Album Mini-review: Chicano Batman — Freedom is Free
File next to: War, Mayer Hawthorne, Sly & the Family Stone
The spirit of late-sixties psychedelic soul is alive in Chicano Batman. On this collection of twelve socially aware originals, the Los Angeles quartet – augmented with an alluring female vocal chorus – makes some of the best music of its career. Musically, Freedom is Free is an aural travelogue of the styles that inform the group’s unique approach: soul, Brazilian tropicalia and gritty L.A. funk are just a few of the styles put to use behind the songs. The silky-smooth vocals of Bardo Martinez are set against inventive arrangements like that found on the sexy groove of “Jelaousy.” Even when Martinez occasionally sings in Spanish – as on the kinetic, wah-wah guitar-filled “Flecha al Sol” – the emotional content comes through loud and clear. The title track and single “Friendship (Is a Small Boat in a Storm)” are teasers for an album full of gems.
You may also enjoy my Chicano Batman interview.
About the Author
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The 4000-plus interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill's keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill's work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance (including monthly events Music to Your Ears and Music Movie Mondays), and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts. In Spring 2023 he is co-teaching a history of Rock 'n' Roll at UNC Asheville's College for Seniors. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues -- more than 30 to date -- and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, was published in 2021 by HoZac Books. His third book, What's the Big Idea: 40 Great Concept Albums will be published in 2024. Read even more about him here.