Fania's Historia de la Salsa series would have been woefully incomplete if it did not include a volume by the legendary Fania All-Stars. The group, founded by Johnny Pacheco in 1968, featured an ever-evolving cast of most of the top players on the quickly developing salsa scene, from Pacheco himself to Willie Colón, Ray Barretto, Celia Cruz, Larry Harlow, Bobby Valentín, Héctor Lavoe, Rubén Blades, Cheo Feliciano, Ismael Quintana, Mongo Santamaría, Papo Luca, and many others. Their live shows were legendary, while their studio albums sold well, too. This volume contains ten tracks taken mostly from their live albums, including Live at the Red Garter, Live at the Cheetah, and the classic Live at Yankee Stadium. Cuts from studio recordings, such as Guasasa, Lo Que Pide de Gente, Latin Soul Rock, and Commitment are included as well. This is not so much a best of, but a well rounded -- if brief -- portrait of this startling collective and the development of salsa itself as an art form in America. These artists, all recording stars in their own right, never suffered -- at least in recorded performances -- from having too many cooks in the kitchen. The balance and cooperation on these recordings speaks to the true nature of musical collaboration and is riotously joyful to listen to. Enjoy.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek
feat: Héctor Lavoe