Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hailing Nuclear Valdez

Sound quality aside, it is somewhat still satisfying to explore relatively obscure but talented bands via old garage sale cassette tapes.

By: Vanessa Uy

The group’s moniker reminds me of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker, the one that ran aground in Prince William Sound in 1989. Causing a terrible oil spill. Or the movie “Water World”, where the same oil tanker was resurrected.

Nuclear Valdez is a Miami-based, three-fourths Hispanic group. On their: “Dream Another Dream” album whose cassette tape copy of mine are on its last legs, their musicianship and message still shine through.

In 1992, Guitar World magazine touted Nuclear Valdez as a potent group in today’s rock scene. The band’s personnel are Robert Slade le Mont, Juan Diaz, Jorge Barcala, and vocalist Friolan Sosa. Their signature sound is very guitar driven with early 1990’s eclecticism. That blends seamlessly with the heavy Latino-spiced imagery, which forms as the foundation of their unique music.

“Dream Another Dream” has been declared a superb collection back in its day with songs like “(Share a Little) Shelter,” “I Think I Feel,” and “The Will” gaining critical appeal. Nuclear Valdez wrote songs about post- 1991Gulf War optimism that are neither trite nor hackneyed and surprisingly have that timeless quality inherent in them.

To me, lyric wise the album depends so much on subtle contemporary (1992) imagery to depict the deepest ills of our society, reminiscent of the Tori Amos school of songwriting. And Nuclear Valdez’s songs about optimism and altruism didn’t come out trite or corny. One could be forgiven if you think that the songs are written maybe just a few months ago even though some of them are still topically relevant like global warming issues.

Despite all of this, this is not an album for anyone. Especially those weaned on hard core Latino music like the works of Paquito D’Rivera or Ry Cooder’s Buena Vista Social Club album. In today’s 21st Century music market, Hispanic metal bands that are heavily influenced by Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin are deemed too Anglo or Norteamericano by a growing number of Spanish-speaking listeners even if their songs are sung in Spanish. To me, that’s their loss. Take a listen to Nuclear Valdez, you might want to book for a cruise.

I just hope that I can find a CD copy of this album that’s still in good condition. If anyone has one to sell, please feel free to drop me a line.

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