Sunny Ozuna Withstands the Test of Time
Historically, Little Joe joined David Coronado and his Latinaires in late 1954; and in September 1956, Sunny and three classmates formed The Sequins, a street corner doo wop group. Four months later, they changed their name to The Galaxies and it was not until May 1957 that Sunny and Rudy Guerra formed Sunny and the Sun-Glows.
Little Joe recorded his first 45 rpm single as a guitarist in 1958, the same year that Sunny wrote and recorded “Just A Moment.” Since then, the two Grammy Award winners have been the two constants in Tejano music.
Today, after 38 albums, over a dozen compact discs and countless compilation long-play vinyl albums and compact discs, Sunny has a new production that’s proof Mr. Little Brown Eyed Soul is better than ever.
The CD, “Brown Brother of Soul,” starts out with “Back in Love Again” in which Sunny brings the Motown sound back to live.
A hidden gem in the second cut, “What’s Your Name,” is “Your Tender Lips,” and it’s a surprise because it’s not even listed in the song list. This is a song that was originally recorded by The Clovers then covered by the Catalinas and the Royal Jesters in 1964. The difference is that the 1962 Don and Juan hit is improved on by the harmonious voices of Sunny and Johnny Hernández and the fact that it sounds so old school.
“I wanted to keep the feeling and not make it modern because that was the whole idea of the doo wops. I also brought in two former Sunliner Band members, Pete Ojeda, bass; and George González on guitar, to keep that realistic oldies effect,” Sunny said during an interview at this Northeast San Antonio home.
It may have been a hit for the Righteous Brothers in 1965, but again Sunny and Johnny plus the addition of Rubén Ramos go into third gear and tackle “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.” In the process, their unique beautiful blend of voices and great brass musical arrangement throughout the entire tune make this the standout song in this production.
The Sunny penned “Just A Little Bit Mo” is as good as any American mainstream soul hit and this tune features the incomparable old-time groove vocal style that made him rule when the Sunliners reigned. His voice is in fine form, the lyrics are catchy and it is easy to sing along to.
He also wrote a rhythm and blues oldie aimed at the California market and that’s “I’m Not Ready to Say Goodbye.” It’s a soulful tune about a man, who after loving a woman so much and after having her so close, cannot accept that he is losing the one he loves the most. As the lyrics go, “Tell me my darling. What did I do wrong? I’m sorry, but I’m not ready to say goodbye.”
Sunny’s unmistakable voice also dominates Sonny Ace’s “Pledging My Love,” than he shifts into a higher gear with “A New Life,” another of his new compositions.
“Everything I own is on my back. I’m leaving the one I love and I’m not turning back. I’m looking for a new life that I can call my own. I’m looking for a new place that I can call home” gives listeners a taste of the great lyricist that Sunny has become. Music-wise, this song sounds like a brass-laden Tower of Power tune.
“My inspiration for this song was one of my sons, Jerry, because he creates routines to music with his body, he then sells the routines to high schools and colleges. He is also involved in motion pictures that include gymnastics. So he’s always off doing something like that. That’s where ‘A New Life’ came from,” Sunny revealed.
“Baby, Baby, Baby,” which Sunny also wrote is along the same line as Doug Sahm’s “Why, Why, Why” or “Crazy, Crazy Baby” in a throwback to the late 1950’s Westside Sound – Farfisa organ and an alto sax solo by Ernie Cansino – in what will surely become another Sunny standard.
Sunny then breathes new life into Bo Diddley’s “I’m Sorry,” a 1959 classic with great saxophone sounds and guitar licks. This is one of those dreamy jams during which couples could stand on the same tile, hold each tight and sway back and forth in what would be a genuine slow dance.
“Them Changes” highlights the brass section in what sounds like a soulful 1970s funk tune and “Baby I Love You,” sung in duet with Albert “Tiger” Díaz, is a smooth catchy easy going lilt.
If you like Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears and other 1970s brass heavy bands, you’ll love “Satisfaction Guaranteed.” Once can also hear a touch of Jimi Hendrix psychedelic guitar as Sunny shifts into a growly-voiced hard rock mode and that worries some of his fans because in the early 1970s, Sunny was operated for nodes and Jimmy Edward, just known as Little Jimmy, had to fill in to honor many of Sunny’s artistic commitments.
Hopefully, the music icon, who has been inducted into numerous hall of fames takes heed of their concern and not abuse his voice during live performances.
“Not to worry, I only did it this once for the recording,” he assured us with a sigh of relief.
A special treat for this living legend’s fans is that the Brown Brother of Soul will celebrate his 68th birthday, CD release and his 55th year as a vocalist with a big bash at Graham Central Station where he, Rubén Ramos and Johnny Hernández are expected to perform most of the tunes in this recently released CD.
Jimmy Edward and Joe Bravo will also join Sunny on this Thursday, September 8 concert. For more information, go to www.sunnyozuna.com.