Nothing remotely associated with AOR here, instead Chango deliver some of the best latin hard rock likely ever recorded, a breathtaking showcase of instrumental power with obvious Santana overtones.
Written by: Dangerzone
LABEL: ABC Records
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Pepe Gomez – vocals, drums * George Tacktikos – guitar * Burlin Speakes – bass * Thomas Alletto – keyboards * Reinol Andinol – congas, timbales * Mike Britton – percussion
TRACK LISTING: 01 Fire Over Water * 02 Walk On Hell * 03 Bollo * 04 Caminado * 05 Mira Pa ‘Ca * 06 Bembe * 07 Solid Karma * 08 Sacapa * 09 Chango
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Nothing remotely associated with AOR here, instead Chango deliver some of the best latin hard rock likely ever recorded, a breathtaking showcase of instrumental power with obvious Santana overtones only with far more clout, taking the Latin sound to new extremes for the period. Based in New York from what I gather, this was the first of two albums by the band, with this their debut gaining a cult following over the past few decades.
The cover artwork is fantastic, a wonderful gatefold sleeve painting that was faithfully reproduced by Italian label Arkama on CD some years back. It fits the energy of the music which offers little rest through all nine tracks, a rhythmic delight that managed to secure the band a major label with Mercury the following year.
‘Fire On The Water’ is a perfect opener showcasing a mixture of organ and latin percussion backing set to what could be a track from a late 60’s international espionage thriller! Tacktikos adds the first of many furious solos, providing a heavier sense of urgency than much of Santana‘s similar work. Epics are not out of the question, ‘Walk On Hell’ clocking in at eight minutes with extended instrumental sections mostly revolving around organ and guitar tradeoffs.
The latin funk of ‘Bollo’ is unrivalled, the congas being worked unmercifully, conjuring up atmosphere of the era, very much music of its time. ‘Caminado’ is melodically aware, easy radio material, with Gomez owning a distinctive voice, one moment screaming, the next playing it soft and raunchy. The title track is a nine minute powerhouse, closest to Santana of all, the guitar work matching the original master. ‘Solid Karma’ is more pop inclined, but the guitar work again keeps it level headed.
Overall the flurry of activity and the interplay between all involved is constantly listenable and those with a liking for an eminently heavier version of Santana will be overjoyed with this.
For some reason Gomez removed the entire band minus Speakes for 1976’s ‘Honey Is Sweeter Than Blood’, which was a radical departure. Far less Latin orientated and more commercial, which typically caused a less than enthusiastic response leading to the downfall of a promising band. Actually ‘Honey..’ would be more of a natural fit for the Glory Daze audience here, instead of the debut due to the softer melodies.
But when compared to the rabid dynamism of ‘Chango’ it seems somehow tame, as the album was more of a basic 70’s rock album lacking real character. Easy to locate and well worth it though is the debut which should appeal to the 70’s rock fan, regardless of its Latino sound. You won’t hear any better.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)