Rubén Blades

Anthology

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First a warning: anyone who purchased Rubén Blades' 2010 double-disc A Poeta del Pueblo can stop reading here. This is the same track selection with different cover art; in addition, the earlier set's liner notes were superior in every way. Those two caveats aside, this is the definitive overview of Panamanian poet/vocalist/songwriter's career on Fania. These 27 cuts also contain the entirety of 2010's remastered single-disc Greatest Hits set. It commences with his first single on Alegre, "Descarga Caliente," from his 1970 album De Panama a New York. It continues through his tenures with Ray Barretto, Willie Colón, and the Fania All-Stars, as well as his solo career. Blades' impact on salsa is monumental, not so much as a vocalist, but as a songwriter. Not only did he write Hector Lavoe's theme song "El Cantate" (originally penned for himself but he was persuaded by Colón to give it to Lavoe), but now such standard salsas as "Juan Pachanga," "Maestra Vida," "Pablo Pueblo," "Tiburon," "Paula C," "Pedro Navaja," and "Buscando Guayaba," to name a few, all of which brought socially conscious themes to the music. Yes, all are included here. Blades composed 21 of these 27 cuts. Anthology provides an excellent overview of the most important part of Blades' career, long before he signed to Warner and other labels; it also offers a revealing portrait of the creative revolution that was salsa in the '70s and early '80s.

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