Throughout the history of this business called music some executives have been referred to as bean counters due to their seemingly singular focus on their company's bottom line and lack of sympathy for the artists signed to their label. Camilo Lara, who is the chairman of EMI Mexico, isn't likely to be called a bean counter, but you could call him a beat counter. Aside from his day job as the head of EMI's Mexican wing, Lara is a DJ, producer and the mastermind of Mexican Institute Of Sound. The combo recently issued Soy Sauce, its third album, which features "Sinfonia Agridulce," a drunken Mariachi version of the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony." Check it out.
When I wrote "drunken Mariachi version" I wasn't kidding. Lara recently shared the story of how M.I.S.'s cover of the song originated. "I was at the studio recording mariachis and these guys, mariachis, always drink tequila when they are playing. So we started really early doing some recording and after like six hours or so we end up with like six or seven bottles of tequila," he told Deborah Sengupta Stith of Austin360.com. "So I got all the mariachis to play the song and I recorded it in one take probably. And the next day with the hangover I was like, wow, what a mistake because it is such a difficult song because it's not the Verve song, it's a Rolling Stones-owned song. So I was like, OK, if this is not going to happen I'm just going to keep it as a rarity. But I asked for permission from the Rolling Stones and the next day they sent me the confirmation that they were OK with me recording it. So I think it's great...It's a memorable anthemic song and doing it the mariachi way it adds some serenata flavor."
As Lara alluded to, the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" sampled the Andrew Oldham Orchestra's version of the Rolling Stones "The Last Time," and although the Verve had permission to sample the Oldham recording, the Stones and ABKCO Music claimed the band used too much of the song and sued, eventually settling for 100% ownership of the copyright. So the fact the fact that M.I.S. was able to get clearance by the Stones is monumental. Then again, as president of EMI Mexico, Lara obviously has friends in high places, and it probably helped that M.I.S.'s "A Girl Like You" was included on the 2007 release, Temptation: Music From The Showtime Series Californiacation, which was issued by ABKCO.
Whatever the case, "Bittersweet Symphony" in Spanish isn't the only reason to check out Soy Sauce. The album has an enticing mix of samples, beat boxes and electronics blended with old-school Mexican sounds, like boleros and cumbias. In fact, the opening cut is called "Cumbia." Check it out below.
The album also includes a guest appearance by Café Tacuba's Joselo and a remix by Beastie Boy Ad Rock. As for me, I'm going thinking of digging into some of M.I.S.'s previous releases, such as 2007's Piñata. Check out the video for "El Microfono," featuring a monkey with a microphone. What more could you ask for?