Local Wire

Los Straitjackets

Before those hand-holding mop-tops from Liverpool hit these shores, instrumental rock was extremely popular. The charts belonged to The Ventures, Dick Dale, Link Wray (big influence on The Who's Pete Townshend), and even Brits like the Shadows and Tornados. After Beatles, Stones, Dylan, and the "sophistication" that followed in their wake, bands without singers were generally musica non grata. Yet, ironically, indie rock paved the way for new generations of instro combos: Man or Astro-Man?, Tortoise, and Los Straitjackets. True, the lads in Los Straitjackets — clad in colorful masks of the Mexican Wrestling Federation — lean toward the "rootsy" side of the equation (the crashing waves of the surf, the deep, enigmatic twang of mystery). But no throwbacks are they — Los Str8s recorded an album with Chicago blues guitar ace Eddie "The Chief" Clearwater, and their latest opus, Rock en Español, Vol. 1, explores rock 'n' roll's Latino experience. Los Lobos' Cesar Rosas and Big Sandy (of his own rockabilly swingers the Fly-Rite Boys), lend their voices to classics "De Dia y de Nocha" (The Kinks' "All Day and All of the Night") and "Hey Lupe" ("Hang On Sloopy"). If music is the international lingo, play on, los gatos de hep, play on.
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Mark Keresman