Wednesday, September 12, 2007


You never know where you might find interesting, unusual music. I certainly wasn't expecting to find anything other then dog food and trash bags when I was shopping at Target recently, but standing at the checkout line, whilst looking at the tabloid headlines, I spied a collection of wild, weird wonders of classic Afro-Cuban sounds from the '60s and '70s released through the "Fania Signature" series. Fania, of course, was the Latin music powerhouse that literally filled stadiums with it's all-star roster: Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaria, etc., and the new "Fania Signature" reissue CDs spotlight different styles like "Salsa," "Latin Jazz," and the oddity I found with the innocuous name "Latin Soul."

A more accurate title would be "The Rock/Soul/Funk-Influenced Psychedelic Oddball Novelty Tracks That Don't Fit On Our Other Collections," but I guess "Latin Soul" was more commercial (and shorter). There's plenty of boogaloo, and that's awesome, considering how little boogaloo has made it to CD. Latin music snobs look down their noses at this stuff - it was raw, wild, 3-chord party music, often sung in English to make it even more "un-authentic." Like '60 garage rock, punk, and Miami Bass, everyone hated it except for the people.

The utterly insane La Lupe demolishes Peggy Lee's "Fever," el maestro Tito Puente sings the praises of his "Fat Mama," the band Harlem River Drive drops by to add some funky flavor to the salsa, and there's a Moog-enhanced instrumental that could be (but wasn't) the theme to a Latino version of a blaxploitation film (but who would have been the star? Freddie Prinz? Ricardo Montalban would have been too old...Cheech Marin? Hmmm...)

The then-raging psychedelic pscene inspired two of the album's most head-scratching (if foot-tapping) highlights: The Lat-Teens "Now You Know," a shing-a-ling sing-along that promotes pot smoking, and drops in a story about a Vietnam soldier who lost his legs that may or may not be relevant; and "Banana Freak Out" by George Guzman. As for "Banana Freak Out"'s called "Banana Freak Out." What more do you need to know? I'll just say that it lives up to it's title.

The Lat-Teens "Now You Know"
George Guzman "Banana Freak Out"

So there ya go - Target. Anything going on at Wal-Mart I should know about?


Anonymous said...

Wow. Thanks!

Donna Lethal said...

Wow is right. I got to see Tito and his Latin Jazz All-Stars in NY at the Beacon. It was unbelievable.

Unknown said...

oh my gosh! bananna freak out baby! this is fantastic, thanks for posting! I need to get this album =)

any other psychedelic/freaky/ boogaloo/latin reccommendations for us? I got all the boogaloo and latin soul comps on harmless and they are wonderful, neeeeeed more tho! :D


Mr Fab said...

Glad youre 'diggin the sounds! And if you want more, my recent "Zombie Jamboree" colection features a few freaky Latin tunes from the '60s/'70s: