Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cannibal & the Headhunters - Golden Classics Edition

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Cannibal & the Headhunters were one-hit wonders, but what a hit to have, if you're only going to have one: "Land of 1000 Dances." The group was also one of the first Mexican-American rock bands to have a national hit record, courtesy of that same tune. Founded by Frankie Garcia -- who reportedly earned his nickname "Cannibal" as a boy when he bit an opponent during a fight -- with Robert Jaramillo and Joe Jaramillo of East L.A. in the mid-'60s, the group grew out of a number of earlier bands, including the Rhythm Playboys and the Romanos. The Headhunters' version of "Land of 1000 Dances," written by Chris Kenner and Fats Domino, was issued on the Rampart label in early 1965 and peaked at number 30 on the charts, which got the group booked supporting the Beatles, among many other bands. Wilson Pickett later had the biggest hit version of the same song, reaching number ten, but dozens, perhaps hundreds, of versions were issued. The group's next single didn't do much, but the Land of 1000 Dances album did chart in mid-1965. The group later moved to Columbia's Date Records imprint (home of the Zombies' "Time of the Season"), and at the end of the 1960s they signed with Capitol Records, but found no more success. After a decade of doing oldies shows, Garcia and his then-current group of Headhunters called it quits in 1978, although he has since led other versions of the group in shows on the oldies circuit. ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide

****

01-Land of 1000 Dances
02-Boy from New York City
03-My Girl
04-Don't Let Her Go
05-Searchin'
06-Out of Sight
07-La Bamba
08-Zulu King
09-Shotgun
10-Mockingbird
11-Headhunters Dance Party
12-I'll Show You How to Love Me
13-Nau Ninny Nau
14-Follow the Music
15-I Need Your Loving
16-Here Comes Love

A really solid dance album, and a great '60s party album, sparked by a lot more than just "Land of 1000 Dances." Among the 16 tracks here (which includes a version of "La Bamba" and covers of "My Girl, " "Shotgun, " and "The Boy From New York City"), there's not a bad number to be found. The sound quality is excellent, and the notes are pretty thorough as well, and since it's unlikely that even Bear Family would do a box set on the group, this is probably as good as it's going to get. ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide

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