I love this track — it’s a looser and much longer version of Tabou Combo’s better known “Mabouyé”. You can imagine the crowds going bananas to this groove. Like a lot of great Haitian records from the 1970s, Soukoué Ko Ou was recorded in Brooklyn. Translated from Haitian creole, the title means “We’re in your care” or “We’re depending on you to care for us.”
Here’s a killer record I picked up in Bogotá recently, a battle of heavyweights: salsa vs boleros!
(Or maybe I should say aslaS sv soreloB.)
I’m saving my favorite track off this record for the upcoming Pelanga: El Chino Latino compilation. Instead, I’ll let Roberto Blades’s horn section explain to you just how hard it is to move from the country to the concrete jungle.
I don’t know why a Panamanian is yelling the peruanísimo “Chim Pum Callao”, but I’m sure that a certain sector of the Pelanga readership will dig it.
Zoom into the back cover:
Our friend Sylvia (shoutout!) tells us that Treichville is a neigborhood of Abidjan. And yes, sure, the salsa craze hit West Africa hard. But there’s no way that a record called “La Verraquera! En Boleros: vs. Salsa.” was pressed in Cote D’Ivoire! (Especially when the “label”, Olympo, seems to have specialized in obscure rock in Spain.) Such is the Colombian obsession with African records, I guess.
So what we have here is one Aramis Camilo y La Organizacion Secreta’s classic albums from the 80s. They seemed to have borrowed Willie Colon’s persona idea of being mobsters (on the back cover you’ll notice the guy in the car is actually holding a gun). By no means is this gangster merengue, in fact Aramis’s music embodies so much of what I love about merengue from this period. Unlike long self indulgent salsa intros, this music kicks into gear right from the start and packs more energy per note. This song El Motor was one of Aramis’s biggest hits. To be honest I preferred some of the other songs on the record UNTIL I saw this video of it performed live back on DR’s legendary TV show Medio Dia. I’ve probably watched this video at least a 100 times. Time to get on su motor and ride. More merengue videos to come. Enjoy!
As always, big shout-out to William—the only person at our parties that knows every merengue song we play.
The Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorquino made only two records–Concepts in Unity (1975) and Lo Dice Todo (1976) –but both are classics of the 1970’s New York salsa scene. The recordings came out of jam sessions held in Andy and Jerry Gonzalez’s basement in the Bronx (I’m imagining the Latin version of Minton’s Playhouse), and they have that spirit to them: open, loose, with a lot of space for supremely talented musicians to do their thing.
I found Lo dice todo a few months ago, and have been listening to it over and over ever since. It was hard to pick out a track to post, but I finally settled on the rumba version of the old bolero “Se me olvidó”. It’s the one I just can’t shake. The opening is so spare, so melancholy, and I love how Virgilio Martí’s voice just glides over, under, and around Alfredo de la Fe‘s violin. And then it just builds and builds.
Apparently, I’m not the only one obsessed with this song. It’s just one of those that gets under your skin, which is why so many artists have tried their hand at it. I did a quick search and found plenty of covers, some better, some worse: Manu Chao, Bebo y Cigala, Roberto Ledesma, or this mariachi version by Francisco Lara from a Mexican telenovela I hope never to see (tequila shots taken with a scowl only add to the atmspherics.)
Se Me Olvidó by Grupo Folklórico Y Experimental Nuevayorquino
Another banger from Lo dice todo is Au Meu Lugar Voltar, an intriguing mix of salsa and samba rhythms, composed by Brazilian trombonist Jose Rodriguez, and featuring Ubatan do Nascimento on vocals. Nice.
Au Meu Lugar Voltar by Grupo Folclórico Y Experimental Nueva Yorquino
FYI: Souljazz Records put out a collection called Nu Yorica! a few years back, featuring “Anabacoa”, a track from Concepts in Unity, and both of the Grupo’s albums are now available on CD. But the best news of all is that they’re performing again, so keep an eye out.
I loved this team so much that I decided to be a conservative during my early childhood, because conservatives were Millos blue and liberals were Santa Fe red. It seems that people still pick their politicians like I used to.
Ok, ok, it’s a bit risky to post this just hours before the mighty Millitos, 13 times World Champion (oh wait, only Americans get to call their national champions World Champions), is likely going to be eliminated from the Colombian national league, for the 31st championship in a row.