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Una Década

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Album Review

If you've never seen a group of salsa musicians halt mid-conversation, mention Rubén Blades. His name is sure to be followed by a pause, wide eyes, and nods of recognition and respect. To try and compile work that spans a decade of any artist as widely respected and revered as Sr. Blades would prove daunting, but Una Década manages to meet and exceed expectation. Beginning with "Caminando" and "Amor y Control," tunes so melodically and rhythmically infectious that even non-Spanish speakers will find themselves singing the coro, it's easy to see how Rubén became a cornerstone of the New York salsa sound. As Blades' career progressed, so did his interest in a more diverse palette of Latin American musical styles, as shown by the second half of this record. With a slinky and evocative cumbia, like "Eres Mi Canción," to a dark and profound rhumba, "Estampa," the common thread throughout is the brilliant musicianship and lyrical excellence that has always set Blades apart from his fellow salseros. The story that you hear from this record is Blades' journey from a fiery, visceral young talent to a sophisticated and masterful musician's musician. From the incisive political nature of his writing to the crystalline arrangements and production, this is one decade in the history of salsa that ensures Blades' place for decades to come. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez, Rovi


Born: 16 July 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....
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