recordings, don’t let that put you off. Believe me, there are more than a handful of studio albums that sound worse than this. Many songs are also classics.
This is Los Van Van in transition from their Songo rhythm which sustained them for twenty years, to their version of Timba. The main injection of fresh talent is the young Mayito Rivera, who belts out songs like his life depends upon it. This is also the first outing for Juan formell’s son, Samuel. He takes the seat on traps and pailas, a daunting privilege given the phenomenal reputation of his predecessor, Changuito.
Some of the songs could have come from an earlier era, but others, while maintaining a distinctly Van Van groove, are starting to develop a very new feel. A gentle mid-tempo, Soy Normal, Natural and ¡Qué Sorpresa! overflow with flavour. Un Socio is another favourite and all three were regular floor fillers at La Casa Cubana back in the early 2000’s. ¡Qué Sorpresa! was covered recently by Havana D’Primera as La Sorpresa. Havana D’Primera may rank amongst the better of today’s bands, but this example lends credence to the phrase “original is best.”
All credit to a band that having ruled the roost for a very long time, was so quick to adapt to a changing situation. This is class, an essential album in the history of Cuban music in general, Timba in particular, and your collection!