Archive for the 'Boleros y Baladas' Category

Day 27: Trio Music and the Bolero Tradition

Although the roots of the bolero are said to have begun in Spain, it wasn’t until the early part of the 20th century that the genre progressed in the country of Cuba. Having emerged as a dance form and a musical cross with Cuban son – it would go on to evolve throughout Latin America in trio form, as probably one of the most recognizable vocal and guitar idioms. Lyrically the bolero is unashamed of being over-sentimental. With songs about eternal passion, death, or the wallowing/lamenting of unrequited love. Musically, as evident in this post, trios began fusing the bolero with other musical genres, that you can enjoy in presentations and concerts, so if you’re a concert goer or a person who works in loud and noisy places, you could invest in a pair of concert ear plugs to protect your ears.
. Probably the closest to its Cuban roots would be Trio Caribe’s bolero-son “Sola En El Mundo” (alone in the world). However, I did manage to include boleros from Mexico, Colombia and Argentina – from traditional serenade style trio music, to cumbia/rock/jazz bolero fusions. Enjoy!

1. Trio Caribe: Sola En El Mundo

2. Trio Fonseca: Murio Candelaria

3. Los Tres Reyes: Por Que Me Dejas

4. Los Tecolines: Puente Roto

5. Trio Los Panchos: Lupita


Day 17: Mariachi On Wax

DEEJAYS: Next time you’re looking for a closer for your deejay nite, throw on a mariachi joint–preferably à la Vicente Fernández or José Alfredo Jiménez–and let ‘er rip. Always kills. Granted, I don’t usually throw mariachi records on the turntable at home, but I like to keep a couple 45s handy when deejaying…just in case everyone needs it. Bodes well with Jalisco-born tequila, too.

Upon hearing about mariachi maestro Vicente “Chente” Fernández’s impending retirement from showbiz (well deserved, I might add, after a near half century-spanning career!), thought I’d share a couple of regional Mexican 45s from my collection. Big up to Franko y su Super Sonido for having me!

1. Vicente Fernández: Volver Volver (Discos Columbia, 1976)

Classic track by a classic dude. No mariachi rocks a mustache or a mic better than Chente. ‘Nuff said.

Found this in a dig while trekking across southern New Mexico two summers ago. It appealed to me primarily because of the fantastic picture sleeve, but bandleader/cantante Ruben Padillo’s signature was an added bonus. While the songs on the disc aren’t particularly mind-blowing (though the featured side is decent enough), it makes up in aesthetic value. Really, how often do you come across a signed, picture-sleeved mariachi 45 on a relatively obscure Mexican label? In my case, not terribly often. Not a bad way to spend 50 cents.

– Alex LaRotta

2. Mariachi Metropolitano de Ruben Padilla: Soy Fronterizo (Discos Aragón – 197?)

Great post and some amazing images on those picture disks. I’ve never met Alex personally, but he has been a fan of Super Sonido for some time now – for which I am greatful for. It appears that when Alex isn’t doing awesome guest blog posts, he can be found in San Antonio Texas playing all sorts of awesome records. Thanks Alex, totally appreciated, and you’re welcome back anytime sir!!! On a side note, Vicente Fernández‘s Volver, Volver (come back, come back) was initially written as a love song. However, the famous ranchera tune took on another meaning in the 70’s and 80’s – becoming a rallying song for Mexican immigrants to return to Mexico. Probably the most famous ranchera song ever written, if not a ballad that made Vicente Fernández legendary – Sonido Franko

Day 14: Sin Amor

I was gonna do a post about love songs, but I found that the music for the broken-hearted was way better. I figure for every love song I pull from the KRMX lot, there must be about 10 songs about sorrow, torment and agony. With titles like A Quien Vas A Engañar (who are you going to fool?), No Quiero (I don’t want/love), Lagrimas (tears) – it would appear that I am hell-bent on ruining your Valentines Day. I ran across these tracks last night and had no urge trying to research any of the musicians (and no real intention of ruining your day). I have written in the past about both Rodolfo and Leo Dan, so be sure to check it out. Otherwise, there really is no common thread between these 45’s but the mere fact that love and heartbreak is universal. Happy Valentines Day everyone! ♥

1. Rodolfo: A Quien Vas A Engañar

2. Rodolfo: Engaño

3. Teresita: No Quiero

4. Martha y Los Ventura: Te Odio Y Te Quiero

5. Magda Franco: Lagrimas

6: Arturo Alejandro: Sonreir

7. Leo Dan: Yo Se Que No Es Feliz

8. Javier Hildago: No Te Debo Demorar

Day 2: Yndio

In 1991, when I was 20 years old, I took a bus from the Oakland Greyhound to San Diego. From Tijuana I took a direct 52+ hour bus ride to Guanajuato, Mexico (the 2 lane highways really sucked back then). If I had a nickel for every time I heard Yndio‘s Sin Tu Amor (without your love) on the radio, I could have purchased a small house down there (the peso was very weak back then).

Although the do-wop sounding Mexican ballad had been around for a while, it was the 1972 Sin Tu Amor that is probably the most famous. It was a massive hit for this group of norteños from Hermosillo. They really tried to run with that sound, as you can see with the two other songs in this post – both of which are from their next two subsequent albums. They do have some psych/hard rock numbers in the mid-70’s and recorded garage rock under the name Los Pulpos (hard to find/very rare) in the late 60’s. Otherwise, they fell into the Norteño/Banda trap like so many other musicians did in the 80’s. It was like $3000 pesos to the dollar in 1991, remember? Enjoy.

1. Yndio: Sin Tu Amor

2. Yndio: Noches y Dias Perdidas

3. Yndio: Siempre De Novios 

Contrabando con Los Tigres Del Norte

I did a short post about Los Tigres Del Norte over two years ago, but since then, drug smuggling in Mexico has since slipped into epic proportions; therefore, I thought I’d do another.

I summed up Los Tigres pretty well in my last post – I wrote about how Norteño music and corridos formed the sound-tract to the social problems and successes of the Mexican people. But it was the number Contrabando y Traicion (contraband and betrayal) that had catapulted not only the band, but the whole Norteño genre to massive success in the early 70’s. A lot earlier than I had previously indicated.

The gritty tune Contrabando y Traicion is a song about a couple who smuggles drugs across the US/Mexican border. Lyrically, it is a cover of an older corrido, which is kind of like a country ballad which can have a parable of some sort at the ending. As the story goes, Emilio Varela and Camelia the Texan smuggle marijuana in their tires from Tijuana, Mexico to Hollywood, California. But as Emilio wants to leave the business and follow a more sobering life in San Francisco, he is murdered by his female partner.

Ballads about anti-heroes, drug dealers, immigrants, and the modern ills of society were nothing new at the time. The Mexican corrido is a musical tradition that lasted over 100 years. The only difference was the approach Los Tigres Del Norte had taken musically to the genre. The combination of instruments, the use of the accordion, the loud/heavy use of the electric bass, and the nasal singing style were the subtle differences that modernized the corrido sound into what is now called Norteño. These guys popularized this sound, an approach which was copied by nearly all of Los Tigres’ contemporaries of the time.

Now the story of Contrabando y Traicion may very well be an exaggeration of some sort, but one can almost see this song as a lament to the trails and tribulations of the Mexican immigrant, a reflection for some, of how much bullshit one has to go through just to cross a border. On a side note, a few movies in the 80’s were made about this ballad. Probably one of my favorite songs of this entire genre. Please enjoy!

1. Los Tigres Del Norte: Contrabando y Traicion



Day 16: Los Comuneros de Paraguay

Formed in 1956 by harpist, Osvaldo Ganoa, Los Comuneros de Paraguay were one of the more successful conjuntos de arpa that came out of Paraguay in the mid-twentieth century.  They toured extensively throughout Latin America and enjoyed a substantial degree of international notoriety, as evidenced by this El Salvadorian pressing of their recordings of Anahí and Regalo de Amor. While they were somewhat adept at performing various Latin American genres, the two pieces featured here highlight their skill and grace in performing the ritmo guaranía of their native Paraguay.

Formed during the military dictatorship of Stroessner and baring the namesake of an early 18th century anti-colonial movement, Los Comuneros de Paraguay contributed to the nationalist fervor of the period with recordings such as these two. Anahí recounts the myth of a Guaraní princess, famous for her exquisite singing voice, who was taken captive by Spanish colonizers. She escapes, murdering a sentinel in the process, only to be recaptured and subsequently executed by being tied to a Ceibo tree and burned alive. As the flames engulf her, she transforms into the bright red flowers of the tree. The piece was written in the 1940’s by Argentine composer, Osvaldo Sosa Cordero, as commissioned by the Minister of Education for the declaration of the Ceibo flower as the national flower of Argentina. Regalo de Amor is a beautiful dedication of love composed by Paraguayan composer, Maurico Cardozo Ocampo, who dedicated himself to the preservation of the Paraguayan culture. The piece is sung in Spanish and Guaraní, both official languages of Paraguay, with the latter being the only such distinction of an indigenous language in Latin America that I know of.

Both tracks feature the angelic voice of Nair, the lead vocalist of the conjunto who only went by her first name, and the understated harp of Ganoa, which interplays beautifully with an unknown pianist. The lilting guaranía rhythm evokes sentiments of love and forlornness, giving both pieces an endearing and haunting quality.  I get chills!  Enjoy!

– Marcos Juarez

You can check out my homeboy Marcos Juarez on KALX radio station each Thursday from 12:30 to 3:00 pm for the finest in Latin American music. Trying to get Marcos to be a regular contributor to Super Sonido so please bother him here and tell him to do so. The guy has a totally different approach to the Latin American music that he collects, from Latin funk to that more traditional/indigenous sound you’re hearing now. Thanks Marcos – first music from Paraguay I’ve had on this site and I couldn’t be happier.

– Sonido Franko

1. Los Comuneros de Paraguay: Anahi

2. Los Comuneros de Paraguay: Regalo De Amor  

Day 15: Lola Beltrán – Cucurrucucú Paloma

Long before hack singers were carried to award ceremonies in gigantic plastic eggs, there was the Ranchera singing tradition – usually accompanied by some of the greatest divas of the golden age of Mexican music. With the advent of radio and television in Mexico, people in urban settings were now able to recapture the sounds of their rural towns they had once left. Ranchera, coming from the word rancho (country), was usually joined with a mariachi ensemble and a female singer. Complex melodies/rhythms, plus lyrics about loss and betrayal were to characterize the Ranchera sound – a stlye which would only catapult singers like Lola Beltrán into super stardom and forever into the psyche of the Mexican consciousness.

Nicknamed Lola la Grande (Lola the Great) – Beltrán had similar humble roots as did most of her fans. Hailing from the small town of Rosario, in the state of Sinaloa – Lola ended up working in a radio station in Mexico City as a secretary. From there her list of accomplishments went from being a film actress, marrying a matador, being a telanovela star, to hosting a talk show. However it was always her singing that made her probably the most successful Ranchera stars of all time.

I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I am not a huge fan of Rancheras and Mariachi – but Cucurrucucú Paloma (cooing dove) happens to be one of my favorites of this genre. I put below the English translation of the song below to show how melodramatic, yet how very poetic this music can be. Enjoy!

1. Lola Beltrán: Cucurrucucú Paloma

They say that every night
he was wholly overtaken by tears;
They say he never ate, but only drank.

They swear that even the heavens
trembled to hear his wail,
he suffered for her so,
that even in death, he never stopped calling for her:

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, he sang,
Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, he howled,
Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, he sang,
tormented by a fatal passion.

They say that in early morning
a sad dove sings to the little empty house
with its wide open little doors. They swear that the dove
is none other than his spirit, hoping still for the return
of the ill-fated woman

Coo…coo… Dove,
Coo…coo… don’t weep.

What do the stones know about love?


Little dove, do not weep anymore.