Perez Prado: San Luis Blues
From El Unico (Dimsa, 197?)
Despite the presumed ubiquity of data in a digital era, there’s a surprising amount of information gaps out there when it comes to even the most famous and prolific of artists. Perez Prado, one of Latin music’s most heralded figures, put out a striking number of funk-influenced albums in the 1970s but trying to keep an accounting of them is harder than you might imagine. The various discographies out there are incomplete and mismatched and that’s not even because of the confusion around which Perez Prado was even recording.
The more famous brother was responsible for the lion’s share of the “funky Prado” albums of this era but as I’ve discovered the hard way, it’s not easy keeping track of all that’s out there. This El Unico album, released out of Mexico, was completely off my radar until I heard a copy at the Groove Merchant and it’s certainly in competition with the better material in its vein. In terms of straight up funk, “San Luis Blues” certainly qualifies with its heated percussion section and a blaring brass section. But the real slower burner is this version of “Tequila” (which is a different version than what appears on Mexico 70). Fans of this classic party tune wouldn’t even recognize it based on how it opens: a heavy bassline that keeps looping around, some slick electric guitar and steady but understated Latin percussion. This is what you call a groove. It takes about five minutes for the main melody of “Tequila” to creep in and by that time, I doubt few would have seen it coming if not for people yelling “tequila!” to clue you in. It’s slow, almost druggy, and altogether heady.