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Album Review

All credit goes to Rubén Blades. He sees music as a global thing, and working from his established base of salsa, he's made some very credible connections between musics of the world, never more so than on Mundo, where Latin rhythms meet bagpipes and didgeridoos, Africa comes to Cuba, and the lilt of strings can develop into a percussion fest. In many ways, his singing — although it's the glue that holds everything together — is the least-important element; the joy is in the sheer diversity, as on "Primogenio," where the pipes work beautifully, or the most unusual version of "Danny Boy" ever recorded. But it's also there on "El Capitan y la Sirena," where the earthy tones of a didgeridoo underpin Latin accordion and rhythms, and in the airy, jazzy "Consideracion." Blades has always been adventurous, a real artist, but this is mature and considered, never brash or in-your-face. It makes sense and works, even when, on paper, it probably shouldn't. It's one world, and in his music Blades is attempting to bring it together.

Biography

Born: July 16, 1948 in Panama City, Panama

Genre: Salsa and Tropical

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Rubén Blades is one of the most successful vocalists in the history of Panamanian music. A former member of bands led by Ray Barretto and Willie Colón, Blades has continued to influence salsa music with his highly literate, politically tinged lyrics and his modern-minded arrangements, which substitute the usual horn and Latin percussion sections with synthesizers and drum sets. Often referred to as "the Latin Bruce Springsteen," Blades provided a musical voice for the middle class of Central America....
Full bio
Mundo, Rubén Blades
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