If there is one person who could do a Latin album it's Trini Lopez.
And, it was inevitable.
As the title suggests it's not "a" Latin album but "The" Latin album. This isn't just a matter of semantics, it's a statement of fact, as in, it was going to happen.
And it was going to happen not just because Trini Lopez is of Latin heritage.
Lopez (see my other comments on him for biographical detail) was brought up on this music. The liner notes to this album refer to a fifteen year old Trini singing Spanish language songs at the "Ci Pango" club in Dallas, Texas.
I suspect these songs, most old favourites with the Latin crowd, Trini could have done off the top of his head.
Importantly, this album was going to happen because Trini needed product. This was his fifth album in two years. He had put out live albums doing hits of the day, as well as a studio album in much the same format. Everything was selling. He needed material. This was a no brainer. They could whack this out pretty quickly.
The only thing that was needed was to adapt the tune to Trini's go-go guitar style which had given him his hits. Don Costa, his regular producer does that here again though the go-go guitar is toned down and instead becomes a fuzzy guitar in the background, breaking out every now and then for some interesting (guitar) percussive asides. The Latin in the album is there but the "beat" makes the album accessible and danceable for non-Latinos. Perfect.
The interesting thing here is that Trini and Costa have been playful in their arrangements and allowed for all the hit sounds of 1964 to be heard – there are folk sounds, British invasion, pop, rock and pop and go-go.
There is a lot going on here. A lot more than you may think on the first listen.
He would go on to put out (amongst other albums) a folk album, a country album, a R&B album and of course another Latin album (1966).
Tracks (best in italics)
- Adalita – (Arranged by T. Lopez) – Immediately infectious and very folky. This could have been done by Los Lobos 20 years later.
- Perfidia – (A. Dominguez) – a song I always identify with Trio Los Panchos though there is a little bit of Merseybeat in this version.
- Besame Mucho – (Consuelo Velazquez) – another Trio Los Panchos song as if it was being sung by Gene Pitney, well not quite Gene but in that style. I like it
- Angelito – (Herrera-Ornellas) – Spanish and English lyrics and a Bobby Vee vibe make this interesting.
- La Malaguena – (Ramirez- Galindo) – It's probably purely accidental but this sounds like some late Spanish language "Calexico" recordings.
- Piel Canela – (Bobby Capo) – a 60s cha cha cha … very infectious.
- Granada – (Agustin Lara) – This is beautiful though it sounds like pure Hollywood pop. It could have come off Elvis' "Fun in Acapulco" (1963) soundtrack.
- Chamaka – (Costa-Guerrero) – a contemporary trad pop ala Mexicana.
- Cu Cu Rru Cu Cu, Paloma – (Tomas Mendez) – I like this, very evocative. It is a more traditional song, or at least a song that draws on traditional elements. And, quite beautiful.
- Quizas, Quizas, Quizas – (Osvaldo Farres) – This is groovy is the best sense of the word, with a 60s TV theme feel at times
- El Reloj – (Roberto Cantoral) – short but quite nice.
- Cuando Caliente El Sol – (Carlos and Mario Rigual) – a big mid tempo ballad. Excellent. Both, gentle and dramatic.
A great Latin album … seriously. I'm keeping it.
1964 The Latin Album The Billboard 200 #18
The whole album
Cuando Caliente El Sol – (Carlos and Mario Rigual)