Pioneers of Songo, Los Van Van began the 1990’s very much in the style of the previous
decade with their double LP release, “Aquí El Que Baila Gana.” Their Songo, which varied from fairly terrible pop music to the brilliance of songs like Mis Dudas and Eso Está Bueno, had helped pave the way for Timba but it was not to endure in its present form. Band leader Juan Formell would embrace the changes, however, and reinvent his band to ride the new wave. Along with most of the frontline, pailero Changuito left early in the decade, freeing a seat for Formell’s son, Samuel. Te Pone La Cabeza Mala shows the new Van Van at their apogee, in three distinct styles.
The real innovation was given to a couple of upstarts in the frontline. “El Guayacán” aka Robertón had debuted on the previous CD and took the title track, amongst others, by storm. Esto Te Pone La Cabeza Mala became the track most conservative UK Salsa DJs would play to pacify punters wanting Timba. As such it became overheard here, a means to shrug off Timba in general, a cliché and a bore. Regardless, it remains a great song. There’s just so much more to this CD that was never heard in the mainstream. Discounting the Reprise of the title track, there are no dispensable tracks on this album in my view. Pupy Pedroso’s Ni Bombones Ni Caramelos, very much in the style of his earlier La Fruta, is a stormer.
The most challenging passages are left to Mayito Rivera who had joined in 1992. Check his intro to Barriste Con El. That’s got to be difficult! Llévala A Tu Vacilón is another classic dance track that builds and builds.
Legendary Pedrito Calvo is relegated to something of a support role. He takes lead in a number of humorous, beautifully written and arranged dance tracks, like Lo Que Dejó Sebastián and La Shopimaníaca. More akin to old style Van Van but with an edge, ignore these tracks at your own risk. To reduce this classic album to just one track is something of a crime.
As old timers will note, the cover is new and also two tracks have been swapped around in the listing. Apart from that, same as ever. Enjoy!