BY REQUEST: SALSA WITH A SIDE OF FRUKO


Wayne Gorbea Y Su Conjunto Salsa: Dejame Un Lado
Fruko Y Sus Tesos: Fruko A Lo Compadre
From The Rough Guide to Salsa Gold (World Music Network, 2008)

Fruko Y Sus Tesos: Fruko Que Banda Tiene Usted
From Fruko El Bueno (Fuentes, 1975)

Another two-requests-with-one-post…post. We had someone asking for “salsa songs for beginners” and someone else wanted “more Fruko!” and I’m happy to oblige both ways. I should include the disclaimer: given that I’ve had about one or two salsa lessons, max, in my lifetime, I’m not actually sure what songs are good for beginners but I took my best swing.

As it happens, I recently received a copy of the Rough Guide to Salsa Gold which is part of the Rough Guide’s larger series of salsa-related comps (including decent ones on Salsa Dura and Salsa Colombia)) and the idea behind the Salsa Gold series was songs and artists off the beaten path – in other words, don’t expect the Fania All-Stars.

I picked two cuts to highlight. The first is “Dejame Un Lado” (leave me aside? My Spanish is terrible) by Wayne Gorbea Y Su Conjunto Salsa. Gorbea was one of the many post-war Nuyorican musicians to come of age in New York, coming of age right around the birth of the salsa movement. “Dejame Un Lado” originally came out in 1978 and what I liked about this cut is the dark but slick feel of the piano and horns and a relatively easy rhythm to fall into.

And since someone wanted to Fruko, this comp actually includes one of this songs, “Fruko A Lo Compadre” (Fruko the Godfather?), which has that classic Fruko/Latin Brothers/Fuentes sound – think prominent piano montunos, a heavy brass section and those shattering timbales. I decided to pair that with another song – coincidentally – off the same original Fuentes LP, Fruko El Bueno – which has an even more infectious piano riff, not to mention those handclaps (which you wish they kept longer into the song). I got to say too – a lot of these Fruko LPs have had songs off of them comped like crazy but strangely, the albums themselves are rarely reissued. Track for track, I’d put El Bueno up there with El Grande in terms of the most consistent of Fruko’s 1970s Fuentes albums.

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