available for the first time in the U.S., this is the latest offering from Cuba's undisputed #1 group
This is the way to hear what one of Cuba's top bands
can do--live. Under the leadership of bass player Juan Formell, it's a nonstop party, recorded in 1996 on their home turf, in Havana's Salon Rosado de la Tropical, before a decidedly partisan crowd. And the band certainly rocks the house, with the closer, "Herbiero, Ven" especially potent, a sweatfest propelled by the irresistible beat of timba. While some of the material had surfaced elsewhere, obtaining it in the U.S. had been well-nigh impossible--and these explosive versions are close to definitive in any case. The excitement captured here helped pave the way for the likes of Cubanismo!
, who still can't match the energy of Los Van Van. The band's songo style, still rooted in the traditional changui form, is like an electrical jolt, and the nostalgia of Buena Vista Social Club
seems very old. If you can't dance to this one, you're probably dead. --Chris Nickson