A companion piece and extension of Soundway’s previous Colombia!
The Golden Age of Discos Fuentes compilation, Cartagena! gathers together
twenty tracks recorded between 1962 and 1972, all of them never before released
outside of Colombia.
Again focusing on the revered Discos Fuentes label founded and run by the
Fuentes family, this collection highlights the production and A&R work of
the Cartagena-based Curro Fuentes, youngest member of the family.
Boy does this stuff swing. Recorded for dancing and
blowing off steam, the sixteen acts here all rev everything up to a feverish
pitch and never let off. While there’s undeniably a certain sameness to the
tempo and approach, that is not necessarily a bad thing; if this compilation is
anything it’s consistent, and by that I mean consistently great. These are big
band tracks, led by insistent piano and thundering drums, backed up by fat bass
lines and crazy, over-lapping waves of percussion. And then there’s the horns:
honking, blaring, teasing, raising the roof and raising the blood pressure on
Curro Fuentes clearly had a gift for both production –
these tracks all sound fantastic – and in inspiring his acts to deliver high
caliber performances. Like all the other Colombian music from this era I’ve
heard, the cumbias, porros, mapales and descargas included are all brimming with confidence, musical wit and undeniable good
cheer. This is happy music, written and performed to dance to on weekends,
forgetting work and whatever else needs to be forgotten for a few hours of joy
on the dance floor.
Honestly, name checking tracks almost seems pointless;
they’re all equally great.
Like all of Soundway’s releases, Cartagena! sports a terrific
booklet full of historical information and perspective, and full color
reproductions of many of the album sleeves.
DOWNLOAD: Take your pick. CARL HANNI