Grupo Manía

The Dynasty

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Riding the continually cresting wave of merengue's popularity, Grupo Mania is one of Puerto Rico's most dynamic purveyors of the tropical two-step. Using the format of one lead singer and a trio of chanting backups, Grupo Mania sounds a lot like Elvis Crespo, only instead of featuring one lead vocalist, all four members take turns in the lead. The strongest of the four is probably Alfred Cotto, but the other three members, Hector "Banchy" Serrano, Oscar Serrano, and Reynaldo Santiago all have their moments.

The rhythmic interplay between the horns, piano, and percussion in Grupo Mania's instrumental corps is satisfyingly intense. Songs like "Como Baila" and "Pa'l Bailador," go through a number of time signature shifts that make dance parties rock. Mania isn't satisfied with just merengue-ing out, however. The group strays earnestly into '80s-style R&B in "Tu y Yo," scratchy reggae dancehall minimalism in "Ragga Mania," and even skips into a syncopated salsa workout, "Lloro Por Ti."

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