Wednesday, February 17, 2010
A TRIBUTE TO LOS FABULOSOS CADILLACS-Vos Sabes Cómo Te Esperaba (Nacional Records, '10)
Tribute albums are usually absolutely pointless, just a marketing scheme to either profit of the recent death of a pop-star or to try resurrect somebody's career after a long hiatus. In this case it's the second option.
You see, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs were huge back in the late eighties, during those days the second wave of ska and reggae imported from Great Britain (thanks to Madness and The Specials) was hitting hard in Buenos Aires and soon enough we had our own local clones. LFC started as a stereotype ska band with a handful of memorable party anthems that made them a staple of all school dance parties and quinceañeras, plus they had many of their hits covered by soccer hooligans, which is like a one-way ticket to pop immortality in Argentina. Later in the early nineties they lost popular acceptance after a couple of really bad moves (like playing a cover of "Sopa de Caracol") but they gained it back in '94 with the release of their most successful album, Vasos Vacíos, a compilation of greatest hits which included the ubiquitous hit "Matador." Suddenly they were famous all over Latin America and even in the United States, where they became synonym with rock-en-español or as they call it now, Latin Alternative. By the end of the decade they decided it was time to show some signs of maturity and shed off the party anthems in favor of more pretentious Latin jazz and fusion, pleasing the critics more than the fans.
During the first decade of the current century they pretty much vanished from the radar without ever officially calling the quits and a couple of their members focused on solo careers. The big comeback was in '08 with La Luz Del Ritmo, a half self-tribute album, half collection of covers and new songs (their single was a great new-cumbia called "Padre Nuestro" with cumbia villera's pioneer Pablo Lescano as a guest with his keytard). So all of a sudden, after an almost-decade long hiatus they reappeared in the scene and recorded yet another sort of self-tribute album in '09: El Arte De La Elegancia de LFC.
So the question is, we get all the comeback momentum and all that, but was there a real need for a tribute album of a band so prone to self-tributes and greatest-hits comps? How long more can we keep on regurgitating the same old songs from the 80's and 90's in slightly different formats? Well, guessing by the artwork of this compilation, there's still more to come; a big number one on the cover's bottom right suggests there might be a second volume to this...
Anyway, what can be said about this set of covers? Of course we wouldn't expect them to be better than the originals, they almost never are, definitely not in this case. In general, I noticed a trend to make more intimate versions (Andrés Calamaro in "Vasos Vacíos," No Te Va A Gustar in "Basta De Llamarme Así," Cultura Profética in "Silencio Hospital") of songs that in many cases were very up-beat dance-floor fillers in their original form. There's a lot of reggae (some of the prettiest versions were done by Los Cafres and Bolivia's Matamba) and virtually no ska, which I find odd considering they started as a ska band.
From a DJ point of view, I really doubt that I'd play any of these songs in my sets, much less replace the originals with them; maybe with only one exception: "Padre Nuestro" by Aterciopelados. That one was really good. Los Auténticos Decadentes cover was ok, but being the party-band they are, they should've gone for a song like "Gitana" and it could've been an instant addition to my peak-of-the-night set. Los Amigos Invisibles version of "Mal Bicho" is not bad either but it's just too similar to the original so I don't see the point in playing it in my set, they only changed the "sos" for "eres" in the chorus (which I personally find annoying) and that's it.
As usual in all these compilations there are a couple of oddballs but the one that stands out the most is the horrible version of "Matador" done by Mexican rappers Cartel De Santa. That was just a plain insult to the original. They just sampled and looped a couple of percussion breaks from the song with no extra production (something a twelve years old kid can do with a laptop and shareware) and karaoke/rapped on top and it's ewwww all the way from the first verse to the end (if you make it, I had to stop it before). That dude can't rap shit and his boring-ass monotone voice clashes with the up-beat batucada in the background ruining forever the dance potential of an otherwise irresistible party anthem. I guess "Matador" is the only song they know by Cadillacs and that's why they chose it, but being rappers, they could've done a more decent job covering one of the early LFC's raps from the times when they had Luciano Jr. as an MC and they were trying to look like the Beastie Boys.