April 10, 2011

Fania Records 1964-1980: The Original Sound Of Latin New York

ARTIST:  various artists
TITLE:  Fania Records 1964-1980: The Original Sound Of Latin New York
LABEL:  Fania/Strut
REVIEW:  Here’s the second installment in Strut’s Fania Records compilation series, and it’s a beauty.  Fania is the New York-based label that pioneered the urban Latin sound we now simply call “salsa.”  Fania’s massive catalog holds so many great recordings by classic artists (and quite a bit of dreck as well) that it’s virtually impossible to create a representative sampler, but this is a darned good effort.  Of course, the stars are here – Celia Cruz, Ray Barretto, Hector Lavoe, Ruben Blades.  But the compilers have left plenty of room for artists like Joe Bataan, Bobby Valentin, Ismael Miranda and Justo Betancourt who, while well-known to salsa aficionados are pretty much unknown outside that small world.  If you like salsa, there are 29 choice tracks here and you really can’t go wrong with any of them.  And if you don’t know your salsa, here’s hoping that Strut helps makes this music that was created right here in the USA (and right under the noses of people like me who grew up in New York in the 1970’s) as exotically hip as Afrobeat.
REVIEWER:  Bill Lupoletti
TOP TRACKS:    1-4    1-5    1-9    1-11    1-14    2-1    2-5    2-7
ALSO RECOMMENDED:    Just about all the rest of them

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