not just rosy retrospection talking; Colombian label Discos Fuentes initially selected the group for a compilation of young Colombian bands that was such a hit across the country that it led to this debut LP and a career that would see Los Yetis lead the entire Colombian psychedelic rock scene of the 1960s. Los Yetis marks a solid start, but perhaps the best part of listening to it again is knowing how much potential the band would realize over its brief initial career and being able to recognize that Los Yetis was only the beginning of some serious trailblazing.