The Cruzados – “She’s…Automatic”
With all the grit, guts & determination of The Del-Lords, Los Lobos, Tito & Tarantula, & The Beat Farmers – LA’s The Cruzados return with more style, verve & muscle than they had on their earlier post-punk Latin-inflected major-label rock LPs. And those collections sizzled. Tito Larriva was a founding member back in 1985 & now plays out of Austin, TX with his band. So, the lead vocal responsibility has fallen to the capable blues-grizzled powerhouse of Ron Young.
My only issue is minor. The CD artwork & title is not in keeping with the quality of the new music or the wonderful previous CD art for their LPs. The inside spread image of the band should’ve been the front cover. The band looks good; dangerous & it depicts the music they perform. But more importantly, the music has fiery moments, with tight ensemble playing & a dynamic atmosphere.
The new CD, their first release in 30 years, is an 11-cut that drops on Aug 13. She’s…Automatic (Scamco Records) & it was worth the wait. It features Ron (lead vocals), Loren Molinare (guitars), Mark Tremaglia (guitars/slide guitar), Tony Marsico (bass) & Rob Klonel (drums/percussion) with guests throughout including Dave Alvin (The Blasters), Gia Ciambotti (The Graces), John Doe (X), David Hidalgo & Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Buck Johnson (multi-instrumentalist), Jimmy Z (Zavala) played harmonica on “Missionary Man,” by the Eurythmics is excellent on “Rock That Boat.” It’s quite a heavy cast of characters.
Of course, the title cut “She’s Automatic,” is a derivative of so many classic 50s & 60s rock songs like Little Richard’s “Lucille.” But that’s the idea, isn’t it? Resurrecting chords that spring to mind from another era? Revitalized & performed with zest. Ron Young’s voice is excellent, it has that vintage memorable ZZ Top quality as he struts through wicked tunes like “Son of the Blues,” (co-written with Barry Goldberg) that’s embellished by Texas blues that bubbles in a Cruzados’ cauldron.
Right from the leadoff songs, this LP establishes itself as a Saturday night Sunset Strip lowrider thrill. Their tradition is engrained in every song but it’s not retro – the band has smoothed the older edges & has provided a polished jalopy with a showroom finish.
The return to business was led by founding member Tony Marsico (bass) & succeeded. He provided old-fashioned rock n’ roll alive & well, not in a nursing home like so many modern rock bands sound like. For the simple reason, these men know what makes a true vintage rock band ignite & keep lit the fuse of an incendiary genre.
Produced by Bruce Witkin. The 41-minute CD is available @ https://cruzadosband.com/
B&W image of the band courtesy of Heather Harris.