Blast From the Past: Coke, the late, great Miami band

Blast From the Past is a weekly column on Crossfade, New Times' music blog, that re-examines great musical releases of South Florida's past. Read it Thursdays at blogs.miaminewtimes.com/crossfade.

Coke

Coke (Sound Triangle Records)

In the late '90s, I was at Yesterday & Today Records on Bird Road and 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 inquired about the list's progress, and sure enough, I hadn't moved in the 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 Coral Gables, trying to scam a spot by one of the office buildings off Ponce de Leon Boulevard, 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 comprised 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 begot by a single they recorded for über-famous Cuban expatriate music producer Manuel Mato. That single, "Sabor a Mi," which is included on the album, is 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 the album turns into a more danceable business, which is cool because this band was all about the party. Just ask former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, who back in the day made his promoting bones booking these guys 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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