Music Reviews

Los Straitjackets

Sing Along With…

Yep Roc

When I say “guitar instrumentals played by four guys in Mexican wrestler’s masks,” you don’t immediately associate it with a feeling of tradition. But that’s what it is for Los Straitjackets, who have built a rock-solid career on precisely that. Well, that and fantastic musicianship.

I have to wonder how many people warned them not to break with that tradition, not to… anything but… let someone sing. Fortunately, Los Straitjackets are bold and fearless, and for this, their first collection of songs featuring vocals, they enrolled a star-studded cast. Big Sandy, Exene Cervenka, Dave Alvin, El Vez, The Reverend Horton Heat, Nick Lowe – even the freakin’ Trashmen. All of them and more take a turn at one or another standard, with our heroes on instruments, and all come out trophy winners.

Exene Cervenka, for example, howls her misery on “I’ll Go Down Swinging.” Mark Lindsay (of Paul Revere and the Raiders) nails “Treat Her Right” so hard, they’re going to need a new hammer. I can’t listen to Dave Alvin’s take on “California Sun” all the way through, I’m afraid it will set my boombox afire.

This break with tradition is win-win-win. This is far more than a novelty album for fans of Los Straitjackets or otherwise; it’s a solid chunk of music, full of guts and soul.

Yep Roc Records: • Los Straitjackets:

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