Blazers | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The rock-en-espa–ol movement that's burgeoned over the last year didn't come out of nowhere. As the recent compilation ÁAy Califas! Raza Rock of the '70s & '80s (Zyanya/Rhino) reminds us, there's a rich tradition of Latino bands tweaking rock conventions to meet their cultural needs. Although East LA's Blazers, who've been around for a couple decades now, aren't included on that collection, they share an aesthetic with bands that are. Like their neighbors and chums Los Lobos, whose Cesar Rojas produced their first two albums, the Blazers display the best traits of a good wedding band, covering a lot of territory to please a broad constituency. And though their latest, Just for You (Rounder), was produced by regular Dwight Yoakam collaborator Pete Anderson in a clear attempt to fend off yet more Los Lobos comparisons, it can't be denied that the Blazers still have a similar ease with both American and Mexican roots music. (In fact, if anything puts some aesthetic distance between the two, it's Los Lobos' recent experiments, not the Blazers' choice of producers.) What stands out most on the new outing is a fondness for soul: "Somebody Please," a cover of an obscure early-60s Florida group called the Vanguards, gets a gorgeous Philly-style makeover, and originals like "When You Call" and "Then You Left" sound like instant classics. The Blazers have a reputation for scorching live shows, and they haven't put one on here for several years. Anna Fermin's Trigger Gospel opens. Friday, 10 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; 708-788-2118. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Beth Hertzhoft.

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