Corridos (Mexican folk narratives) existed long before los Tigres del Norte's formation in the late '60s, but los Tigres played a seminal role in the rise of a certain type of corrido: the narcocorrido, which describes the dangerous, violent and tragic world of narcotraficantes (drug smugglers). Los Tigres wrote the book on narcocorridos, helping to pave the way for everyone from Grupo Exterminador to los Tucanes de Tijuana to the late Chalino Sánchez. And narcocorridos are a major priority on La Banda del Carro Rojo, a best-of that Fonovisa assembled in 2006. This release is hardly the only Tigres best-of that Fonovisa has put together; there have been quite a few others. But La Banda del Carro Rojo will be especially interesting to those who associate los Tigres with narcocorridos, which is not to say that all of the selections fall into that category. One of the most famous non-narcocorrido tracks is "La Jaula de Oro," which was covered by Latin pop/rock en español star Julieta Venegas (in an intriguingly non-norteño fashion) and is a poignant account of a frustrated Mexican immigrant who has been working in the U.S. for ten years but still hasn't been granted citizenship. And "Tres Veces Mojado" is about a Salvadoran man who -- in the process of gradually making his way from El Salvador to Arizona -- has been an indocumentado (undocumented worker) in Guatemala, Mexico and the United States. But narcocorridos dominate La Banda del Carro Rojo, which -- unlike all the Tigres best-ofs that have focused on their '90s and 2000s output exclusively -- also boasts some of their groundbreaking narcocorridos of the early '70s such as the title track and "Contrabando y Traición" ("Contraband and Betrayal"). Some musicologists have compared narcocorridos to gangsta rap, although the outlaw country tradition of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Paycheck and Merle Haggard is an equally valid comparison -- and whatever comparisons one prefers, La Banda del Carro Rojo is full of gems that are essential listening for narcocorrido enthusiasts.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2