|Performers include: Tito Puente Y Su Orchestra, Charlie Palmieri, Celia Cruz, Willie Colon, Ray Barretto, The Joe Cuba Sextet, Pete Rodriguez Y Su Conjunto, Ralph Robles, The Lebron Brothers Orchestra, Bobby Valentin, Fania All Stars, Ismael Rivera Y Sus Cachimbos and The Gilberto Sextet.
|Since it's the first widely available CD compilation to focus on the boogaloo, Rough Guide to Boogaloo shouldn't be faulted too much for its oddly superior tone when dealing with such a populist genre. Lighting up the streets of Spanish Harlem during the late '60s, the boogaloo was a supremely infectious merger of Latin, popcorn soul, and rock. It had all the ingredients for a commercial juggernaut, and by all rights it should have ruled the pop charts for at least a few months. (And why it didn't needs more space than could be provided here.) Although nearly every Latin artist based around New York recorded at least one boogaloo during the late '60s and early '70s, it flourished most in the hands of younger artists, as well as those already based in commercial pop or jazz. While the Rough Guide primer includes several top-drawer jams, it wastes precious space by giving two performances each to a trio of Latin heavyweights (Tito Puente, Ismael Rivera, and Fania All-Stars, plus one from Celia Cruz) who recorded boogaloos in the same way that Fats Domino recorded the odd Beatles number during the late '60s -- to capitalize on the commercial success of a style that they had, in large part, been a prime influence on. But other than Joe Cuba, Ray Barretto, and Bobby Valentin, most of the prime boogaloo names are absent from this disc; no Joe Bataan or Johnny Colon, no Willie Bobo, Harvey Averne, or Richie Ray y Bobby Cruz, not even a Tom & Jerry-O nugget to lighten the proceedings. The impression is that the pop end of the boogaloo fad doesn't qualify as serious music for a survey such as this; perhaps instead of "limiting" the scope to Spanish Harlem, Rough Guide should've investigated the rural roots of the boogaloo in, say, Scarsdale? A few highlights finally crop up toward the end of the disc, including Bobby Valentin's "Use It Before You Lose It" (one of the best boogaloos ever), along with Ray Barretto's killer soul shot "A Deeper Shade of Soul" and an early song from salsa innovator Willie Col¢n. ~ John Bush