Saturday, December 10, 2011

Los Shakers - La Conferencia Secreta Del Toto's Bar (1968)

So that's all very well, but in 1967 Los Shakers had also been listening to this Sgt. Pepper's, and like everyone else must have realised that things would never be the same again. This revolution came from the band that was their bread and butter, the very reason for their existence. They had to move on.
By this time the Shakers had made their mark as leaders of the 'Uruguaryan Invasion' (which for some reason was mainly an Argentine phenomenon); and like the Monkees in America, they were a talented band on a commercial leash who were beginning to get itchy feet.
The 1968 loose-concept extravaganza 'La Conferencia Secreta Del Toto's Bar' is the result. This is a ridiculously good high-pop album and a criminally overlooked world contender. Not only is it all the more respectable for incorporating Latin candombe and tango styles into the mix (yet still sung in English), but it's a huge leap from the restrictive beat formula they stuck to previously.
Predictably, the EMI label execs couldn't see past their pay cheques, and dropped Los Shakers for not producing an LP of 3-minute hits. I'm sure if Los Shakers had stuck it out and waited for the Argentinian market to catch up, this might have been better received. Unfortunately it was not to be and this was their last album-proper.

It's all a bit mystifying, especially as to the modern listener every song on 'the Secret Conference of Toto's Bar' is instantly catchy. Sure, the first half of track one has a vocal line that sound uncomfortably like 'I Am the Walrus', but that's where the Beatles-hijacking of old ends.
It may not be startlingly original, it may be sung in broken (but charming and comprehensible) English, and it may also be in the same symphonic ballpark as Sgt. Pepper's and Pet Sounds; but the songs more than speak for themselves and some real classics come to light.
The band is easily as tight as those Other Guys, their harmonies are up their with the Wilson brigade, and their songwriting and composition skills didn't seem to suffer from a career languishing in pastiche. In fact, you'd swear they had been secretly practising for this moment all along...

Los Shakers - La Conferencia Secreta Del Toto's Bar

01 - The Totos' Bar Secret Conference-Aunt Clementina
02 - Candombe
03 - I Used To Watch Tv Tuesdays 36
04 - Rainbow Shape
05 - Always You
06 - B.b.b. Bang
07 - I Remember My World
08 - Oh, My Friend
09 - The Pine And The Rose
10 - Mr Highway, The Enchanted
11 - Longer Than 'el Ciruela'

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