Diómedes Díaz

El Cocha Molina

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A touch of someone's fingers on the reverb control in a dramatic part of "Dos Claveles," the musical story of two flowers, is typical of the kind of recording studio effect that is a great part of the Colombian vallenato style, underscoring a comparison that is often made between this genre and the folk-rock innovations of the '60s. Both styles took traditional acoustic music and energized it in a variety of ways that made the sound more appealing for radio airplay. In terms of the music Diomedes Diaz was coming up with by the late '80s when this album was released, it is really hard to conceive of anyone carrying out the previously described mission with any greater success. This music just constantly cooks, delighting in a percussion section that is totally on the case, an electric bassist who slips up the neck like a Jaco muchacho, a brilliant accordion soloist, and of course the superb vocals of Diaz. The Sony company's almost total lack of information on these packages will disappoint listeners who want to understand the instrumental components that went into these brilliant recordings. How many percussionists, for example? And what instruments are they playing? It would be great also to know the names, particularly of the accordion man. Diaz had collaborated earlier with the sublime Colacho Mendoza, but it is a younger man who occupies the place of honor seated next to the leader on the front cover of El Cocha Molina. A series of selections by the best songwriters in this genre move in unexpected directions, a plaintive lament to "return to me," "Vuelve Conmigo" by Marciano Martinez, preceding a typical admission, "No Se Que Tienes Tu," or "I don't know what you have." The out-and-out favorite is "El Gallo y el Pollo," proving once again that any style of folk music peaks out anytime anyone starts singing about chickens.