Los Lonely Boys, El Tule, Hector Ward & the Big Time, and Willie Alvarado

Latin beat

Texas Platters

Los Lonely Boys' new 1969 EP on Playing in Traffic/Lonelytone Records christens the San Angelo trio's post-Sony transition to its management's new imprint, which also reps the Steps and Sahara Smith. Five well-trod covers, "Evil Ways," Buddy Holly's "Well All Right" (also covered by Santana once), "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," "Polk Salad Annie," and the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues," float the cover bar keg, with only the Beatles' break-in transformed by "Texican soul." El Tule comes in at an extended extended-play length, with six meaty tracks on Volumen II and the local septet's big band Latinate giving Grupo Fantasma a serious run for its pesos. "Silver and Gold" plates the starter pistol's dual guitar/bass jungle strut, "Cumbia Cubana Electrica" measures out gleaming brass conductivity, and "Mi Niño" booms Miami as "La Botana" stuffs itself on Caribbean surf, turf, and tequila. Que rico! Hector Ward & the Big Time sounds like LLB singer/bassist JoJo Garza fronting Tule or Grupo on Freightline Funk, nine pieces busting out raunchy horn-rimmed roots 'n' ska as in the hopped-up "Azucar." Does Willie Nelson know his single malt whiskey flows south of the border on Ward's "Gypsy River"? Another San Angeloan, Willie Alvarado debuts on Vallejo's imprint VMG. Produced by Rick del Castillo and the Vallejo Bros., the Spanish crooner's eponymous knockout cherry-picks choice Latin balladry, which he then absolutely booms with a prizefighter's fearlessness and Casanova's caress. Tomás Méndez ("Cucurrucucú Paloma"), Consuelo Velázquez ("Bésame Mucho"), and Pedro Flores ("Amor Perdido") lend Alvarado's bottomless voice timeless compositions to serenade golden anniversaries. Quatro estrellas, four stars.

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Los Lonely Boys, El Tule, Hector Ward & the Big Time, Willie Alvarado

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