Rubén Blades

Doble Filo

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Despite the fact that there is almost no information on this set by Panamanian-born singer, songwriter, and actor, Ruben Blades -- other than songwriting credits and a track listing -- it's one of his finest recordings. Doble Filo is a stew of Latin styles from son ("No Hay Chance"); to rhumba ("Mi Jibarita"); to downtown New York-styled salsa ("Chana"); to slick boleros ("El Cantante"); and to the occasional ballad in trademark Panamanian style. Recorded in 1986, after his first romance with American critics was over, Blades took all the sheen off his recordings for Fania. The material on Doble Filo reflects his band, his arranger, and his own truly amazing abilities as a singer. With only seven tracks on the album -- four of which he wrote -- it's a brief offering, feeling more like an EP than a full-length; but even in its slickest moments, in which he updates his native land's sound as he does on "Duelle," Blades manages to generate genuine excitement with his delivery. It's a shame there are no musicians' credits here, because it would be nice to see if any of Blades' old mates from Willie Colon's bands are here. Doble Filo is the "real" Ruben Blades.

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