March 15, 2005

THE X FACTORS

Los Super Seven.jpg

The story behind the new Los Super Seven disc

Sometimes three heads are better than one, and that was the case when it came to producing the new Los Super Seven album.

"It's not like those three heads didnít butt once in a while," says co-producer Dan Goodman with a hearty laugh. "But it was all for a good cause."

Goodman, who was credited as the executive producer of the previous LS7 albums, 1998's Grammy-winning Los Super Seven and 2001's Canto, co-produced Heard It on the X (due March 22 on Telarc) with Charlie Sexton and Rick Clark.

Heard It on the X is different from the other Los Super Seven albums, and not just because of the production team.

For one thing, most of Heard It on the X is sung in English instead of Spanish. Second, the album is a loose-knit tribute to the kind of music that was heard many years ago on the powerful, freewheeling AM "border radio" stations from Mexico, such as XERF -- hence the X in the disc's title.

Last but not least, there's a drastically different talent lineup, which Goodman says was influenced by the album's theme and song selections.

"This time, when we decided to go the route of border radio, we assembled an entire lineup of songs that we weren't really prepared to compromise on," says Goodman. "So we didnít want to cast a group of artists and open up the concept to everybody bringing songs to us. We felt it would involve compromise and it would water down the concept. We picked the songs, we committed to those songs and we were prepared to stay with them and pitch them to the artists who we felt would be good for them, but move on if the artist didn't really like the song."

Goodman adds, "Fortunately for us, the artists who we envisioned doing the songs wanted to do them. So we weren't really faced with any kind of scenarios where there was an artist who we wanted that didn't work out."

Ruben Ramos and Rick Trevino, who have been with Los Super Seven since the first album, once again are among the lead singers. Other returning members include Joe Ely (who appeared on the first disc) and Raul Malo (a Canto veteran). Noticeably absent this time around are Los Lobos leaders David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas.

Taking their place are some pretty familiar names: Delbert McClinton, John Hiatt, Lyle Lovett, Rodney Crowell and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown.

The honor of singing the new album's title track, a song originally recorded by ZZ Top, fell to Ramos.

"Ruben is kind of like our secret weapon," says Goodman. "Anybody who has ever worked with Ruben just becomes a huge fan of him. Personally, I think he's a gigantic talent. Rick and I like him so much, and we're always trying to brainstorm and come up with a way to do something cool with Ruben and use him out of context, so to speak."

Ramos says he was unfamiliar with the ZZ Top tune and remembers being somewhat taken aback after listening to it.

"[I thought], 'Oh, man -- those guys rock,' " recalls Ramos. " 'How am I going to pull this off?' "

Ramos did, and he gives credit to Sexton for assuring him that he could.

Prior to singing "Heard It on the X," Ramos had the opportunity to sing "The Song of Everything," a Doug Sahm composition that eventually went to Malo.

Ramos didn't mind at all.

"We all wanted the album to be a good one," he says, "so whoever was best for the song, I had no problem with that."

-- By Chris M. Junior

Posted by medleyville at March 15, 2005 09:07 PM
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