Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Day After The Sabbath 151: Los Desposeidos [60s-70s Bolivia Psych & Hard Rock pt1]

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Welcome to volume #151. It's time to visit Latin America again, a region of the world that never fails to provide amazing psychedelic rock. Bolivia pt1 is now the eighth volume dedicated to latin rock, following 43: General | 84: Brazil | 89: Mexico | 104: Peru 1 | 137: Argentina 1 | 144: Venezuela and 118: Chicano Rock.

This is without doubt one of the most psychedelic volumes I have made for a while, the misty, hazy fuzz billows from almost every track, and the less than perfect sound quality of some of these vinyl extractions only serves to enhance it.

As with some other countries I have covered who's rock scenes may have been overshadowed by neighbors, in this case Argentina and Brazil's huge scenes that probably attracted some home-grown musical talent out of Bolivia, it had a relatively small number of key bands, in the '70s heavy prog genre especially, but it certainly had its fair share of 60s garage and beat acts. I have still managed to fill an excellent set with all the above styles of music, which everyone will enjoy. We have sixteen new acts to TDATS, plus the return of Climax, a fantastic band that was previously included in vol 43.

I'd like to thank one source of information on rare Bolivian rock music, a youtube channel called Rock Hecho en Bolivia (link). This has been the most useful place to discover such music, it's run by Julio Cesar Moya and he has debuted many rare vintage Bolivian records to the world for the first time, through his channel. There is an article at Cabeza De Moog blog where Julio describes his mission (link).


01. Los Grillos - Leño Verde (1975)
                    from album Vibraciones Latinoamericanas Grillos – PGMP-2001
02. Grupo Trigal - La Calle Principal (1971)
                    from Oruro EP Psicofasico – 0148
03. Los Laser - Los Desposeidos (1971)
                    from Vuelven ! EP Polydor – EP-60802
04. Climax - Nacido Para Ser Salvaje II (1974)
                    from Nacido Para Ser Salvaje II EP Lyra – DED-228
05. Los Black Stones - Oh My Baby (1975)
                    from Black Stones EP Exito Discolandia DED-414
06. Estrella de Marzo - Encuentro (1974)
                    from album A Los Niños Con Amor Discos Heriba – SLP-2018
07. Los Signos - Copacabana (1975)
                    from Los Signos EP Discos Heriba – EP-209
08. 50 de Marzo - Ciceron (1971)
                    from Ciceron EP Lyra – DED-293
09. Antares - Piénsalo (1972)
                    from Tundiqui Rock EP Lyra – DED-335
10. Los Flintstones - Solo Quiero Hacerte El Amor (1970)
                    from Nuevo Testimonio EP Lyra  – DED-225
11. Manantial - Arriba Y Encima (1975)
                    from Arriba Y Encima EP Lyra – DED-421
12. Mandrill - Sol Y Quena (1975)
                    from Sol Y Quena EP Discos Heriba – SEP-233
13. Los Ovnis - Ya No Escucho Tu Voz (1976)
                    from Ya No Escucho Tu Voz EP Discos Heriba – EP-274
14. Tabú - She's My Woman (1972)
                    from TABÚ EP
15. Los Donkeys - Luis XVI (1969)
                    from Los Mas Recientes Exitos De Los Donkeys EP Lyra – DED-170
16. Wara - Realidad (1973)
                    from album El Inca Discos Heriba – LP-2007
17. Renán Michel - Madre Hay Una Sola (1974)
                    from El Ángel EP Discos Heriba – EP-100


The Acts

Los Grillos - Leño Verde (1975)
We set the scene with some nice Bolivian flavour. This track combines pan-pipes with psych guitar and spacey Moog atmospherics to great effect. Los Grillos are one of the most iconic bands here and spanned the 60s beat period up the 80s with many albums and EPs. The album this is from, "Vibraciones Latinoamericanas", was one of the early records from Bolivia to really mix prog rock with traditional Andean sounds, and is famous for doing so. Wara are equally well-known for doing the same thing in the early seventies, they are coming up later. There is a wealth of Grillos information here at Cabeza De Moog (link).

Grupo Trigal - La Calle Principal (1971)

This one starts with a nice fuzzing riff, and high-pitched vocals, which are a frequent distinction of latin psych. The Oruro EP this is taken from doesn't have a release date in Discogs, but seeing as all Grupo Trigal's other records documented there are from 1979 onwards, I would predict the sound of this EP makes it an earlier recording, and the indispensable Bolivan rock youtube channel Rock Hecho en Bolivia (link) seems to back this up, as 1971. Grupo Trigal still have a presence on Facebook (link).

Los Laser - Los Desposeidos (1971)
This fits in very nicely with the previous track, opening with another fuzzy garage riff fused with those addictive higher-register vocals. The EP this is from is one of the few used in this set that was released on a major international label, Polydor. Los Laser only have one more EP documented on Discogs, but one thing that has become apparent to me now, is that a lot of Bolivian records are still missing from Discogs, so maybe there will be more appearing from Los Laser, and new entries are appearing for Bolivian rock acts in general all the time, so Bolivia remains an exciting prospect for crate diggers. Spanish label Discos Quilombo reissued this song and another on 7" single just this year (2023), with an info booklet. (link)

Climax, 1974
Climax - Nacido Para Ser Salvaje II (1974)

This is a nice, extra groovy re-interpretation of a classic. Climax have appeared once before here on TDATS, in volume 43 (link), and it's a shame they had such a limited output of one album and a couple of EPs, as they surely were one of the most talented hard rocking bands in Bolivia at the time.

From the late sixties they made their influences clear, with excellent covers of Hendrix, Blue Cheer, Cream & other cutting-edge heavy originators, and their 1974 album "Gusano Mecánico" has the musicianship and style to fit right in with those names, and famous names from the world's progressive rock scene also. They are one of the few acts here to have received their own label / career retrospective, "Edición Completa", on Lyra in 2003, which itself is now quite collectible. Guitarist Jose A. Eguino was previously in beat group Los Black Byrds, and later in pop band Circus. Bass player Javier Saldías had a more extensive career, he also came from Los Black Byrds, and later went on to prog folk band Luz De America, then similar acts such as Savia Nueva and Khonlaya.

Los Black Stones - Oh My Baby (1975)
Here's a tight little rocker which curiously mixes hard rock, boogie and garage rock for refreshing results. The 1975 EP here does not seem to be mentioned on Discogs, but the band released stuff on multiple labels such as Psicofasico, Lyra, RCA, and this EP was apparently on Exito Discolandia (link). So this may well be another band that has some more records yet to be documented, online at least. "Musicians on this record were Miguel Cuellar (lead vocals), Jorge Flores (drums), Raúl López (keyboards) and the surprising addition of Rolando Camacho (Ex-Grupo 606) playing electric bass and Remberto Cabrera on lead guitar (considered one of the best Bolivian guitarists of the time), who had returned to the country after taking his first steps in music in Brazil." - Julio Cesar Moya

Estrella de Marzo - Encuentro (1974)
This great track marks a welcome diversion towards explorations in doomy, heavy prog. Estrella De Marzo are one of the few bands in this comp to have completed a full length album, called "Encuentro". It was the only thing they put on wax in their short existence, as a side project by guys from 50 De Marzo and Wara, during a temporary period that 50 De Marzo had split, both of whom are coming up later. These were Luis Eguino, bassist and lead vocalist of the group, along with the experienced drummer Germán Urquidi, both from 50 De Marzo. Carlos Daza Leytón, guitarist of Wara, completed the trio. Their sole album is solid, and as mentioned just now, the heavy style that veered away from the more common garage rock or tropical sounds was quite rare for any Bolivian LP in the '70s, save for a few more of the acts to follow in this comp, like Manantial and Mandrill.

Los Signos - Copacabana (1975)
Here's a nice brooding prog track with good keyboards and some galloping pace, and No, it has nothing to do with the Barry Manilow. It's just a shame that it's over so quickly, hopefully a longer version exists somewhere out there! According to online articles by Bolivian rock historian Julio Cesar Moya (link), Los Signos are one of the most important and successful 1970s rock acts in Bolivia. They formed in late '60s La Paz (capital of Bolivia, the highest-altitude capital city in the world at 3.5km above sea level) out of an earlier incarnation, "Los Mack".

Like most Bolivian rock bands at the time, they did not release any full-length LPs (that I can find evidence of) until later decades, but did regularly release 4-track EPs, through the '70s & '80s. The one I used here, self-titled as "Los Signos" (1975) featured a lineup of Efraín Salazar on lead vocals, René Cordero on guitar, Cesar Conde on bass, Héctor Cuentas on percussion and Pedro Aiza on keyboards. It seems Los Signos never broke up and have been self-releasing new music, and playing live, up until 2017 (link), and maybe even more recently? Let me know if you know more.

50 de Marzo - Ciceron (1971)

In 1971, Bolivian rock bands were just starting to come out of their reliance on covers and sounds directly influenced by the usual British and North American names like The Beatles, Stones and Hendrix etc. 50 De Marzo were one of the first bands to make an important break away to develop a new identity that represented Bolivian progressive rock. They originated in Cochabamba but soon moved to La Paz. They played a show there organised by Radio Chuquisaca, with Climax & Los Signos, which quickly got them invited to record the three-track EP "Ciceron". This provides the next track here, and in the view of Julio Cesar Moya (link) it's one of the most important records of all time to represent Bolivia's own unique emerging sounds.

At this time the band was Luis Eguino (ex Grupo 606) on bass and vocals, Benjo Gómez on lead vocals, Oscar Astete on guitar and Germán Urquidi on percussion. 50 De Marzo felt the environment in Bolivia was impossible after the 1971 Hugo Banzer coup, and emigrated to the USA. This was brief and not successful, Luis Eguino and Germán Urquidime returned to La Paz and started Estella De Marzo. By 1975 Estrella De Marzo was finished and a new line-up of 50 de Marzo formed and made one final record, "Ayer Y...Hoy," before splitting again, this time permanently.

Antares - Piénsalo (1972)
Here's a good slice of groovy, psychedelic hard rock, and one of the absolutely earliest examples of such from Bolivia. Antares came from the breakup of '60s band Los Loving Dark's, drummer Boris Rodríguez and guitarist Félix Chávez returned to Bolivia after a post-Loving Dark's stay in "South America's Rock Mecca" Argentina. While there they had played with notable Argentine names like Billy Bond. Boris Rodríguez had a particularly great and musically educational experience there and after both of them were back in Bolivia, Boris and Félix Chávez formed Antares, adding a mutual friend, Roy Vélez, on bass. Antares were inspired to make blues & hard rock with the flavour and rhythms of Bolivia, and notably, influences of African music from La Paz, which had an African community resulting from colonial days of the past. Santana's latin rock was another particular inspiration.

They made the EP "Tundiqui Rock" on the Lyra label and drew crowds playing in the Planet 2000 nightclub next door to the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA) in La Paz. Alas this was their only record and they split in 1974 for other music and careers. Antares re-appeared later and were active with Boris as an original member up until 2019 (facebook) but sadly he died in 2020. There is an article about him at (link) which describes him as one of Bolivia's rock pioneers, at a time when it was almost impossible just to get access to the instruments and equipment required to learn to play and start a successful band such as Loving Dark's. Félix Chávez appears again later in this comp...

Los Flintstones - Solo Quiero Hacerte El Amor (1970)
Here's a super groovy garage rock re-interpretation of the Willie Dixon / Muddy Waters / Etta James classic, from La Paz's Los Flintstones. They were started by composer songwriter Jaime Mirtenbaum Zenamon (link) and Oscar Murillo Wayar, singer and guitarist. Bassist Jaime Landa and drummer Walter (Waltico) Aparicio completed the band. Los Flintstones were a big draw in late-'60s La Paz, playing at all the prominent rock festivals and venues of the time and releasing successful EPs on the Psicofasico and Lyra labels. Zenamon was later a teacher at the Berlin Academy of Music (HdK) from 1980 to 1992. Since then he has been a freelance composer and concert guitarist in his own recording, composition and concert studio in Curitiba, Brazil.

Manantial - Arriba Y Encima (1975)
Here's what I consider to be a highlight of this volume, a very groovy and psychedelic hard-rocking tune with those great latin rhythms and impassioned performances, especially in the vocals. The sound quality of this is lacking, but it is the best quality version of the EP available at the moment, which is a very rare and sought-after record. Maybe one day a better vinyl audio extraction will appear, from a less-worn record. If so I will upgrade this volume with it.

One of Manantial's main members was guitarist Félix Chávez, previously mentioned in Antares.  Bassist Alfredo Negrón, drummer Victor “Pocho” Salgar (ex-Dhag Dhag's) and one of the best vocalists of this generation: Luis Fernando del Rio, completed the band. Two 4-track EPs were produced in the mid-'70s, "Sombras Negras" on Disco Exito Lyra, which the song appearing here is taken from, then a self-titled in 1976. Manantial split in 1978 when Luis Fernando del Rio left to join Orquesta Swingbaly, a prolific Bolivian tropical, salsa, merengue etc. collective that spanned four decades from the '60s to '90s, which Félix Chávez (and no doubt other names in this comp) also had some involvement with over the years.

Mandrill - Sol Y Quena (1975)
And on we go on to another of the heavy highlights of this set, fusing Bolivian sounds with the power of proto-metal / prog monsters like Deep Purple. To again quote Julio Cesar Moya - "The origin of this important group dates back to the second half of 1973, when the Salgado brothers, Belizario and René, of the popular group Four Star, and Carlos Salgado, lead guitarist and singer of Blue Star, joined together, with bassist Roberto Ojeda and drummer Rodolfo Aguilar. This gave life to a group whose creation myth revolved around avant-garde, European and North American rock, and the influence and inclination for progressive rock fused with Andean rhythms and melodies, leading to one of the first examples of Heavy Metal in Bolivia, whose main characteristic is the strident and distorted guitar, and a wailing voice."

"Mandrill's impressive first record was presented in a special concert at the Cine Teatro Princesa in La Paz, along with excellent covers of important bands such as Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Black Sabbath, Focus & Yes. In an interview, Carlos Salgado says that in live performances he carried a live viper placed round his neck, as part of the intense performance that Mandrill offered the audience."

Mandrill called it a day after their third EP, 1977's "Vol. 2". After that the members continued in tropical music groups such as Orquesta AnacondaLa Banda Del Loco and Marejada. In recent years Carlos Salgado has been active in events to honour bands that he was involved in like Blue Star, Mandrill and Anaconda, playing in a re-formed Blue Star, covering Mandrill songs and inviting members of other bands appearing in this comp, Climax, Los Signos & Los Grillos for example, to play at shows with Blue Star. You can see some of this activity on Carlos's facebook (link) and a promotional facebook page of his (link).

2023: (l-r) Jose A. Eguino (Climax), Carlos Salgado (Mandrill), Humberto Paredes (Los Grillos)

Los Ovnis - Ya No Escucho Tu Voz (1976)
We change the pace now with some psychedelic pop from Los Ovnis [The UFOs], also known as Los Ovnis De Huanuni, where Huanuni is a town in Oruro, a department of Bolivia and the band's place of origin. This is a fun whimsical track, full of fuzz, infectious beats and eerie electronic tones that are very suited to their name. The band was Absalón Zabala on guitar and vocals, plus his sisters Noemí Zabala on bass and Sara Zabala on farsisa keyboards and backing vocals, and Moisés Rivera on drums. I have been able to find three documented EPs from Los Ovnis, but they may have made more that will be rediscovered some time. If you like the track here they are all worth hearing, and you can do so on Julio Cesar Moya's youtube channel (link).

Tabú - She's My Woman (1972)
Here's a Bolivian re-interpretation of The Beatles' "She's a Woman", but it's so different and Santana'd up that I personally would not have guessed and it may as well be a unique (and very cool) latin rock song! Tabú, came out of previous band Conga, and there will be a lot more to say about them later in this comp as they became "Wara" straight after this, one of the original and iconic bands to forge the new Bolivian early '70s progressive rock sound, along with names like Los Grillos, Antares and 50 De Marzo mentioned previously. This extreme rarity was made available by Rock Hecho en Bolivia (youtube).

Los Donkeys - Luis XVI (1969)
Nearing the end now and here's one of the oldest songs in the set, which is a worthy inclusion due to the wild fuzz wig-outs on display. Los Donkeys were a popular La Paz beat / garage rock band that were very influenced by the '60s sounds of western rock, covers and adaptations of which made up much of their repertoire. They made around ten EPs from 1967 to the early '70s and were contemporaries of other classic Bollivian bands like Los Red Socks, Grupo 606, Bonny Boys Hot's and Four Star. They did a small interview with in 2019 (link), at which time Boris Rodríguez of the afore-mentioned Antares was drumming for them. Their facebook page is still up, with recent posts (link).

Wara - Realidad (1973)
This is taken from Wara's first LP "El Inca", which comprised a combination of heavier brooding prog tracks like the inclusion here "Realidid", "Wara Estrella" (which musically reminds me of a latin take on Child In Time) and introspective, mellow tracks with some symphonic touches. The core band members to play on this album were Nataniel Gonzales on lead vocals, Omar León on bass, Carlos Daza on guitar and backing vocals, Jorge Cronembold on percussion and Pedro Sanjinés on synthesizers. Many other support musicians contributed with backing vocals and extra instrumentation such as bassoon, flute, oboe and violin, for a rich varied sound.

What made this album stand out at the time was Wara's concerted efforts to forge a new, uniquely Bolivian progressive rock style, with lyrical themes of Andean philosophy. Subsequent albums, starting with 1975's "Maya Hichhanigua Hikjatata", dropped the heavier rock aspects, while their compositions became far more subtle and complex, going for a total folk sound with even more acoustic and wind instrumentation. More albums of new material have followed regularly, initially on established labels like Lyra, MCB and Inbofon. The most recent documented album in Discogs is 2015's self-released "Kimsaqallqu 8". As of 2023, the modern incarnation of Wara is still going strong and playing live, with updates and recent performances on facebook (link) and instagram (link).

Renán Michel - Madre Hay Una Sola (1974)
And to finish, a melancholic piece of psychedelic pop from Renán Michel. He was a solo pop performer. As you may have noticed over the years, I especially like to include some "unexpected sources of heaviness" in TDATS, and in the 1960s especially, you never knew when a pop singer might chuck in a psychedelic track on a b-side or album, which is what appears to have happened here. I had no idea initially, but after choosing this track and completing this write-up, I have discovered that the backing band on this EP was Four Star, previously mentioned in relation to Mandrill and the Salgado brothers, which was a nice surprise and a nice way to end this edition of TDATS...

¡Hasta la próxima, adiós!

Further listening:
The Day After The Sabbath 144: La Sayona [Venezuela pt.1 1969-1978]
The Day After The Sabbath 123: Llega La Destrucción [Spain pt2]
The Day After The Sabbath 118: La Fuente del Ritmo [Latin and Chicano rock]

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  1. Good stuff, thanks for sharing. Always nice to hear good Rock outside of the Anglo-American world.

  2. bro, this site rocks! Thanks for sharing! Saludos desde México cabrón!