Rough Guide to Celia Cruz

A Rough Guide to Celia Cruz

by Celia Cruz
     
 
For all the attendant hoopla and cashing-in surrounding the death of Celia Cruz, the fact remains that there still is no good single-disc collection of the material that made her a star. The work that earned her the title La Reina de la Salsa -- the Queen of Salsa -- still wafts through the legal miasma surrounding the rest of the Fania catalog. Fortunately,

Overview

For all the attendant hoopla and cashing-in surrounding the death of Celia Cruz, the fact remains that there still is no good single-disc collection of the material that made her a star. The work that earned her the title La Reina de la Salsa -- the Queen of Salsa -- still wafts through the legal miasma surrounding the rest of the Fania catalog. Fortunately, Europeans (or their copyright laws) have had better luck licensing this stuff, and with The Rough Guide to Celia Cruz arrives a solid 72-minute defense of the crown. These songs, culled from efforts with the orchestras of Johnny Pacheco, Ray Barretto, and Tito Puente, gave Celia her second and most enduring shot at stardom in the '70s, not the overproduced, game, but misguided tracks that populate the latter-day Celia hits packages. Which is not to say this set's doctrinaire. The Rough Guides always throw in a few curve balls; here it's the boogaloos "Metida Con You" and "Sugar Sugar" (a Spanish version of the Archies hit). As fun as they are, they don't match the firepower of a classic like "Qimbara" or "Toro Mata" -- frustratingly absent here. But to hear Cruz tap the Afro-Cuban roots of a song like "Bambarakatunga" is to understand her gifts for speed, precision, and soul. Of course, Celia had a career prior to all of this with La Sonora Matancera. Pair this superlative disc with Rhino's 100% Azúcar: The Best of Celia Cruz with La Sonora Matancera and one of the myriad comps featuring "Quimbara" and "Toro Mata," and you have a musical portrait of the Queen that does her legacy proud.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Rick Anderson
Ah, that voice! Oh, those horns! Oy, that sound quality. Actually, the sound on these vintage recordings isn't as bad as it could be; it's just that in several places it's nowhere near worthy of the great Celia Cruz, whose voice has been the defining sound of Cuban salsa since she emigrated to the United States in 1959. Her band joined her in 1960 and took the growing expatriate Cuban community by storm; until her death in 2003 she remained America's preeminent exponent of Cuba's music. This carefully selected retrospective includes recordings made between 1966 (with her original band, the spectacular La Sonora Matancera) and 1992 (when she was a mainstay of the great Fania label). The older recordings sound like they're ready to explode from the effort of containing Cruz's huge, brilliant voice and the massed horns of her band, but the less than audiophile quality does little to lessen the songs' impact -- if anything, it accentuates their energy and Cruz's irrepressible vivacity and good humor. Because the program is so well selected, highlights are difficult to identify, but particular mention has to go to the irresistible "La Jaibera," which opens the album, and the equally delightful "Reina Rumba." This album is very highly recommended as an introduction to Celia Cruz's catalog, but it should by no means be considered sufficient.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/26/2005
Label:
World Music Network
UPC:
0605633115024
catalogNumber:
331150

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Celia Cruz   Primary Artist

Technical Credits

Andy Kim   Composer
José Alfredo Jiménez   Composer
Jeff Barry   Composer
Julio Collazo   Composer
Susan Steward   Sleeve Notes
Mario Suarez   Composer
Wilfredo Figueroa   Composer
Hugo Gonzalez   Composer
C. Alonso Curet   Composer
Carlos Rigual   Composer
Ciro Rodríguez   Composer
Rosendo Rosell   Composer
Senén Suárez   Composer
Rey Díaz Calvet   Composer
Calixto Callava   Composer
Sue Steward   Liner Notes

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