Conjunto Bernal – Mi Unico Camino
Accordionist/singer/composer Paulino Bernal is one of the true superstars of Tejano Conjunto music. With his brother Eloy on bajo sexto and the addition of Ruben Perez's high voice, Conjunto Bernal broke the traditional barriers of this Texas dance music by introducing three-part vocal harmonies, a sound widely popular among middle class Mexicans, and incorporating an orquesta sound into their arrangements. Here are 15 original hits recorded in the 1950s with plenty of polkas showing off Paulino's superb accordion.
1. Mi Unico Damino - 3:11 2. Las Palabras del Amor - 2:47 3. Loretta Polka - 2:51 4. Mi Borrachera - 2:45 5. Destino Cruel - 2:47 6. Al Fin Mujer - 3:06 7. Pa' Que Me Hago Ilusiones - 2:24 8. Azul Cielo - 2:45 9. Si Acaso Vuelves - 2:31 10. Desprecio - 2:49 11. Fidel Castro Polka - 2:24 12. Melodias Mexicanas - 3:10 13. Al Regresar - 2:49 14. Connie - 2:12 15. Sentimiento y Rencor - 2:30
Paulino Bernal (accordion, vocals) , Eloy Bernal (bajo sexto, vocals) , Ruben Perez (high lead voice, bass, drums)
1. Blues & Rhythm - Gary von Tersch
“In addition to monster hits like their trademark “Mi Unico Camino” and the swooping “Sentimiento y Rencor,” there are plenty of easygoing polka instrumentals…and adapted rancheras…that demonstrate not only the trio’s textural diversity but the superb deftness and remarkable alacrity of their instrumental work.”
2. AllMusic - Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
Fronted by vocalist/ accordionist Paulino Bernal, Conjunto Bernal was a conjunto that specialized in regional Tex-Mex music. Bernal was joined by his brother, bajo sexto/vocalist Eloy Bernal, and bassist/drummer Ruben Perez on Mi Unico Camino, a series of songs and instrumentals recorded between 1954 and 1960, and reissued by Arhoolie. As Arhoolie's Chris Stachwitz wrote in an earlier set of liner notes, conjuntos were groups "usually featuring two harmonizing voices, an accordion, a bajo sexto and a string bass, [that] were making the music that Spanish-speaking factory hands, truck drivers, and other blue collar workers wanted to hear." (The bajo sexto is a 12-string guitar with a non-standard tuning.) The songs and instrumentals that grace Mi Unico Camino are frequently filled with a bouncy, 2-step rhythm, perfect for dancing or just to place the listener in an upbeat mood. The Bernal brothers' vocals blend easily, adding a melodic quality to the persistent rhythms, while the simplicity of the lively arrangements remains fresh throughout the 15 tracks. Mi Unico Camino is a fine introduction to Conjunto Bernal, as well as a solid entry into a popular regional style, enriched by a knowledgeable set of liner notes by Manuel Pena and Strachwitz.
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