Print this Page

World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

ROUGH GUIDE TO BOOGALOO

By Tom Pryor
Published September 27, 2005

World Music Network

Boogaloo is the Rodney Dangerfield of Latin Music—it gets no respect. Unlike Latin jazz or salsa, boogaloo isn’t endlessly celebrated, dissected, revived and fetishized; instead it’s unfairly remembered as novelty music or, as Tito Puente once sniffed, “kids’ stuff.” But in the mid-’60s boogaloo was the sound of Latin New York: a fun, funky, streetwise precursor to salsa, with one foot uptown in the barrio and the other in the big midtown dancehalls. This new collection offers up a fresh look at that era, with tracks from some of the biggest names of the day, from Pete Rodriguez, Ismael Rivera and Joe Cuba to the likes of Celia Cruz and, yes, even Mr. Puente himself (who knew a profitable trend when he heard one). There’s some true classics here (Bobby Valentin’s “Use It Before You Lose It”; Ray Baretto’s “A Deeper Shade Of Soul”), and some lost gems, too (the Lebron Brothers’ “Boogaloo Lebron”; Valentin’s “Batman’s Boogaloo”), but some of the omissions are glaring (no “El Watusi”? or “Bang Bang”? No Joe Bataan?). Nevertheless, the disc is a great listen and goes a long way towards redressing boogaloo’s place in Latin music.