Various Artists

Mambo Mania!: The Kings & Queens of Mambo

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Mambo Mania! may not be the last word on the Afro-Cuban music of the 1950s and '60s, but for beginners, it's a darn nice place to start. Rhino can usually be counted on to do its homework when assembling compilations, and this superb 18-song CD is no exception. Serious fans of what came to be called salsa will be more than familiar with such classics as Celia Cruz's "Tumba La Cana, Jibarito," Beny More's "Me Gusta Mas El Son" and Tito Puente's "Guaguanco Margarito" -- all of which are essential listening for even the most casual salseros. Recorded in 1949, the oldest song here is the infectious "Un Poquito De Tu Amor" by Desi Arnaz, who became well known for his role on the television comedy "I Love Lucy." From Tito Rodriguez, Cachao and the ultra-influential Machito to master percussionists/band leaders Ray Barretto and Mongo Santamaria, many of salsa's all-time greats are well represented by this outstanding collection.

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