Willie Bobo's 1965 LP, Spanish Grease, has been combined with his Uno Dos Tres 1-2-3 LP from 1966 on one CD reissue. One pass through the title cut of Spanish Grease and you know that Carlos Santana was listening. The easy R&B/Latin jazz shuffle on this Bobo original, with its mix of Spanish and English vocals, is an obvious touchstone to cuts like "Evil Ways" on Santana's first two albums. What a shame, then, that the rest of the record is primarily comprised of covers of pop hits of the day like "It's Not Unusual" (a vocal and an instrumental version!) and "Our Day Will Come." The timbales player and his band lay down respectable grooves, but "Spanish Grease" is the only original on the album, and by far the most rewarding number. Similarly, the toughest and most memorable track on Uno Dos Tres 1-2-3 is the one Bobo original, "Fried Neck Bones and Some Home Fries." Its creeping Latin soul groove was, like "Spanish Grease," an obvious inspiration for Carlos Santana. But on most of the rest of the recording, Bobo coasts through interpretations of period hits like "Michelle," "Goin' Out of My Head," and Jay & the Americans' (!) "Come a Little Bit Closer," with some jazz and pop standards as well.
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger