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coverpic flag US - Louisiana - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 19 - 05/11/98

The Iguanas
Sugar Town
Blowout Records

I love this band. Their unique blend of Tex-Mex sensibilities combined with some good old rock'n'roll and backed by a healthy dose of R&B from New Orleans produced an instantly recognizable sound. Joe Cabral and Derek Houston's tight saxophone lines, Rod Hodges' shimmering guitar or a driving accordion and J. René Coman/Doug Garrison's funky backbeat created an ultimate party band.

The Iguanas have developed a cult-like following over the last eight years. In 1993 they landed a national record deal with Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Records (distributed by MCA), and their self-titled debut release produced such rockin' gems as ("...darling let's give in to this") Night of Sin and You Make It Hard. Interspaced with these were the latin-tinged hits (I'm) Nervous ("ever since that day/when we went all the way") and Dark And Dangerous Love.

Their second album Nuevo Bugaloo quickly followed in 1994. From the opening Oye, Isabel to the closing Hey, Sweet Darling Hodges and Cabral delivered hot rocking tunes in both English and Español while Coman contributed a cool cha-cha or a tango.

However for Superball released in 1996, The Iguanas picked up a new producer and a sloppier sound that was closer to their live performances. As co-producers they also included a couple of self-indulgent duds that wouldn't have made it otherwise. Still there were hidden treasures, such as the uppity Lupita, the laid back I Moved Too Slow or the surprising Mil Demonios (A Thousand Demons).

With Sugar Town, The Iguanas took a bold step and released the CD themselves on their own label. Why? Simply put, they were seeking more control. They didn't like the hierarchy of a national label and they didn't like the process of assembling studio recordings. Coman and the band produced an album that comes close to their live shows; however, in the process they also created a safe record. There are few surprises here - rock alternates with occasional songs in Spanish. The few exceptions are Si Amanece Nos Vamos (We'll Leave When Dawn Comes) which features Hodges' tired vocals and wandering guitar with a tape delay, Cabral's bajo sexto and a drum machine, and the single Captured, noteworthy for Garrison's drumming and a burning guitar solo by one of the band's guests Jeff Treffinger (the album's engineer). I also liked Arrimate, that features another guest, Mark Mullins, on trombone.

In my opinion, Iguanas should've stayed with the national label. It might have been frustrating for them to battle a committee over their CDs' booklets, but at least all the previous ones are more informative than the current one. They might have been resenting the recording studio tricks, but that's how they created their most interesting tracks. I feel with their unique sound, Iguanas could've been today following Dave Matthews Band to a national prominence.

But I'm not the band's member or their manager; all I can do is support them. And if you find you like them, you can do the same. Contact: LOUISIANA MUSIC FACTORY, 210 Decatur Street -- New Orleans, LA 70130, USA, (504) 586-1094.

Copyright © 1998 Ivan Sever e-mail address

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