El Chicano: Bobby Espinosa (vocals, keyboards); Freddie Sanchez (vocals, bass guitar); Mickey Lespron (guitar); John DeLuna (drums); Enrique Andre Baeza (congas).
Liner Note Author: Scott Schinder.
As part of Universal's 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection, the 12-track Best of El Chicano disc highlights the group's best-known material released in the early to mid-'70s. While the group has often been compared to Santana, they were a much tighter outfit, bypassing extended jams and sticking closely to their combined roots of soul, salsa, and Latin jazz. Beyond their two genre-defining hit singles, "Brown-Eyed Girl" (1972) and "Tell Her She's Lovely" (1973), the collection includes such album tracks as "Viva Tirado," "The Latin One," and "Juntos," mixed with boogaloo-tinged Latin jazz written by Tito Puente, Herbie Hancock, and Ray Barretto. Along with Cannibal & the Headhunters and the Premiers, el Chicano were among the first generation of Hispanic rockers to gain national attention and break out of the local East Los Angeles scene of the '60s and '70s. It's encouraging that their music is finally being given the proper attention it deserves. ~ Al Campbell