Various Artists

Viva la Salsa!: 14 Exitos Originales

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A vinyl LP that Profono Internacional released in 1981, Viva la Salsa!: 14 Exitos Originales shouldn't be confused with other salsa-oriented compilations titled Viva la Salsa!. Back in 1981, this LP was an excellent buy -- it boasts 14 of the biggest tropical hits of the 1970s and early 1980s, and there's not a trace of filler to be found. Anyone who is seriously into the salsa of that era will be hip to such gems as Ray Barretto's "Cocinando" (the cha-cha that inspired Poncho Sanchez's "Sonando"), Willie Colon and Ruben Blades' "Pedro Navaja," la Sonora Porcena's "Moreno Soy," El Gran Combo's "Timbalero," Eddie Palmieri's "No Me Hagas Sufrir," and Oscar D'Leon's remake of the Ignacio Pi├▒ero classic "El Baile del Suavecito." And for those interested in studying Introductory-1970s/Early -1980s Salsa 101, the LP was perfect for beginners. You'll hear a stronger Latin-pop influence on Willie Colon's "Sin Poderte Hablar," Ismael Miranda's "La Puerta Esta Abierta," and the Fania All Stars' "La Palabra Adios," all of which are examples of what came to be called salsa romantica -- in other words, a romantic blend of Afro-Cuban elements and Latin pop. Meanwhile, Johnny Ventura's "Filete" and Wilfrido Vargas' "Ese Barrigon No Es Mio" find Viva La Salsa detouring into merengue, which isn't salsa but is related to it and is part of the tropical market. (While salsa/Afro-Cuban music originated in Cuba before spreading to Puerto Rico, merengue and bachata are Afro-Dominican forms that came out of the Dominican Republic). A lot of salsa fans also love merengue, which is why those merengue smashes only add to the greatness of this LP.