Cómo te voy a olvidar, Los Ángeles Azules
Sony BMG, Mexico
by Carlos Reyes
No matter how high in the hierarchy an individual might stand on, when that hook of “Cómo te voy a olvidar” takes over the room, it demolishes social rank and most sense of individuality (not a bad thing as cumbia is to be danced with a partner). The hook has been so nurtured by Mexican culture, that referring to it as a form of social intervention is not too much of a stretch. Whether the listener is part of the condechi (the fashionable neighborhood in Mexico City that sets the example for Mexico’s hipster-fresa culture), or part of the populacho (the so-called underdeveloped class), the three-decade sonic legacy of Los Ángeles Azules offers an integrationist canvas that surmounts the social differentials.
The announcement of Los Ángeles Azules performing at this year’s Vive Latino was controversial to say the least. Seems it was a move to prepare the Vive crowd with what was to come (although we could argue the public has been ready ever since Julieta Venegas and Jarabe de Palo's Pau Donés internationalized “El listón de tu pelo” over ten years ago). Renowned producers Camilo Lara and Toy Selectah are in charge of Cómo Te Voy A Olvidar, a collaborative record that brings together some of the most distinguished names in Latin Rock and Latin Alternative. With names like Saúl Hernández, Lila Downs and Celso Piña on the menu, Cómo Te Voy A Olvidar is eventful. The first striking realization when approaching the album is the impressive amount of hits Los Ángeles Azules have conceived over the years. Lara and Selectah worked with a strong repertoire and seem to have gone on a no guts, no glory rampage when recruiting the album’s collaborators. The results vary in achievement and ambition. Some acts personalized the cumbia (Kinky, Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich + Fussible, Los Amigos Invisibles), while others had a strict vocal appearance (every singer-songwriter on the bill).
It’s perhaps in that last bunch of vocal collaborators that Cómo Te Voy A Olvidar shines, even if the pieces are less artistic from a conceptual perspective. Carla Morrison (“Las Maravillas de la Vida”) and Vicentico (“Juventud”) provide a warm factor in their vocals that validate the premise of fusioned Mexican tropical music that can strike for alternative arenas. Not every piece goes as smoothly. Moderatto’s Jay de la Cueva manages (through very little effort) to extract all the charm out of the otherwise lovely “17 Años,” Nortec’s treatement to the title track is no more than a decoding brush, and the lesser-known acts (Centavrvs, Canijo) just fall short from providing any freshness (where’s Capullo on this pool party?). But however the guest performances turned out to be, it’s the consistent presence of Los Ángeles Azules on every track that makes Cómo Te Voy A Olvidar truly engaging and far more than just a novelty release. Unlike other tribute albums made by rock stars (Rigo Tovar, José Alfredo Jiménez, Intocable), it’s beautiful to see the distinguished legends taking part of the gala (and in way better hands than Los Tigres del Norte did in that MTV Unplugged misfire).