***This article was originally published in print and online as "Conjunto Soul" and not "Chicano Soul." We've corrected it online and the Current regrets the error***
To the outsider, and even the undiscerning local, San Antonio doesn’t scream R&B and soul mecca. Since the advent of tejano in the 1970s (which flourished into the ’90s with Selena at the helm), San Antonio would be known as a hot spot in the genre – an amalgamation of polka, pop, rock, R&B, conjunto, mariachi, and ranchera.
And living in such a hot spot means you should know the top hits that make the genre what it is. If you don't already know these tracks, take a listen and fall in love with the sounds of San Antonio.
Dimas III & The Royal Jesters “You’ve Succeeded” Clown Records
Something truly magical happens when this 45 drops. The horns hit, the harmonies hit and Dimas comes out with, “if you want to see me sad, you’ve succeeded.” This highly collectible slice of Chicano Soul is of the highest order and quality. Holy grail status = firme.
Joe Jama & The Royal Jesters
“Girl I Can't Forget”
The Royal Jesters featured a few legendary singers throughout the band’s extensive recording history. “Girl I Can’t Forget” features Joe Jama in fine form on this seriously hot tear-jerker.
Henry & The Kasuals
Another 45 that gets your attention right from the drop features front-man Henry ‘Pepsi’ Pena – the hardest working man in Chicano Soul – yesterday and today. “Forever” was recorded for the legendary Cobra record label and is a cover of the Marvelettes’ “Darling Forever.”
Doc & Sal
“Laughing to Keep From Crying”
Recorded for the Dynamic record label, “Laughing to Keep from Crying” was issued as a fierce double-sider 45 with “Can’t Get You Off My Mind” on the flip. Both tunes written by the legendary Ricky Davila (KEDA 1540AM).
Little Jr. Jesse & The Teardrops
“Ain’t No Big Thing”
Originally recorded by the Radiants in 1965, “Ain’t No Big Thing” has become a soul staple and interpreted by quite a few different artists. Here, one time radio DJ, Little Jr. Jesse, is with his Teardrops unleashing what could be one of the definitive versions. Side note: peep Esteban Jordan’s version for a killer alternative.