These 1948-í54 recordings of the party music that moved young Chicano hipsters are nothing less than the sound of the West Coast doing its part to give birth to rock and roll. The pachuco style sprang from the era of LAís notorious zoot-suit riots; it was made by and catered to immigrants who were eager to redefine themselves as sophisticated American urbanites without severing ties with their traditional culture. The result blended Mexican folk and jazz with jumping blues and R&B grooves. The chops of musicians and bandleaders like bassist Don Tosti and guitarist Jorge Córdoba and the contributions from groups like Cinco Lobos were estimable. These people were all part of LAís Central Avenue jazz scene and had mainstream credentials thanks to their work with popular orchestras and groups. So the playing is top-notch.
Like the raw R&B made by African-American artists in the South, many of these songs crossed over regionally, selling hundreds of thousands of records and propelling Mexican-American artists into Southern Californiaís biggest dance halls. Tostiís "Pachuco Boogie" may have sold a million copies as it broke Chicano music out of the barrio, but itís still gritty and uncompromising by todayís standards. As the music bounces, Tosti and "Lito" Diaz rap about coming to the city to hang out, look sharp, and get high. Tostiís "Wine-O-Boogie" is a joyful ode to guzzling booze and then guzzling more to cure the hangover. And "Chicano Boogie" is the music celebrating itself and its culture ó a blueprint for "I Love Rock íní Roll" that Joan Jett probably never heard. So it goes for all 21 joyful tracks as this CD provides a mostly giddy spin through one of American popular musicís forgotten chapters.