Years Active: 53 (with sporadic breaks).
Provenance: Durango, Mexico.
Essential Albums: Dug Dug's; Smog; Cambia, Cambia; El Loco.
Essential Songs: "Lost in My World," "Smog," "Al Diablo la Gente," "Stupid People (Gente Estúpido)," "Cuál Es Tu Nombre?," "Yo No Sé," "No Te Asustes (Es Sólo Vivir)," "Hagámoslo Ahora—2da. Parte, Popurrí," "No Somos Malos," "Felicidad," "El Loco," "Let's Make It Now," "El Amor—I Love You More," "Eclipse," "Hanky Panky," "No, Si, Yo, Tu, Ya."
Influenced by: The Beatles, Jethro Tull, La Revolución de Emiliano Zapata, Blue Cheer.
Influence on: The High Fidelity Orchestra, Dungen, Oh Sees, Morgan Delt, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard.
Precautions: Most rock bands that have been going for more than 50 years are, to put it charitably, not operating at the peak of their powers. To state the obvious, rock has proved itself to be primarily a young person's game, and we should maintain skepticism toward any group whose members have reached retirement age. However, live footage of Los Dug Dug's from two years ago reveals a unit still capable of sparking exciting rock action. One more precaution: Our current government's heinous stance toward foreigners—including the president's noxious smear of Mexican immigrants—makes one uneasy about non-American artists' ability to enter this country. Let us hope that Los Dug Dug's manage to avoid any such customs bullshit.
Why You Should Give a Fuck: Some rock bands possess an incorruptible spirit and indomitable power that enable their songs to weather the vagaries of trends and to emerge sounding vital decades after their creation. Los Dug Dug's (originally known as Xippos Rock) are one of that special breed. Their creative apex didn't last all that long—from 1971 to 1978—but over those four albums (see the titles above), they forged a body of work that combines combustibility with delicacy on a scale few can match.
Now in his early 70s, guitarist/vocalist Armando Nava exudes a ribald charisma on the mic, and his flamboyant, sinewy riffing on electric guitar helps to elevate Los Dug Dug's songs to dramatic heights. For example, perhaps the group's best-known song, "Lost in My World," boasts a theme—following an initial sampled explosion and plangent guitar intro—that's as gripping as Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. With Nava's psychedelically delayed voice leading the way, Los Dug Dug's create a harrowing sonic universe that's at once expansive and claustrophobic, like some of your most memorable drug trips, no doubt. (Trivia: The tune has been stuck in my head for two days now, and counting.)
Another should've-been-hit, "Smog," rides one of the most adrenalizing flute motifs this side of Kraftwerk's first album into a hard-charging sortie of fragrant prog. It's up there with the greatest songs about pollution, like Joni Mitchell's "Yellow Taxi," Franco Battiato's "Pollution," Marvin Gaye's "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)," X-Ray Spex's "The Day the World Turned Day-Glo," Ween's "Ocean Man," and Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush."
Los Dug Dug's are also famous for being the first Mexican group to sing in English and to cover the Beatles. The latter band's penchant for dulcet melodies creeps into Los Dug Dug's sound throughout their catalog, but, honestly, this mode—as pleasant as it is—is not their strength. No, Los Dug Dug's really excel when they're raunching it up, piling on the dazzling distortion, and vamoosing down the road of excess to reach the palace of gee-whizdom.