All too often, artists who are pioneers in a particular genre don't enjoy as much longevity or commercial success as the people they helped pave the way for. That's certainly happened in rap; hardly any of the hip-hop pioneers who were rapping in Harlem and the South Bronx in the late '70s were still recording in the 2000s (let alone competing with Eminem and 50 Cent in terms of sales). But Banda el Recodo, thankfully, is an example of a trailblazing outfit whose popularity hasn't faded. The late Don Cruz Lizárraga founded an early Banda el Recodo lineup in Sinaloa, Mexico, as far back as 1938, and a post-Don Cruz Lizárraga lineup was still enjoying commercial success in 2005. Obviously, a group that lasts from 1938-2005 is going to have its share of lineup changes along the way, and the lineup heard on Hay Amor (There Is Love) finds Lizárraga's youngest sons, Joel and Alfonso, continuing to lead Banda el Recodo ten years after his death. Under Don Cruz Lizárraga's leadership, Banda el Recodo had a diverse repertoire -- and the Lizárraga sons maintain that eclectic outlook on an album that ranges from the ranchera leanings of "Por Tal de Que Seas Feliz," "Me Vale," and "Que Más Quisiera" to some pop-influenced items ("Dame" and "Aqua Dulce") to the tropical-flavored "La Banda el Recodo Llegó" (which Emilio Estefan co-wrote). Joel and Alfonso deserve credit for keeping a 67-year-old band (as of 2005) from sounding ultra-predictable, and Hay Amor's most interesting surprises include an energetic remake of "Camarón Pelao" (one of Banda el Recodo's early hits) and an unlikely cover of Selena's "Techno Cumbia" (which, despite its Tejano history, has no problem lending itself to a brassy banda arrangement). Hay Amor falls short of essential, but it's a solid outing that underscores Joel and Alfonso's ability to keep Banda el Recodo sounding vital ten years after their father's passing.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson