Saturday, June 7, 2008

rockstar games: unaesta

life is a lentil.

Following a little "shooting the shit" with Emmett on SibLINGHOT's comments section regarding Eumir Deodato, I thought it might be apt to highlight how the video-gaming revolution has influenced music taste.

One title is particular, Rockstar NYC's "Grand Theft Auto" series, has done more in a few years to promote Latin Fusion to young white kids the world over than a shedload of BBC documentaries on the World Service. Rockstar is a development division of video game publisher Take-Two Interactive, based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Didn't know that ? You do now.

My son almost overnight developed an appetite for old-timers Tito Puente and Machito y Sus Afro Cubanos based solely, I suspect, on his brief introductory exposure to riding the streets of a thinly disguised Miami with an uzi pointing out the side window just to keep an eye on the passing scenery. Oh, and he loved the decrepit cuban automobile design in Ubisoft Reflections Driver's downtown Havana too.

The great buzz with GTA is that you can tune the in-car radio to a station of your choice just like you CAN'T in real life ; the music is much more diverse and exciting than anything you might pick up normally on a run-of-the-mill FM channel. Soon his taste soared to embrace Bob James and Kenny Rogers & the First Edition. Fusion 45 recently highlighted the 1968 track "First Dropped In..." on his series on session drummer Hal Blaine. My pre-adolescent son first got to know this song by heart from playing Driver 2 a good few years back. Strange fare indeed for a young kid these days, and thrilling for me.

This song by Unaesta caused quite a stir when it was initially released on Grand Theft Auto III: Vice City a few years back. A lot of people scoured the internet looking to locate a bio on the group and to find the original of "La Vida Es Una Lenteja" which featured so prominently on Radio Espantoso in the game.

The title, it transpired, translates as "Life Is A Lentil". It was written by GTA producer Craig Connor and recorded specifically for Rockstar's release. Highly creative marketing, indeed.

My son and stepson badgered me incessantly at the time of the launch of the Playstation 3. Unfortunately, this event took place right before Christmas. How could Santa be so stingy ? they demanded. But you already have a Playstation 2, I replied. Yes, but you can't play GTA IV on a Playstation 2, the urchins snivelled.

The upshot of all this is that my son is now saving up to buy a new console himself. Whether he'll have enough to get one in time for this X-Mas coming is another story.

Life is a lentil, son.

UNAESTA: LA VIDA ES UNA LENTEJA from "GTA vice city: vol. VII; radio espantoso" CD (Epic/Sony) 2002 (US)


Michael Verity said...

Greetings and salutations, my friend. Thank you for the shout-out. MJ@F45

ib said...

Great list, as always, music junkie. The Gary Puckett & the Union Gap 45 was a surprise especially.

Is that you blinking subliminally in the upper left corner of the header bar on Fusion 45 ?