Today is a record that I had known about for quite a while, but didn’t end up getting a copy of it until earlier this year. Jack the Ripper always had this in his bag, and Larry from F16 always raved about it. It really is a great record, and if you’re not familiar with it, get familiar. Here’s The Village Callers with “Hector” on Rampart Records from 1968.
The Village Callers would come out of a band called Marcy and the Imperials. MATI would grown into the Village Callers (allegedly taken from a Willie Bobo record), who fused a Latin sound into their music, and were one of the first bands in the LA area to do so. Their sound was a mix of Latin percussion, Jimmy Smith style organ, some R & B, and Mongo Santamaria and Wille Bobo sounds thrown in to round it out. The original line up featured Ernie Hernandez on guitar, Joe Espinoza and Manny Fernandez, on bass and drums respectively, Angie Bell on vocals, “Fuzzy” Martinez on the saxophone, and Chuck Masten on percussion. The Village Callers had a few other singers as well: Ersi Arvisu and Al Anaya, who came in and out of as band members often do. This line up was the lineup that recorded the live record, and the Callers did go through many other musicians in their time, some from Marcy and the Imperials, some not. The band played in many of the hot venues in LA and through California, when they were introduced to Eddie Davis of Rampart Records by their manager Hector Riviera. Get the correlation? The Callers would play gigs with the Watts 103rd Street band in some of the hippest venues in LA. There was a sort of battle for these young, hot musicians, and when they were offered some money (I believe $10,000), they took it and jumped ship from Rampart. This was a bad move in the long run, as even though the Village Callers got air play on the radio, the band would soon move into another direction. With personnel changes, the band would soon change it’s name to Silvanus and become a Rock band. The Latin flavor was gone. Many of the former VC musicians would go on to play with other bands, such as Poverty Train, Orange Colored Sky, and the Sal Chico Band.
This record is something. Recorded live at the Plush Bunny, the groove is, unfuckable with. The organ is the main focus, but when the groove locks in, and the horns start to blow, it’s a full blown freak out. Allegedly they were going for a “Tequila” sound, but this side is much,. much better. It has been said that bass was tripled in the studio and the original was so long that they had to divide it into two parts. Now there was much fooling around and busting of chops of their manager throughout, in English and in Spanish. This is a record that any good 45 DJ should own. You can get it under $20 and I highly recommend it. Ask any of the 45 Session guys and I think they’d say the same. I’ll see you Friday with some treats before the Holiday weekend here in the States. Keep Diggin’!