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Los Shakers

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The concept of a Uruguayan band in the mold of the Hard Day's Night-era Beatles may seem absurd, but it did happen in the mid-'60s. What's more, the Shakers (sometimes billed as Los Shakers on their releases) were fairly successful in mimicking the jangle of the early Beatles sound, writing most of their material with a decent grasp of the British Invasion essentials of catchy tunes and enthusiastic harmonies. While the grammar is fairly broken and pidgin, soundwise the Shakers were actually superior to many of the bona fide Mersey groups; if you like the Beatles sound as heard on tracks like "I Should Have Known Better" or "I'll Be Back," you'll like this stuff. Popular in their native land, the Shakers were understandably unable to compete on an international scale, although their 1966 album, Break It All, was actually issued in the States. Today they enjoy respect from hardcore '60s collectors, and much of their material is available on reissues. Despite reasonable availability of some of their material to international audiences on reissues, the details of the Shakers' career remained pretty mysterious until Alec Palao's detailed liner notes to their 2000 CD reissue Por Favor. The group was formed by brothers Hugo Fattoruso (lead guitar, keyboards) and Osvaldo Fattoruso (rhythm guitar), who as a team wrote most of their material. Like so many combos around the world, the specific motivation to form the group came from watching the Beatles' movie A Hard Day's Night. The band remained extremely influenced by the Beatles throughout their career and were in fact not too aware of or interested in the work of other British Invasion groups. Signed to a deal by EMI/Odeon in Argentina, they issued their first single, "Break It All," in 1965. The band became very big in both Uruguay and Argentina, and also toured in several other South American countries. There was never a concerted effort on the band's part to invade the English-speaking market, and they never played in North America. However, a small New York label, Audio Fidelity, took the unusual step of issuing a Shakers album, Break It All, in the States in early 1966. This LP actually consists mostly of re-recordings (and good ones) of songs from their debut Uruguayan long-player, as well as songs that had appeared on singles. For this album Osvaldo Fattoruso ended up singing a bunch of tunes that his brother Hugo had sung, perhaps because Hugo's voice was in hoarse shape. So although this is the album that fans outside of South America are most likely to be familiar with, it actually doesn't contain the original versions from the Shakers' early repertoire, although most of those songs from the original (South American) Shakers debut LP are now included on Ace's Por Favor reissue. The Shakers continued to follow the Beatles' lead through 1968, introducing Revolver-like guitars and backwards effects, and then some Magical Mystery Tour-type psychedelia, as well as some occasional influence of their native South American rhythms and musical styles. While it's usually obvious where the inspiration is coming from, the level of writing, playing, and harmonies remained quite respectable through their third and final album, 1968's La Conferencia Secreta del Toto's Bar. The Shakers broke up toward the end of the 1960s, with the Fatturoso brothers recording an album for Odeon in 1969 before moving to the United States for a few years to work with Airto Moreira, and then forming the Latin rock group Opa. Drummer Caio Vila and bassist Pelin Capobianco, with a couple of Capobianco's brothers, recorded a 1971 album, and in 1981 the Fatturoso brothers did a reunion album with the Otroshakers. ~ Richie Unterberger

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