LOST SPANISH TREASURES (SINGLES)
Freddy Fender was an American Tejano, which basically means a descendant of a Mexican family (or Spanish speaking people) who migrated to Texas. Therefor, much if not all of his music is basically “country Spanish music (for a lack of a better word).” About 42 Years ago, Freddy released an album called “Before The Next Teardrop Falls” in 1975; the song from that album “Before The Next Teardrop Falls” became an instant major cult classic. Although the song only peaked @ #20, According to the American Billboard, it stayed on the charts for a whopping 43. weeks. However, on the country music charts, the song peaked at #1. This gave Freddy somewhat of an immortal status. This song was so popular, there was a time when you could scan all the entire FM band, and you’d find at least 3 stations playing the song almost at the same time. Quite frankly, once I got older, I realized this song confused quite a bit. Why? The song in it’s entirety sounds like he was saying he wasn’t good enough for her, and he’ll just let some other dude have the girl he loves without putting up much of a fight.Then again, maybe this is a song when the woman was already dating someone else? The world at the time saw this as one of the most beautiful love songs ever recorded. Freddy and his cult classic has indeed been mostly forgotten. This was the biggest song of his entire career.
You know, I haven’t listened to Celia Cruz’s music in a really long time. But one things for sure, when I put on a sing such as “Quimbara,” I always wind up rewinding about 3-4 times. The song was released in 1974, and peaked in the U.S. at number #15. I can’t seem to find a record as to how long it’s been on the top 100/200. This is indeed my ultimate favorite from her. You can’t help but to dance to this song, and if you don’t, you either have no rhythm, or you’re just boring. This song almost appears to take over your body by the middle of the song. Absolutely no one else was able to sing this song like Celia Cruz. It’s like the song was just made for her and her alone. The only other version I somewhat like, is one that was done by an old school group called “DLG.” Do you remember DLG? Or “Dark Latin Groove?” It’s called “Magdalena, mi amor,” I know it’s not Celia’s Quimbara, but there’s enough essence of Celia’s song that makes it just as good. I just wish’d that lead singer Huey Dunbar didn’t sound like he was straining his voice so much. Yes, Celia was a legend… Do you guys know why I love her so much? She was a TRUE artist, in that She’d sing ANYTHING! She was truly versatile. I’ve heard her sing Cuban music, marengue, bachata, & disco. I’ve even heard her sing in English. Although her English was not that good, she did it because that’s how much she loved music, this was how music influenced her as a child. She also have done many duets with people you would least suspect. Like the duet with Patti Label, singing Quimbara. Oh my goodness, I laughed my ass off when I saw this. It was HILARIOUS!! Not that I thought the performance was bad, I laughed because they were two woman having fun and sharing their positive energy with their fans! Celia was so popular she even appeared on Sesame Street. Sometimes I think even Spanish people don’t know what a legend we’ve lost. She always stayed connected to her Cuban culture, down to her traditional Cuban garbs. The Cuban woman with the golden, and unmistakable voice.
Born Gilberto Miguel Calderón, but to the world he was known as Joe Cuba. He became a huge success in the sixties, and if I understand his story, it appears it has happened quite by accident. Joe hit it big at a time when Spanish club music was starting to change and evolve. It was at a time when both Tito Puente & Machito once dominated the club scene with their amazing mambo style music in the 40s through the mid 60s I guess. One night, while performing with his band in NYC, he was playing for a mostly Black audience, unfortunately, the crowd wasn’t digging the flavor of mambo music. That night, the piano player (sensing the audience lack of interest) started playing random tunes, and adlib/improvised. All of a sudden the audience started to raise their hands and dance. Shortly after the band followed the piano player in improvisation, and the next thing you know, the audience started saying “beep beep.” The song later was called Bang! Bang! released in 1966. A new style of music was now embraced called “boogaloo.” Bang! Bang! hit #30 on the music charts, and it was a huge unexpected success for the small record label they were under, which was “Tico” records at the time. The song was such a hit, it inspired the hit song “Bad Girls” sung by the late disco queen Donna Summer in the very late 70s.
Tito Puente was one of many true musical legends. He was in command of every instrument he played, and could bang a congo drum like none I’ve scene before. He’s performed with many other artists, including La Lupe, and Celia Cruz . “Oye Como Va” was a very, very popular song, and has been reinterpreted by many. It’s just a wonderful tune that has been long forgotten. Listen to “Oye Como Va” on Spotify.
In my opinion, José Feliciano is definitely a lost Spanish Treasure. José is a Puerto Rican guitarist and composer, and has an absolutely beautiful male voice and I really love his earlier music. I don’t think too many children of this generation know anything about him. Listening to José is almost like listening to a Spanish version of Jim Croce. Although José performed different genres of music, my favorites has mostly been his folk style rhythms. Although José has had many hits throughout his career, once he released the holiday song Feliz Navidad (1970), it was almost as though he became immortal. This song was played everywhere, by everyone; it ascended beyond race and culture; Italians, Indians, etc, etc were playing this song literally every year (next to Nate King Cole Xmas albums). Two other iconic songs you may remember from José, Light My Fire (1968), and the theme song from the hit 70’s TV show called “Chico and The Man (1974).” Listen to his greatest hits.