Vote now in the 2021 Best of San Antonio Readers Poll.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Real Animal

Posted on Wed, Jun 18, 2008 at 4:00 AM

music_cd_alejandro_cmyk.jpg
Real Animal
Composer: Alejandro Escovedo
Conductor: Alejandro Escovedo
Label: Back Porch/Manhattan
Release Date: 2008-06-18
Rated: NONE
Media: CD
Length: LP
Format: Album
Genre: Roots

Among his considerable attributes, Alejandro Escovedo could lay claim to being the Forrest Gump of rock. Whenever seminal events happened, he was usually in the vicinity.

As a member of the Bay Area punk band the Nuns, he opened the Sex Pistols’ final show in 1978. While living in New York’s Chelsea Hotel, he observed the deadly psychodrama between Nancy Spungen and Sid Vicious. With the band Rank and File, he helped to launch the cowpunk boom of the early ’80s. And as a guitarist for the much-admired True Believers, he helped to define Austin as the “live music capital of the world.”

Escovedo has rarely explored that history in song, but he’s in a retrospective mood on Real Animal, his 10th solo album. His unerring taste and relentless honesty have always made him an artist to admire, but his albums can be dour affairs, because the loose, rocking immediacy so evident in his shows (where his love of The Stooges and Mott the Hoople are evident) only intermittently finds its way to his ultra-serious, soul-baring songwriting. Songs like the playful, teasing “Castanets,” make you wonder what Escovedo could accomplish if he cut loose.

On Real Animal, Escovedo does cut loose. He writes about the Nuns, the Chelsea, Rank and File, and the Troobs, and the exercise frees him to simultaneously inhabit and comment on his younger, snottier self. It’s a rare songwriting trick, and he uses it to great effect on “Chelsea Hotel,” an homage to the self-destructive poets and musicians he knew there in the late ’70s.

The masterstroke is “Sensitive Boys,” a paean to the Amerindie rebels he toured with in the ’80s. The subject matter prepares you for a raucous raveup, but he opts for a tender soul ballad that lands between Lou Reed’s “Coney Island Baby” and the Stones’ “Fool to Cry.” Lamenting lost opportunities while defiantly keeping the old torch lit, the Escovedo of Real Animal is compassionate, self-mocking, angry, and wistful. And he’s made the album of his life, in more ways than one.

Tags: ,

Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

May 5, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Join SA Current Newsletters

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

© 2021 San Antonio Current

Website powered by Foundation