In the six months i've been presenting this Fake Beatles series, i've made passing reference to Los Shakers, a group from Montevideo, Uruguay, that deserves so much more. It would help if you would indulge this writer and consider all the various and sundry mop-wigged subjects of the past 12 volumes, as worthy as they are, a mere prelude to this, the main attraction. For Hugo, Osvaldo, Pelin and Caio are the Realest Fake Beatles to ever record — and, like their role models (but unlike practically every other Moptops manqué), they were as uncannily accomplished at bringing forth the psychedelic Pepperisms as the Merseybeat.
My WFMU colleague Jeffrey Cobb once said that if Beatles were a language, Los Shakers would be exceedingly fluent in said tongue. That, however, is in pronounced contrast to the language they actually sang in, which was a charmingly imperfect English. Yet the magical spell Los Shakers cast is so potent that the odd idiomatically suspect phrase or mangled pronunciation or clunky grammar is sloughed off like dandruff from a mangy moptop.
The group, led by brothers Hugo and Osvaldo Fattoruso, like so many of their North and South American counterparts, were playing music in a different style, in their case, jazz, when they contracted Beatlemania after a screening of ¡Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Paul, John, George y Ringo! (or A Hard Day's Night, as it's known to the gringos). Signed to EMI's Odeon label in Argentina, Los Shakers issued three spectacular LPs in their 1965-68 recording lifespan (actually, four, if you count their U.S. only re-recordings of their early songs, issued as Break It All on the Audio Fidelity label, an imprint known mainly for sound-effects discs — and this fan most certainly does count it). What follows is a Shakers sampler (despite all the Spanish-language titles, every word is sung in English) [all songs MP3]:
Los Shakers (1965): There's not a duff cut on this 14-song debut. It's got Fabs-style ravers, rockers, ballads and all sorts of brilliantly bogus Beatle songs, with "Rompan todo (Break It All)" being their standout tune on the LP.
For You (1966): They make the leap from the Hard Day's Night sound straight into Rubber Soul/Revolver as if they were simultaneously sharing the Beatles' own boots.
La Conferencia Secreta del Toto's Bar (1968): As you can guess by the title, this is their nod to Sgt. Pepper. This final musical statement also incorporates influences such as their native candombe rhythms.
Postscript: For those keeping score, yours truly has met one Beatle (Pete Best) and three Rutles (all but Dirk McQuickly). And, in just as proud a moment for a Fake Beatles aficionado such as myself, i have also shaken hands with a Shaker: A few years ago, at the conclusion of a Milton Nascimento performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, i braved my way up to the stage to greet the Brazilian musical giant's touring keyboardist, one Hugo Fattoruso, and introduced myself as a fan of Los Shakers. He excitedly returned my greeting in Spanish, of which i understood maybe 20 percent. Seems a small payback for his having to entertain me in a strange language for so many years.
Post-Postscript: Listen to Michael Shelley's February 10, 2007 interview with Osvaldo Fattoruso of Los Shakers here (RealAudio), prefaced by a couple of Los Shakers tunes.
Post-Post-Postscript: Just to take things into the meta (i.e., Fake Fake Beatles) realm, here's an artist calling himself Alejandro Bo, who has painstakingly and precisely re-created several Los Shakers tunes, recording and singing everything all by his lonesome. Listen and compare: [All songs MP3]