Friday, April 06, 2007
LEARNING LATIN PT. 5
Well, I'm all caught up, so from here on in it's one album per day. (Yes, that includes weekends, but I haven't actually decided whether I'm gonna post on Saturday and Sunday or post three write-ups on Monday.) Today's selection is La Lupe's La Lupe Es La Reina. And damn right she is. Lupe's voice is ferocious; she's like a Spanish-language Shirley Bassey - in fact, the first two songs on this album, "Puro Teatro" and "Sueño," begin with string-and-horn fanfares that sound straight copped from "Goldfinger" and/or the James Bond theme. Total mid-'60s spy-jazz orchestration, and that roar over the top. "La Lupe" is the wrong name for her; she should be called "La Leona" (the Lioness). She looks kinda like Eartha Kitt in the cover photo, and she totally tears into every song on this album. The only ones I don't like are the final two. "That's The Way It's Gonna Be" finds her singing in English, a huge mistake because her accent is cartoonishly thick, and there's no way she can sell the meaning of the lyrics when you can't stop snickering at her pronunciation. And "Guaguanco Bembe" abandons the orchestral, smooth-but-furious production of the rest of the album for some straight Afro-Cuban drumming 'n' chanting. This was a very personal thing for her, I guess, because she was apparently a big believer in Santería (at least, until converting to evangelical Christianity late in life) and wanted that to be reflected in the album, but it's a bad way to end the disc. Anyway, I really like this kind of super-strong female vocal, or any female singer who presents a tough front, whether that's matched by vocal histrionics or not. Joan Jett, Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy, Bebe, Shirley Bassey, India, Amy Winehouse, female flamenco singers, whatever...don't gimme no wispy singer-songwriters, gimme an ass-kicking chick who'll shout you through the wall. I got one other album by La Lupe in this box of Fania discs (La Reina de Canción Latina), and if it's as good as this one, I'm gonna buy a bunch more when this project winds down. She rules.