Lou Perez and His NY Sound: Caribbean Woman
From S/T (Parnaso, 1972)
Lou Perez y su Orquesta Barrio: Antillana
From Barrio (Parnaso, 1972)
I always find it interesting when artists cover their own songs. It’s hardly an unusual practice but you sometimes wonder how much of it is dissatisfaction with the original version and how much of it is trying to capitalize on an already successful song by flipping a variation on it.
The Lou Perez, to me, is especially notable since, from far as I can tell, these two songs are probably, at most, a year or so apart. “Caribbean Woman” has been a favorite at Boogaloo[la] – dancers seem to dig its combo of Latin rock/funk rhythms with that whiff of island flavor. It’s always reminded me something that Santana’s cousin might have whipped together – not deep but sweetly satisfying.
When I picked up Perez’s Barrio LP, I was surprised to hear him, in essence, remake the song in a charanga style. That means here a faster tempo, a strong acoustic piano montuno and most charanga-ish, the string accompaniment. That plus he flips the lyrics into español.
I’ve never had a chance to play out both songs to a Latin-friendly crowd but I’d be mightily curious to see which of the two goes over better.
Unfortunately, Perez passed away just a few years ago at the age of 78. He wasn’t a household name to casual Latin fans even though his career was rich and long-lasting, having risen with the charanga fad of early 1960s not to mention a prolific songwriter to boot.