Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers

Cold Shoulder

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The 16 tracks on this 78-minute CD are drawn from four Prestige LPs that Pucho and the gang cut between 1967 and 1970: Big Stick!, Heat, Dateline, and Jungle Fire. As there were already a few Pucho comps out there when this appeared in 2000, you could be forgiven for being wary of track duplication. Happily, however, this does not overlap at all with Fantasy's other Pucho anthologies (Tough! and Legends of Acid Jazz), and has only four songs from the U.K. Ace import The Best of Pucho & the Latin Soul Brothers. It can't be readily determined why the material on Cold Shoulder was skipped over in favor of the songs on previous reissues; it's just about as good, though perhaps a hair less fine. It is, like those other collections, outstanding boogaloo music, indeed rating among the finest combinations of Latin, soul, and jazz sounds ever made. This a little more weighted toward tracks with a soul-pop bent (a few even have strings), including covers of "Sunny," "I Can't Stop Loving You," and "Georgia on My Mind." It also has a fairly high quotient of original compositions (usually penned or co-penned by pianist/arranger Neal Creque). Plus there's a higher-than-normal quotient of numbers with vocals by Jackie Soul, who sings on almost everything taken from the Big Stick! and Heat! albums. His raw, rasping style might not find favor among some soul purists, but fits the band's adventurous, sometimes irreverent approach well. In contrast, the selections from Pucho & the Latin Soul Brothers and Jungle Fire! turn to instrumental arrangements with a stronger jazz element, ranging from the near-easy listening "How Did It Happen" (with its watery organ) to some steamy James Brown-ish funk on their nine-minute version of "Cloud 9."

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