Rolling Stone once wrote that Alejandro Escovedo is his own genre. I agree, with this caveat: Personal as it may be, Escovedo’s music sounds familiar. Not familiar in the way of the plagiarist, mind you, but familiar in a déjà vu sense. Like when you meet someone for the first time but you feel as if you already know them. It’s like that with Escovedo’s new song collection.
The Escovedo name in itself represents something of a small pop-music dynasty. The patriarch is Pedro Escovedo, a former mariachi. His sons Coke, Pete, and Alejandro became noted musicians. Coke and Pete were timbaleros in bands like Azteca, Santana, and Malo, while Alejandro dove head-on into SoCal glam/punk. Javier Escovedo was in the Zeros, and Mario Escovedo, a local rocker, fronted the Dragons. Pete’s daughter Sheila (Alejandro’s niece) is the most famous Escovedo: She is a percussionist, flamboyant and sexy, and Prince shortened her name to Sheila E. and helped record her first album.
Alejandro Escovedo is doing his best work at present. Real Animal is a collection of stories told in road-worn guitar-and-vocals roots rock with gristle and aggression. Even in his gentler moments, the heart of a garage rocker lurks. The story of rock and roll is Escovedo’s own; he has lived the life.
A former member of Rank and File and the True Believers, his address for part of the ’70s was rock’s epicenter, New York’s Chelsea Hotel. In his heart, I think Escovedo still lives there, albeit with a sense of grace and wonderment at the lifestyle he has survived. Minus the accolades that are his due, Escovedo is ripening into a leathery old age that is rich in soul. Vintage Guitar magazine said it best: “This [Real Animal] is a killer record, and if the music business was a better place, Escovedo would be a major player in rock and roll.”
- Monday, September 8, 2008, 8 p.m.
143 South Cedros Avenue,