gullbuy music review

Los Shakers


Por Favor!


Big Beat


Los Shakers CD coverLos Shakers compilation Por Favor! on Big Beat out of the UK (from 2000) is one of the best ways to hear this mid-1960s band. Los Shakers were known as the South American Beatles (they were from Uruguay) and they were one of the best bands to emulate the 1960s Merseybeat sound. Por Favor! collects together 32 songs spanning the 3 albums and various singles they released in the mid 1960s, and is totally comprised of songs they wrote themselves. Excluded from this set are their cover songs and the re-recorded lp aimed for the US market called Break It All. For anyone fascinated by that Beatle beat, you really should look no further, because Por Favor! is probably the best compilation you can find without hunting down the original lps as obscure South American imports. Los Shakers go beyond mimicry by playing so incredibly well and without a hint of pretense. They sound so sincere recorded in an age before irony was hip. The liner notes written by Alec Palao are also amazing and help to shed more light on this (until now) elusive band. I remember when I first heard of them in the late 1990s, reading about them on a fansite, where somebody pieced together their history, so it's nice to see this thorough compilation.

Los Shakers started out on their first lp (called Los Shakers) rocking it up with songs like Everybody Shake, Shake in the Streets, Baby Do the Shake, What a Love, Break It All, and Forgive Me - all of it emulating the sound of Help! era Beatles wonderfully. Even though some of the vocals are in broken English, the harmonies are stellar and the musicianship is tight, so you never feel cheated by Los Shakers' sound.

A real treat are the songs taken from Odeon singles from 1966: Do Not Disturb and Let Me Go both have a more off key complicated sound similar to the Beatles' Revolver era sound. Los Shakers become more introspective too, on songs like The Child Like Me, or bouncy on Always You, which connects them up to the sunshine pop sound as well as to the Beatles sound quite nicely.

Picking Up Troubles has an incredible rhythm that might even outshine Ringo's rhythms (it definitely emulates it). Waiting gets jazzier than the Beatles ever did and is a nice surprise. Los Shakers get more psychedelic on their later songs where they trip through the various sounds of Tomorrow Never Knows, Magical Mystery Tour or Sgt Peppers - I Hope You'll Like It not only has a funky rhythm and melody, but backwards guitars meets jazz guitar licks. On a Tuesday I Watch Channel 36 and Higher Than a Tower both have odd titles and are amazing in their own ways. On a Tuesday I Watch Channel 36 sounds like Sgt Pepper era, and is a lot of fun thanks to its quirky lyrics, while Higher Than a Tower is one if their best tunes when it combines introspective vocals with strings and piano, and a pounding backbeat.

The only shame with Por Favor! is the fact that it only includes songs written by members of Los Shakers. It would've been nice to include some of their covers which can also be stellar, like their Beatlesque version of Lesley Gore's It's My Party, a song which actually was a big inspiration to the Beatles upon its release. Hearing Los Shakers do it is quite a fascinating twist on the Beatles influence in reverse. Los Shakers also did some great covers of Beatles songs of course, not included here (I suppose so people take them more seriously), but it's hard to get a full picture without these covers.

---Patrick, January 27, 2004