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San Juan 73

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Album Review

Fania All-Stars' first concert in Puerto Rico was a spiritual homecoming for everyone who made the trip down from New York, whether they had been born in PR, raised by parents who had called the island home, or simply grown up with its sound all around them — despite being born 1,500 miles away. It's a flight that few of Fania's stars missed, despite the rising profile of the label's biggest names; every major spoke of the wheel was represented, including Johnny Pacheco, Willie Colón, Ray Barretto, Hector Lavoe, Cheo Feliciano, Larry Harlow, Bobby Valentin, and many others (including special guests Mongo Santamaria, Celia Cruz, and Manu Dibango). The show, which opened Roberto Clemente Coliseum late in 1973 and found 11,000 fans packed in (with thousands more restlessly waiting outside), cemented Fania All-Stars' wide world-wide appeal — as if there was any doubt in Puerto Rico — and featured several classic recordings later found on Latin-Soul-Rock and Live at Yankee Stadium. Obviously, the historic value of this tape — discovered in pristine condition in an upstate New York storage facility — can barely be topped in salsa history, but the music inside justifies its value as well. True, live salsa sets from the '70s are usually brimming with energy anyway, but this far exceeds even the many released live concerts by the Fania All-Stars. The brass is crystal-clear, the rhythms are tight and aggressive, the audience is supportive, and when Hector Lavoe leads them to the finish of "Mi Gente," the feeling of community and joy is palpable.

Biography

Formed: 1967 in New York, NY

Genre: Salsa and Tropical

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

The flagship act for Fania Records, the Fania All-Stars popularized New York salsa during the 1970s by organizing concerts at larger and larger venues (from the Red Garter in Greenwich Village all the way to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx) that spotlighted not only the label's but the salsa world's biggest stars — Ray Barretto, Willie Colón, Johnny Pacheco, Rubén Blades, Hector Lavoe, Ismael Miranda, Cheo Feliciano, Bobby Cruz, Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez, and special guests like Tito Puente, Celia...
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San Juan 73, Fania All-Stars
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