I just realized that I have never written about this album. Which is dumb, because it's one of the few live career-summing-up albums that actually works that way. Done in front of their adoring Mexico City audience in two discs (two and a half plus a DVD if you're a nerd like me and order the "special edition" from Amazon), it pretty much puts everything they've ever done out there all jumbled-up chronologically like they've had a unified plan all the time --

Oh, wait, you don't know much about Café Tacuba? Well, I'm not going to pretend to be an expert. But this little bunch of pretentious funny adorable punky bohemians have been hugely important to Mexican music, and pretty important to me too. But they get very little love from us up here, because we are stupid. Here we will list awesome things about them:

1.Embracing music in all its forms. These guys do everything. This is shown most dramatically on Re, where they sashay through TWENTY songs in about 17.4 styles, including metal-thrash, lovely folkish stuff, and avant-banda two-step. They also had their whole "let's get weird" time with Reves/Yosoy, a simultaneous double-album where one disc was pretty songs and the other was industrial-ish instrumentals. Even on the overly-mannered Cuatro Caminos, they messed around with the envelope a bit. Ambition is not a bad thing.

2. Intelligence out the culo. These guys are smart as hell. This usually gets all focused on tiny Rubén Albarran (aka Sizu Yantra, aka Nru, aka Elfuego Buendía, aka Amparo Tonto Medardo In Lak'ech, etc.), because he's the singer, but it's pretty clear that Joselo & Quique Rangel and Emmanuel del Real are just as sharp and weird and on-the-ball. This can be seen in their various solo projects and side-gigs, but also in their own CT tracks, as this is not a U2 singer-does-all-the-lyrics thing.

3. Charisma, dammit. The best thing about Un Viaje, to me, is to hear these guys work the crowd. It's all one big huge pulsating animal in there. This goes beyond just the screams, or the way everyone knows all the lyrics to "Esa Noche" -- listen to the way the crowd responds to the opening notes of "La Ingrata," like they're all OH SNAPS HERE IT COMES. I also love how "La Ingrata" started Mexico City vs. Monterrey beef because El Gran Silencio thought CT was making fun of norteño music. I love carne like that.

There are a lot more but they'll have to wait. (One point has to do with the fact that Rubén's voice is nasal and high and freaky, a fact that has turned some of my coolest friends off this band; I love his voice though, it's the permanent snag in the zipper.) For now, if you can get any of their records for cheapsies, do it -- we might have Los Beatles in our midst and not even know it.

At this altitude
I see/hear everything --
Todo es bueno

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