Freddy Fender - Rock 'n Roll - Interpreta El Rock!
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Freddy Fender
Rock 'n Roll
Interpreta El Rock!
both titles from Arhoolie (

Here's the young Freddy Fender (a.k.a. Baldemar Huerta, from a South Texas migrant worker family), who began recording in 1958, after a youthful tour in the Marines but before he was sent up to Louisiana's infamous Angola State Prison (Leadbelly's alma mater) on a marijuana charge, and long before his cameo appearance in Robert Redford's film "The Milagro Beanfield War," and with the Texas Tornadoes.

In 1961, Fender recorded Rock 'n Roll on the regional Ideal label, under the name Eddie con los Shades, to get around a contractual obligation to the competing Falcon. Nothing earthshaking, perhaps, but Fender could rock in Spanish with the flair of the better-known school of Berry, Charles, Perkins, Richard and Valens. And he gave the music a personal signature that made him the toast of Mexico and South Texas with hits like "Que Mala" (Mean Woman), "Acapulco Rock" "Desde que Conozco" (Since I Met You Baby) and "Tequilita Rock."

As Fender himself put it, "I'm from the '50s. For me, the clock stopped running after the '50s. There's no 'something new' for me. As modern as I try to get, it always comes out '50s." These recordings show his fluency in the musical idioms of the era. Interpreta El Rock offers "Vamos a Bailar" (pure Ray Charles' "What I Say"), "Bailando el Rock & Roll" (Little Richard's "Rip It Up"), "Ya No" (You Don't Love Me No More"), "Tuve un Amor" (I Had a Love, with more than a little of "Under the Boardwalk"), the slow-dance vocal harmonies of "Como un Errante" (Like a Fool) and standards like "Si Si Rider" and "Corina Corina."

This pair of CDs includes the original album art and some amiable photos of the budding crossover artist who would log hits with "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights," "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" and "Secret Love." One caveat for these otherwise welcome releases: Contrary to Arhoolie's usual attention to contextualizing the music, the album notes are minimal, and each of the two discs is under 26 minutes; they easily could have been combined in a single "two-for" CD. - Michael Stone

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Rock 'n Roll
Interpreta El Rock!

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