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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

ROLAS DE AZTLAN: SONGS OF THE CHICANO MOVEMENT

By Nils Jacobson
Published June 27, 2006

Smithsonian Folkways

What a delightfully entertaining, nostalgic and educational collection this is.  These 19 songs span a range of popular folk music, mostly in Spanish, but also in English, reflecting Chicano culture and politics from the ’60s and ’70s.  As the abundant liner notes indicate, this isn’t Chicano rock, as embedded into American consciousness by the likes of Carlos Santana. Instead, it’s a document of justice, identity and civil rights across Aztlán, the mythological Nahuatl term that Chicanos borrowed to name their homeland in the American Southwest.  Specific combinations of Mexican and American culture surface in the material, which often resembles a surreal collision between white hippie folk music and various styles from south of the border. The organic, guitar-driven “No Nos Moverán” (“We Shall Not Be Moved”) makes a straightforward statement of labor unity; “El Tilingo Lingo” presents a 1978 incarnation of Los Lobos performing amped-up mutant son jarocho; and Conjunto Aztlán’s “Yo Soy Tu Hermano, Yo Soy Chicano” is a spooky, uptempo norteño protest song with the traditional portable snare drum and cowbell expanded into a full kit.