Los Saicos – Demolicion! The Complete Recordings

January 01, 1970

(Munster Records)




We can
pretend we know the history of rock’n’roll, but we haven’t begun to scratch the
surface of what’s out there. Never mind the United States, where obscure runs
of extremely local singles remain to be found – this time, we’re turning our
attention to Peru back in 1964 and 1965, where six glorious slabs of vinyl
contained rock’n’roll madness above and beyond what we knew anybody was capable
of achieving at the time.


Los Saicos
were stars of a sort for a little while. TV appearances, sold-out concerts,
teenage girls screaming their heads off all seemed normal to them in their
native land. They didn’t sound like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the
Yardbirds, any of the British Invasion acts who were dominating the world music
charts at the time. If there was any band in the world that could stand in the
same room with them, it might be Seattle’s
Sonics – there was the same sense of breaking all the rules in search of
something desperately, abrasively, maddeningly beyond any of rock’s connections
to pop music convention. But the Sonics were operating in the belly of the
beast – they knew what they were doing was different from everybody else
because they were surrounded by it; at the same time, they were part of a Pacific Northwest rock scene where expression had to be
raw, wild, and competitively over the top.


Los Saicos,
on the other hand, sound like they were just trying to play the music they
loved without internalizing the rules. Their chord changes and song structures
were based on 12-bar blues as were so many rock’n’roll records of that era. But
without having heard hundreds of examples, Los Saicos stretched the number of
bars, or changed at a point that wasn’t quite normal. And their rhythms were
neither swinging nor propulsive in the manner of most rock’n’roll bands. They
don’t sound wrong, just different. Without the context of other Peruvian bands
of the time, it’s impossible to say how much of this sound was their inherent
originality, and how much was conventional among their peers. Although, if
there was another vocalist with the gargling intensity of Erwin Flores (who
doesn’t even handle all the singing), somebody better dig up those recordings


At any rate,
listening to these six singles, twelve original songs, collected on one CD,
there is no question that Los Saicos stand out among all rockers. “Demolicion”
itself makes a strong case for being one of the most exhilarating rock’n’roll
records of all time – that stuttering vocal thirty seconds in is one Lux
Interior of the Cramps would have killed to come up with, and that’s only the
first hint of a wild ride that stands somewhere in between “La Bamba” and
“Louie Louie” in the annals of three-chord explosions. “Te Amo” is a blast, as
well. Closer than most Los Saicos songs to the British Invasion sound, it’s got
plenty of weirdness to make it stand out, from the spoken contrapuntal voice in
the verses to the thrilling combination of vocal harmonies and churning drums
on the chorus.


liner notes detail in Spanish and English just who these guys were, what they
did, and how they broke up only to be rediscovered by record collectors decades
later. It’s all fascinating stuff, but not half as important as the evidence in
the music. Los Saicos, singing mostly in Spanish and occasionally in tongues,
were the real deal, a band with something akin to rock’n’roll genius.


DOWNLOAD: “Demolicion,” “Te Amo,” “Fugitivo de
Alcatraz.” STEVE PICK

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