Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ersi Arvisu - Chicano Rock Classic

Ersi Arvisu has a new album, released in early May. This is the first solo album ever for the East L.A. diva, and the first time we've heard her voice in almost 30 years.

The album is wonderful, highly recommended. This is the first complete album I've bought on iTunes. My previous 2,750 songs were all individually picked.

Ersi Arvisu sang for a while in the 60s with her sisters. To hear it told, they were the Supremes of East L.A. Then she joined El Chicano for a couple of their seminal albums.

Arvisu is one of the reigning queens of Chicano Rock. This album, produced by Ry Cooder, showcases all of her many talents - in English and in Spanish. The woman is a treasure, a reminder of the days when one could still get the largest burrito in the world at El Tepayac (Manuel's Place). When mothers still watched their children in public in case someone would give them "the evil eye." When young men made pilgrimages to the Saturday market to buy Damiana from the Curanderas in hopes of finally scoring big.

The Album, Friend for Life, features a very hot back-up band - as is natural for a Ry Cooder production - and the voices of Arvisu's sisters, as well as a host of other collaborators. She sings about stuff that matters, and the people who populate her world. This disc's got it all. Lush arrangements, tight horns, weeping guitar and an Cali/Mex R&B soul. Arvisu changes pace seamlessly while moving from throaty jazz to driving rock-and-roll. One of my favorite tunes is Window of Dreams about her father's boxing gym, her own time as a female boxer, and respect. It's the last song on the album, and a fitting conclusion to a masterful effort.

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