Los Straitjackets - Cafe 9 New Haven 2007
The latest installment in the saga of Los Straitjackets is an album of mostly ‘60s R&B and garage favorites, titled En Espanol. The Nashville-based band has always added a Hispanic twist to their Ventures/Shadows guitar sound so it’s not much of a stretch. The Café Nine’s stage rivals a coffee table so sadly there was no room for the charms of the Famous Pontani Sisters. Though very nice to see a great band in such a tiny place.
On loan from the Fly-Rite Boys, Big Sandy handled all the vocals as well as innumerable double shots of tequila. He seems to have compelled the ‘jackets to abandon their sweaters and medallions regalia in favor of sharp black suits ala Reservoir Dogs. Though with the suits and the wrestler masks you wonder how they don’t drop from heat prostration.
Their version of The Coasters’ Poison Ivy didn’t really take root but Ernie K-Doe’s’ Mother in Law and Jackie Wilson’s Lonely Teardrops both worked as high drama. Elsewhere the Kinks’ All Day And All Of The Night and the McCoys’ Hang On Sloopy (Hey Lupe) were hammered along with grit and you can imagine Latino bands like ? And The Mysterians or Impala Syndrome ripping these standards apart in their heyday.
The remainder of the evening focused on the masked men’s particular instrumental chops, transporting the crowd with faves Pacifica, Squid, The Casbah and Chicken Pickin’. They also do justice to early ‘60s instrumental chestnuts Telstar, The Beatles Cry For A Shadow, even The Munster’s Theme.
If Los Straitjackets aren’t coming through your town, you’re advised to put on your good wrestler’s mask, get a few Coronas, throw their latest on the Hi-Fi and join them in their twisted glimpse back at a bygone era.