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Los Bichos Color Hits Los Bichos
  • Color Hits (lp)-1 Color Hits (lp)-2
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The title of an obscure Rolling Stones song, 'The Singer, Not The Song', opened the letter carefully enclosed with the promo copies of "Color Hits". But the opposite way: "No, actually, it's the other way round way, the important thing is the song, and fuck the singer," said Josetxo Ezponda (Pamplona, 1963-2013).

"Color Hits", released in the summer of 1989, was a declaration of principles by the band formed around the unique, eccentric and excessive Josetxo. A record that represented the debut of a young man influenced by the first wave of punk, who in 1978 had started his band Tensión; an idea they developed over the years until 1987, when they found the genre and name that would fit them like a glove: Los Bichos (The Critters). Like some sort of Treasure Island adventure, Josetxo was accompanied at all times by a legion of loyal and unique comrades, each of them with their own input. Asio, bass and vocals, was his twin soul and ever-present in all the Bicho-tales. Charly, lead guitar, played the role of surgeon in the weave of licks, solos and arpeggios, like Mick Ronson with Bowie. And lastly Fermín, drummer, aka "A storm is coming", who banged on the instrument in a manner befitting his alias.

"It's just a first album," declared Josetxo. It's pointless to try to decipher a record like this when you can listen to it, or to mention references and influences to try to explain it. The important thing about "Color Hits" is that it's a totally unconditional declaration of love to icons, sounds and aesthetics which were forgotten at the time: Bosch, Jack Vance, Wim Wenders, Dalí, Tolkien, occultism, Egypt… Glam rock, blues, Latin music, Motown, Blank Generation and… Noise.

At the end of the 80s, some local independent labels started to release truly alternative options to the whole post-Movida hangover. We could mention the first albums by Sex Museum, Lagartija Nick and Cancer Moon. Due to that weariness in the music scene, "Color Hits" was embraced by a community of fans willing to get into universes born out of inspired and self-taught minds such as Josetxo's. "Color Hits" was and still is one of the most explosive debuts ever released.

"The songs (on "Color Hits") are written from a fan's point of view," said Josetxo. In its purest essence, Los Bichos combine sweetness and emotion with rage and tension. And without any sort of complex they lay down a bolero-ranchera ('Mezcalito', 'Me gustaría llorar') or a delicate Temptations cover ('My Girl'). There are also nods to Captain Beefheart, or the inspired and intuitive crossing of The Stooges and Bo Diddley, where they find the DNA of all this matter. The sleeve and inner feature collages and texts painstakingly handwritten by Josetxo. Here was potential, ideas and goods songs. The label even released 'Shadow Girl' as a single and tried to get it playlisted on national radio. Its catchy melody and superb pop structure didn't seem to fit. Why not? "My head is burning, my cock is high, Shadow Girl is here tonight." The epic 'Verano muerto' was the hit of that summer and many more, at least for me. This monumental piece of POP with capital letters included nods to Lou Reed and The Only Ones. "A million skeleton walk in silence, lost and scared under the silver sky… painted in colours, wearing make-up like whores."

A series of concerts and launch shows here and there supporting the release of the record was all the band scraped out of having an LP out. However, they managed to connect with a committed bunch of fans who simply surrendered before such artists and their work.

This is another serious case of oblivion and injustice. But it's never too late for Los Bichos. Although none of them, except Charly, are among us to witness it, their music has overcome the barrier of time with class and style.

Iñigo Munster

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