Ayer Fue Kumbia Kings, Hoy Es Kumbia All Starz

Kumbia All Starz / A.B. Quintanilla III

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Ayer Fue Kumbia Kings, Hoy Es Kumbia All Starz Review

by Jason Birchmeier

Producer extraordinaire A.B. Quintanilla III kept his Kumbia Kings gravy train chugging along in 2006, releasing a live album early in the year (Kumbia Kings Live) and then an album of all-new material later on in the fall. The odd thing is, after seven years and lots of commercial success, he suddenly changed the group's name from Kumbia Kings to Kumbia All Starz, even though nothing changed in terms of the music or group membership. In fact, the name change is really the only significant variable differentiating Ayer Fue Kumbia Kings, Hoy Es Kumbia All Starz from Quintanilla's previous release, Fuego (2004). That's why the name change is so odd: Quintanilla spent years building up the equity of the name brand, to the point where he enjoyed some of his greatest success to date -- with "Na Na Na (Dolce Niña)," an irresistible hit from Fuego that had a long shelf life -- and earned enormous name recognition as a result. After all, this is the guy who name-dropped "Kumbia Kings!" in countless productions of his, in case anyone failed to recognize his trademark style. Sure, it is somewhat beside the point to harp on about this name change, but frankly, there's not much else noteworthy to remark about regarding Ayer Fue Kumbia Kings, Hoy Es Kumbia All Starz. It's a fine album, as usual, comprised of up-tempo cumbias and downtempo romantic ballads, with a few covers thrown in for fun ("Parece Que Va a Llover," popularized by los Panchos, is a highlight). The chief highlights here are "Mami," which kicks off the album perfectly; "Dijiste," the choice ballad; and "Chiquilla," the clear-cut, heavily produced lead single, which appears in numerous versions. These three songs are on a par with their counterparts on Fuego -- respectively, "Viento," "Parte de Mi Corazón," and "Na Na Na (Dolce Niña)" -- and are so similarly fashioned that it wouldn't be unfair to call them effective rewrites. If anything, it's worth noting that Ayer Fue Kumbia Kings is slight, offering only ten actual songs -- once you discount the ten-second intro and the three versions of "Chiquilla" tacked onto the end of the album -- three of them covers. But if Ayer Fue Kumbia Kings is slighter in its offering than Fuego, the music is comparably top-notch as far as Latin pop goes, still furthering Quintanilla's reputation as one of the genre's most consistent hitmakers.

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