Thursday, April 05, 2007


Celia, Johnny, Justo & Papo: Recordando El Ayer. Now this is what I was talking about w/r/t salsa vocals in the first post in this series. Celia Cruz had one of the biggest voices in all of music, and on this album she absolutely blows the walls down, accompanied by male vocalist Justo Betancourt (one of whose albums I'll get to sometime soon, I guess; it's in the pile). It's an insanely bright and upbeat album from the first blaring horn notes of "Besito de Coco" on. Betancourt sings with almost as much force as Cruz sometimes, but other times his voice is kinda nasal and subdued, which I don't really dig. But the percussion and horns are absolutely relentless, and even more interestingly, there's some great guitar on this album. On "Se Que Tu," the guy sounds like he's playing a plywood box strung with piano wire; my fingertips started to hurt in sympathy pangs the way he was whacking away at the thing about the 2 1/2 minute mark. If you don't like salsa, this is exactly the kind of album you would absolutely not want your downstairs or upstairs neighbor to own, because it's big, brash, and pretty much demands to be played at top volume. A couple of years ago, this kind of thing could have inspired me to fits of homicidal rage (because I almost certainly would have encountered it booming through the walls and/or floor, rather than through my own iPod headphones), but now that I've decided to dive in head-first, I'm really digging it. And wow, that album cover!

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