Of all the Rough Guides that have come out recently, this one is the most unremittingly joyful. Salsa is son with a grin and the bands here are living it up like maniacs, even José Conde & Ola Francesca whose song addresses the plight of exploited coffee workers. Los Mocosos twirl their moustaches all over “Bandolera Era” (they roll the rhyming title off their tongues with the pleasure of someone letting loose an especially juicy pun), Los Amigos Invisibles are sinuous, and the Cuban Cowboys, in a song taken from their debut album (their inclusion on both this and The Rough Guide to Latino Nuevo suggests that they are one of the compiler Pablo Yglesias’ latest loves, a band that he’s anxious to share with the world), sound like a Spanglish Red Elvises. Salsa Clandestina starts to feel dull only during the lengthy tracks. At nearly seven minutes, Horacio Hernandez’s take on familiar old “Sympathy for the Devil” is too long. It does, however, fit Yglesias’ idea of salsa-like music that is “hidden… lesser-known, less commercial, more diverse Latin music that still holds to some traditions like the clave beat… but also bears the mark of more underground or alternative strains.” Is this the first Rough Guide dedicated to a genre that the compiler made up?
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