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

Ray Barretto – Barretto Power (1972)

To make up for the somewhat uneven Fania collection from earlier today, I thought I’d make amends with this solid set from Ray Barretto. Barretto Power from 1972, with Adelberto Santiago on lead vocals. Nothing revolutionary about this record but who cares. Aside from the Nuyorican soul cuts “Right On” and “Power” — the latter serving as a somewhat lackluster conclusion in my opinion – the rest is salsa served straight-up. It’s Barretto’s band as tight as it would ever get and at the peak of his powers as a bandleader. Do you really need another reason to check it out?

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Ray Barretto – Barreto Power (1972) 192kbs
1. Oye La Noticia
2. Perla del Sur
3. Right On
4. De Que Te Quejas Tu
5. Y Dicen
6. Quitate La Mascara
7. Se Que Volveras
8. Power

Personnel: Ray Barretto (vocals, congas, background vocals); Hector Lavoe, Adalberto Santiago, Justo Betancourt, Willie Torres (vocals); Joseph “Papy” Romain, Rene Lopez, Roberto Rodriguez (trumpet); Louis Cruz (piano, celesta); Andy Gonzalez (bass guitar); Tony Fuentes (bongos, cowbells, percussion); Orestes Vilato (timbales).

Review from Get Back dot com
Back into a mostly traditional bag by 1972, Ray Barretto served notice that his was the heavyweight band in the salsa scene with this LP. Aside from the devastating three-man trumpet line ( Roberto Rodriguez , Rene Lopez , Papy Roman ) and Adalberto Santiago ‘s vocals (plus chorus), Barretto Power is entirely a rhythm-section record, lean and economical yet no less powerful for it. The compositions are mostly group originals, and range from the leader’s salsa-fied opener, “Oye la Noticia,” to Rodriguez ‘s chorus-heavy “Perla del Sur” to a pair of slightly modernized horn-led numbers, “Right On” and the closer, “Power” (the latter being Exhibit A should any listeners doubt the claim in the title). Pianist Luis Cruz contributes an affectionate yet stately ballad , “Se Que Volveras,” and the trumpets never fail to come together, even when they’re diverging along creative harmonic lines. Barretto Power isn’t a flashy record; earlier triumphs like Acid and Hard Hands earned Barretto more notices than this one ever did. Still, it’s as good a proof of Barretto ‘s strength as any record in his discography.

Ray Barretto – Acid (1968) VBR

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{2001 French pressing with bonus tracks}

RAY BARRETTO – Acid (1968)VBR

Psychedelic salsa? Not quite, except for the occasional Austin Powers-isms like “yeah, baby” and “sock it to me”. But this is a landmark record and needs to be in the collection of any fan of salsa or Latin soul. The closing track is the most ‘out’ of any of them and for me is worth the price of admission all on its own.

Tracks (of the original LP)
1. El Nuevo Barretto (Barretto) – 5:50
2. Mercy, Mercy, Baby (Barretto) – 2:44
3. Acid (Barretto) – 5:05
4. Deeper Shade of Soul (Barretto) – 2:46
5. Soul Drummers (Barretto) – 3:48
6. Sola Te Dejare (Barretto/Lopez) – 3:49
7. Teacher of Love (Barretto/Cruz) – 2:27
8. Espiritu Libre (Barretto) – 8:27

Players
Ray Barretto – Percussion, Congas, Vocals
Big Daddy – Bass
Rene Lopez – Trumpet
Roberto Rodriguez – Trumpet
Adalberto Santiago – Vocals, Bells
Orestes Vilato – Timbales
Pete Bonet – Vocals, Guiro

BONUS TRACKS ( I do not know where Sony got these tracks from.. No information in the booklet. Production sounds like early 70s. Anyone with session/line-up data feel free to comment and enlighten me!)

9. Guarare
10. Vina Pa’Echar Candela
11. Vale Mas Un Guaguanco
12. Canto Abuaco
13. Eras

REVIEW from John Ballon at ‘allaboutjazz dot com’
By the time 1968 rolled around, Ray Barretto was a celebrated studio session player whose hard-driving conga rhythms could be heard all over the records of Dizzy Gillespie, Cal Tjader, Cannonball Adderley, and countless others. Once he dropped Acid onto the music world, Barretto firmly established a reputation for himself as an innovator in his own right.

Like the drug itself, Acid had a mind-expanding influence on everyone, allowing for a far more adventurous and eclectic edge to slip into New York’s Latin music scene. A lot less psychedelic than its title and cover might lead you to believe, Acid remains one of the most far-out fusions of Latin and soul music ever conceived.

Catchy as hell, the records four original Latin/soul numbers (”Mercy, Mercy Baby”, “The Soul Drummers”, “A Deeper Shade of Soul” and “Teacher of Love”) are obscure classics loaded with plenty of vintage ’60s soul references—punchy James Brown and Stax Records sounding horns, thickly grooving bass lines, fat-back drums, and cliché soul catch-phrases such as “What I say,” “Lord have mercy,” “Come on, come on baby” and “Sock it to me!”

El Nuevo Barretto (The New Barretto)” opens the album on familiar ground, with its high-energy boogaloo-styled salsa sung passionately in Spanish. With the second track, “Mercy, Mercy Baby,” the sound shifts dramatically as soul gets a serious drenching in hot sauce. The band chants “Mercy, Mercy Baby” behind Memphis-styled horns, catchy lyrics, timbales, and Barretto’s kicking congas. The title track, “Acid,” opens up sparsely with a lazy hypnotic bass and percussion groove over which stretches the muted trumpet sounds of Rene Lopez (who was soon to be drafted and shipped off to Vietnam). After a rock-steady timbales solo by Orestes Vilato, the band begins calling out “Barretto, Barretto,” and master Ray steps forward, obliging them with one of his most fiery and intense conga solos ever. The lyrics on “The Soul Drummers” totally sums up the record: “Have you heard them cooking / The Soul Drummers / well they play so cool / Soul Drummers / so hard to resist / Soul Drummers / with the African twist.”

The album’s most psychedelic soul sounds can be heard on its closing track, the appropriately titled “Espiritu Libre (Free Spirit).” This instrumental opens with some pretty far out-there trumpet statements that sound as if they could’ve come straight off of Bitches Brew—pretty advanced stuff for a 1968 Latin record! The track builds into a full blown drum-heated jam flavored with odd rhythmic time-signatures, passionate brass, and feverish bass lines, bringing the album to a satisfying peak that leaves you in bad need of a smoke.

Acid turned on a lot of important players with its irresistible blending of Latin and soul music, significantly helping to bring about the rise of the Afro-Latin funk revolution.