Saturday, August 16, 2008

Los Hermanos Ames


The Ames Brothers, a strapping sibling quartet known for their easy-does-it Main St. America appeal, were actually the Urick Brothers, the four sons of two immigrant Ukranian Jews who set up family shop in Massachusetts. In the 40s, they were the first signees to the Coral label, where their knack for audio vanilla scored over 20 Top 50 pop hits. RCA Victor was next, and in the wake of albums full of breezy standards, lite exotica, Christmas faves, and Italian hits, they dropped a south of the border bomb, Hello Amigos, in 1960. On the front cover, they disembarked a plane carrying serapes and sombreros, and on the back was a cartoon stick figure plucked from Old Mexico. But don’t let the tourist vibe turn you off– the Brothers enlisted the help of Juan Garcia Esquivel and His Orchestra, the visionary Mexican composer and sonic eccentric recently revived by the bachelor pad crowd. Ed Ames does most of the Spanish-singing here because, they tell us, he had a Cuban wife. Like Nat King Cole’s “Saludos Amigos” Latin Americana albums, Hello Amigos was meant to serve as a tribute to the “colorful nations of the Spanish-speaking world” and the “unswerving loyalty of the Latin character.” Here’s them taking on Otilio del Portal’s classic “Me Lo Dijo Adela” (which they could have done in its well-known English incarnation, “Sweet and Gentle,” but didn’t) and Ary Barroso’s endlessy covered “Brasil” where Esquivel’s trademark orchestral sound effects have a particularly memorable co-starring role. “Perhaps we shall find that Buenos Aires is not as far from Boston as the maps would have us believe,” they mused in the liner notes, and then passed up the perfect groaner of a punchline. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

1 comment:

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