Legado – Formell Y Los Van Van


Firstly, congratulations Samuel Formell and Los Van

Van for taking up the baton from Juanito and producing a new album. In Legado they demonstrate clearly that the band has a future. Secondly, to all you Vanvaneros who have patiently waited for this title to turn up on CD, your patience has been rewarded. Technically published in 2017, it didn’t really hit the digital shelves until the next year. To all but a lucky few, this TimbaMerchant edition will be the first sight of a physical copy.
The sound of this album represents evolution more than revolution. Van Van’s signatures run through these recordings but the material, new and old, receives a freshen up. Its a chunky new sound and with considerable depth.
Of the old material, I count three tracks, one each from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s- Por Qué Lo Haces, Amiga Mía and Te Extraño. Robertón leads Por Qué Lo Haces, which retains some of the funky 70’s feel. The scat singing’s gone though and the recording’s richer, the orchestration fleshed out. Amiga Mía fits in well with the anthems my locals seem to love but there’s actually more to it. I prefer the understated original, ropey recording and all, but that could just be nostalgia talking. It’s a nice track and well done. Te Extraño originally appeared as a sentimental ballad on the live CD, Lo Último En Vivo under the title Tu Me Haces Falta. This new version turns it into a viable dance track, debuting Vanessa Formell on lead vocals. Not a contest in my view.
Turning to the new material, the first I heard was Yo No Soy Un Mango. If you’ve never tried mamey- a close relative, lúcuma, is nearly as delicious- this will be lost on you, but as a middle aged man who has, I instantly identified with this theme. El Lele treats this with perfect humour and it remains my top tune from the album in spite of strong competition. The clave changes on the lead vocal and estribillo also give the track an unusual vibrancy.
More interesting chord progressions are to be found on two tracks led by Mandy Cantero. The tumbaos of Vanvanidina are sweetly melancholic while the descending chromatic slides during Qué Pena flick all my switches. These are great tracks in my view but the jocks in my neighborhood ignore them all. Likewise, Culpable De Nada, another dance track with plenty of interest and Vanessa Formell on lead. Al Paso is one they do use, but for all its virtues, it really doesn’t strike me as a Casino track. Beats me what’s in other people’s heads sometimes.
Hecho Pa’ Bailar is another tasty dancer, reminiscent of my all time Trabuco track, Linda Melodía. It’s not the only déjà vu in town, Legado De Vida also reminds of material ex-Vanvanero Pupy was turning out in the 00’s with his own band, Los Que Son Son. The final Conga, Anda Camina Juan also reminds of Klimax but I can’t place it off the top of my head.
So there you go, and there’s more to this album still. Legado is a very solid release featuring a number of styles and several outstanding tracks. It looks to me like a first class launch pad for this new generation, Formell Y Los Van Van. Three years on, their next release is on its way, meanwhile, there’s plenty here to keep Casino dancers and Cuban music lovers satisfied.
TimbaMerchant gives this album its highest accolade, we printed it. Unfortunately, production costs of this digipak, with its 12 page booklet, were considerably higher than our previous releases and we’ve had to add £1 to the price. It weighs in at well under 100g though, so overseas customers particularly may benefit from reduced postage.
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01 **Legado Opening** 5:01

02 Vamos A Pasarla Bien 4:41

03 **Vanvanidina** 4:36

04 *Culpable de Nada* 4:42

05 Vanvaneo 5:30

06 *Al Paso* 5:13

07 **Qué Pena** 4:33

08 Te Extraño 5:12

09 **Por Qué Lo Haces** 4:07

10 **Yo No Soy Un Mango** 4:20

11 *Hecho Pa´ Bailar* 5:19

12 Legado De Vida 4:45

13 *Amiga Mía* 6:20

14 *Anda Camina Juan* 5:45