Various Artists

The Rough Guide to Salsa Clandestina

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It's interesting but perhaps not too surprising that there's some overlap between this and Rough Guide to Latino Nuevo. Jose Conde, Cuban Cowboys, Ozomatli and Spam Allstars are on both discs, but then the concept isn't too different, although this purports to be "the raw and contemporary sounds that is firing up the dancers in the back street bars and clubs of New York and throughout the Latin world." Certainly, some of it has an edge, like Rob Swift's "Salsa Scratch," which adds turntables to a descarga, or jam. Some of it doesn't work, such as Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez's cover of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil." The original reveled in its dark atmosphere and had a groove that rolled (and used Latin percussion); this version has only the Latin percussion. Far more salsa it might be, but it's not an improvement. The tracks here are the cutting edge of salsa, but in many cases there doesn't seem to be a great deal to distinguish them from the mainstream. You do find a few exceptions. The remix of "Wolfie's Corner" has plenty of bounce, and the Cuban Cowboys please as always, while Radio Mundial inject a heavy dose of funk into the proceedings. It's a good roundup of what's happening in salsa, especially among the younger players, and in that it satisfies. It simply doesn't feel like it's out on the edge.

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