A Deep Listening of The Westside Sound

These two vinyl albums were taken from the Rio Record Shop collection at the Benson Center. Both musical groups, Machismo and The Royal Jesters, worked with producer Manny Guerra. Guerra owned the Guerra Company Productions record label and studio in San Antonio, TX, located on 3205-07 South Flores St, 78204. Guerra was the original drummer for Sunny Ozuna's first group, Sunny and the Sunglows. He gradually became involved in the production process, crafting the band's hit song "Talk to Me," which was performed on American Bandstand by Ozuna's second group, Sunny and the Sunliners (not featuring Guerra). Guerra is also credited for exchanging the accordion -- traditionally used in Conjunto music -- in favor of the electric organ, a move that solidified the Chicano Soul musical genre as groundbreaking and English-pop-radio-friendly.

Faces South
Faces South

Machismo released this album, Faces South, in 1977. The album is completely bilingual, easily flowing between English and Spanish throughout the tracklist, just as they thread together Conjunto and Soul. 

"Call Me (Pronto Estare Junto A Ti)" by Machismo, on Faces South (1977).

Yo Soy Chicano
Yo Soy Chicano

The Royal Jesters were formed in the early 1960s as an "English Oldies" doo-wop group. In Molina's book, Chicano Soul, they are said to have chosen their name because they hoped they could be mistaken as a British group, alongside the wave of success following the Beatles and other British Invasion artists. On their musical influences, original member Oscar Lawson said, "The Royal Jesters came together specifically to perform English rhythm and blues mainly the Motown Sound. We based our harmonies on the Mexican trios like Los Tres Diamantes, Los Tres Aces, and Los Panchos which were very similar to the group harmony sound we were listening to on the radio" (Molina 37). However, with the political transition into the Chicano Movement in the 1970s, as well as the artistic input of later members Dimas Garza and Joe Jama, The Royal Jesters shifted into a new sound. Riding on the musical wave of Chicanismo and cultural pride promoted by musicians El Chicano -- their album Revolution was released in 1971 -- War -- All Day Music released in 1972 -- and Santana -- sophomore album Abraxas released in 1970 -- the Jesters decided to embrace their traditional Conjunto and Tejano musical roots in the 1973 album, Yo Soy Chicano. On the title track, the guïro is used, a percussive musical instrument that originated in the folk dance music of Latin America and the Caribbean. You might notice that the guïro was also used in Machismo's "Call Me" -- a display of cross-cultural interactions of popular American and Latin music and the rise of Chicanismo through creative expression.