Arriving 3 years after Alejandro Escovedo’s wonderful story about two young American immigrants – one from Italy, the other from Mexico – who bond over a love of punk rock and set out to explore the American cultural frontier, La Cruzada is that very same album, with all the lyrics translated into Spanish. We loved The Crossing when it first arrived, and musically it’s exactly the same album. In order to get the Spanish version right, Escovedo worked with Alex Ruiz, who helped with the translations and then sang lead on this new recording, with the original author singing backing vocals, with the help of Patricia Vonne and Vanessa Del Fiero. The result is a very compelling Spanish language version of a undeniably great album.
Escovedo’s Spanish language version of his album appears to be part of a booming cross-cultural trend. Elvis Costello has just released a Spanish language version of his 1978 release, This Year’s Model. Like Escovedo, Costello has worked with rock music singers who’s first language is Spanish to deliver the vocals, over remixed musical tracks with Costello supervising. These two albums seek to take advantage of the bi-lingual reality of Western culture, especially in No. America, reaching out to the Spanish speaking among us. What’s fun about all this for English speaking fans, are the curious lyrics the Escovedo and Ruiz didn’t find a Spanish equivalent, and thus the name Johnny Thunder and Honky Tonk remain unchanged. For the song, “Silver City/Ciudad Plateada” Ruiz and Escovedo sing a duet, in Spanish and English, suggesting that a cultural exchange can be beneficial to all listeners.
Key Tracks: “Ciudad Plateada” / “Sonica USA” / “Algo Azul”
Artists With Similar Fire: Los Lobos / The Mavericks / Elvis Costello
– Reviewed by Brian Q. Newcomb