Texas Tornados: Esta Bueno!
Short history lesson for those, like me, who know nada of the Tornados. Founded in the 1990s as a Tex-Mex supergroup, the Tornados were renowned for cheerfully mixing up rock’nroll with Mexican styles, singing in Spanglish ( i.e. sometimes both languages in the same song, sometimes not quite either) and having a barrel of fun along the way. The star names were Flaco Jimenez, Augie Meyer, Doug Sahm and Freddy Fender. Those last two are no longer with us but both contribute posthumously as Doug’s son Shawn steers this first new recording in a decade. You might be wary of such a project, there’s not a great history with “previously unreleased” material, but this sounds just fine – no sharp dividing line between good tracks and fillers.
It’s pop, it’s beer joint dance music, it’s sentimental, irreverent and fun. To me it sounds like the soundtrack to some cheerful cross border film that hasn’t been made yet. You can imagine the images I have in mind – the road trip through sagebrush drylands, the impromptu party in the open air around an old cantina, the wedding party with everybody colourfully dressed and colurfully drunk.
Music like this has been put together by the music industry since recording began: you re-jig the formula every once in a while but you trust the pros to do their job and you give the people what they want. The difference between this and, say, Mariah Carey is that her music is concocted for people with very expensive sound systems and whose idea of a good time is to buy £80 tickets for her concerts when she deigns to drop down to planet earth, whereas the Tornados’ music is for people with the dirt still on their boots when they go drinking on Friday night. And, of course, the whole thing is so much more alive. Flaco Jimenez’ dancing fingers continue to be a joy to listen to, but check out the guitar playing on Llevame, it’s fluid and beautiful. Lyrically, it’s singalong stuff most of the time, nothing very profound, though the Doug Sahm song, Girl Going Nowhere, is quite seriously wistful. Fun lines pop out and make me chuckle (” In heaven there is no beer/ That’s why we drink it here”) and with the songs generally clocking in at about three minutes, we move swiftly on.
Esta Bueno is one to turn up loud and daydream that you’re there, in that un-made movie.
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