Los Angelinos – The Eastside Renaissance

Los Angelenos – The Eastside Renaissance (Rhino Records) 1983. Recently we celebrated National Record Store Day here in the States but I didn’t take much notice because every day is Record Store Day for Joe Stumble. Case in point, this recent acquisition from The Academy Annex in Brooklyn of all places. I guess it surprised me seeing it there because it is such a Los Angeles comp, or Los Angelinos as it were. Maybe some LA transplant, low on fundage, had to sell their West Coast treasures? Always one of my favorite record store moments. “How did this get here?” Not saying that this comp probably wasn’t on sale in NYC during its heyday. It’s on Rhino, so it was probably well distributed. However, what relevance could this have to an outsider? Being that this is not a compilation based upon music like All’s Quiet on the Western Front and it is not a compilation based upon a label like Flex Your Head. Instead this is a compilation based upon a shared cultural identity and a particular region of Los Angeles. Consequently, the music contained herein spans the gamut from la rancheras de Los Perros to the proto-hardcore of The Brat. Any hard-line punk rock fan will not be pleased, but those with open minds or barrio experiences will probably enjoy this compilation both for its historical perspective and the musical goodies contained in the grooves.

Me, I come at it with a deep love for the music and art generally, and an interest in The Plugz and the Brat primarily. So it’s a win-win. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some duds on this compilation. Some of it sounds like music you would have heard at a block party back in 1983, when this was released. One of those bands that you can still hear at street fests and block parties out west. In Saint Louis its bad rhythm and blues, out west it sounds like this. I can’t help but be reminded of Cheech and Chong’s band in Up in Smoke before they discovered punk rock. As Cheech Marin so eloquently put it, “You don’t have to know how to play. You just got to be a punk.” The Los Mestizos track is a good sample of what you will be getting into. Another track that is better than the Los Mestizos track but still ages somewhat poorly is Con Safos’ theme song which has a nice little low-rider groove to it but suffers a bit from the vocals and overall approach. Caveat Emptor as it were.

The Brat on the cover of Low Rider Magazine circa 1982

 

So now that I got that out of the way, lets take a look at some of the other tracks. Any long time reader knows that I am a huge fan of The Plugz. I think they were one of the greatest punk rock bands ever, from any part of the world. Tito Larriva’s lyrics always struck the perfect balance between aching romanticism and macho swagger. Too much of one and you get indie rock. Too much of the other and you get Ted Nugent. Achin’ by The Plugz represents the perfect center. He’s Achin’ for chrissakes! Achin’ to Break Your Heart. Can you get next to that? Cuz I can. And I’m not the only one that appreciates the brilliance of this song, 9 out of ten punk rock bloggers agree that this song kicks ass. A later version of this with different lyrics and less punch appears on The Plugz second album Better Luck. But this more obscure version is the one to hear.

This is followed by a great song called The Wolf by The Brat who were just an amazing band. Their first EP Attitudes was produced by Tito Larriva and graphically enhanced by none other than Exene Cervenka. Quite a pedigree when you think about it. The Brat should have been a lot bigger in my opinion. The Wolf has all the So-Cal tunefulness that you would expect with excellent lyrics that are political without being preachy or stupid. All in all, it reminds me of Stiff Little Fingers or something as filtered through a So-Cal Chicano perspective. I assume The Wolf is a later track by The Brat as well, considering that High School, one of my all time favorite punk songs, is also on this comp and showcases an earlier version of the band playing shit fast with some crazy-assed Stains type guitar lines running through it. For further enjoyment, check out the great video of the Brat on YouTube featuring a very young Teresa Covarrubias performing High School in a mu-mu, as introduced to me by the always entertaining and insightful Mrowster. Then wait patiently for the release of their anthology like I am currently doing. Like I said, nine out of 10 bloggers agree…

The rest of the comp doesn’t match the sheer brilliance of these two bands but it does come pretty damn close. In fact, Los Perros is exactly the kind of medicine I need right now. Specializing in a form of Latino-Folkloric protest called Nueva Cancun, Los Perros sounds to my gringo ears like Los Lobos Del Este De Los Angeles, which means they sound pretty damn great. Felix and The Katz do a hopped-up rockabilly number, Odd Squad add an excellent new wave track, Califas are like a mellower version of Los Perros. Really besides a few dated missteps, this compilation is great. Perfect listening material for your upcoming Cinco De Mayo celebrations. Also if anyone has any old recordings by Thee Undertakers, Los Illegals, The Warriors and any others please drop me a line. Tumors ELA, I’m talking to you man. The present day Pachuco refuses to die!

Los Angelenos – The Eastside Renaissance

The Plugz – Achin’
The Brat – The Wolf
Felix and the Katz – Boys and Girls
The Brat – High School
Odd Squad – Moving Your Mouth
Con Safos – c/s
Thee Royal Gents – You Really Do Want My Love
The Plugz – Electrify Me
Califas – La Musica
Thee Royal Gents – Lady Love
Mestizo -What Am I Gonna Do
Los Perros – El Corrido to End Barrio Warfare

This entry was posted in LA, Punk Rock. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Los Angelinos – The Eastside Renaissance

  1. chris g says:

    hey joe, if you’re looking for a really good Undertakers record, check out Artifix Records. Same label that did the Bags anthology and the recent Rhino 39/Black Randy Split
    thee undertakers cd is decent, but that Artifix EP (called L.A. Muerte i think) is the real goooood shit

    i actually saw the Plugz with the Eyes, Skulls, Deadbeats, and Flyboys.
    and the Brat are playing next month with Le Face i think

  2. 3x12ax7 says:

    What?!?! No Stains?!?!!?

  3. fred says:

    Nice video! Didn’t know there was a 1980 vintage vid of The Brat! Saw The Brat open for X in 1980. Loved Theresa and that record! Saw the Plugz a bunch and once saw thee Undertakers, but I didn’t know who they were until the CD came out. Oh and the Stains. East LA was usually gigs at the Vex (1,2,3,4,5,Vex 33 etc!)

  4. Joe says:

    The Stains werent on the comp and I dont need to hear them because I have their (great) LP. I would like to hear some of these other bands though….

  5. Tumors ELA says:

    hey joe, thee undertakers stuff is readily available — cd on GTA is great, 7″ on artifix is short but awesome — and the illegals album is outta print (and a bit of an acquired taste for those used to the stains and such), but not too hard to find on the web. the warriors are one of the “lost” bands that influenced some bands that went on to bigger things (word is they were a primary influence for the busboys). so far as i know they never released any vinyl, though brian qualls can be heard playing on “better luck” and a buncha other albums. there are a few stains obscurities out there, too, including at least two live sets, and two sets of demos, the latest of which dates from the late 80s. the album lineup of the stains is also back together and gigging regularly around l.a. these days…. as for this album, the version of “electrify me” is also an alternate version, if i remember rightly, the version of “the wolf” here is unique to this comp, the odd squad (featuring a couple of original illegals in their ranks) track stands as their sole released material (angela went on to join alice bag and theresa brat in las tres and i think was in stay at home bomb, too, but i could be wrong about the latter), and los perros del pueblo put out at least one additional cassette release that i know of. con safos featured ruben “funkahuatl” guevara, a cool, storied writer and musician that’s worked with tons of people, including zappa. the l.a. weekly has a write-up about him in this week’s issue:

    http://www.laweekly.com/2009-04-23/la-vida/renaissance-man/

    the thing to note about this album was that it was not intended to be so much a “punk” comp as a sort of diverse snapshot of what was happening in l.a.’s chicano music scene in the early 80s, which was dubbed the “chicano renaissance” by guevara, who produced the comp. in addition to punk and new wave, you get samples of the salsa-influenced disco and “santana-itis” that many were rebelling against, plus 60s-styled movimiento anthems like the perros track. a more recent (circa 1995 or so) snapshot was the “sociedad=suciedad” comp on BYO, which, while skint on punk and not as holistic gives a peek at what was labeled the “chicano groove” scene (wherein most of the groups were comprised of old east los backyard punk vets) that spawned ozomatli, slowrider and aztlan underground.

  6. Tumors ELA says:

    oh, one more thing: the brat footage you posted is part of a school project a cat named sal shot back in 1981 or so. the whole thing is about a half hour long. was filmed at lincoln park and features live sets and interviews with the brat and thee undertakers. it’s never been properly released but, again, bootlegs can be found fairly easily.

    this is a more recent version of “high school” a friend and i shot in late 2006 at the now defunct la mano press in lincoln heights for a doc we’re working on. enjoy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06ROqHfNx0U

  7. Tumors ELA says:

    ….and the mural on the “los angelinos” cover was done by gronk and willie herron, the latter of which is the singer for los illegals and both are well known artists who were part of an infamous avant garde artist collective called Asco, along with patssi valdez and harry gamboa, jr. the mural was on the back of the seating area of the basketball courts at city terrace park, but was painted over sometime in the 1990s, i believe…..

  8. chris g says:

    speaking of all this capturing of Latino/Hispanic/Mexican culture, anyone interested in this oughtta check Junot Diaz’ autobiographical(?) masterwork ‘Drown’. Fantastically disturbing novel.

  9. Joe says:

    Chris G and Tumors — Thanks as always for the schooling. Gonna go check some of this shit out. Will report on my findings!

  10. Tumors ELA says:

    diaz is actually dominicano, but “drown” is great and his most recent book, “the brief wondrous life of oscar wao” is phenomenal….

  11. Pierce says:

    Wow – this is a seriously refreshing blast from the past. Thank you so much for posting. I always meant to buy this comp but always passed it up in favor of other, more pressing purchases (e.g., that new Jam LP that I just _know_ is going to be good…..yeah, right). I share your love of the Plugz and saw them many times (mostly with Tony Marsico, but a couple of times with Barry). Never saw them less than good, which is saying something. Tito once offered to trade guitars with me one night in their trailer after a show – he liked the sound of my Tele Deluxe, but I was too chickenshit to do it. I only saw Brat once, at Vex, but they were good, lots of energy. Teresa even moved around (maybe she was being extra still in this because of the video?).

    I thought she was deadly cute too – one of several LA punk grrls I thought were just all that. Maybe it’s the rose-tinted lenses of nostalgia, but it seems to me LA had more than its fair share of ass-kicking punk women/girls who were also…you know. Alice Bag, Dinah Cancer, Pat M, Jane Weidlin, Gina Shock, Dianne Chai, Kira, Texacala…ah youth. I had a friend who though Exene was the hottest thing he’d ever seen, but she was like the Virgin Mary (le nom juste) to me – too sacred in my pantheon to profane with my dirty mind.

  12. Jeff says:

    Attitudes by The Brat is pretty much the best thing to come out of 1980, and that is REALLY saying something.

  13. ray ss says:

    hey i havig trouble with the rar but really want to download this album i love to learn more and more about old punk especially chicano punk and i love the plugz the brat the bags and teh zeros are all among my favorites thanks for this great info

  14. ray ss says:

    nevermind i got it thank you very much
    peace
    take care
    ray ss

  15. ray ss says:

    man ilove this ofcourse i love the brat and plugz songs cuz i have loved those bands for years but other new faves are los perros with their traditional mexican music sound that i grew up hearing sitting on a swing at my tia’s house while all my tia’s y tio’s gossiped and drank
    also i love the odd squad song it is right up their with a classic punk sound like the beans, alley cats and again the brat.

    also i think bands thta were around at the same time but from england that sound totally alike the brat are manufactured romance and fatal microbes(annie anxiety and crass members i think) i have some songs on tape by those bands but dont know much about them.

  16. ray ss says:

    oops i meant felix and the katz not the odd squad but the odd squad song is good too.

  17. tumors ELA says:

    yo joe, i sent you an email with a link to the 1st part of the podcast. thanks again for helping with it. lemme know what you think.

  18. pellboy says:

    Just a note that this record pretty much was everywhere in 1983, at least if you count the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas and its student-run, alternative rock radio station, KJHK. Was deejaying there back in the day and really dug this album, especially the older Chicano soul stuff that I was previously unfamiliar with like, Thee Royal Gents.

Leave a Reply