It seems odd to be writing this a few days before Christmas, with the Gypsy Pistoleros in the race for Christmas Number One. Someone came up to me at work the other day and said “here, you’ll like these, they’ve got a cover of “Livin’ La Vida Loca” out.
I explained to them, with as much patience as I could muster that they’ve been knocking about for not a million miles off two decades, and they were – as their best of record helpfully pointed out – “The Greatest Flamenco Sleaze Glam band ever!”
It struck me, as I re-listened to “The Mescalito Vampires” last night (after I realised I hadn’t reviewed the thing at the time) that there might be people who think this is some sort of gimmick. When nothing, in actuality, could be further from the truth.
Gypsy Lee Pistolero (I feel cheated that all his emails to me over the years been signed as “Lee” but whatever) and the band of renegades (its changed again with this release too) have long been different. Of course they are. Not many other bands mix flamenco and sleaze, after all, but I remember seeing them open for bands back in the day and they were just the same then. Its in the blood of the good Gypsy, that’s for sure.
However, we should make one thing totally clear here. The songs that Gypsy Pistoleros make are brilliant. If you aren’t singing the chorus for “Lost In A Town Called Nowhere” by the second go around, then check your pulse. That Kris Jones is tooting a Latin Trumpet line is almost incidental. Except it isn’t, because that is as integral as the guitar of Mark Westwood to the mix. Which is what I mean about it not being a gimmick. It’s almost inked into them.
So yes, there’s a flamenco guitar to “Viva La Revolution, Viva Zapata” and it sounds like it is the soundtrack to some film in an Indie Cinema set on the Mexican border, but its also a slice of rock n roll that is as original as it is fresh.
Arguably the best window into the twisted world is “Mescalito Vampires (Welcome To The Hotel De La Muerta)” part “Hotel California” (with a bit of GnR) but wholly Gypsy Pistoleros. However, best of all its work is “Soho Daze, Just Another Friday Night”, in fact, lets just get this said. If you love Dog’s D’Amour then get on this before the others, because this is the best thing Tyla never wrote.
All of these sound like they should be mini-novels, “Roses, Gallows And The Wild Preachers Daughter” is no exception, and it lives up to its epic title, while “The Foresaken” is another built around some brilliant acoustic guitar. It is surprising actually, how many of these lurk with a menace, before a laser guided attack – if Urban Voodoo Machine were an army anyway.
“My Name’s Django” is another does the death row ballad thing as well as anyone does, while “Cisco Kid” is built around a bass line from Gaz Le Bass and as the line “another day, another gunfight” is delivered, you can’t help but idly wonder how many of these GLP has.
“Wild Is The Wind” (and I’ll be honest, I was hoping for a Bon Jovi cover) would be the envy of many an Americana band – and if ever you wanted to discuss the skill of this band, then its right here, as it is on the light, airy harmonies of “Alone Again Or”. One tinged with real tenderness and regret.
As if to underline everything I’ve said about the band, the glorious “Sangre On The Roses” pops up before the end. A short story of its own, it is probably the best thing this record has to offer – and you might not expect eight and a half minute tracks, but don’t ever think you’ve got this band pegged.
In many ways, “Gonna Die With A Gun In My Hand” seems like the one that plays while the credits are rolling, you can imagine it as a kind of High Noon remake, with the boys riding into the sunset after the gunfight in the street.
We all know, though, that no one can take them down, you’ll never outwit them, and Gypsy Pistoleros are merely hiding in the Mescalito until next time.