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"The Sights and Sounds of Esquivel"
Juan Garcia Esquivel
Bar None, 2005

     This record from Mexican band-leader Juan Garcia Esquivel is a rare piece of lounge music archeology. It was originally released in 1974 as a promotional album for the Margarita restaurant in Chicago titled "An Evening at La Margarita with Esquivel! and His Sound." The liner notes, written by Yvonne DeBourbon-Rodriguez, singer and one of many of Esquivel's ex-wives, tells of how they were booked to play a six-month gig at the Chicago restaurant. They had a limited budget, so they played with a stripped down combo consisting mostly of area musicians. As DeBourbon-Rodriguez recounts, some of the guys were hired or not hired based on if they could fit in the expensive outfits Esquivel brought with him. This album was meant to recreate the live show experience.
     By 1974, the space-age bachelor pad music Esquivel excelled in had all but been forgotten. "Lounge" meant tacky and the Great American Songbook had been replaced with mellowed-out versions of Top 40 tunes. The great arrangers and composers of the 1950's and early 60's were either doing movie and television scoring or they were doing pick-up work for old lounge singers still trying to make a go of it.
     To be honest, this album is tough to listen to for all but the most dedicated Esquivel fans. There are a few flashes of the old Esquivel at the beginning of the disc. He was able to modify his arrangements for the small combo without losing all of the playful magic that he was known for. He was even to keep in his trademark Zoo-Zoo-Zoo's. But by the middle of the album things go downhill, especially with a horrendous version of "Delta Dawn." Although this was a album recorded live in the studio without overdubs, the studio engineers added canned applause at the end of just about every track.
     Did Bar None Records need to release this album? Well, yes and no. They were the ones who put out many of the Esquivel compilations of the 1990's. They, more than anyone, understand how important he was to hi-fi music. Bar None really helped cement Esquivel's place as the "King of Space-Age Bachelor Pad Music" as well as help sustain the lounge revival of a decade ago. "The Sights and Sounds of Esquivel!" is interesting as a cultural artifact--nice to have around, but not necessarily needed to be put on your hi-fi more than once.

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Other Esquivel albums available from Amazon.com

Cabaret Manana

Space-Age Bachelor Pad Music

More of Other Worlds, Other Sounds 

Music from a Sparkling Planet


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