Salsa grew out of the revolutionary changes happening to Latin music in New York in the 1960s. From the various Afro-Caribbean genres such as guaguancó, rumba, guaracha, guajira, son montuno, and descarga emerged bugalu, which was popular not only regionally, but in some cases internationally, and eventually the heady brew known as salsa exploded in the 1970s. This entire period was documented by the Fania label. This single-disc comp does an excellent job of documenting the emerging music from the late '60s with its best-known tunes and a few surprises. Included in this wonderful collection are the anthem “Che Che Colé” by Willie Colón and Héctor Lavoe, the Latin jazz standard “Mama Güela” by the Fania All-Stars, and Joe Cuba's killer "Do You Feel It (Tu Lo Sientes).” The great Celia Cruz is represented here in collaboration with Johnny Pacheco on “Cúcala,” and by "Pachito Eché" with Tito Puente. Ray Barretto's "El Nuevo Barretto," Eddie Palmieri's "Bilongo," and Mongo Santamaría's "O Mi Shango" are included to boot. In all, there are 15 bona fide salsa classics from Fania, all licensed by the U.K.'s Strut imprint in excellent sound on CD and vinyl. This is arguably as fine -- if subjective -- an introduction to salsa as you're likely to find.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek