Various Artists

The NuYorican Funk Experience: Salsa Caliente de Nu York!

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The Nascente label compiled this solid set of Nuyorican funk and soul from the '70s, featuring an array of names from popcorn hotshots Jimmy Sabater and Joey Pastrana to respected bandleaders Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri. The common thread here is danceable party grooves, singalong vocals, and lightweight novelties shot through with the kind of inexpressible vibes that can't help but remind listeners of all-day Bronx block-parties. And early on, there's not a duff track here, plus a few of the best Latin popcorn tracks ever recorded: Joe Cuba's "El Pito," Palmieri's "Ay Que Rico," and Ray Barretto's "Right On." The NuYorican Funk Experience falters only during the last half, when it tries to work in a few groove-laden tracks not as familiar to dancefloor fans, from Celia Cruz ("Gracia Divina"), Tipica 73 ("Baila Que Baila"), and Fania All Stars ("Smoke"). Still, it's an excellent compilation for fans of early salsa, Fania-label funkyness, and the barrio nuevo soul that energized the Latin underground during the late '70s.

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