The Invisible City

We don’t usually write about television commercials here at La Pelanga, but then again, most commercials don’t have soundtracks like this one. I first saw this Cemento Sol ad a few years ago, and have had its laid-back cumbia reworking of the Augusto Polo Campos classic “Te Sigo” in my head ever since. I’ve done my best to find the complete track, but had no luck. The song (and the ad) recognizes a shift that was a long time coming: the capital used to be synonomous with música criolla; now, after decades of migration from the interior, that musical culture has changed dramatically. In colonial central Lima, just behind the Presidential Palace, there’s a boardwalk named after Chabuca Granda, one of the great songwriters of the creole tradition—these days it’s pretty common to hear the strains of Andean huayno there, something unimaginable not that long ago. Cumbia bands like Juaneco y su Combo perform at the Lima’s Centro Cultural de España in front of thousands. The once-obscure Los Belkings (perhaps the greatest Andean surf rock group ever) play sold-out shows in the hipster district of Barranco.

The images themselves tell an important story—moving from central Lima to the anonymous outskirts, from the landmarks of the city’s colonial past to the newly-settled neighborhoods where most Limeños live. And the very fact that cement would be advertised on national television says something significant. While it’s difficult to imagine this happening in the United States or Europe, in the developing world, it makes perfect sense, of course. Peru is a country where most construction is done informally; where houses are built, not by contractors, but by the owners themselves, in their spare time, often with the help of their neighbors or extended family. In the ad’s last image, we get a glimpse of this new urban pastoral: working men place their hands gently on the grains of cement, and the thin metal bars rise like corn stalks from the roof of a house, backlit by the setting sun. This could be anywhere in the city, one of literally thousands of neighborhoods. I’d go so far as to say most of the Peruvian capital looks just like this.

The situation was very different in the 1970s, when the song was originally composed. In case you’ve never heard it, here it is, as sung by late Arturo “Zambo” Cavero, along with a slideshow of images from a city that no longer exists.

slideshow courtesy of Gianlucca30

— franz tunda

Larry Harlow, el judío maravilloso


(este va para josh # 2, el judío maravilloso)

Amidst all the Nuyorican heavy hitters in the salsa scene of the 70s, it’s too easy to overlook the smiley white guy with a jewfro. If you did, go pick up this album now! I swear, I don’t even know what track to post.

Wampo by Orchestra Harlow


I especially recommend this album if, like me, you’re a salsero or a jazzero who never really managed to get into latin jazz. It’s hard to find such musicianship and such arrangements and (most importantly) such guateque in the same place!

No Quiero by Orchestra Harlow

No Quiero


“Disco Deewane”, Nazia Hassan with Biddu and His Orchestra


One of the great things about digging for records is that from time to time you come across something you never expected to find. This can be some great album by a band you’d always admired, or just as frequently, something completely unknown that you buy on instinct, only to end up learning something in the process. This was the case with Nazia Hassan, which I bought, I’ll admit, out of pure curiosity. I’d never heard of her, just looking at the cover, I was scratching my head–what the hell is this doing in Lima? How exactly did it get here? Who thought to press this particular LP of early 80’s Indian disco?

The explanation, it turns out, is actually pretty simple: thirty years ago, through the obscure magic of globalization, Nazia Hassan, a 15 year-old Pakistani vocalist recording in London, was a hit in Peru and across Latin America. (If this sounds hard to believe, check her out on YouTube, and see how many of the comments are written in Spanish.)  Nazia would eventually be known as Pakistan’s “Queen of Pop”, and this 1980 album, her first, broke all sorts of sales records in India and Pakistan. Disco Deewane (recorded with legendary producer Biddu, who has given up music to be a writer, of all things…) went on to sell some 14 million copies worldwide, and the title track was a number one hit in Brazil. By the end of the decade, she was the most popular singer in Pakistan, and when she passed away in 2000 at the absurdly young age of 35, Pakistan lost an icon. She was posthumously awarded the Pride of Performance, the country’s highest civilian honor.

I love these stories, love knowing that music has always been and will continue to be a language people of all backgrounds can share. And it’s easy to hear why Nazia was such a hit: you don’t need to speak Urdu to feel this.

This past August 13th marked the 10th anniversary of Nazia Hassan’s death. Quite coincidentally, that’s also the day I came across the record while browsing in downtown Lima. Here are two tracks: “Teray Quadmon Ko” and “Dil Mera”.


Terra Y Quandmon Ko by Nazia Con Buddú Y Su Orquesta

Terra Y Quandmon Ko

Dil Mera by Nazia Con Buddú Y Su Orquesta

Dil Mera

Hope you enjoy.

— franz tunda




Roots of Chicha, vol II / Los Compadres del Ande


In a few weeks, October 12 to be exact, the second of the Barbés Records anthologies “The Roots of Chicha” will be released. I was thoroughly impressed with the first one, which featured classics by some of our favorite groups here at La Pelanga: Los Mirlos, Los Destellos, and Juaneco y Su Combo. The tracks chosen and the comprehensive liner notes show me this guy has done his homework. He also started a band called Chicha tu madre, which tours all over, playing Peruvian cumbias to worldwide audiences.

My guess (hope?) is that this track “Lamparita” will be on the new compilation. Or maybe some other track by the extraordinary Compadres del Ande. That’s one mean organ! I’ll be posting “El Jet”–another banger–in a few weeks…

Meanwhile, if you haven’t heard the first compilation, I do recommend it.

Lamparita by Los Compadres Del Ande


Felíz bicentenario a México y los países centroamericanos!

–franz tunda

[aka “the deejay formerly known as juancho3000”]

200 Years

15093550-Cantores Del Panuco

Today if you’re anywhere between San Diego, California and Guabito, Panama then you’re probably having more fun than anyone else. The reason being of course is that September 16, 2010 marks the bicentennial of independence for the countries of Central America, (minus Panama, I think they needed an extra 1,000 day war to secede from Colombia). The anniversary has extra significance for Mexico as it also commemorates the centennial of the Mexican Revolution. There’s a montón de corridos y marachis out there for the occasion, but I’d like to take this opportunity to present music from my favorite Mexican state of Veracruz. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Huapango/Huasteca music on my very first night during a 6 week stay in Xalapa and I was recently lent this Huapango record by my coworker (mil gracias Kathleen!). Those that know music structure (not me) will recognize that this is a very complex rhythm (mixing duple and triple meters apparently). I just know I really loved it the moment I witnessed it. I say witness because like the Son Jarocho that we featured a few months ago, the music incorporates zapateado (dancing so that your heels hit the wooden floor as a form of percussion). So here are 2 great huapangos from Los Cantores de Panuco to go with your tequila y micheladas. Enjoy cabrones.


El Aguanieve by Los Cantores De Panuco

El Aguanieve

La Guazanga by Los Cantores De Panuco

La Guazanga

amparito (part 2)


Again, you know the story. Foreigner goes to Colombia, falls for a caleña on the dance floor, she wraps him around her finger and now he wants to go fishing with her.

This is Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz’s savage tribute to Amparo Arrebato, a famous salsa dancer from Cali. Apparently she got a reputation as a teenager by hanging around the brothels of Cali to just dance, because that’s where the really hard salsa was.

Amparo Arrebato by Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz

Amparo Arrebato

Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz guys are legendary in Colombia because they could play as fast and hard as people wanted to dance. (Other people’s records had to be played at 45rpm instead of 33rpm…)