In the forwarding of Ernesto Lechner’s 2006 book, Rock en Español: The Latin Alternative Rock Explosion, Lechner explains how the rock groups coming out of Latin America in the 1990’s helped change his outlook on Latin Rock. Growing in Argentina, Ernesto had a bias against Latin American musicians hell-bent on imitating their Anglo counterparts. However, it was groups like Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Café Tacvba and Gustavo Cerati that showed him that Latin Rock had more to offer the world of music than sheer imitation: these artists had something to say.
In the mid-nineties I had a similar revelation. My friend Juan Carlos educated me on the music of the groups that I no knowledge of growing up in the states. It was instant love for me when he played me Maldita Vecindad, Fabulosos Cadillacs and Mano Negra, all of whom sang about issues that related directly to my life: songs about not belonging, of immigration and the effects of colonialism that affects indigenous people to this day. One of my favorite groups of this era was Todos Tus Muertos.
For one, I grew up as a huge fan of The Bad Brains and there were many similarities between the two bands. Todos were a rock band at heart, with excellent musicianship that meant they could play both heavy and fast. Then much like The Bad Brains, they could switch gears and play Reggae. Todos Tus Muertos (translation: All Your Dead) were energetic singers. Pablo and Fidel were both black. But that is where their likeness ends. Todos were Dancehall based compared to The Bad Brains’ Roots Reggae style. Also Todos would add elements of other Latin music like Cuban Son. Lyrically, Todos were leftist, influenced by both Latin American & Jamaican icons such as Che Guevara, Augusto Sandino, Emiliano Zapata, Marcus Garvey and Subcomandante Marcos.
Their live shows were legendary. They were a two-hour dance and mosh pit party for the junior revolutionary set. They were the kind of band that wanted to play for the people. They played a few shows in the L.A. barrios. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Reggae En Español is so big in East L.A. right now. After several records and many failed record deals, Todos decided to call it quits. Both Fidel and Pablo went on to release albums as solo artists. Recently, Todos Tus Muertos have regrouped without Fidel, who continues his career as a well-known Dancehall artist in and outside of Latin America.
Nacional Records will release a retrospective of the band’s best work on Tuesday. Along with bands such as Los Cafres, Quinto Sol, Cultura Profectica and Gondwana, Todos Tus Muertos are the forefathers of the burgeoning Reggae En Español movement that is ready to explode any day now.
Todos Tus Muertos Discography:
Nena De Hiroshima
Dale Aborigen (This is their classic)
Argentina Te Asesina
El Camino Real