El Tri

Directo Desde el Otro Lado

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Rock en español has not been a major focus for the Univision-distributed Fonovisa Records, which is best known for regional Mexican music. But Mexicans (along with Colombians, Spaniards and Argentineans) have been major contributors to rock en español, and a label as Mexican-friendly as Fonovisa is certainly an appropriate place for this live El Tri album (which was recorded at the Gibson Amphitheater in Los Angeles in 2006). El Tri's frontman Alejandro Lora didn't invent Spanish-language rock (which, arguably, started with Ritchie Valens in the late '50s even though Valens recorded in English more often than Spanish), but he has been one of its most vital contributors for many years -- and En Directo Desde el Otro Lado ("Straight from the Other Side") lets us know that Loro has not mellowed with age; he still belts out left-leaning, socially and politically charged protest lyrics with conviction. There is plenty of anger on passionate performances of protest songs like "Abuso de Autoridad," ("Abuse of Authority") and "Todos Somos Piratas" ("We're All Pirates"), but there is more to Loro than anger; he is also an excellent humorist and an energetic showman with a knack for infectious melodies and strong hooks. One doesn't necessarily have to agree with everything Loro says in order to appreciate his overall artistry; "Che Guevara," for example, is an ode to Fidel Castro's late colleague, and it's doubtful that any Cuban-American salsa bands in Miami's Little Havana area will be performing the song's unapologetically pro-Guevara lyrics anytime soon (the news that Castro had become seriously ill in 2006 inspired huge celebrations on Calle Ocho, where Miami cubanos were definitely not wishing the communist dictator a speedy recovery). But even if one disagrees with some of Loro's points (while agreeing with others), the album's melodies are always solid, and when he digs into gems like "Si Mexico Ganara el Mundial" ("If Mexico Won the World Cup") and "El Muro" ("The Wall"), one is reminded of how effective a storyteller Loro can be. All things considered, En Directo Desde el Otro Lado is a valuable and exciting document of El Tri's Gibson Amphitheater show of 2006. [The CD was also released as a CD/DVD package.]

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