Valentín Elizalde

Solamente el Gallo de Oro

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Regional Mexican music, like hip-hop, has seen its share of senseless violence in the 1990s and in the 21st century. Just as hip-hop heads were saddened by the murders of Christopher Wallace, aka The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls, 2Pac Shakur, and Jam Master Jay (of Run-D.M.C. fame), regional Mexican enthusiasts have decried the killings of Sergio Gómez (of K-Paz de la Sierra), Chalino Sánchez, los Condes trumpeter José Luis Aquino, and Zayda Peña (leader of Zayda y los Culpables). And one of the most widely publicized murders of a regional Mexican singer was the ambush and killing of Valentín Elizalde, aka "El Gallo de Oro," on November 26, 2006. After Elizalde's death, fans wondered if there would be any posthumous CDs of previously unreleased material -- and sure enough, Fonovisa put out Solamente el Gallo de Oro (which Elizalde recorded sometime in 2006) in October 2008. This ten-track, 30-minute CD contains mostly banda, and Elizalde is in very good form on brassy banda offerings that include "El Gallito," "Déjame," "Lola," "Así Que Te Vas," and "El Corrido del Diez." But there are some norteño tracks as well: "Solo Dios," "Tu Vanidad," and "Cuanto Me Gusta Este Rancho," all of which favor an acoustic, stripped-down approach to norteño rather than the amplified electric approach that now dominates norteño. It should be noted that in the beginning, norteño was acoustic-oriented -- the use of electric bass and electric guitar in norteño came later -- and the norteño that Elizalde provides on Solamente el Gallo de Oro is a throwback to norteño's acoustic roots. This album ends on a poignant mariachi/ranchera note with "Que Me Toquen las Golondrinas," which is the only track that employs mariachi trumpets and mariachi strings rather than banda brass or norteño accordion. When Elizalde recorded Solamente el Gallo de Oro in 2006, he didn't know it would end up being his swan song. But sadly, that's exactly what the album became. Although not quite essential, Solamente el Gallo de Oro is an enjoyable disc that will be enthusiastically welcomed by Elizalde's hardcore fans.

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