Whether the kind of Latin music heard in many movie musicals of the 1940s was truly authentic may be fodder for debate in some rarefied circles. But it's unquestionable that its use in Hollywood helped make many Americans aware of Latin music in the first place. More importantly, the music itself was extremely vivacious and infectious. This 18-song compilation of material from '40s soundtracks, though limited to MGM for sources, proves the point well. Bandleader Xavier Cugat is the mainstay of this anthology, contributing to 11 tracks; the irresistible Carmen Miranda (three songs) is the most notable of the other artists, "Caroom Pa Pa" in particular being a slam-dunk display of impossibly fast and tongue-twisting phrasing. This might find a more ready home in the collections of soundtrack and pop fans than those of Latin music purists, but it works well as both a reflection of a certain moment in American popular culture and just plain high-spirited, rhythmic fun.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger