Various Artists

¡Que Viva la Salsa!

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There are many, many salsa compilations out there, all of which claim to be good, and only some of which actually are. The fact that Que Viva la Salsa was put out by Fania, one of the genre's biggest and most influential labels, bodes well for the album, which, with its 14 songs, is a pretty good collection, though it does, with its La Lupe, Mongo Santamaria, and Joe Bataan contributions, move away some from salsa and into the Latin pop realm. However, great tracks from Tito Puente, Ismael Miranda, Ray Barretto, and Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco all but make up for any place in which Que Viva la Salsa goes a little astray. There are, of course superior compilations (The Greatest Salsa Ever, Vol. 1, for example), but this one is still pretty decent, with some songs (like Orquesta Harlow's "Yo Soy Latino" and Willie Colón's "El Malo") that haven't already made it onto hundreds of albums before this one, which just means that it's a bit more interesting for the already knowledgeable fan, and just plain fun for everyone else.

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