Santa Esmeralda

Another Cha-Cha

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Although French combo Santa Esmeralda first hit disco paydirt with its cover of the Animals' 1965 hit "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" in 1977, it wasn't until 1979, when the band released what proved to be the commercial dead weight of Another Cha-Cha LP, that the group's disco dreams were actually realized. With the departing Leroy Gomez now replaced by Jimmy Goings, Santa Esmeralda left behind the gimmickry of covers to completely focus on the fiery fusion of Latin beats and disco grooves that was its forte. Consuming side one of the vinyl, "Another Cha-Cha" and the accompanying "Cha-Cha Suite" are delivered with such an enormous amount of energy and sexy spark that they leave anyone within range positively breathless. And it's these songs that drive the album. Santa Esmeralda tries to keep pace across both "Generation" and "Answer," and does a fine job of it, but they still pale in comparison. That leaves only the dismal ballad "Back to the Beginning" to temper the tide -- and, sadly, it's such a downer that it's a wonder it was included at all. At the end of the day, after all, listeners never looked to this group to tug their heartstrings. So go back to the beginning, then, where Santa Esmeralda is in a league of its own and, with just two songs, creates an indispensable addition to the disco canon. It's just a shame that, by the time it hit the racks, people were moving on to other things.

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