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The Champs Featuring Dave Burgess - Tequila Party


by Kevin Wierzbicki

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There are lots of fun party songs but none of them create as much excitement and guaranteed listener participation as "Tequila," the late 1950s hit single by the Champs. With ripping saxophone as lead instrument and a beat you can shimmy and shake to, the instrumental pauses briefly several times for the band to shout "tequila!" And for 60-years fans have been joining in on the shout. It's like something automatic; there's no way listeners are not going to shout, say or sing along to the song's only word. Not bad for a cut that was at first a B-side and recorded as a "throwaway."

A lot of fans of "Tequila" probably don't remember the band's name. While perhaps thought of as being in the "one hit wonder" category (they actually had numerous other charting singles) the Champs were (and once again are) far more important than that. "Tequila" won a GRAMMY and the band at one time or another counted Glen Campbell and Jim Seals and Dash Crofts (Seals & Crofts) among their members. Founding member Dave Burgess, responsible for bringing Tequila Party to fruition, has written over 700 songs, some of which have been recorded by the likes of Campbell, Lou Rawls, Johnny Rivers and Rick Nelson, who recorded 10 of Dave's songs. Burgess has notably also produced recordings by everyone from Marty Balin (Jefferson Airplane/Starship) to Darlene Love; he also has managed the publishing end of things for Hank Williams, Jr. for four decades. So when Burgess said he wanted to reinvigorate the Champs brand by releasing Tequila Party, accommodation came easy.

Of course the beloved mainstay "Tequila" is featured here, renamed "Tequila Party" for this album. Otherwise the set is comprised just about equally of new Burgess-penned tunes and covers of well-known songs. Among the covers are a hot take on Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va," with lyric, the swaggering "spy" instrumental "Peter Gunn," Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man" and the enduring pop hit originally by Booker T. and the MGs, "Green Onions." Burgess is prone to giving his self-penned songs spicy titles too as the bouncy groove of "Jalapeno" and the classic rock-meets-Mexican fiesta of "Hot Salsa" reflect.

Saxophone is the lead instrument on most of these instrumentals, sometimes cool and smooth but mostly raunchy and raucous, and it really lends itself to the overall party atmosphere the album projects. And if party-goers just happen to be drinking tequila while Tequila Party is playing, well, anything can and is likely to happen.

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