Rubén Blades

Greatest Hits [Musica Latina]

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GREATEST HITS is a more specific offering than the concept often suggests, culling hits from '84, '85 and '88. With a career stretching back to the mid-'60s, the cuts found here are but a sampling of Ruben Blades' decade or so with his illustrious sextet, Seis Del Solar. As the father of progressive salsa/tropical pop, some of Blades' greatest songwriting of the period is to be found here, in all its glistening studio glory.

"Buscando America" opens with wafts of foreboding, Tyner-esque piano before easing into Blades' stirring, synth-laden call for Pan-American unity. With a piercing trombone arrangement that recalls Blades' days in Willie Colon's band, "La Marea" is a sinewy cut of salsa that explicates all the seasick tosses-and-turns of a choppy love affair. The singer's early predilection for doo-wop rears its head on the "who-oh" chorus of the soaring "El Padre Antonio" and the tongue-in-cheek intro to the witty "Decisiones." In the context of that dark morass of pop hell known as the mid-'80s, seekers of sweet melody and politically-conscious songcraft have plenty to dig on GREATEST HITS, Spanish-speaking or not.

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