Blast From the Past: A Classic From Lost Local Band Coke

"Blast From the Past" is a weekly column on Crossfade, New Times' music blog, reexamining great musical releases of South Florida past. Read it on Thursdays at browardmusic.com.

Coke

Coke (Sound Triangle Records)

A few years ago (around 1998), I was at the Bird Road (oldies) Yesterday & Today Records, and I saw a waiting list for the 1970 Coke LP. I got on the list, and many years went by without a peep. One day, I decided to inquire as to the list's progress, and sure enough, I hadn't moved in queue. Shit. At the time, I knew only that it was a ten-track album recorded in the '70s by some local Hispanic teens.

Moving along to 2006, I was looking for parking in the Coral Gables area, trying to scam a spot, when I saw a box of records propped against a Dumpster. I stopped the car and rummaged through the usual Julio Iglesias and run-of-the-mill classical stuff — then what did I see? A Coke LP in very good condition!

I still don't know much about the band except the following: Coke was a quintet that had horn assistance for gigs and recordings. The core was composed of Paul Garcia on guitar, Ariel Hernandez on bass, Ruben Perez on drums, Jose Rubio on keys, and Peter Fernandez on vocals. The ten tracks on this album were begat by a single they recorded for überfamous Cuban expatriate music producer Manuel Mato. That single is "Sabor a Mi," and it's included on the album, and it's as traditional as they get on the recording.

Imagine the first three Santana albums, plus the aspirations of Earth, Wind & Fire, plus electro-cumbia as bled by South American psych outfits but with roots firmly planted in the garage. Opening with "Na Na," they set a groovy and kinda stoney attitude for the rest of the album that is really nice, before the balladry of "You Turn Me On" and "Got to Touch Your Face."

The middle tracks are certainly where it turns into a more danceable business, which is cool, because this band was all about the party. Just ask former City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, who made his promoting bones booking these guys back in the day for bailes. Overall, it's an awesome freak-out of funk and Latin music with rock 'n' roll-tinged psychedelics. This is a party album that your hipster sister will enjoy alongside abuela.

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