Press Clipping
This Month's New Releases

Before gentrification San Francisco's Mission District was a happening scene. It was gritty (still is in places) and visceral with low-rider cars cruising and blasting their stereos, spontaneous conga jams in the park, little clubs like Bruno's, El Rio and Elbo Room, and big ones like Cesar's Latin Palace. Places for poetry, improv and comedy, like Intersection, Artists Television Access, the Marsh and other indie scenes thrived there. Churches were packed on Sundays; there were bakeries, bookstores and of course scores of taco stands. I lived there in the 1990s and worked part-time at Round World Music. The neighborhood started becoming "the new Bohemia" as people gave up on North Beach and the Haight-Ashbury trying to avoid tourists and looking for cheaper places to live. The "sound of the Mission" had been defined in the 60s by Santana and in the 70s by Tower of Power, Sly & the Family Stone and other funk bands. It's a sticky sweet mix of pop, soul and Latin grooves and is captured perfectly by the Hip Spanic Allstars on their new disc Old School Revolution. The group was formed by ex-members of Los Mocosos who found former members of Santana (timbalero Karl Perazzo), the snaky guitar of Spearhead, and indeed Tower of Power (trombonist and baritone saxophonist) with time on their hands and an urge to groove. Some band members formerly known as Latin Soul Syndicate did a lot of soundtrack work for The Sopranos, Devil wears Prada and John Leguizamo's last film. The old school of the title is the Chicano groove and surprisingly they kick off with a non-Latin pop song "Crystal Blue Persuasion" which was a 1969 hit for Tommy James & the Shondells. The original did have bongos and big horns and of course an irresistible Hammond organ groove and it's great to hear it recontextualized as a low-rider classic with layers of percussion. There are also audible echoes of the Rascals and Mazacote. The album is poppy but has consummate musicianship especially in the tropical sounds of "Bacuna Wow Wow Wow" and their cover of Sonora Santanera's "La Boa." A bit late for the summer party under the stars, this is still a guaranteed crowd pleaser.