Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Latin Rare Groove Volume 2

Treats for collectors of obscure Latin groove, but still appealing to more casual listeners.

Various Artists

The Rough Guide to Latin Rare Groove Volume 2

Label: World Music Network
Release Date: 2015-01-26
Label Website

Pablo E Yglesias' excellent sleeve notes to Latin Rare Groove Volume 2 evoke a subterranean world of obsessive record collectors seeking out funky, tropical dance music, with a breed of über-fans from around the world trawling through record fairs and auctions to obtain that elusive piece of Latin vinyl. It's questionable whether this world crosses-over into the rigorous environs of a high-energy Zumba exercise class or the sequins and glitter of "Strictly Come Dancing", where Latin music is at its most prevalent for gringos, but consider the possibility of a slightly over-weight record-collecting hipster decked out in lycra, wiggling his fleshy backside to the strains of the latest Latin cross-over hit every Saturday morning, just to keep vaguely in shape. Yes, we are all in our own way fearsome strange mutants, and Latin Rare Groove Volume 2 is perhaps proof of the pudding.

Yglesias (who also put together this compilation) points out that there is a long tradition of "super-fandom" and "intrepid scholarly connoisseurship" in Latin music as with any other genre, and just because "rare groove" owes its name to the '80s London club scene, which focussed on obscure soul, funk and jazz, doesn't necessarily mean the movement, or this record, is just some passing fad. The album traverses time (from the ‘60s to more recent times) as well as continents (Europe by way of Britain and Amsterdam, North America through New York, and of course South America). This is indeed world music, but not because it is "ethnic"; it’s likely that the desire to shake one's tosh to a stonking beat is universal. Ricardo Ray & Bobby Cruz's "El Cencerro Shingaling" is, as the title suggests, a raucous mess of excitement; Papo Y Su Combo's "Papa Boogaloo" and Peliroja's "Ciudad De Nadie" must be floor-fillers in the right kind of clubs. Carlos Hayre Y Su Orquestra’s “Mi Chica Se Vuelve Loca” has some awesome big band orchestration and percussion.

However, this is not merely dance music as the album could equally serve as a soundtrack to the spicy life you lead in your head or as your own version of reality. The New Mastersounds' "The Tin Drum" comes across all Starsky and Hutch and Los Kenya's "Un Clavel, Una Tarjeta Y Un Lapiz" is pure '70s kitsch. Los Belking's "Sabata" has grooves that will make the hipster levitate with joy, Conjunto Papa Upa conjure up a smoking Western with “Camuri Chico” and Nelson Y Sus Estrellas’ “Fantasia Latina (Guaguanco)” has the hectic rhythm of a hot city life in the tropics.

The last five tracks are made up from today’s crop of Latin bands; Aillacara 2743, Quantic, Jungle Fire, Systema Solar and Rene Lopez. They all merit inclusion, particularly the hip-hop cross-over of Systema Solar’s “Vo Voy Ganao” and Rene Lopez’s romantic “Steal Your Love”, but it’s difficult not to come to the conclusion that the older tracks have more depth and character. It may be a trick of the mind to consider that things were better in the past, but it does seem like more fun was had in the old days.

The stand-out track is pleasingly a true rarity, by an obscure ‘70s NYC Salsa orchestra, Conjunto Alayon, which never finished its debut album. Somehow, the previously unreleased "Ha Llegada La Hora" was found for this album, complete with a superb trombone solo by Jimmy Bosch. As for much of the record, if you don’t want to get up and dance to this, you must either have rocks in your head or a heart made of stone. If this is the case, please don’t approach me at parties. Life is too short not to participate.





Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.


The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.


'The Kill Chain': Why America Might Lose Its Next Big War

Christian Brose's defense-nerd position paper, The Kill Chain, inadvertently reveals that the Pentagon's problems (complacency, inertia, arrogance) reflect those of the country at large.


2006's 'Flat-Pack Philosophy' Saw Buzzcocks Determined to Build Something of Quality

With a four-decade career under their belt, on the sixth disc in the new box-set Sell You Everything, it's heartening to see Buzzcocks refusing to settle for an album that didn't try something new.


'Lie With Me': Beauty, Love and Toxic Masculinity in the Gay '80s

How do we write about repression and toxic masculinity without valorizing it? Philippe Besson's Lie With Me is equal parts poignant tribute and glaring warning.


Apparat's 'Soundtrack: Capri-Revolution' Stands Alone As a Great Ambient Experience

Apparat's (aka Sascha Ring) re-imagined score from Mario Martone's 2018 Capri-Revolution works as a fine accompaniment to a meditational flight of fancy.


Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers Merge Haitian Folk and Electronic Music on 'Vodou Alé'

Haitian roots music meets innovative electronics on Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers' Vodou Alé.

My Favorite Thing

Weird and Sweet, Riotous and Hushed: The Beatles' 'The White Album'

The Beatles' 'The White Album' is a piece of art that demonstrates how much you can stretch, how far you can bend, how big you really are. The album is deeply weird. It has mass. It has its own weather.


Sarah Jarosz Finds Inspiration in Her Texas Roots on 'World on the Ground'

By turning to her roots in central Texas for inspiration on World on the Ground, Sarah Jarosz has crafted some of her strongest songs yet.


Hinds' 'The Prettiest Curse' Is One of Victory

On The Prettiest Curse, Hinds create messy pop music that captures the vibrancy of youth without being childish.


12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.


Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.