In Search of Rock and Roll Thrills in Mexico: Part 1
After a hugely enjoyable (and rather longer than planned) excursion in Argentina, we are heading off to Mexico. In particular I will be looking for some early rock and roll thrills. In both Spain and Argentina rock didn’t really take off until after the Beatles, by which time the music was already becoming more melodic and sophisticated. Mexico’s proximity to the USA helped rock and roll to get started much earlier, when the music was rawer and arguably more exciting. And let’s not forget that Richie Valens’ ‘La Bamba’ (1958) was basically a turbo charged Mexican folk song.
So who was the first person to record a rock song in Spanish? The earliest example I can find is Gloria Ríos singing her reworking of ‘Rock Around The Clock’. Gloria was born in Texas, but she moved to Mexico when she was 16. There she enjoyed success as a singer, dancer and actress. ‘El Relojito’ literally translates as ‘the little clock’.
Gloria can be seen here singing it in the Mexican film ‘La Locura Del Rock and Roll’ from 1956. It’s a great performance, and she certainly has nicer legs than Bill Haley (who recorded the original). She was sometimes billed as ‘la bailarina de las piernas’!
Fans of kitsch should also check out Gloria’s low budget sci-fi video for ‘El Sputnik’ (see below). It’s taken from ‘Melodías Inolvidables’ (1959) which was her final film.
NB The lyrics of ‘El Relojito’ have little in common with ‘Rock Around The Clock’. I had to work them out by ear, so let me know if you have any corrections.
EL RELOJITO Vengan a bailar rock and roll Se lo voy a enseñar Pongan la atención Se rumbiarán así Meterán así Entrando ya en calor No pararan Quiero cantar, quiero bailar El rock and roll, no más Al sonar las dos cuatro y seis de Condesa o Cadiz Pedimos más Yo quiero rock, rock, rock Y ver cantar Yo quiero roll, roll, roll Quiero más, más, más Quiero cantar, quiero bailar El rock and roll, no más A du-da-bi, a du-da-bi.... ah-ah Baila conmigo, el relojito Baila conmigo, muy despacito Mueve (o vuelve?) al ladito Date un saltito Dar media vuelta Y un meneíto Si te emocionas Pegas un grito Bom, bom, bom, bom...
ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK Come and dance rock and roll I'm going to teach it to you Pay attention everybody You rumba like this You do it like this Now you're warmed up Don't stop I want to sing, I want to dance Only rock and roll When the clock strikes two Four and six At Condesa or Cadiz (streets) We demand more I want to rock, rock, rock And sing I want to roll, roll, roll I want more, more, more I want to sing, I want to dance Only rock and roll A du-da-bi, a du-da-bi.... ah-ah Dance with me, around the clock Dance with me, really slow Move to the side Do a little jump Do a half turn And wiggle your hips If you get excited Let out a yell Bom, bom, bom, bom...