Willie Colón & Rubén Blades – Siembra
1978 Fania Records (original)
2021 Craft Recordings / Concord (reissue)
If you are only going to have one salsa album in your collection, you could do much worse than a copy of Siembra. For fans of the music, I’ve heard many stories about the opening track, Plástico, that are typically along the lines of “I remember when I first heard that song and it blew my mind. Singer and lyricist Rubén Blades had only broken out of working in Fania’s mail room a few years prior — his first recording, if I’m not mistaken, was on Ray Barretto’s 1975 album, Barretto. And he seemed determined to do what activist Felipe Luciano, then of the Young Lords,was entreating young salsa musicians to do in this cool documentary of the period: create music that moved away from commercialism (and by the late 70’s Fania had perfect a “formula” for hit records, and was sticking to it…) and instead spoke to the lived experience of the struggling communities who embraced the music, both in New York and throughout Latin America.
So don’t be taken aback by the opening bars of disco that great your ears in the opening bars of Plástico: it’s not an experiment in musical hyrbids (which, if you frequent this blog, you know I’ll defend ’till the end of time), since it doesn’t recur anywhere else throughout the albums 43 minutes. Instead it is a musical meta-commentary on the lyrics about materialism and conformity, lyrics which conclude with a hopeful and exultant call to resist the crushing sameness. And the best news is:the rest of the album is equally good as this opening cut.
On this last day of this 12 Days of Christmas series, I’m trying to do my small part to take back January 6 for what it has traditionally been throughout Latin America (and not just the Spanish-speaking parts of it) — Three Kings’ Day – instead of the shitshow that date currently symbolizes in the U.S.
Now, some technical blabber: I waited a long time for a proper reissue of this one and am glad that it got a worthy treatment by Craft Recordings, however their occasional quality control issues ended up rearing their ugly heads. I ended up buying two copies of this and both of them had distortion on A3 – Pedro Navaja, and in fact one of those copies has a gouge so deep on that track that the needle skips. A little research on the ‘net showed me that I was not the only one with problems on that track
A1 – Plástico (06:37)
A2 – Buscando Guayaba (05:43)
A3 – Pedro Navaja (07:21)
B1 – María Lionza (05:27)
B2 – Ojos (04:50)
B3 – Dime (06:59)
B4 – Siembra (05:21)
Engineer – Jon Fausty
Executive-Producer – Jerry Masucci
Recorded At – La Tierra Sound Studios
Mastered At – Sterling Sound
Remastered At – Elysian Masters
Lacquer Cut at – R.E.M. Sound
Pressed By – Record Technology Incorporated – 37725
Remastered By – Dave Cooley
Manufactured & distributed by Concord
Exclusive Retailer – Craft Recordings
Artwork, Illustration – Irene Perlicz
Producer – Willie Colon
Bass – Eddie Rivera, Salvador Cuevas
Bongos – José Mangual Jr.
Coro – Adalberto Santiago, José Mangual Jr., Ruben Blades, Willie Colon
Drums [Plastic] – Bryan Brake
Percussion – Adalberto Santiago, Eddie Montalvo
Piano, Electric Piano [Rhodes] – José Torres (2)
Timbales – Jimmy Delgado
Trombone – José Rodriguez, Leopoldo Pineda, Angel Papo Vasquez, Sam Burtis, Willie Colon
Vocals – Ruben Blades
Remastered from the original analog master tapes.
Mirror 1 || Mirror 2