Desi Arnaz

Babalu [RCA]

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Twenty tracks from his 1946-49 prime, mostly paced by Arnaz himself on vocals, with some instrumentals and occasional pieces for female singers Jane Harvey, Elsa Miranda, and Amanda Lane. Sure, this is sometimes corny, but more often it's invigorating Latin big-band pop, Arnaz' conga and quasi-operatic vocals to the forefront. Those who dismiss this as Cuban rhythms watered down for American consumption are missing the essential point: it's fun stuff that's usually overflowing with joie de vivre, as a listen to "Babalu," "Carnival in Rio," "Quizas, Quizas, Quizas," "Guadalajara," and "El Cumbanchero" will confirm.

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