Respect yourself

It probably isn’t wise to write about a covers album with unfamiliar source material, sung in a foreign language.

So I was going to pass over writing about Molotov’s Con Todo Respeto since I don’t speak Spanish and am familiar with only two of the tracks on the album.

But after a few spins — and an initial disappointment that Dance Dense and Denso wasn’t followed up by more of the same angry, caustic music — I discovered I actually like this album.

Molotov may have built its reputation on anger and sarcasm, but beneath that fury is a sense of humor.

And while Con Todo Respeto contains no original material by the band, the interpretations could have been done only by Molotov.

Falco’s “Amadeus” becomes “Amateur”, a song that doesn’t celebrate genius. And under Molotov’s hands, the Latin undertones of “Da da da” come to light.

Some of the transformations (compared to snippets available on Amazon — hey, I’m cheap that way) are pretty drastic. Gil-Scott Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” sounds like it was done by Jimi Hendrix. The Misfits’ “I Turned Into a Martian” turns into a Mexican romp.

The band’s interpretation of the Beastie Boys’ “Girls” imagines what it would have sound like if the Beasties stayed punk. And it’s tough to hear Lipps, Inc.’s “Designer Music” after hearing Molotov’s “Diseño Rolas” first — the song works better in Spanish.

If there’s a general conceit to Con Todo Respeto, it’s juxtaposition. Latin music gets the punk treatment, while American rock goes through a Latino filter.

“La Boa a Go-Go” retains none of Sonora Santanera’s big band feel, and the raging punk of “Mi Aguita Amarilla” is a far cry from Los Toreros Muertos’ blues shuffle.

Toward the end of the album, Molotov breaks down its own mash-ups in the titles — “Perro Negro Granjero” combines ZZ Top’s “La Grange” with Three Souls In My Mind’s “Pero Negro y Callejero”, while “Aguela” mixes up “Mi Abuela” with the Clash’s “The Magnificent Seven” and Young M.C.’s “Bust a Move”.

A band that can seamlessly blend Latin music, punk and hip-hop from other artists deserves respect of its own.

Perhaps the greatest strength of Con Todo Respeto is its ability to entertain without the context of the original material. The band has fun with this music, and it comes through, right down to 17th century-styled busts on the cover.

It probably helps to know the source to appreciate these reworkings. But this covers album stands firmly on its own.

P.S. Hybrid Magazine was nice enough to drop enough names for me to make my own comparrisons. It would be rude not credit them.