El Chicano | In the Eye of the Storm (Inakustik)

dvd_el-chicano.jpgIt goes without saying that, if you’re an El Chicano follower, you cannot pass up this two-DVD set.







Originally deemed The VIPs, El Chicano’s rise to success inadvertently made them part of the Mexican-American movement in the United States, most notably southern California and southern Texas. Historically, the term "el Chicano" was a derogatory word derived from the Spanish word "Mejicano," or Mexican. After several years of struggle, it was later adopted by Mexican-Americans as a sort of badge of honor regarding their fight for equality in white America. As unique as it was at the time, the band’s producer secretly released their first song, "Viva Tirado," under the name El Chicano instead of The VIPs, the latter name lacking the type of political significance of El Chicano. After the song became an overnight hit, the name stuck and El Chicano was born.

It goes without saying that, if you’re an El Chicano follower, you cannot pass up this two-DVD set. The documentary includes historical footage of social issues at the time, intertwined with the history of El Chicano. Between interviews with the band members and historical footage are intermission-like clips from the Avalon concert, giving the audience a balance of visual and audio pleasure. The great thing about this is that it keeps the documentary from becoming too focused on the seriousness of the time, much like one would imagine their music did for many Mexican-Americans fighting for equality. While the band was never as famous nationally as other bands of the time, their hits were equally as popular in Mexican-American areas of the United States. In these parts of the country, "Tell Her She’s Lovely" was equally as popular as Santana’s "Oye Como Va." With the band performing with such groups as Marvin Gay and The Jackson 5, the documentary touches on the high points of their career, as well as what they believe to be some of their bigger, and career-altering mistakes.

The great thing about the documentary is that the mix of social history, band history and concert footage keeps the audience moving and interested. The footage gives the audience a point of reference as to the importance of the band during this time, and a panoramic view of what was going on. The initial DVD also consists of almost an hour of bonus material, including interviews, performances and rehearsals from the band’s 2008 reunion concert. The second DVD includes the entire reunion concert entitled Live at the Avalon – The Concert Santa Clara, California May 2008 including a faster, more subdued version of The Beatles’ hit "Eleanor Rigby," what you might actually call a sexier and loose, Latin jazz version.

Without prior familiarity of El Chicano but a huge fan of Latin rock and legendary guitar music, I would have to say their music is good, but doesn’t touch the likes of Santana or other great bands and guitar players of their time and genre. Both are definitely worth listening to and some may remember a few songs from their era. Even though the band was most famous for songs such as "Viva Tirado," "Spanish Grease" and "Tell Her She’s Lovely," the DVD is full of performances of other not-so-famous but nonetheless great songs. A | Jennifer Manjarez

RIYL: Santana, Los Lobos, Malo


Two-disc DVD (approximately 169 minutes)

Featured songs:
El Grito
Cubano Chant
Viva Tirado
Coming Home Baby
Spanish Grease
Eleanor Rigby
Chicano Chant
Viva Tirado Otra Vez
Mas Zacate
Tell Her She’s Lovely
El Cayuco

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