30 September, 2011

CD Recommendation: Spanish and Oldies

CD Recommendation: Spanish and Oldies

This article is dedicated to davwong, a gentleman pure-at-heart.

"Spanish" is a dangerous word. Mix in a little hot rhythm and things become Spanish? What about the difference between Spain and its former colonies? Between various countries of the Caribbean, Central and South America? Never mind.

Believe me, I have listened to a lot of authentic Spanish albums, but my top three all hail from the USA. Strange, this world, no?

Linda Ronstadt-Canciones de mi Padre
Many Linda Ronstadt fans don't even know the rock diva is half Spanish. I like her in some rock songs, but one of the few albums of hers that I can listen in its totality (others being the oldies, below), including the B side, is her most atypical one, the Spanish Canciones de mi padre. It is beautifully produced (by Ruben Blades, himself no small Spanish potato), sumptuously recorded and absolutely beautifully sung. The songs are varied and lively, a great lift to the spirit. Hear this, my mother LOVES this album!

To detour a little, Ronstadt is also a very good singer of oldies (though under-rated). Witness What's New and its sequels. Seriously, she is vastly superior to latter-day Sting and the likes. When it came to re-invention, Ronstadt is tops. This is a lady with looks, passion, and talent, no doubt about it!

The Canciones and What's New both were issued in LP format too, but for some reason the latter is much more often seen than the former.

Eydie Gorme-Trio Los Panchos-Amor
Eydie Gorme is not even Spanish, or maybe she is! She is Sephardic Jewish, and if you don't know what that means, she is descendant of the Jewish people that were expelled from Spain during the Spanish inquisition, who later settled along the Mediterranean, including Turkey.

Gorme is a good singer, but I am not fond of her syrupy standards in English. Rather, her immaculate Spanish, clear as a bell, is spellbinding, particularly when she was accompanied by the great Trios Los Panchos. I can hum every song on this album. My favorite is Sabor a Mi. This LP can occasionally be seen, but CDs come in various iterations and compilations. Just go by the tile; if it contains the song Sabor a Mi, buy it. Recording quality is excellent.

Gloria Estefan-Mi Tierra
Spanish American diva, and great beauty, Gloria Estefan has more "Spanish", or rather Hispanic, blood than Ronstadt. It is no surprise that her album Mi Tierra is absolutely smashing. In terms of hot blood, this one makes the more Mexican Ronstadt seem sedate. It pulsates and gyrates, but has its tender moments too.

Aside from a disco hit or two, Estefan had never done better. She made more Latino recordings, but none measures up to this one's passion. Production value is great too.

I don't think there was an LP.

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