Fania All-Stars


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The Yankee Stadium concert on August 24, 1974, that generated the majority of the footage for Jerry Masucci's film Salsa seemed an almost impossible feat of strength, and one year beforehand would have been impossible. It was Masucci's preceding film, Our Latin Thing, that broke open the right doors and raised the right eyebrows to go from the Cheetah, a dancehall with a 4,000-person capacity, which was the 1972 film's home base, to putting 40,000 fans into Yankee Stadium. The 1975 film Salsa and its presentation of the Fania All-Stars in stadium contexts, both in New York and at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was a concerted effort to change the perception of salsa from a ghetto phenomenon to a world-class art form. The soundtrack follows the film, not only presenting the All-Stars driving audiences wild, but also with scholarly comment on salsa's genealogy, her roots in Africa, the Caribbean slave trade, and more. Though a golden moment in the history of a music that is so beloved, and featuring musicians who are equally monumental in fans' memories, Salsa as an album is a difficult listen. The fidelity is rough, and the flow, though it made brilliant filmmaking, transfers pretty poorly to an album context. Salsa was and is a great film, but there are definitely better ways to hear the Fania All-Stars.

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