Fania All Stars – Live at the Cheetah (1972) VBR

We seem to be stuck in 1972. Not a bad place to be, especially New York in 1972. Fania has since reissued this as separate volumes like the original LP releases with remastered sound, but I’ve found most remasters to be dubiously “improved” so I’m happy to stick with this 2-CD collection which may or may not have had access to the original master tapes. Anyone with an opinion of comparison on the sound feel free to leave a comment. This famous night at The Cheetah Club was also filmed for the Nuestra Cosa movie, a DVD of which was released a few years back but is currently caught up in litigation over a licensing dispute with Fania and no longer being manufactured. The All Stars were renowned for putting on bigger and more ambitious shows as time went on, eventually filling Yankee Stadium. They could be accused of often having just too many damn people on the stage by the end of all this, and unfortunately they would end up recording really awful ‘crossover’ records of disco–jazz-salsa fusion like “Rhythm Machine” and, um, “Crossover”. I have the former but you would be hard-pressed to convince me to share it here, you would have to bake cookies or something — it’s really, really unlistenable, and I’ve been told Crossover is even worse. So let us remember the Fania All Stars when they were still lean and hungry in this relatively small venue, packing the Cheetah Club with this amazing lineup. By most accounts this is the best of the bunch of the All Stars records, and my only complaint is that the long jams and audience reactions invite the listener to imagine the visual component of what’s happening on stage that must be equally compelling — so let’s hope Fania comes to some kind of settlement (with the Vampisoul label, who seem to have issued ‘Our Latin Thing’ without proper licensing) and puts that film back in circulation! In the meantime, there is always YouTube

FANIA ALL STARS
Live at The Cheetah (1972)VBR 224/kbs

CD1
1 Introduction Theme (Pacheco) 5:24
2 Descarga Fania (Barretto) 9:23
3 Anacaona Alonso (7:13)
4 Quitate Tu (Pacheco, Valentin) 16:42

CD2
1 Ahora Vengo Yo (Cruz, Ray) 9:44
2 Estrellas de Fania (Alonso, Pacheco) 7:25
3 Que Barbaridad (Miranda) 6:09
4 Ponte Duro (Pacheco) 9:04
5 Macho Cimarron (Pacheco) 12:13
6 Closing Theme (Pacheco) 1:55

In an AMG review, Janet Rosen wrote:

Recorded live at New York’s premier discotheque with the usual, stellar All-Stars lineup, the groove is incessant, the mood exultant, and the players palpably happy with the audience and themselves as they exchange licks. The tunes are a bit long — “Quitate Tu,” the closer, is a 16-minute jam session in which the band members one by one contribute lyrics, to the delight of the audience. Ray Barretto’s “Descarga Fania” features a lovely piano break and some inspiredly raucous horn playing (a nice contrast to the tightly arranged horn charts one usually hears), and Cheo Feliciano’s lead vocal on “Anacaona” soars. 24 years later, still the first salsa recording to reach for; ultimate party music played by the masters.

From Descarga dot com

Editor’s Pick:
**Classics Revisited**
The first salsa records I acquired were by the Fania All Stars, and among the first handful of their albums I purchased were Live At The Cheetah, Vols. 1 & 2 (1971), Live At Yankee Stadium, Vols. 1 & 2 (1975) and Live (1978). They blew me away and fueled a passion to dig deeper into the Fania catalogue and its history. Among the items I have collected is a 1973 account of the early years of the Fania All Stars by Fania Records co-founder Jerry Masucci, in which he said the following about the Cheetah gig: “We held the concert on a Thursday night (26 August 1971). The Cheetah held 2000 people and no one thought we would sellout. But the night of the concert 4000 people squeezed into the Cheetah and the lines outside stretched around the block. Volumes 1 and 2 of Live At The Cheetah, which were recorded that night, became the biggest selling Latin albums ever produced by one group from one concert.” The Cheetah concert was filmed and formed the backbone of the electrifying documentary Our Latin Thing (Nuestra Cosa), which premiered in New York on 19 July 1972 and played a key role in launching salsa on the worldwide stage.
Very Highly Recommended. (John Child, 2006-06-05)

Musicians include:
Ray Barretto, Willie Colon
Larry Harlow, Johnny Pacheco
Roberto Roena,Bobby Valentin
Santos Colon, Hector Lavoe
Ismael Miranda, Pete Rodriguez
Adalberto Santiago, Renaldo Jorge
Roberto Rodriguez, Barry Rogers
Larry Spencer, Yomo Toro
Orestes Vilato,Hector Zarzuela

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