Jan 2011 / HACIENDA

Thirty-some years ago, I picked up a two-record set with a neo-psychedelic cover called Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968. (I always just called it 'Nuggets', but Wikipedia uses the whole title). If the dates strike you odd ' thinking, wait a minute, the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band didn't come out until the summer of 1967 ' well, that is true; but psychedelia had been around a long time before that mainstream hit. (Likewise, by the time the Bee Gees, John Travolta and the Saturday Night Fever crowd showed up, the disco craze was on the wane). Besides being one of the greatest compilation albums of all time ' Rolling Stone puts it at #196 on the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, period ' this was a record on a mission: By naming 'the first psychedelic era' just three or four years after it had ended, Nuggets helped ensure that there would be a second (and a third) psychedelic era.
Even before I played it the first time, I knew I would love Nuggets , because I was already familiar with a lot of these bands. In fact, I picked up the debut albums by Blues Magoos and the Electric Prunes in the same shipment from Columbia Record Club back when; and it wasn't long before I also had the first album by the Shadows of Knight, with their killer cover of Van Morrison's 'Gloria'. The Seeds' 'Pushin' Too Hard' was another favorite, though it was awhile before I got an album.
Lenny Kaye, who would later be the guitarist for Patti Smith Group, helped put the album together and wrote the liner notes that are almost as well known as the album itself. Patti Smith has been more or less a recluse all of her professional life ' the whole time I was in NY, her only performance was a poetry reading that I passed on ' but she has been getting a little more prominence lately, I am delighted to see: She interviewed Johnny Depp in the current issue of Vanity Fair magazine and has an acclaimed memoir out now called Just Kids, about her life with her late roommate, the brilliant and notorious photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.
In an introductory note, Lenny Kaye expressed something that I felt as well while I was reading it: that there was this wonderful music floating around among the British Invasion bands and the girl groups and the Motown sound, and it was gone before we even knew what we were hearing; and wouldn't it be great to hear all of these songs again in one place. Kaye called the music 'punk rock' ' the first high-profile use of that term ' but these days, it is called garage rock and psychedelic rock. It is no exaggeration to say that this album told my soul what kind of music I really love.
Reading between the lines, many of the songs on Nuggets were apparently chosen by what had hit the Top 100 at some point during that time period; that would explain the presence of the strangest of the songs, the closing track 'It's-a-Happening' by the Magic Mushrooms, which remarkably made it to something like #94 for a week. Even more intriguing to me were the songs that hadn't hit the charts at all. One immediate fave was 'A Public Execution' by a Texas band called Mouse and the Traps (the song was officially issued under the name Mouse), doing something that I didn't think would ever happen: someone else creating music along the lines of Bob Dylan's 'Like a Rolling Stone' and Highway 61 Revisited.
There about midway through the fourth side of Nuggets was a song that I didn't think quite fit in: 'Farmer John' by the Premiers. It was earlier than any of the other tracks, dating from 1964, and it sounded like it was recorded live at somebody's picnic. The lyrics were simple ' 'Farmer John . . . I'm in love with your daughter . . . whoa-oh-oooh' ' as was the beat and the slow, loping groove; but it just kept growing on me. Eventually Neil Young recorded a cover of the song in the same style on his excellent 1990 album Ragged Glory. The songwriter is Richard Berry ' he is not related to Chuck Berry but has some seminal songs to his credit nonetheless; 'Louie Louie' heads the list, but 'Have Love, Will Travel' is almost as good. (See below).
Only last year did I discover that the Premiers were a Chicano band; there was a show on PBS that explained how this band and so many other Latin bands had been chased off the charts by the British Invasion. They are hardly the only ones; Question Mark and the Mysterians are a dynamite Latino garage rock band with a big hit to their credit, '96 Tears'. Their bandleader had his name legally changed to ? (though it was usually spelled out) decades before Prince did something similar ' at least ?'s was a pronounceable symbol. Thee Midniters is yet a third one familiar to those in the know; generally bands who use 'thee' are Latino bands.
Sadly the Latin presence in American rock and roll is not at all recognized. Most people only know about Ritchie Valens, who had a couple of hit songs back in the 1950's, 'Donna' (or'Oh Donna') and 'La Bamba' (also the title of a 1987 biopic film about him, La Bamba starring Lou Diamond Phillips). Along with the better known Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper, Valens died in the 1957 plane crash in Iowa that was immortalized in Don McLean's haunting 'American Pie' as 'the day the music died'.
Totally unremarked upon in all this time, as far as I know, is that Ritchie Valens' real last name is Valenzuela, the same as the legendary pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Fernando Valenzuela. In 1981, Valenzuela caught the imagination of the whole country when he won his first 8 games as a starting pitcher in his rookie season for the Dodgers, including 5 shutouts. If the season hadn't been cut short by the baseball strike that year, there is no telling how dominant he might have been; but to this day, he is still the only player in Major League Baseball history to have been awarded the Rookie of the Year award, the Cy Young Award, the Silver Slugger Award, and a World Series championship, all in the same season. While 'Fernandomania' was a distant memory to most people by the time La Bamba came out, Fernando Valenzuela had one of his best seasons the previous year (1986) and nearly won the Cy Young Award again.
Which brings me at long last to this month's band: San Antonio's HACIENDA, a Spanish word for a residential estate or plantation. As is often true of Latino bands, Hacienda is a family affair that was formed by Abraham Villaneuva (piano/vocals) and his cousin Dante Schwebel (guitar/vocals) and later added Abraham's brothers, Jaime Villaneuva (drums/vocals) and Rene Villaneuva (bass/vocals).
Hacienda has two albums on Alive Records to their credit, Loud is the Night (2008) and Big Red and Barbacoa (2010). The first album includes a lovely cover of one of Sonny and Cher's earliest hits, 'Baby Don't Go' ' 'Baby Don't Go' was actually released before the duo's signature hit 'I Got You Babe' just after they stopped recording under the name Caesar and Cleo. I am not sure exactly what the title of the second album means, but 'Big Red' and 'Barbacoa' are the names of two instrumentals that would have closed each side if the album was released as an LP. Like their first album, the new record includes one cover among their self-penned songs, an Everly Brothers song that I was not familiar with called 'You're My Girl'. Both albums are excellent, but the second is more self-assured and seamless in its sound.
I was introduced to the band when Suzy Shaw, who manages Bomp! Records' online Bomp! mailorder business (among other duties) included three recent releases in one of my usual orders of decades-old music. Besides the second Hacienda album, she also included a delightful psychedelic stew of an album by Mondo Drag called New Rituals; and Brian Olive's debut solo album, Brian Olive. Olive (ex-Soledad Brothers) is one of those amazing men ' like Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Nikki Sudden ' to whom songwriting is as natural as breathing; he is working on a second album already. Although I very much enjoyed the albums that I had ordered, I found myself playing these new artists again and again. Anyway, it surely worked, for I have a nice stack of new CD's and LP's released by the Bomp labels that I have since ordered.
Hacienda caught the attention of Dan Auerbach of the acclaimed blues-rock band the Black Keys, who produced both of their albums. One of Bomp! Records' recent coups was releasing the first album by this band in 2002 called The Big Come-Up; the new Black Keys album, Brothers is one of the standout albums of 2010, landing a Grammy nomination and a #2 ranking on the 2010 Albums of the Year by Rolling Stone, and even making Time Magazine's list of Best of 2010 in Music.
How to describe Hacienda's music has been a problem for me though. Because of their 1960's sensibility and love of harmony vocals, they are often compared with familiar bands from that era ' even their website says: 'Think the Beach Boys meet the Everly Brothers'. That's a cute headline but isn't really helpful in terms of a description: If I were writing about the Everly Brothers, I certainly wouldn't say, 'They are a lot like the Beach Boys' ' or Gram Parsons, or The Band, or any of the other artists that I have heard mentioned.
As I have thought it over though, I realize that Hacienda sounds more like the Premiers than anyone else I can think of, so maybe it is a special Chicano sound that they have. I had originally brought up the latter band as a device to start talking about Chicano rock bands ' and as a way to write a tribute to one of my very, very favorite albums. In any case, 'Farmer John' is not to be missed, so I have included a link to a YouTube video of the original 45 of this great song: www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKVLAiyDIzw. (I am not positive that this is the one that was on Nuggets, but it probably is, though the odd introduction about 'Has anybody seen Kosher Pickled Herring?' is omitted).
Also, not surprisingly I suppose, Hacienda is the first of the Under Appreciated Rock Bands to have a Facebook site, and here that is: www.facebook.com/haciendamusic .
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I'm not sure where I got the idea that 'Farmer John' was written by Richard Berry, but I was mistaken about that; the song was actually written by Don 'Sugarcane' Harris and Dewey Terry, who originally recorded the song in the mid-1950's under the name Don and Dewey. Sorry about that. I'm still glad that I had something to say about Richard Berry though; he wrote some great songs, and not just 'Louie Louie'.
(January 2014)
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The Honor Roll of the Under Appreciated Rock Bands and Artists follows, in date order, including a link to the original Facebook posts and the theme of the article.
Dec 2009 ' BEAST; Lot to Learn
Jan 2010 ' WENDY WALDMAN; Los Angeles Singer-Songwriters
Feb 2010 ' CYRUS ERIE; Cleveland
Mar 2010 ' BANG; Record Collecting I
Apr 2010 ' THE BREAKAWAYS; Power Pop
May 2010 ' THE NOT QUITE; Katrina Clean-Up
Jun 2010 ' WATERLILLIES; Electronica
Jul 2010 ' THE EYES; Los Angeles Punk Rock
Aug 2010 ' QUEEN ANNE'S LACE; Psychedelic Pop
Sep 2010 ' THE STILLROVEN; Minnesota
Oct 2010 ' THE PILTDOWN MEN; Record Collecting II
Nov 2010 ' SLOVENLY; Slovenly Peter
Dec 2010 ' THE POPPEES; New York Punk/New Wave
Jan 2011 ' HACIENDA; Latinos in Rock
Feb 2011 ' THE WANDERERS; Punk Rock (1970's/1980's)
Mar 2011 ' INDEX; Psychedelic Rock (1960's)
Apr 2011 ' BOHEMIAN VENDETTA; Punk Rock (1960's)
May 2011 ' THE LONESOME DRIFTER; Rockabilly
Jun 2011 ' THE UNKNOWNS; Disabled Musicians
Jul 2011 ' THE RIP CHORDS; Surf Rock I
Aug 2011 ' ANDY COLQUHOUN; Side Men
Sep 2011 ' ULTRA; Texas
Oct 2011 ' JIM SULLIVAN; Mystery
Nov 2011 ' THE UGLY; Punk Rock (1970's)
Dec 2011 ' THE MAGICIANS; Garage Rock (1960's)
Jan 2012 ' RON FRANKLIN; Why Celebrate Under Appreciated?
Feb 2012 ' JA JA JA; German New Wave
Mar 2012 ' STRATAVARIOUS; Disco Music
Apr 2012 ' LINDA PIERRE KING; Record Collecting III
May 2012 ' TINA AND THE TOTAL BABES; One Hit Wonders
Jun 2012 ' WILD BLUE; Band Names I
Jul 2012 ' DEAD HIPPIE; Band Names II
Aug 2012 ' PHIL AND THE FRANTICS; Wikipedia I
Sep 2012 ' CODE BLUE; Hidden History
Oct 2012 ' TRILLION; Wikipedia II
Nov 2012 ' THOMAS ANDERSON; Martin Winfree's Record Buying Guide
Dec 2012 ' THE INVISIBLE EYES; Record Collecting IV
Jan 2013 ' THE SKYWALKERS; Garage Rock Revival
Mar 2013 ' THE GILES BROTHERS; Novelty Songs
Apr 2013 ' LES SINNERS; Universal Language
May 2013 ' HOLLIS BROWN; Greg Shaw / Bob Dylan
Jun 2013 (I) ' FUR (Part One); What Might Have Been I
Jun 2013 (II) ' FUR (Part Two); What Might Have Been II
Jul 2013 ' THE KLUBS; Record Collecting V
Aug 2013 ' SILVERBIRD; Native Americans in Rock
Sep 2013 ' BLAIR 1523; Wikipedia III
Oct 2013 ' MUSIC EMPORIUM; Women in Rock I
Nov 2013 ' CHIMERA; Women in Rock II
Dec 2013 ' LES HELL ON HEELS; Women in Rock III
Jan 2014 ' BOYSKOUT; (Lesbian) Women in Rock IV
Feb 2014 ' LIQUID FAERIES; Women in Rock V
Mar 2014 (I) ' THE SONS OF FRED (Part 1); Tribute to Mick Farren
Mar 2014 (II) ' THE SONS OF FRED (Part 2); Tribute to Mick Farren
Apr 2014 ' HOMER; Creating New Bands out of Old Ones
May 2014 ' THE SOUL AGENTS; The Cream Family Tree
Jun 2014 ' THE RICHMOND SLUTS and BIG MIDNIGHT; Band Names (Changes) III
Jul 2014 ' MIKKI; Rock and Religion I (Early CCM Music)
Aug 2014 ' THE HOLY GHOST RECEPTION COMMITTEE #9; Rock and Religion II (Bob Dylan)
Sep 2014 ' NICK FREUND; Rock and Religion III (The Beatles)
Oct 2014 ' MOTOCHRIST; Rock and Religion IV
Nov 2014 ' WENDY BAGWELL AND THE SUNLITERS; Rock and Religion V
Dec 2014 ' THE SILENCERS; Surf Rock II
Jan 2015 (I) ' THE CRAWDADDYS (Part 1); Tribute to Kim Fowley
Jan 2015 (II) ' THE CRAWDADDYS (Part 2); Tribute to Kim Fowley
Feb 2015 ' BRIAN OLIVE; Songwriting I (Country Music)
Mar 2015 ' PHIL GAMMAGE; Songwriting II (Woody Guthrie/Bob Dylan)
Apr 2015 (I) ' BLACK RUSSIAN (Part 1); Songwriting III (Partnerships)
Apr 2015 (II) ' BLACK RUSSIAN (Part 2); Songwriting III (Partnerships)
May 2015 ' MAL RYDER and THE PRIMITIVES; Songwriting IV (Rolling Stones)
Jun 2015 ' HAYMARKET SQUARE; Songwriting V (Beatles)
Jul 2015 ' THE HUMAN ZOO; Songwriting VI (Psychedelic Rock)
Aug 2015 ' CRYSTAL MANSION; Martin Winfree's Record Cleaning Guide
Dec 2015 ' AMANDA JONES; So Many Rock Bands
Mar 2016 ' THE LOVEMASTERS; Fun Rock Music
Jun 2016 ' THE GYNECOLOGISTS; Offensive Rock Music Lyrics
Sep 2016 ' LIGHTNING STRIKE; Rap and Hip Hop
Dec 2016 ' THE IGUANAS; Iggy and the Stooges; Proto-Punk Rock
Mar 2017 ' THE LAZY COWGIRLS; Iggy and the Stooges; First Wave Punk Rock
Jun 2017 ' THE LOONS; Punk Revival and Other New Bands
Sep 2017 ' THE TELL-TALE HEARTS; Bootleg Albums
Dec 2017 ' SS-20; The Iguana Chronicles
(Year 10 Review)

Last edited: April 7, 2021