Category Archives: Puerto Rico

The Sonset

The Sonset were a major group in Puerto Rico during the mid-60’s. Their ’67 LP Discoteca has some real surprises. At the time of the LP, members were:

William Soto, aka Billy de Soto, Billy Sonset: lead guitar and vocals
Félix Guy Casiano, aka Dino Sonset: bassist and vocals
Rafael Ojeda, aka “El Indio” Sonset: organ and vocals on “Tema Sonset ’67”
José González, aka Cuco Sonset: drums.

Billy Soto and Dino both helped compose and arrange the original songs on the LP. I believe Billy sings the rougher r&b parts on “Oh! Look What You’ve Done” and “Turn on Your Lovelight”, while Dino handles the pop numbers like “Dulce Ayer” and “Mad de Amor”.

The liner notes state the band’s name is specifically the ‘Sonset’, singular, after having originally been the Sunsets. The band had been together three years when this LP was released, though Billy had just joined the year before.

The first side is sung in Spanish, the second in English. Recorded at Trans-Recording Studios, the sound quality is very good overall, with deep echo on many cuts.

The Spanish side starts out with some light pop, “Dulce Ayer” and “Mal de Amor” which is a decent cover of “Good Lovin'”. “Flamenco” is interesting, and sounds like it could be a parody. “El Indio” Sonset really cuts loose on “Tema Sonset ’67”, surely the highlight of the first side. It starts out as an instrumental akin to Thee Midniter’s “Whittier Boulevard” with slamming drums, a bass hook and tremelo guitar while the band makes various ‘jungle’ sounds. Nearly three minutes in the band segues into Everybody Needs Somebody for a verse and chorus before returning to the theme and fading out.

Dulce Ayer
Mal de Amor
Cual Tempestad (Thunderball)
Tema Sonset ’67

In my opinion, the band chose better songs to cover for the English side, and they do a fantastic version of “Turn On Your Lovelight”. The final cut “Oh! Look What You’ve Done” is the standout original on the LP.

Hold On! I’m Coming
Turn on Your Lovelight
Get Out of My Life, Woman
A Change Is Gonna Come
99 1/2 (Ninety Nine and a Half)
Oh! Look What You’ve Done

The name of the LP derives from a television show “Discoteca Pepsi” where the Sonset were regular guests. They were also in a film, the title of which i’ve seen listed as “Una mujer sin precio” and “Millionaire a Go Go”. Orlando (Orly) Vuez gave yet another title for the movie in the comments section on another band from Puerto Rico on this site, the Challenger’s:

The movie was called “Virgenes De La Nueva Ola”… I joined the band after Billy Soto left, when they were at the top of their game in 1967-68… lucky me. I saw it for the 1st time in LA television many years later… I got paid $60 for being in it, even though I was in quite a few scenes, yet I loved the chums. After me, they had one more lead guitar…

The LP was produced by Alfred D. Herger, who seems to have been something of an impresario in Puerto Rico at the time. Manny Pagán was road manager of the group. The first and last songs on the LP also were released on 45, though I believe the single version of “Oh! Look What You’ve Done” lacks the second fadeout of the LP.

The band also had an earlier 45 “The Sunsets Theme” b/w “Please Come Back” that I haven’t heard. It was released on the Teenagers Dance Show label, and produced by Ruben Perez at San Juan’s Soni-Lab Corp. studio.

The MD’s

Awright, this isn’t ’60s at all, nevertheless, the MD’s album on their own Surgeon Records label is a fine example of DIY rock released in 1981. It’s a record so obscure there’s literally not a word of info about it on the internet.

They sing, “School teacher, fucking preacher, why don’t you leave us alone?” – but they’re not really pissed off kids. Is “Senior Power” a mocking tribute to elderly citizens? Nope, it’s about how cool it is to be in the graduating class.

Ricky Rivera was the lead guitarist shredding those solos, Richy lead vocalist (R. D’Lima in the song credits?), Rey Rivera played keyboards, Tatico Requeña rhythm guitar, Rene Cardona bass, Rigo drums and back up vocalists were Maria Luisa Pagan and Silvia Rico.

Looking at the LP I thought the MDs were a bunch of pre-med students out of a university in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as the credits mention the Copeyville School, but someone named Mike wrote to me and pointed out the were really high school seniors from the private Cupeyville School. Mike added “they were a hit in the local scene and an FM radio station played their song ‘1981’ a lot.”

The Challenger’s of Puerto Rico

Challengers Mariel PS EmilyMarthaDoesBack
Back of sleeve for “Emily” / “Martha Does”

The Challenger’s came from Puerto Rico. I’ve seen the band name also listed as The Challengers without the apostrophe.

Challenger's Mariel 45 EmilyI know very little about the group, but members included Reno Haliff (aka Moreno Habif – lead vocals), Alex Rodriguez (rhythm guitar and vocals) and Jorge Casas (aka George Casas – bass) as well as a few I only know by anglicized first names: Eric, Joe, Kenny and Jose.

For this release (Mariel 5012) I prefer the b-side, “Emily” written by Reno Haliff. It’s an interesting mix of psychedelic, soul and latin influences, and dates to either 1968 or 1969.

The softer A-side “Martha Does” was written by Alex Rodriguez.

Challengers Marie PS It's For You
Sleeve for “It’s For You” / “Needles and Pins”

They had at least one earlier 45 (Mariel 5009): a version of Lennon-McCartney’s “It’s For You” that sounds nothing like the original, along with a more pedestrian version of “Needles and Pins”. Like “Martha Does” / “Emily”, both sides are also on their LP. Their album has other good songs with a similar jamming style as these, along with an excruciatingly long version of “Blowing in the Wind”!

Some additional info on the band is available at Tony Alicea’s site.

Were any other rock groups on the Mariel label?

Challengers Mariel PS Emily and Martha Does
Sleeve for “Emily” / “Martha Does”