Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Cuban Gold 2: Bajo Con Tumbao
Genres: World Music, Jazz, Rock, Latin Music
Essential Compilation for the Cubanophile
D. Robledo | NYC, NY | 12/20/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD, the second in the Cuban Gold series, is like a "starter kit" for the kinds of dance sounds (and bands) that were popular in Cuba during the late 70's through the 80's. That would include "songo" which bands like Van Van and Ritmo Oriental (both in this CD) originated as well as the whole "Onda Areito" named more for the Cuban record label that existed during those years (now I think it's just Egrem), than for a specific sound or style. Each band and cut on this disc is quite distinct from the other, something one can appreciate when the average salsa compilation features a more homogenized sound despite all the different band names.
While the "Fania Sound" was being played and celebrated throughout Latin America (and New York, Miami, etc.) during that era, these Cuban bands and their unique sounds didn't get much play and exposure outside the island. Sad, but true. That's due to the political and sociological isolation of the island, with plenty of blame to go around on all ideological sides.
But enough of depressing politics which goes beyond the scope of a CD review. Let's be thankful that this series gives us a taste of the wonderful material that Cuban musicians living and working on the island were making during those years, while on this side of the pond we had the waves of Fania, "salsa romantica", and then merengue.
According to the notes inside, this CD was compiled by Harry Sepulveda; that's right, the guy who ran the legendary original Record Mart in the Times Square subway station! The Qbadisc label licensed several CDs worth of stuff from the Cuban label Egrem for distribution in the states. I believe to this day, Egrem cannot sell/distribute directly to the US due to the embargo. FYI: nevertheless, even during the more prohibitive Bush years, I was able to order CDs from the egrem website, and have them mailed to me direct from Havana! [I suppose payment is handled through an intermediary country.] My understanding is that the embargo can prohibit/limit Egrem's distribution in U.S. stores; but since music is an artistic/cultural endeavor, the U.S. govt. doesn't place any limits on its citizens buying that kind of material, even directly from the source! It does take awhile for them to come but you will get them, something the collector and fan might want to be aware of. . . ;-)
On a side note, the Qbadisc label was cofounded by Ned Sublette, who has a great 600-page tome on Cuban music which I also highly recommend and you can pick up on Amazon as well: Cuba and it's Music
Anyway, this is a great compilation for the budding cubanophile or someone with an open mind past the usual salsa sound many of us are accustomed to. Too bad it's discontinued, and pricey as I'm writing this but if you're a collector or curious, take my word, it's worth the splurge! :-)
The amazon tracklist is accurate but I just want to add something about track 8: no artist is listed but it's Reve y su Charangon. One of my favorite bands from that era, very popular on the island throughout the 80's although unfortunately, they are not really known at all outside it.
To sum up, I highly urge you to pick up this whole series, but if it's too much $$, then definitely get at least the first two, the second might even be a little better than the first but definitely get BOTH, they are absolutely essential compilations if you want a full picture of popular Cuban dance music (on the island!) in the recent past. That is, after the "golden age" of the 30's, 40's, 50's but BEFORE the takeover of timba and Cuban rap/reggaeton!"