Juan Gabriel

Con la Banda...El Recodo

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Presumably recorded before the death of Don Cruz Lizárraga in 1995 (he can be heard counting off one number), this set neatly caps off Juan Gabriel's second "traditional" period. La Banda el Recodo are an institution, having churned out the hits for several generations of Mexicans. They are a long way from the visceral blaring violence of their earlier recordings, when they were Octavio Paz's vision of fiesta as an outlet for repressed fury incarnate, but the new generation of El Recodo still can kick out the jams on their greatest tune, "El Sinaloense." Juan Gabriel, at this point in his career, has also seen better days -- with his vocal range and weight moving in opposite directions, he is, one senses, easing into his new role as a caricature of his former self. Uncharacteristically, most of the tracks on the disc are reprises of past hits he wrote for himself and others, and these reprises are actually the highlights of the album. Banda is all about energy, and much of the genre consists of injecting that infectious energy into familiar chestnuts, so El Recodo are at home here. Nevertheless, this is not the disc to own if you want to understand the enigma of schmaltz and idiosyncrasy that has made Juan Gabriel the king of Latin American pop.

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