Willie Rosario and His Orchestra: Boogaloo and Guaguanco
This is easily one of the best boogaloo albums you can find for under $30. Sure, Joe Bataan’s Fania albums are amazing too, but original copies of those puppies will set you back to a flat wallet. Rosario gives you not one, not two, but three (yes three!) excellent boogaloos for your buck, plus a slick mambo jazz cut to boot. For starters, “Watusi Boogaloo” is just a solid, solid example of what a good boogaloo should sound like: fun, catchy, with plenty of people screaming in Latin-tinged voices, the whole nine. Personally, I can’t believe no one’s bothered to comp this cut yet. Ridiculous. I’ve always liked Rosario’s cover of “Taste of Honey” – it begins with a slow brass build-up but then gets a lil funky as this classic standard gets the boogaloo treatment. “Light and Sweet” is the third in the trio, and in my opinion, the least interesting, but it’s still dependable. Ending the album is the airy, swinging “Stop and Go”, that mambo jazz cut I mentioned before. For anyone looking to start up a basic Latin collection, this one comes highly recommended.
Patti Drew: I’ve Been Here All The Time (Capitol 1969)
I admit – I’m a sucker for female vocals these days. Soul just sounds better when you have a soul sister scream and swooning on it and I’ve been collecting up a storm of different records featuring funk fatales. This Patti Drew record has been a personal favorite of late too because its two best songs are also covers (another obsession of mine). The first is the sizzling hot version of “Fever” that’s…well…hot. Not only does it scorch along but it also has the album’s most ambitious music, throwing in a slick electric piano alongside more conventional brass and a whipped rhythm section. Then there’s her cover of Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle” which is very loyal to the original but – and this is where it all comes together – it’s the fact that it’s sung by a woman that notches up the wickedness factor. Yow! (Alas, the rest of the album is not so noteworthy…still, two cuts is twice as nice as an LP with only one.)
I began Soul Sides in 2001, when I had scabs of time to write up 30 reviews at a time and post them up every month or so. By last year, this became nearly impossible to maintain and as you can see, I basically haven’t updated my Soul Sides archives since 2002.
The blog is meant to bring back some reviews – even if it’s just one every few days. In the year since my last post, believe me, I’ve got tons of records to share…just not nearly enough time to share ’em all. Consider these a few first steps…