This week’s selection is a rather strange affair. When I first heard the song some years ago I had no idea who the guys were behind the track, or indeed what they looked like. Further investigation told me that they were a bunch of Hispanic guys out of East L.A. (you could’ve probably guessed that by how they say “Hector” in the track). It was a song that I didn’t really know how to categorize – to my ears it was funky, but was it a funk record? No. It had elements of latin and pieces of jazz in the mix too and what come out of the mix was a fairly unique sound.
East L.A. had given rise to a number of other bands around that time who were to blend latin, 60s beat and jazz, namely The Blendells (who became known for their cover of Stevie Wonder’s “La, la, la, la, la” and The Premiers who were most noted for their track “Farmer John”). The other notable release from The Village Callers was a cover of Willie Bobo’s “Evil Ways” which has had many covers over the years, however it was rumoured that Santana’s version was recorded as a direct result of their manager having heard The Village Caller’s take on the track.
The song was recorded on the Rampart label – a label that I was already acquainted with due to The East Bay Soul Brass’ “The Panther” which was released on the same label (a record that we’ve already featured on the blog). But who was this “Hector” that is referred to in the song? Well it transpires that it was none other than their manager, the legendary Hector Rivera. Upon realising this suddenly everything started to make sense.
The band cut a highly regarded live LP in 1968 which was to feature a great version of Ray Charles’ classic “I Don’t Need No Doctor” but they disbanded soon after with only the Live LP and 3 singles to their name, but what a collection to leave behind! The band have regularly been sampled in Hip-Hop and their single releases have become so sought after that there were some reissues in recent years, mostly notably on the Vampisoul label.