Joe "King" Carrasco & the Crowns

Tales From the Crypt (Roir)

Record Reviews

Joe "King" Carrasco & the Crowns

Tales From the Crypt (Roir)

When this tape was recorded in a basement in 1979, Joe "King" Carrasco was poised for a success that never materialized. He was one of MTV's first darlings, a rock critics' favorite, and when the band played on Saturday Night Live, his brand of Nuevo Wavo Tex-Mex punk filtered through Sixties garage rock was hotter than August Texas asphalt. Carrasco (neé Joe Teusch from Dumas) embodied the best of the times with his short, Farfisa-driven, border-flavored tunes custom-made for the Pogo. Twelve of the 13 songs on Tales From the City were released belatedly in 1984 on cassette only; this CD includes his popular single "Party Weekend." The opening track, "Buena," firmly establishes Carrasco's tip o' the crown to the Sir Douglas Quintet with Kris Cummings' charmingly cheesy organ issuing the roller-rink rhythms that distinguished the band's sound. Like "Buena," many of the songs on here are familiar to longtime Carrasco fans: "Caca de Vaca," "Wild 14," and "Let's Get Pretty," though "Pretty," "Betty's World," and several others were polished on later recordings. "Party Weekend" best epitomizes the energy and spirit of Carrasco and the Crowns, with production values and recording quality light-years better than the other 12 tracks. The rest of the recording sounded rinky-dink when it was put out in 1984, and time hasn't been kind to it in that respect, but it can't be regarded with the standards of 1984, or even of 2000 for that matter. It is, in the most basic sense, a relic from a time when music was returned to garages and basements and away from arenas and glitz. Carrasco managed to get a few of these songs played on the radio back then, but the airwaves were pretty resistant to New Wave and punk until the industry figured out how to make money from it. By that time, MTV had very effectively killed the radio star with new standards for album promotion and sales: the video. Unfortunately, as the transition happened, Carrasco and company were eclipsed by big-hair synth bands and big-budget videos. The very sound that helped launch the new wave got left behind, but Tales From the City is a raw and exuberant snapshot from that moment.


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